Chef Peter Edey believes youth could revive dying culinary arts

Winners of the local and Caribbean junior challenge competitions.
Winners of the local and Caribbean junior challenge competitions.

Junior chefs in the region could have a food festival of their own soon.

At least that’s the idea of creator of the Junior Duelling Chefs and the Caribbean Duelling Challenge Competitions, Chef Peter Edey.

Edey, who said he believed the culinary arts were dying, noted that the youth were the best way to revive and continue the arts.

“I believe that our culinary arts is dying. I believe we watch too much foreign TV, I believe all those things. I believe the only true culture we have left is food culture, our culinary arts and if we don’t rescue it now, we are in big trouble,” he commented at the awards ceremony for the two competitions last weekend.

He said he believed, “It is time for us to get really serious about our culinary culture”.

“This is a serious recession. I am hearing all sort of things from Parliament, from people on the news and to me it is a lot more simple than that because if all of this doom and gloom is going on, the one thing we have to do is eat. So we better find a way to eat and we want to eat well…

“I think the way to do it is to teach our up and coming generation to eat what we grow and how to do it that it can be presented in any five-star fine dining restaurant anywhere in the world. Then we can bring people in to taste it and we can capture people that way,” he said.

Adding that he had a problem with some of the food festivals that were held, Edey argued that it was “time to have a Caribbean food festival”.

He said he had discussed the concept with the coaches of other junior culinary teams and teachers, as well as the junior chefs themselves who were in favour of the idea.

“So we are now working toward a Junior Food Festival, where the juniors will do everything and this is in an effort to instill in these people,” he said.

Recalling a time when most of the executive chefs in Barbados were “imported” Edey argued that if Barbados was still importing chefs then something was wrong.

“I am one who believes there is a place for the imported chefs, but that has long gone. When I went into the industry, I was told these chefs are brought here to teach you. If 34 years after you are still bringing them in, it means we are pretty dumb people, or they are not teaching, something, because there is no profession in the world that takes that long to learn.”

He said he believed the chefs had learnt all about the techniques and the classics the foreign chefs had to teach, but now it was time for the Caribbean to create its own.

“It is our time though to start creating our own classics. I can see in years to come a whole book based on recipes created by these young people because I feel at this point they are even more creative than I am.

Adding that the competitions came out of desperation when he was looking for a chef to cook Caribbean cuisine in his own restaurant and could not find any chefs to fit the bill.

“So what I am seeing though is some very talented young people, not only in Barbados but across the Caribbean … This season was the very best and if you talk to anyone who is here. I almost collapsed today after the final. That is what these young people put me through. You just could not rest for a moment. Both the local and regional competition has become so competitive, I did not see this one coming. Now everybody is taking on, hiring chefs to train their teams,” he added. (LB)

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