Kitchen Kulcha: Reggae sensation Jesse Royal hosts cooking class
Who knew Jesse Royal was also a culinary genius? The entertainer hosted his very first cooking lesson at the Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen on Saturday, much to the delight of the fans and foodie lovers present.
“Cooking is something that is very therapeutic to me. I don’t get the chance to display that side of me enough. There is a space now for expressing other sides and you get to see people in a more personal way: what they like to cook, how they cook and the flavours that speak to them. And that helps you to define the individual,” Royal told Food.
He was happy to be partnering with Worthy Park and Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen for this wonderful occasion to unify the community.
In a night dubbed Kitchen Kulcha, Royal, as head chef, masterfully guided his interactive class through an exciting three-course experience. “I carefully crafted a menu that was Jamaican but that was food forward. We are travelling a lot, the internet is an open space, so we don’t have to stay in the same flavour profiles. We can make rice and peas, but we can make dirty rice. We can mix some other things in the mix.”
There’s no dinner party without drinks. And if the Worthy Park swizzle welcome cocktail wasn’t inviting enough, attendees were given the opportunity to shake things up with the Worthy Park rum mixology cocktail making session.
In the end, guests pleasantly sipped on their take of the Vale Punch, made with Worthy Park Select, Rum-Bar Overproof Rum, amaretto liqueur, pineapple juice, cherry juice, lime juice and cocktail bitters.
From there, it was on to the appetisers, where the foodies created a smooth combination of fresh guacamole with the pita bread turned chips for the dip.
Royal provided the students with a few cooking tips. “The only way to have control of your seasoning is to dip, punch and sprinkle.” These instructions came in handy, especially when making the fresh guacamole.
Once the guac was made, the pita bread slices were coated with seasoned oil and placed in the oven for the right amount of crisp. Split into teams of four, the Angels, Dollies, Wife Material and Taste and Go Tribe immediately indulged in the starter once those chips cooled from the oven.
The empty guac bowls made way for the enticing entrée: the rum sautéed salmon with signature sauce, accompanied by dirty rice and grilled corn in Cajun butter.
“The beauty about food is its individuality,” Royal highlighted. So everyone in the kitchen got to work in their team, creating the ultimate pièce de résistancee. The dirty rice was up first. Don’t let that name fool you. It presented both colour and flavour in every bite!
Starting out with white rice, we added fresh seasoning and spices to make melody with each grain. Of course, the song wouldn’t be complete without a chorus. That’s where the salmon comes in.
Padding the salmon dry, the teams went on to lightly season the salmon with salt, garlic powder and black pepper as instructed. “One of my favourite cuisines is Japanese. You don’t mask the ingredients. It’s just clean,” he added. For him, less is more and he applied this technique when preparing the fish.
Sautéed in a frying pan with seasoning and rum, the salmon was then placed in the oven for baking and the pot was subsequently used to make the sweet and spicy sauce.
There was a certain je ne sais quoi that came with the grilled corn made better as it was stirred gingerly over heat in butter, olive oil and Cajun spice.
After plating, everyone sat down to enjoy the feast of their labour. “It’s great to show people that food is exciting. And just like how me play with words, mi play with ingredients,” Royal added.