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Ten year old blows the judges away with vegan dishes In Young Chef Junior High Culinary Contest

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELL

Bahamas Information Services

 

#Nassau, The Bahamas, October 29, 2022 – A water leak at her station in the newly renovated kitchen at L.W. Young Junior High School did not deter 10-year-old Amina Eneas, a student of Akhepran International Academy, from grabbing the top spot in the 2022 Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Competition.

Her guava infused jasmine rice dish (topped with pigeon pattie) and lemon no-bake vegan cheesecake and triple-layered lemon walnut cookie with guava cheesecake filling on crispy banana leaf coils won first place in the New Providence District with a whopping 910 points.

The aspiring chef and doctor (surgeon or gynecologist) has advanced to the national round of the junior division set for the week of November 7th.  She beat four students for a first place finish in the New Providence District Competition.

Amina’s flour and rice vegan dishes blew away the judges.  Chef Joel Johnson, one of six judges, declared, “She did a wonderful job.”

“Her bean pattie was really good: I watched you try it, taste it, messed it up, restarted it, corrected it at least twice — before she finally put it on a plate. The rice flavor was awesome; the salsa was on point. The presentation was clean, simple. This is the type of stuff that want to I see as an appetizer in a restaurant.”

Chef Johnson said he was “completely shocked” by Amina’s dessert. “The fact that you made all of these sauces was impressive. I was not expecting the flavors. When she told me it was an avocado mousse I was expecting something completely different. When I tasted it I was thoroughly impressed. Everything was unique and I think that’s what a lot of people coming into competitions tend to miss.  Because you’re in a competition you want to go so big you forget that you should be nice, simple and clean.”

He also praised Amina for her presentation (plating) and the flavor in her dishes. “You have a lot of growing to do, so I can only imagine that it gets better.”

Chef Clement Williams agreed. “The flavors, texture and combination — I could not believe you were 10-years-old and so calm. You worked in water, you were at a disadvantage, everything started leaking and running from you but you stayed right there. Your poise for a 10-year-old was way beyond expectation. The dish is really good.”

After two hours in the kitchen followed by interviews with the judges, who are all professional chefs, Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Unit, revealed the winners: Rishantae Spence of A.F. Adderley placed second; Deja Taylor, a student of Queen’s College, and Destiny Cleare of L.W. Young Junior High School earned a statistical tie for third place; and Ezra Pinder, a student of S.C. McPherson Junior High School finished fourth.

Amina, whose Mom coached her to success, said she felt “great” and was “happy” that the contest was over.

“I put a lot of time and work into it and practiced the two dishes until very late into the night.”

Before the 10:00 am start, Ms. Turnquest thanked the students. “We thank you very much for persevering to the end.  Others started practicing but could not make it across the finish line for the semi-finals so we congratulate you for making it to this point.  You are the future of culinary arts in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. We look forward to great things from each and every one of you,” she said.

She also acknowledged Krizzia Williams, who represented Robin Hood Flour and Mahatma Rice, which along with the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, sponsored the contest now into its 30th year.

The students were required to use any of the rice and flour products to design, prepare, cook and present their dishes based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Arts: Sustainability Across Land and Sea.”

Chief Judge Chef Gerald Rolle introduced the judges. They were: Chef Michael Adderley, Chef Addiemae Farrington, Chef Celeste Smith, Chef Joel Johnson and Chef Clement Williams.

Chef Rolle congratulated the junior students and advised them to produce the items what they have been practicing throughout the past weeks. “Be confident in what you do. This is a fun event. Ensure that the equipment is working and that you have all the ingredients that you need,” he said.

Alan Orreal, VP of Culinary Operations and Ludovic Audaux, Senior Executive Pastry Chef at Atlantis, Paradise Island, dropped by to view the students at work.

The VP said, “We’re here today to have a look at the high school students competing in the national competition. Atlantis plays a really large role in food and beverage in hospitality in the country. We feel it’s important to support, and not only be seen to be supporting — but actually provide support.

“The first impressions are really strong.  The students are really engaged in what they are doing,” he said.

Chef Audaux was also impressed with the work of the budding chefs and sees a “bright” future in culinary arts in the country.  He declared they like involving new talents, and that it often turns out best when those talents start developing early.

Following interviews with the students and presentations of dishes, Ms. Turnquest reminded the students that they are all winners. “You have persevered and come to this level to represent the entire island of New Providence for junior high school students. Just for you to make it to this point — understand that you are all winners.  You have done an excellent job and I look forward to seeing you at the nationals.”

