A fourth serving of Chef Troy Levy


A fourth serving of Chef Troy Levy

Observer senior writer

Friday, July 12, 2019

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On July 21 when Chef Troy Levy makes his fourth appearance at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Queens, New York, he plans to display the down-home cuisine he discovered as a boy in Glengoffe, St Catherine.

The 37-year-old, known as Chef Troy, has lived in The Big Apple for nearly 20 years, working in a number of restaurants. But he never forgot the Ital dishes introduced to him by his Rastafarian uncles.

That natural, unsalted food, made popular by Rastafarians during the 1970s, is Chef Troy's forte.

“I would describe my style of cuisine as a modernised Ital with a fusion of Mexican, Chinese, African, and French, reinforcing healthy Caribbean cuisine,” he said.

Though not formally trained, Chef Troy credits stints at New York eateries like Suede Caribbean Restaurant, BB King's in Times Square and Highline Ballroom, for developing his culinary skills.

He points to constant experimenting for conjuring some of his most popular dishes, which include the coriander spiced jerk portobello mushroom with tomato choka, and the ital stir-fried cauliflower rice.

There is also a coconut cream pumpkin soup and Ital stew, which has savoured the palates of natural foodies for nearly 50 years.

Rastafarians in Jamaica were ridiculed for eating Ital food in the 1970s when their lifestyle was shunned by conservative society. That was not the case in Chef Troy's Glengoffe home where his uncles, Earl “Jas Rus” Hall and Winston “Priest” Hall, visited regularly.

Both are members of the House of David, also known as Boboshanti, founded by Charles “King Emmanuel” Edwards.

“Among my Rastafari uncles and other family members, Ital had a strong influence on my style of cooking. After experiencing different cuisines and styles of cooking, I have taken a step forward to my roots to reintroduce Ital cooking in a modern style,” he said.

Appearing at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival at Roy Wilkins Park with high-profile 'chefs' like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, has helped spread the word about Chef Troy's Ital menu.

“It has definitely helped as more people are aware of who I am and aware of my style of cooking; I have also gained a few new clients,” he said.

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