Mia Adderley, formerly of Abaco and now a student of Doris Johnson Senior High School in Nassau, came out on top during the most recent phase of the 28th annual Young Chef Culinary Competition – New Providence district. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)
Hurricane Dorian couldn’t put a stop to her dreams, and neither could a malfunctioning oven.
Competing in the senior division of this year’s Young Chef Culinary Competition, Mia Adderley had only two minutes left on the clock to complete her dishes when she discovered that the oven she had been assigned was not heating.
“The oven felt as if it was heating, but it was not. I actually used two different bakers so I could get my dishes out. It discouraged me but I made it this far,” she said.
Quick thinking and some improvisation allowed Mia to finish her Abaco crab and chicken duff and March Harbour guava rice cheese cake in time to secure her the top spot of Phase 2 in the competition.
Mia transferred from Patrick J Bethel High School, Abaco, to Doris Johnson Senior High School after Hurricane Dorian last September. The transition wasn’t easy and Mia was uncertain of her ability to compete.
“My teacher believed in me,” she said. “We practised every day after school until 9pm sometimes.”
Mia was one among the 12 students, representing eight schools, who displayed their culinary skills in Phase 2 of the New Providence district contest under the theme, ‘Preserving our Heritage: Exploring Bahamian Gastronomy.’
The 28th annual regional competition, sponsored by Mahatma and Robin Hood, was held recently at the Doris Johnson Senior High School and judged by Chefs Clement Williams, Theodore Burrows, Celeste Smith, Gerald Rolle and Jimmy Dean. The professional chefs tasted the dishes, assessed the students’ performance, provided critiques of each dish, and offered ideas to improve them.
Chef Rolle highlighted and congratulated the three male students – Santone Pugh of Doris Johnson Senior High School, Ashton Newbold of Government High School, and Tevin Wright of CR Walker Senior High School – who participated in the competition.
“I wish we could have more males join,” he said.
Raquel Turnquest, Acting Education Officer, explained the process of the contest.
“Once each school has chosen an individual candidate we move to Phase 2, which is the district competition or island competition. Any school that has a hospitality and tourism studies programme is allowed to enter one entrant along with schools that have a food and nutrition programme at the senior level.
“The top two students from each one of the junior and senior high competitions go to the nationals. The national round is the final round of competition which will takes place the week of March 16-20, 2020.”
Ms Turnquest said the competition is an expensive venture but it provides an opportunity for parents, teachers and the industry to work together.
“Parents have to come up with ingredients to do experiments, work on dishes and refine them. I encourage Family and Consumer Science teachers to reach out to hotels, restaurants and private chefs who are already executing at that level because exposing that young chef to somebody in the industry brings the teachers and the students’ skills up higher. If they forge relationships with hotels and restaurants they might get a better result,” said Ms Turnquest.
“We also ask the schools, once they’ve had a school run- off in November, to make a little investment in the student that’s representing their school. The ingredients are expensive and it calls for continuous practice.
“We need more principals to come on board, perhaps to include the Young Chef school-based competition as part of their inter-house competitions. The houses can get awarded points for whoever is winning at the school-based level to encourage greater participation.