A Look Back & To The Future

Counting Down To The 20th Annual Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday, April 05, 2018

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The 20th staging of the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards allows time for reflection on the road already travelled and the inroads yet to be made. A look back brought us to the Marketplace, established in 2006 by visionary Derrick Mahfood who saw Kingston as a culinary destination. Putting his money, a cool $15 million, behind his dream he renovated the courtyard at the Marketplace to create a vibrant dining spot and convinced three of the biggest names in the restaurant industry, notably Habibi Latino, Café Aubergine and Jewel of India (part of the Passage to India family) to open alongside China Express and East Japanese. This they did and the rest, as they say, is history...

It is from this innovation that others would replicate food courts across the length and breadth of Jamaica and encourage young entrepreneurs like Lisa and Kirk Chin to move from timid to bold restaurateurs.

The Chins have opened four restaurants:

•Fromage Bistro Hillcrest on February 28th, 2013

•Oak Wine Bar & Cocktail Lounge Hillcrest Avenue May

28th, 2016

•Fromage Brasserie Marketplace January 16th, 2017

•Café Dolce Constant Spring

Road, December 13th, 2017

A fifth Café Dolce, Spanish Town Road (KIG), is slated to open later this month.

The culinary industry is a multi-billion-dollar one but requires, as Lisa Chin stressed during dinner, constant training and supervision and attention to detail. “We travel to keep abreast of trends... A must for today's fickle customer,” she shared. Fortunately, albeit surprising for many, Lisa creates her own menus. Our menu, carefully curated with wines from Select Brands, included the familiar and comforting, like truffle fries and truffle pizza, and the soon-to-be introduced Tostones burger and profiteroles.

As we look back to move forward we applaud the vision of the late Derrick Mahfood and laud the gumption of Lisa and Kirk Chin. We have come a long way!

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