Street Food ‘Coal Stove’ Cooking Experience
Six coal stove cooking novices took on the ultimate challenge of cooking street food style over live fire, and with aprons on and kitchen utensils ready, they officially launched the Street Food ‘Coal Stove’ Cooking Experience.
Street Food Saturdays, hosted by Executive Chef Simone Walker-Barrett, has become one of Jamaica’s most popular culinary retreats.
Since its inception eight years ago, Street Food Saturdays’ river dining experience has evolved with thousands of Jamaicans making the pilgrimage to Mount James, St Andrew, from across Jamaica, North America, Europe, and the Caribbean for the ultimate in woodfire gourmet.
“I am an educator at heart,” says Chef Walker-Barrett. “I love food and I love to share the art of food preparation using traditional methods; so the cooking experience is a merger of my two great passions and we’re so pleased to introduce it on Street Food’s eighth anniversary celebrated this month,” she explained.
With the guidance and instruction of Chef Walker-Barrett, the group produced a fantastic spread including Street Food’s trademark rum-fiah shrimp, pimento chicken, fish wrapped in banana leaf, charcoal pork tenderloin, crayfish rundown, and pak choy salad, and thank goodness Mount James wasn’t burnt to the ground.
The soothing stream of the river was a perfect complement to the rustic setting which proved to be an ideal background acoustic for the group. As they wrapped fish and sauteed chicken, the lads declared their intention of tying half the female population of Jamaica with their newfound expertise, while the ladies left their simmering pots momentarily to take scenic photos of the river.
Once the dishes were plated, the #streetfoodies retired to a gazebo where they served themselves from a heaped buffet with additions of roast sweet potato, ripe plantain, tostones, lobster fritters, fried bammy, and parmesan pesto pasta, courtesy of Chef Walker-Barrett.
Jamaicans know how to handle a largesse of food under any circumstance, and this group was up to the task. Plates were filled, emptied, and refilled. Even as they groaned from full bellies, there was room to try just one more fritter, slathered in sauce from the crayfish rundown.
“I was floored by how flavourful, aromatic, and visually colourful each dish was,” said Sainte-Marie Stephenson, an interior designer who prepared the day’s Rum-Fiah Shrimp. “When the dishes came together on the buffet table, and eventually our plates, it was just a sensory delight.”
And as everyone sat back with collective sighs of satisfaction, experiencing the bliss of a job well done… the sorrel beer cream cheese tart with a bulla crust was revealed. Lesser mortals would have run- but these street foodies were not faint of heart. They heroically picked up their forks and applied themselves to the task.
“Of course, we will continue our river dining experience,” assured Chef Walker-Barrett. The cooking is just a new addition to our calendar. Also, to accommodate our guests from overseas, we will offer a shuttle service for those groups who might otherwise find it difficult or costly to get here. Reservations should open within the next two weeks on our Instagram page (@streetfoodsaturdays) and AirBNB. We look forward to hosting everyone.”