Food

Ambushed, surprised and grateful!

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, June 07, 2018

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Last Thursday, the Jamaica Observer hosted the 20th staging of the Table Talk Food Awards. With over 30 awards up for grabs and 120 nominees to choose from at this year's ritzy affair, little did I know that a surprise was in store for me onstage.

Surprised! The Fire Starter Award

The letter my fellow award recipients and I received said that we were going to be invited onstage to form a guard of honour for one of Jamaica's most celebrated chefs: Dennis McIntosh. When time came for the award to be presented, all our names were called to come to stage to help honour Chef McIntosh... or so we thought. As we were being lined up to form this guard of honour for McIntosh, he received his award and then, to my surprise, we were each presented with The Fire Starter Award — the areas in the gastronomy space in which we each have made an impact. Dazed by the surprise, I did not clearly hear everything our MC said about the “fire” that each recipient started; I later got the details.

Turning the nation on to wine

“White wine or red wine” is simply how wine used to be ordered by most in Jamaica. After living for a few years in the USA, I returned to Jamaica in 2004 to start an information technology business. In my spare time I started teaching wine classes, hosting tasting events and wine dinners. In January 2008 the Jamaica Observer gave me an opportunity in its Thursday Life pages, to write a weekly column on the vast and ever-expanding world of wine. At the time, and perhaps still today, it was the only weekly wine column in the region. Through these pages we were able to lift the level of the wine discussion, influence the quality and variety of wines imported, improve how wine is presented and generally educate a nation on this amazing gastronomic delight. In short, turning on a nation to wine and lifting the level of the wine narrative was the fire that I started (there is still much work left to do).

Grateful

First and foremost, I must give thanks to GOD — the creator of all things! I am very grateful to the Jamaica Observer and in particular Senior Associate Editor — Lifestyle & Social Novia McDonald-Whyte for taking a chance on me with this platform. Thanks to my wife Kerri-Anne for unconditional support and inspiration on this journey. There is a lot of wine-begging for tastings and events in this business, so thanks to all the wine importers and distributors who do their very best to assist when I come calling for samples and sponsorship. From as early 2005 my wife and I went cap in hand to many organisations for wine help. These include: Lascelles Wines & Spirits (no longer operating), Wray & Nephew, Betco Premier, Caribbean Producers Jamaica, Ramson's, Arosa, Consumer Brands (now part of GraceKennedy), 1876 Wines (now part of Select Brands), Wine Ranch/The Wine Shop, Harbour Wines, Select Brands and most recently, CroWines.

In the beginning there were some folks who went above and beyond to help me spread the joy of wine; they include Marilyn Bennett, Debra Taylor, Chesna Haber, Debbian Spence-Minott, Tom Tyler, Devon Reid (no longer in Jamaica), Denzie Sinclair, Fabian Graham and Robert Hoehener, to name a few... yes, I know I am in trouble for forgetting some people!

Congratulations my fellow Fire Starter Award recipients: Maurine Capleton, Jacqui Tyson, Dennis McIntosh, Jing Shi and a special “big up” to “Fire Starters” with whom I have worked very closely on this journey: Cecile Levee, Lorraine Fung, Gariel Ferguson and Colin Hylton.

Thanks also to you, the readers of the Jamaica Observer, in physical print and across the world online!

Christopher Reckord — Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord

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