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Chopped star to judge Jerk Festival contest

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If you love jerk seasoning, get ready: it's two days away from the celebration of the year.

Music will also be part of the entertainment at the One Love Jerk Festival but it's the food that will take centre stage.

Local chefs will go head-to-head; the Jamaican Association of Bermuda has brought in two-time Chopped winner Andre Fowles as a judge.

The 27-year-old was the first Jamaican to compete in the popular reality series' Tournament of Champions. The show airs regularly in Bermuda on Food Network.

“It was definitely by far one of the hardest things I've done, but it was a lot of fun,” said Mr Fowles, a professional chef of ten years.

“It was definitely crazy, and very competitive. It was good for me to push my boundaries, and I excelled.

“What I've found is that great cheffing exposes [your vulnerabilities] and you have to be creative when vulnerable, so that's what I did.”

Mr Fowles moved to New York after he married in 2012. He joined Miss Lily's, an authentic Jamaican restaurant in Soho, two years ago and is now chef de cuisine.

Prior to that he was at Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Montego Bay. He also worked at another celebrated Jamaican restaurant, Mac's Chop House in Kingston.

The Culinary Institute of America graduate was raised in Kingston by his grandmother, Veronica Davis, whom he affectionately calls “Mama Cherry”.

“She's a fantastic cook,” he said. “I was pretty much inspired by her in the beginning and decided to turn it into a career. For Jamaicans, cooking is a family thing. I started cooking when I was four, playing around in the kitchen, so I've been around it all my life.”

Mr Fowles first appeared on Chopped in February. He returned for a second win in April and was the runner-up in a Tournament of Champions episode that also aired that month.

His task on Sunday is to weigh in on a “mini jerk competition” featuring chefs from Fish N Tings, Jamaican Grill and D & C Grill.

“For me that will be a lot of fun to finally do all the tasting and the judging,” he said.

“The president of the [JAB, Orville Campbell] reached out to me via e-mail to see if I was interested in judging part in the festival and I told him of course.

“It's going to be a great experience. I will be the guest judge of the competition, and assisting some of the cooks with their dishes.”

Although recipes vary, the traditional jerk seasoning will include allspice berries, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, scallions and fresh ginger.

“Jerk is very unique, it's a very unique style of cooking that was pretty much created in Jamaica,” Mr Fowles said.

“It has such a bold flavour that everyone who tries it is immediately hooked. There's a perception that it's hot and spicy. It's not. It's about using each ingredient at the right balance to create a bold, unique flavour.”

He'll be looking for “balance and creativity” on Sunday.

“They'll have to make it different than what it usually is. I'm looking for a different combination with those same ingredients.”

The festival takes place at Shelly Bay Community Field from 12pm to 10pm. Entry is $10 in advance, $15 at the gate. Tickets are available at Jamaican Grill, Fish N Tings, D & C Grill, Money Shop, Yardie Kitchen and from JAB members. Children under the age of 12 enter free. Part proceeds will support the JAB adoption of the Edwina Ward at the Kingston Public Hospital, Bermuda Salvation Army and the Hazel Christopher Educational Award

Tasting the difference: judge Andre Fowles was the first Jamaican to appear on popular reality series Chopped
Expert eye: Chopped winner Andre Fowles

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Published June 10, 2016 at 10:46 am (Updated June 10, 2016 at 10:58 am)

Chopped star to judge Jerk Festival contest

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