Tue | Mar 28, 2023

Chef Ricardo Esson finds culinary passion in catering

Published:Thursday | February 2, 2023 | 12:56 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
This jerk chicken bites with a side of guava ginger barbecue sauce is paired with signature garlic butter yam.
This jerk chicken bites with a side of guava ginger barbecue sauce is paired with signature garlic butter yam.
This sweet corn and stamp-and-go (also known as fritters) combination is a hit among clients.
This sweet corn and stamp-and-go (also known as fritters) combination is a hit among clients.
This garden variety is Paradise Catering’s summer sizzle grilled plantain salad, served with a watermelon vinaigrette dressing.
This garden variety is Paradise Catering’s summer sizzle grilled plantain salad, served with a watermelon vinaigrette dressing.
Chef Ricardo Esson showing off just how he plates island flavour as a culinary artist.
Chef Ricardo Esson showing off just how he plates island flavour as a culinary artist.
In a symphony of flavour, Chef Esson presents a jerk mango roasted breadfruit salad.
In a symphony of flavour, Chef Esson presents a jerk mango roasted breadfruit salad.
Feast your eyes on this scrumptious sweet potato and salt fish croquette.
Feast your eyes on this scrumptious sweet potato and salt fish croquette.
Reimagined seasoning and spices in this chicken wrap with plaintain fries.
Reimagined seasoning and spices in this chicken wrap with plaintain fries.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

If cooking is love made visible...and edible, then Chef Ricardo Esson has found life’s recipe for happiness. Preparing simple yet tasty dishes from the tender age of eight, he knew from that point that the culinary arts would be his calling. Today, he is both a chef and food entrepreneur with his business, Paradise Catering.

Priding himself on creating a distinguished taste that people have grown to love, Chef Esson is a true enchanter of palates. Signature dishes like sweet potato and salt fish croquettes, jerked chicken bites, roasted chicken, curried goat, sesame seed barbecued chicken, and fried chicken proudly plate as staples on his menu. But the true marking as a culinary artist is within his sides and salads: sorrel gungo rice and peas, garden vegetable rice, garlic butter yam, and roasted garlic ackee salad, just to name a few.

As the eldest of six children, he recalls preparing fresh and tasty meals on a wood fire. There was no denying the smokey flavour in every mouthwatering bite. And he has carried that irresistible approach to his kitchen for others to delight in and savour.

While he always saw his career trajectory heading toward the kitchen, the catering aspect was pure happenstance. “I didn’t decide to create a catering company; the opportunity just happened after doing private cooking for different clients,” he told Food.

But everything changed one day when his expertise was needed for catering a wedding for a member of his community in Glengoffe, St Catherine. He answered that call, without the materials or equipment typically used in the catering landscape. So his charge enabled him to rent the necessary tools needed to get the job done.

From there, others got wind of his services via word of mouth and before he knew it, his catering company was created. “Paradise Catering has officially been open since 2007 and it was legally registered in 2009, growing from strength to strength,” he said.

He started in the decorating area, but quickly shifted towards his first love: food.

Although many struggled during the restrictions of the global pandemic, Chef Esson is grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to secure and maintain clients during that trying period.

“God is good, and my company is indeed blessed to have customers and clients who look out for us and our success,” he shared. During that time frame, he had returned to being a canteen concessionaire, where he was running two canteens.

The good chef also stayed active on the private catering circuit, facilitating the feasts at different events for the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, “We catered for the artistes backstage at these televised events. We give God thanks.”

With years of experience in this area of expertise, Chef Esson is looking forward to another blessed year, and he hopes to provide nourishing, valuable, quality, and professional service to his clients in 2023 and beyond.

His advice to other aspiring ‘food-trepreneurs’ is to be focused and resilient.

“You’re not going to see the dollar sign right away. It takes time to grow, so be encouraged. Learn to take correction and constructive criticism. Learn to sit at the feet of counsel and soak up all the knowledge you can,” he said.

Chef Esson continued by highlighting, “What you don’t know, ask; because there are persons out there willing to guide and give advice. Humble yourself and learn as much as you can. Once you put in the good work, you will reap the fruits of your labour.”

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com