Twenty three year old Crystal Smith emerged as the winner of Nestle Jamaica’s first “So You Think You Can Cook” culinary challenge out of a pool of 18 budding young chefs. Rounding out the top three were Amiri Dawkins and Sharmarley Coooper at the finals held last Thursday inside the company’s Corporate Kitchen at their Ferry Pen Head Office in Kingston.
The “So You Think You Can Cook” YOCUTA cooking challenge was designed by Nestle’s Corporate Chef Andrew Slolely, to unearth and showcase the raw culinary talents of the company’s 18 culinary interns. The YOCUTAs were required to get creative using mandatory Nestle ingredients along with other products/ingredients from the fridge and pantry. The competition was time sensitive, requiring each YOCUTA to prepare and plate a total of four plates within an hour and fifteen minutes. The scores from each round of the competition were used to determine the top YOCUTA of 2019. That overall winner will be given a set of Chef’s knives from J.A. Henckels International and a one year contract to work as a Chef for Nestle Professional.
Nestlé Professional, the Nestlé Food Service business arm served as patron for the competition. On this occasion, 18 young Jamaican chefs from the Young Culinary Talents (YOCUTA) Programme had an opportunity to exhibit their culinary skills and nutrition mastery over a three day period.
Over the first 2 days of heated competition the YOCUTAs were required to conceptualize one Dessert/Baking recipe showcasing two products from the Baking Category; NESTLE tollhouse, NESTLE Sweetened Condensed Milk, MAGGI Liquid Coconut Milk and CARNATION Evaporated Milk along with NESCAFE Instant Coffee and other ingredients from the pantry. At the 20 minute mark, the participants were required to utilize MILO COOKIES in their final dessert presentation. The desserts were presented to the panel of judges and the top four winners from each group moved on to battle in the savoury round of the competition.
On the final day of the competition the top eight YOCUTAs who advanced were required to prepare a complete main course dish for the panel of judges. They were required to utilize at least three of the following ingredients; MAGGI Naturisimo, Saffron Rice It Up, MAGGI Bechamel, MAGGI Mashed Potatoes, MAGGI Liquid Coconut Milk and MAGGI All Purpose Seasoning. At the 30 minute mark the participants were thrown another curve ball; to utilize NESTLE ORCHARD Pineapple Juice in their final main course presentation.
Each of the eight chefs were judged based on the following criteria: creativity, use of ingredients, taste, presentation, hygiene and sanitation. Crystal Smith emerged as the Champion Chef after preparing Pan Fried Pork Chops with Yam Balls and Sauteed Vegetables.
Through the Nestle Needs Youth and the YOCUTA programme, Nestlé Jamaica is committed to training future generations in the culinary world, to train better chefs and facilitate experiences to guarantee better job opportunities.
The YOCUTA program, which kicked off in tandem with the 2019 Internship programme – Nestlé Needs YOUth, is real-world preparation of young culinary students through theoretical and practical cooking experience that acclimatizes them for work in the hospitality industry. The objective of the program is to develop culinary skills, knowledge, good practices and new trends via a full curriculum over the six week period.