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Chefs to Watch for 2017 - Hedonism II, Negril

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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Thursday Food highlights five more chefs who are charged with introducing visitors and locals alike to the best culinary offerings in Jamaica.

This week’s featured chefs are from Hedonism II, Negril

Davey Thomas
Lead cook, Pastafari Italian Restaurant, Hedonism II Resort

At age six, Davey Thomas would study the ingredients as his mother cooked. Then he would try and replicate her cooking to see how his compared. All that practice still did not lead him to a six-burner stove. Actually, he took what he thought was the safe road by becoming an auto mechanic. But the passion for cooking had already taken root and Thomas eventually heeded and enrolled in the Petersfield Vocational Training Centre, where he studied Food Preparation.

“I love trying new flavours and taking traditional recipes and adding new stuff. I take pride in my cooking as it reflects on me as an individual; it’s my pride,” he says. Thomas spends a lot of his time surfing the Internet for new ideas and says, “No matter what area you are in, you have to have a passion for it, otherwise it makes no sense.”

Thomas likes preparing anything with seafood and he continues to hone his skills by cooking at home daily.

Milton Paltie
Garde manger, Hedonism II Resort

“An ice-carving genius,” says Executive Chef Anthony Miller of Milton Paltie.

Paltie was 14 the first time his aunt asked him to prepare a meal. Having no idea what to cook he enlisted the help of a friend, who added thyme, escallion and butter to the pot. The final result — steam fish — got rave reviews. To this day his aunt has no idea that he was not the cook.

Briefly sidetracked by carpentry until that income stream slowed, he found himself at Couples Tower Isle, the result of hearing about a vacancy in the steward’s department.

When he arrived with a friend the only jobs available were for cooks. Certain that they would not qualify, they got the jobs nevertheless and started in the pantry. After a few months we was awarded Cook 1 (the highest level team member). “Every day I was working from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm for about two years. The financial controller asked why I was working those long hours. I told him it’s not what I was putting in but what I was getting back, and what I was getting back was a salary and experience, so I felt that I was the one winning.”

Paltie realised that he could make this his profession after travelling to North America and seeing the respect accorded chefs.

He took certification courses through Johnson and Wales in Kitchen Management, Sanitation and Garde Manger. His true passion, he decided, was fruit, vegetable and ice carving. “It’s like a painter with his canvas. For me, my canvas is the ice or the produce.”

A recipient of many awards, Paltie has copped: the 2002 JCDC silver medal for ice carving and fish platter

2004 Curry Festival gold medal for fruit, vegetable and ice carving

2008 Wow Festival Master Ice Carver

2015 & 2016 Taste of Jamaica gold medalist for the ice carving

2106 Taste of Jamaica silver medal, lamb platter

“I think cooking chose me,” he tells Thursday Food.

Rashane Reid
Harry San Japanese Restaurant, Hedonism II Resort

Twenty-one-year-old Rashane Reid says, “Cooking is in my genes; my father is a chef (in Nantucket) and as a child he always had me in the kitchen. My uncles are restaurateurs and bakers, my grandmother’s gizzada, grater and toto cakes were amazing and famous.”

As a child I was in awe of my father’s knife skills and knew I wanted to follow suit.

My first culinary expression was a fried egg which I overcooked. I was instructed by my mother to repeat the process until I got it right. To this day I am still fascinated by how many ways a simple egg can be prepared and, also, there is nothing about an egg I can’t tell you. My mother continues to be my motivator. A few years ago she had a stroke and I made a promise to always make her proud.

“My driving philosophy comes from my favourite book You Can Work Your Own miracle by Napoleon Hill. It says: “I am who I am, where I am, because of my daily habits.”

Hedonism is Reid’s first full-time job. He started as a trainee and through dedication and hard work now enters competitions like Taste of Jamaica. “Hedonism took me from a baby to a man, and the best part of being a chef is seeing people’s faces when they taste your food. There is a bond between the diner and the chef.”

Reid’s favourite meal to cook is chicken back with pumpkin served with cornmeal dumplings.

Odiane Whitelock
Pastafaria Italian Restaurant, Hedonism II Resort

Odane Whitelocke remembers, as if it were yesterday, the day in 2005 when he decided he wanted to become a chef. “My family members had a restaurant and I had started to work in there. I fell in love with it.” That same year he enrolled at HEART Petersfield, where the love affair continued.

In 2009, in a quest to further his culinary skills, he attended George Brown College in Toronto, Canada. “For me, cooking is an art and I love art. It’s an area where I am very confident in my abilities and not afraid to challenge myself through competitions.

In 2015, Whitelocke placed third in the Taste of Jamaica Chef of the Year and in 2016, he placed first in the beef category with a dish he called authentic beef roulade.

Being from a family in which both parents cooked, food and cooking were always a part of his socialisation.

His favourite dish to cook is chicken and beef pasta in Alfredo sauce.

After 12 years his passion has not waned. Indeed, he is fully aware of just how much more there is to learn.

Oshane Powell, cook
Flame Chop House, Hedonism II Resort

At the age of seven Oshane Powell was cooking curried pork. Not that he intended to. But one day his stepfather, the cook in the family, had an emergency. It was left to Oshane to handle dinner. Thankfully, the pork was a hit and a chef was born.

Powell, who studied Food and Nutrition in school, nevertheless went on to work as an auto mechanic but would continue to cook at home for the family. The neighbours would always ask: ‘Who is cooking?’ as the aroma wafted through the yard.

Deciding to give cooking his full attention, Powell arrived at Hedonism as a trainee and, through hard work and love of art, started fruit and vegetable carving. Using YouTube and cooking shows to practise and improve he eventually ended up cooking in the main kitchen.

In 2016, Chef Anthony Miller entered Powell in the Taste of Jamaica cooking competition. Powell copped the Junior Chef of the Year title with his chicken breast wrapped with sausage and a sweet potato tower, as well as a seafood chowder.

“I love food. I am passionate about food, so I am willing to learn everything!” he shares with Thursday Food .

                  

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