#Kingston, August 3, 2018 – Jamaica – Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, says plans are in place to revive the country’s Culinary Arts Festival and Competition beginning next year. Introduced during the 1970s, the festival, which showcased the island’s rich culinary food and delights, was later discontinued after having been staged for a number of years.
“It will now be resuscitated and have pride of place. It will include hoteliers and other Jamaicans from all walks of life. We’ll also be going into the villages. Through this effort, we’ll re-establish the cottage industry with Jamaican foods and treats,” she said.
The Minister was speaking at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Culinary Expo held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on August 2. Additionally, Ms. Grange said there are plans to have the festival “institutionalised, so that it can be sustained,” and has asked Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, to commit budgetary support in this regard.
The JCDC’s Culinary Arts Specialist, Dr. Pamella Powell, welcomed the festival’s resuscitation, describing the move by the Culture Minister “as a great thing to revive”.
Meanwhile, Ms. Grange urged the protection of certain “works (of food) and final product on display,” which can be classified as intellectual property.
“Far too often, we see food shows on networks that have creations that are distinctively Jamaican, but other nations take credit. They cleverly use the term, ‘Jamaican-style jerk, juices and pastries’, with none of the input or labour being Jamaican. We have to protect them,” Ms. Grange emphasised.
Turning to other matters, the Minister said plans exist to have reggae music inscribed and protected as an “intangible cultural heritage” with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The aim of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage is to ensure those included on the list are better protected and to bring awareness of their significance worldwide. It is expected that in November, the country will know whether it is successful in its efforts to have reggae music on the list of intangible cultural heritage.
The Minister added that a submission to UNESCO will also be made to include “our food, as these strides will protect the local economy and small players”.
For his part, Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, noted that 40 per cent of the expenditure of visitors to the island last year was spent on food experiences. He said that Jamaica has now established itself as the premier gastronomy destination of the Caribbean, after having been the only country in the region last year to have an exposition “which the United Nations World Tourism Organization calls the Gastronomy Prototype”.
Mr. Bartlett noted that it has become necessary to train and build up the professionalism of those in the culinary profession, especially chefs, through the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation, which graduated 150 participants a few months ago. These graduates received the American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification and American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) designation.
“We want to give them certification, so that… we won’t have to be importing chefs from across the world, because we will be producing our own in Jamaica,” he said.
During the expo, patrons toured several booths and sampled a number of local cuisines from hotels as well as the HEART Trust/NTA. The JCDC’s 55th anniversary cake was also cut.