Jamaica’s food scene is about to get a well-deserved breath of fresh air. The Nyam Jam Food and Musical Festival on November 13-14, 2015 is slated to be the island’s premiere food event. ‘Nyam’ is the Jamaican word meaning ‘eat’.
Nyam Jam is the brain- child of famed founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell. The festival will be held on the grounds of idyllic Goldeneye in Oracabessa. The weekend includes internationally acclaimed chefs like Mario Batali, April Bloomfield and Johnny Iuzzini. Local culinary celebrities like pit master Gariel Ferguson, pastry maven Colin Hylton are also prepared to delight palates. Organizers maintain that it was important that the festival draws some key culinary influencers who understood what was happening on the Jamaican food scene, and not necessarily finding big names from the Food Network.
On the itinerary is a five- course meal prepared by five celebrity chefs, all made with produce from local farms; a concert by legendary Jamaican jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin. A cultural food bazaar, akin to the successful Kingston Kitchen bazaars; combining live cooking demo, DJ sets and shopping.
Festival organizer and co-founder, Reyna Mastosimone is keen on keeping the spirit of the first Nyam Jam festival authentically Jamaican, “People can look forward to a great time of intimate food dining experiences. The chefs have now been here [Jamaica] and will hopefully take that inspiration and create menus especially for Nyam Jam. We are booking with a lot of local purveyors and farmers, so expect fresh, amazing produce”.
The Nyam Jam festival is part of a growing food movement in Jamaica that harnesses organic farming and sustainability. Despite being a tropical island, much of the food on supermarket shelves are processed and imported. The average Jamaican finds it hard to eat fresh produce because packaged food is cheaper than the fresh alternatives. Nyam Jam is poised to celebrate Jamaican culture through the lens of the island nation’s food.
The local buzz around the food festival is palpable. Sure, Jamaica is known for rum, Rastafari and reggae, but Nyam Jam puts Jamaican food in the forefront. “People are going to be blown away with the fantastic traditional flavors that we are going to bring to the festival. I am doing my Mokko Pork and Mokko Chicken which is done by marinating the pork with the fresh traditional jerk spices then wrapping it in pepper elder leaves and chill for two days,” says chef Gariel Ferguson.
Food tourism is a booming within the travel industry and Jamaica is looking to hop on that proverbial bandwagon. There are a few hotels offering cooking classes with local cooks and food tours that include trips to the market and the seaside for seafood offerings.
Proper support is essential to launching Jamaican food beyond jerk chicken and pork. The festival will put Jamaica under a global microscope. Chefs and food travellers from all over the world can come and explore more of Jamaica’s cultural traditions in food.
“This event is about a vision that we all have for Jamaican food and its place in the world,” Ferguson continued.
For more information and ticket purchase, visit www.nyamjam.com
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