New boutique hotel Skylark Negril Beach Resort hosted Top Chef star Chef Nina Compton for a pop-up dinner on Saturday, July 28th, 2018.
The dinner was a huge success and the event raised US $10,000 for the Rockhouse Foundation which is dedicated to empowering Negril’s educational facilities. Most recently the foundation completed its most ambitious project — the construction of the Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy (SIIA). The school is the first mixed-ability, special needs early childhood school in Western Jamaica.
In its first year of operation, 30 three-year-old children were enrolled and this September, another 30 students will arrive for the new school term.
Jamaica’s own ‘Chopped Champion’ and Miss Lily’s Chef Andre Fowles helped St. Lucian-born Chef Compton prepare the jerk-themed five course meal. The final menu from the evening’s charity dinner include Jerked Barracuda, Jerked Oxtail, Breadfruit Gnocchi, Dasheen Puree, Jerked Mango, Coconut Rice Pudding and more.
by Tricia Williamson | Photography by Oneil Banton
East Japanese is the premier Japanese restaurant located in the Marketplace at 67 Constant Spring Road in Kingston, Jamaica. East serves a range of traditional Japanese cuisine from sushi to sashimi and was awarded the “2018 Best Watering Hole in Kingston”. Patrons love restaurant and bar not only for the culinary creations and cool vibes but the great music you can not only hear played but see displayed on the walls like a walk of fame.
Let’s talk with the powerhouse behind it all… Chef Taka!
TAKA, BEER MUG FRIDAYs and more…
Everyone knows Chef Utoguchi but everyone simply calls this cool culinary maestro, “Taka”. He established East Japanese in 2004 and officially opened doors in 2005.
A collector of vinyl records many of which are proudly displayed in his restaurant in Market Place in Kingston, Jamaica. Taka loves oldies music, Jamaican music from reggae, ska to dancehall and beyond. His impressive record collection, which he calls a “hobby”, is beautifully showcased in the bar’s exceptional décor which is nothing less than a walk through the decades and genres of Jamaican music. East Japanese is the perfect melting pot of Jamaican music & culture with Japanese style and cuisine.
About a year ago Taka had a vision of introducing some of the island’s best Selectas and DJs at East Japanese and does so through the event series dubbed “Beer Mug Friday”. The weekly Friday event is a must-experience and has featured top Selectas and DJs such as Rory Stone Love, Bad Gyal Marie, DJ Courtney, DJ Delano, DJ Kurt Riley and runs from 7 pm to 3 am. Best of all, Admission is FREE.
Photography courtesy of East Japanese
A gathering that at its origins started out very slow has now grown into a movement filling the bar from wall to wall each week. In his reflection of the growing success, Taka shared with his signature smile, “Everyone loves my place!”
Photography courtesy of East Japanese
When asked about his vision for growing East Japanese beyond Kingston in the years ahead, Taka was clear. Right now, he prefers to focus “only on Kingston”. Kingston in his eyes is a vibrant business place and is seeing its increasing share of tourists. Plus, it also serves as an excellent hub with connections to places like Miami. Taka loves that Jamaica’s capital has no “on and off season”, he added, “Kingston is always on! Plus, the people here are very interesting and they love my place!”
East Japanese is an experience not to be missed. Next time you’re in Kingston, Jamaica be sure to stop by and experience it for yourself whether you’re sitting down for sushi or raising a shot at Beer Mug Fridays….. Like Taka always says you’ll “love this place!”
Written by Tricia Williamson | Photos courtesy of Stush In The Bush
Stush in the Bush at Zionites Farm, nestled in the hills of Free Hill, Bamboo St. Ann, Jamaica is a 15-acre organic farm. The brainchild of Lisa and Chris Binns, this farm-to-table tour reflects a true love with nature. Nature blends with stushness to give you a unique gourmet experience made from homegrown ingredients.
Stush in the Bush is unapologetic in its authenticity and is all about the experience.
Many traditional crops are grown on the farm in addition to exotic vegetables that are used to freshly create preserves, dressings and sauces that excite your taste buds. Beautiful farm to table lunches are the hallmark of the farm. So be sure to book your reservation early!
Beyond the food, it’s a great farm tour that focuses on tasting as well- so you enjoy the tastes of pineapples, sugar cane, coconut water fresh from nature as you learn about the land, plants and their medicinal properties.
Escape to Negril’s West End Cliffs and just relax. The beautifully handcrafted stone cottages nestled in lush green tropical gardens offer you a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea.
Spa Retreat, with its world-class spa services, blended with a Jamaican flair, is perfect for the traveller seeking a quiet vacation with great massages and the best food this side of the island.
This luxury boutique is rated #1 on Trip Advisor and has won numerous travel awards. As an adults-only resort, it offers the best hammocks in town to rock your cares away; a beautiful salt water pool to chill in and meditate for hours and just listen to the soothing sounds of the sea as it crashes against the grey rocky cliffs. And with every sunset, just pick your spot on the sandy beach deck and take in the moment.
The Blue Mahoe is a Foodie’s Paradise
The friendliest staff for miles call the Spa Retreat home. Overlooking the majestic blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Blue Mahoe Restaurant offers the best dining at a picturesque spot on the west end of Jamaica and that’s just the ambiance.
Whether you are in the mood for Jamaican cuisine or seafood, Blue Mahoe sets itself apart with great tasting meals made from the freshest catch and finest ingredients.
Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, make the Blue Mahoe your top choice to dine.
The Spa at Spa Retreat
Massage therapy can be an important part of your health maintenance plan by offering you several benefits:
Lowers Blood Pressure
Improves Blood Circulation
Strengthen the Immune System
Regular massage keeps the body working at optimal levels and Spa Retreat, is the perfect place to get your treatment for mind body and soul.
For all theattention paid to Jamaica as a travel destination, I still think it’s underrated. It has world-class beaches, some of the best hotels in the Caribbean, a stunning landscape full of forested mountains and amazing waterfalls and, most of all, a radiant culture that encompasses way more than just reggae and good coffee.
What made me fall in love with this place is the people.
Happy, resilient and gracious, Jamaicans are rightfully proud of their culinary heritage. This is a country born from Africans escaping slavery, alongside English plantations fueled by workers from India and China.
The national motto is “Out of many, one people,” but it could just as well be “Out of hardship, joy”—you feel it on every visit and taste it in every meal.
You can’t separate the people from the thrill of the roadside fruit stands that are everywhere you look, especially along Highway A1 from Ocho Rios to Kingston. Fresh sapote, custard apples, soursop, cashew apples and incredible vegetables are half the reason to drive to the countryside.
The other is the cooking: Your first stop should be Faith’s Pen, a cluster of food stalls 30 minutes south of Ocho Rios where you can find all the classics, from tangy fish escovitch and braised oxtail to ackee and saltfish to curried goat.
Everything comes with aptly named festival; these fried corn fritters shouldn’t be missed. Jamaican patties are skinny empanadas stuffed with ground meat or chicken: Niah’s, near Seven Mile Beach in Negril, makes a mean one.
And then there’s jerk. You’ll find the seasoned meat all over Jamaica, but very few places do it right, cooking it over green pimento wood and natural hardwood charcoal. Scotchies does, and luckily they have several locations around the island. And while I’d always rather enjoy the outrageously delicious food in its element, I’m happy to fire up the grill and bring a bit of Jamaica to my backyard with these transporting recipes.
Source: http://www.foodandwine.com/travel/andrew-zimmern-jamaican-recipes (Published August 4. 2017)