From the Plate of Chef Dennis McIntosh
These days we have many more options as it relates dining out than ever before & it's about time so say all of us. Driven by the fact that there is a greater appreciation for food, health, lifestyle & everyone just having a better understanding & interest in cooking.
Like our motto.... Out of many one people, we now have restaurants that appeal to all segments of the community Sushi, Escargot & Calamari are no longer strangers to the Jamaican palate. The cuisines on offer reflect the ethnic groups in Jamaica as well as those that reflect the global trends so Chinese, Japanese, Italian & Jamaican can be found in the city. The hotels island wide offer Spanish, Mexican, Cuban, French & Asian fusion along with the Caribbean /Jamaican.
The cluster of restaurants, lounges, bars & clubs is the option that works well in Kingston due to the fact it the city with more disposable income, consultants , business & government offices who spend on food & entertainment. Outside of the city it much more difficult to set up successful business opportunity as the foot traffic is not there in most cases & the elements of car parking, security & value for money come into play however if Kingston have the critical mass the country & coast have the locations. To this end we are seeing more catering to homes & villas, event catering & pop up dining options. This gives the planners & chefs the a way to create memorable events by working together to execute events.
Not enough of our local companies that sell or trade in food or food related equipment recognize the importance
of having qualified Chefs endorse & promote their produce/services in an effort to drive sales at the local level. The hospitality industry cannot alone be expected to buy the range of products these companies carry in this hostile economical times .The cost of imports have been well documented & if inventory is not moving it will result in poor quality & high prices coming to the operators/chef. Here is an opportunity to get creative as our chefs need to create small plates giving the customers Variety, options, quality& develop a vibe /atmosphere in the space & create a WOW factor for diners with sexy plates platters & glassware.
At the same time more focus has to be on the utilization of locally grown seasonal foods & production of value added food items thus supporting the farming community & getting the cooks & chefs to be more creative & adventurous. Kingston so far is the location where much of the independent restaurants are popping up along with the lounges & bars as everyone looks to find the new competitive edge in the market place.
From jerk shacks, fish huts, beach clubs, casinos to casual restaurants are the kind of openings we have seen over the past year or so, at the same time the hotels are adding more dining options that keep the all inclusive guest in the hotel. Trained culinary leaders have to be heading up these kitchens in order to train the young eager new crop of local chef who must celebrate Jamaican cuisine every opportunity they get as we have quality fresh local produce to cook with year round.
Funny thing is as an island destination we have far too many indoor restaurants the culture & guest expectation is for more outdoor dining options that will better work for our casual Jerk is still the big draw on the island but fish/seafood is very popular as is the increase demand for vegetarian options.
BBQ/Smoking of meats & seafood over sweet woods is making its mark as family style dining gains a foothold as we do more of the outside dining where grilled items like vegetables & starches can add real variety to the menu offering . So we have to continue working on flavor profile , presentation, consistency, basic skills & quality of inputs to ensure we get the guest returning time & time again