It was a gourmet state of mind for the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges last Tuesday evening. The Wyndham Kingston Hotel laid out a chef's table at its Trattoria Baci restaurant, welcoming the dinner party of judges to dine. The Italian eatery, located directly above the hotel's lobby, unveiled an impressive showcase of selected menu items for the seven-course dinner.
As resident pianist Dennis Rushton tickled the ivories nearby, the judges sipped on guava spritzers during cocktails. Talk was momentarily dominated by queries of how the judges had used their boxes of vegetables from Potosi Farms received at the previous day's judging session. Convo shifted to the topic du jour — Page 2's exclusive interview with celeb parents-to-be Yendi Phillipps and Daniel McGregor, with guests weighing in with their individual points-of-view.
As the Wyndham's ace sous chefs toiled away in the open-view kitchen, plates of appetisers began making their way out. The evening would feature four appetisers - a sun-dried tomato and mushroom bruschetta; grilled steak satay; Scotch bonnet smoked marlin and ackee timbale and champagne poached shrimp.
Settling in at the table, a willful anticipation crept in for the judges, to see and taste what would come. For each of the seven courses, the respective sous chefs who played an integral role in its preparation introduced both the dish and themselves to the table.
In-between courses, Kathy Scimeme, Wyndham's director of sales and marketing, explained that the hotel has a self-directed mandate to use 80 per cent local produce in the menu. This, she said, was in a bid to both support and promote Jamaican food.
The Rock connection popped up frequently in the night's cuisine. There was a fresh callaloo flavoured ravioli stuffed with three cheeses; grilled otaheite apple with roasted beet, mix greens and Gorgonzola crumble with passion fruit vinaigrette; and Red Stripe beer poached salmon.
Thursday Food shares scenes from the Trattoria Baci's chef's table and encourages you to make reservations to dine.