Chef Rolle commended the students and their coaches for the presentation of their tables. “The displays on the tables were some of the best we’ve seen in years. I love it….  You put thought and time into it. Well done!”

 

Photo Captions: 

BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna

 

Header: Amina’s winning dishes.

1st insert: Amina Eneas is pictured preparing her dishes during the contest.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas as Caribbean top 2024 Spring Destination

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Tourism, February 23rd, 2024 – The Bahamas has been categorized as the most popular Caribbean destination for travel in the upcoming spring season by travel insurance company Squaremouth, in a new report. It was the only Caribbean nation to make the list for the top 10 destinations. The report is derived from travel insurance purchases made through Squaremouth.

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Bahamas News

Regional Soldiers head to Jamaica to train for pending Haiti mission

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Rashaed Esson

Staff  Writer

 

#Haiti#KenyaMultinationalForce#CARICOM, February 22nd, 2024 – About 150 Bahamian soldiers are heading to Jamaica within the next one or two weeks for a joint training with Jamaican soldiers, in preparation for the pending Kenya led multinational force mission to Haiti according to Bahamian Defense Chief Commodore, Raymond King, in reports. Soldiers and security forces from Chile and Argentina will also travel to Jamaica for the training.

King informs that Kenya and Haiti are in the process of signing off on an agreement to allow Kenya to lead the force into Haiti, following advice from Kenya’s High Court which recently deemed Kenya’s decision to deploy police officers to the gang run nation as unconstitutional. This agreement includes a formal request for assistance from Haiti, allowing Kenya to legally intervene on the ground.

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Bahamas News

Major plans for The Bahamas announced Davis

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Development,February 22nd, 2024 – “Things are changing in The Bahamas,” were the words of Prime Minister Philip Davis as he outlined some of the Government’s plans to improve the nation through a decrease in the cost of living, enhanced security for Bahamians and the expansion of access to opportunities. Davis, who was presenting on February 21st, the Bahamas Mid-Year Review of the fiscal performance for the fiscal year 2023/2024, highlighted a long list of plans for the archipelago.

Here’s the full list stated in Davis’ address :

  • A new energy policy and an expansion of renewable energy, including microgrids, and an emphasis on engaging local Bahamian firms and building local professional capacity; 
  • An expansion of Bahamian ownership in our economy, including support for entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, and an expansion of affordable housing –with hundreds of families moving into new homes by this summer; 
  • A modern and award-winning specialized tourism product, with new investments across our archipelago, and major visibility and branding campaigns in New York, Florida, and the UK;
  • Progress on redeveloping downtown Nassau, long overdue;
  • New commitments to education, including a Parental Engagement Unit; more teacher training, modernizing the curriculum, classroom enhancements, improving school attendance, and using the Renaissance testing results to design individualized support for students; 
  • An expansion of technical and vocational training, including certification at the high school level;
  • An Empower Grand Bahama micro-grant programme for entrepreneurs; $1.5 billion in investments for Grand Bahama in the pipeline; the Beautiful Grand Bahama programme, in which collaboration has led to safer communities; and Collab Grand Bahama, which fosters partnerships between the government and the private sector to bring change and progress to Grand Bahama;
  • Major upgrades to our health infrastructure;
  • More support for our athletes and sports programmes;
  • We’re on track to pave 65 miles of road in New Providence alone this year;
  • Investments in NIB to improve fairness and efficiency;
  • A National School Breakfast pilot programme, which is already giving thousands of our children breakfast in their primary schools, and is ready to expand;
  • New classes, camps, lessons, and programmes at our Urban Renewal Centres;
  • A Youth Guard to strengthen our capacity during national emergencies, and give more young Bahamians a path forward;
  • A Task Force addressing unregulated shantytowns in New Providence and Abaco, with other islands to follow;
  • The selection and training of new immigration officers;
  • Saturation patrols and new investments and collaboration in crime prevention; 
  • A juvenile detention facility;
  • A cadre of officers trained to recognize and manage psychiatric issues;
  • Stronger partnerships and new patrol vessels to secure our nation’s borders; 
  • Major new investments across our Family Islands, including new airports, and road paving in Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Abaco, Long Island; Great Harbour Cay, and Crooked Island;
  • The development of our nation’s blue carbon credits strategy; and
  • A major investment in agriculture and national food security.

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