|Plantain takes center stage at Island Flare’s Food Fight 2012|
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: May 21, 2012
They can be cooked green, semi-ripe or fully green. They can be treated like a starchy vegetable or used in savory or sweet dishes. They can be simmered in soup or turned into mash, and their subtle taste is maximized when roasted or fried. They can also act as a foil to rich flavors such as spicy meat or bean stews. And now high school seniors interested in the culinary arts are being challenged to put their spin on the fruit known as the plantain.
Island Flare’s Food Fight 2012 puts the fruit squarely in the middle of the ring for what is being dubbed “Battle Plantain” with students going head-to-head to produce the best dish featuring the plantain.
“I chose plantain for the battle because traditionally it’s an ingredient that we use a lot in Bahamian cooking, and which of course we simply fry and call it a day. But plantain is a versatile ingredient that can be used in dishes that are sweet or savory. It’s almost like a blank canvas as far as what can be created,” said Island Flare president and chef Jamal Petty.
He’s expecting the students to prepare dishes that are out of the box.
At a friendly work battle, Chef Petty, who is also the executive banquet sous chef at Sandals Royal Bahamian Hotel, at one time had to do battle with the plantain. He took the fruit that most Bahamians utilize as a savory component and transformed it into a dessert that was a showstopper.
He used the ripe plantain to make a warm center spiced cake and substituted it for the carrots. He also made a plantain brittle and finished his dish with a white chocolate ice cream.
It’s that kind of thinking that he wants participants to bring to the “Battle Plantain” table.
Invitations were sent to the various high school home economics departments, inviting graduating seniors to compete in the competition for the chance to win a $7,500 scholarship to Lincoln College of Technology. Students have until Friday, June 8 to send in a recipe for a dish that showcases the plantain. They will then have to prepare four portions of that dish in a preliminary round on Friday, June 29 at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Hotel with the top four moving on to the final on Saturday, June 30. The final takes place center court at the Mall at Marathon.
During the prelim and the final, students can have their ingredients prepped, but nothing can be cooked. They will have a two-hour window in which to cook, clean up and plate.
The dishes will be scored on taste, originality and presentation with a total of 10 points awarded for each.