Bartender of the Year Award

Counting Down To The 21st Staging Of The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday, May 09, 2019

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The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards 2019 committee is pleased to announce the nomination of Vernon Johnson, St Aublyn Kidd, Maurice Chung and Jermaine Wray as finalists of the inaugural Bartender of the Year Award.

Vernon Johnson — Senior bartender, Island Entertainment (Margaritaville & Coral Cliff), Montego Bay St James

Johnson has been a bartending professional for over 18 years and credits this longevity to his love for the profession. He acquired training and experience having worked at Sandals, The Ritz-Carlton and Secrets hotels. He also worked as bar manager for four years for VIP Attractions — Sangster International Airport. Service is the core of his professional expression. Johnson believes that to be a successful bartender the personality must reflect the profession. He considers himself as an all-rounder who learns something new each day and his style of creativity, customer engagement, and high service levels are reflected in his style of cocktails. Johnson has been nominated and copped a number of awards such as employee of the month and year.

St Aublyn Kidd — Head mixologist/bar supervisor, Grand Palladium Hotel & Resorts, Hanover

St Aublyn Kidd is an eclectic mixologist that goes by the moniker Captain Kidd, a name developed after being the captain/leader of each sport team he joined and for his display of leadership. A St George's College and JWN Academy graduate, Kidd gained his formative bartending experience working as a storeroom clerk at Top Shelf Professional Food & Beverage service between 2007 and 2012. At that time, Kidd recounts that the management of Top Shelf wanted him to be a cook behind the bar. Kidd began researching topics like flips, brix ratios and slings and soon was enamoured by the possibilities presented by unusual spirits, classic mixes and new flavour profiles.
Kidd grew up in Seaview Gardens, a community in close proximity to J Wray & Nephew Limited, Select Brands and Red Stripe, and used his location advantage to successfully approach each entity for freelance opportunities. In 2010, Kidd was awarded the Jamaican Champion of The Appleton Estate International Bartenders Showcase and in the following years competed in competitions such as Hennessy 250th Cocktail Competition and Bacardi Mojito Competition. Time spent at "689 by Brian Lumley" propelled Kidd towards celebrity mixologist status, allowing him to make several media appearances.

Maurice Tensang Chung — Lead mixologist at Cheers 39, Kingston.

Chung grew up in the Old Harbour and Portmore communities of St Catherine. He is a graduate of St Catherine High School and also completed studies at HEART Runaway Bay, Diageo Learning for Life and JWN Academy. At the end of the Learning for Life programme, Chung copped the Trailblazer Award for Bartending and Mixology. Chung's food and beverage career spans assignments at the Courtleigh Hotel & Suites, MV Regal Empress Cruise Lines, Long Horn Steak House, Bars To Go Party Service, and The Alibi Restaurant & Bar. Chung has represented globally renowned brands such as Appleton Estate and Campari. Chung's cocktail the Colbeck Negroni, was featured in Campari's Global Compendium Book of Cocktails. In addition, Chung is an adjunct trainer in mixology at The Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines and a member of the Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists Bartender Council.

Jermaine Wray – Lead bartender, Canoe Cove Villa, Mammee Bay, St Ann.

Wray has been employed as a bartending professional since 2007. Wray's journey began in the hotel industry where he worked within the concierge department for three years, then transitioned to the bar. He worked at Riu Club Hotel for 11 years and a little over a year at the Beaches Resorts. Wray believes that the professional bartender must be excited about his or her career, be creative, and a quick thinker. Wray describes himself as an ambitious, motivated and passionate bartending professional who is highly organised and results oriented. Wray's philosophy is that working hard towards a goal is the key to success. Wray is certified in supervisory management.

Continue to follow @jamaicaobserver and @bartendingacademyja for more information about this very prestigious and exciting designation.

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