A Recipe of Epic Proportion

This time last year I was preparing for the biggest attraction in the city of Philadelphia – the 2016 Democratic National Convention. On Saturday July 23rd and again on the 24th, JADE Jamaican Grill would become one of a select group of food vendors at the DNC. It was a recipe of epic proportion whipping together two thousand bites for each event; the Media Party at Citizens Bank Park and the Welcome Delegate Reception at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. And an excellent showing it was, filled with world-renowned Jamaican goodness and Caribbean charm.

A few days prior to the DNC, I orchestrated a live television appearance on the local FOX-TV affiliate station and featured both dishes that would be served at the convention; our signature Caribbean Sea Salt Rum Cupcakes, and classic Jerk Pork and Rice & Peas. It was a fun time on Good Day Philadelphia with co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley, and an experience of a lifetime at the convention events.

As I sat at my desk yesterday preparing for another exciting opportunity – Adjunct Chef Instructor at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College – I was reminded about the convention. I was struck by the fact that exactly a year ago I was gearing up for what was divine fortune. Had you told me last year that my small business would be part of the DNC, and not just one but two events, I might have given you the suspicious side eye. Had you told me a few months ago that I would be preparing to teach at The Restaurant School, I wouldn’t have believed it either. Yet, here we are. Here I am.

What a difference a year makes! And yet, the more things change the more they stay the same. In a revelatory sort of way, I was struck that each birthday month (I was born on July 9th and just celebrated my 44th birthday) the universe gifts me an amazing opportunity tailor-made for my unique talents and abilities. On Monday, this Monday, July 24th, I will step onto the campus at The Restaurant School in Philadelphia to teach my first class – a one-week International Summer Cooking Camp. I simply could not have written a better script or charted a more interesting course. This new adventure is, in the same way, a recipe of epic proportion; the same month, the same dates, the same place.

Don’t you just love when things fall into place? And isn’t that it? They somehow always do. Eventually, we all get where we’re supposed to be, not minding the twists and turns, speed bumps and roadblocks.

Here’s to the business of traveling down a new road on this lifestyle, foodie, entrepreneur journey that is my life. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Knowing whichever way the road forks and whatever path I take, I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

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From Start to Finish

It’s been said it’s not how you start but how you finish. It was last Sunday, October 9th at about 11:30am when I began loading my truck to head to Short Hills, New Jersey. I was on my way to Williams-Sonoma to teach a cooking demonstration.

The rain fell steadily as my son Robert and I packed up to leave. It wasn’t long before we were on our way. As we entered the New Jersey Turnpike, the rain began to pour. It did so the entire ride. Right up until the moment we exited the highway. What was a continuous shower for over an hour, subsided into a light mist.

The parking lots around the mall were fuller than expected. We entered Williams-Sonoma to tens of busy shoppers.

Cabbage Confetti

Cabbage Confetti

I began staging the countertop near the stove. My theme was Falsetto Cooking Demo: Fall Flavors that Make Your Mouth Sing. The menu featured Cabbage Confetti, a flavorful dish made with green cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, fresh thyme, a few spices, oil and water. Also on the menu was Sesame Chicken, an easy-to-make savory, Asian-style dish. I also brought along a couple dozen of my Rum Cupcakes. I hardly ever leave home without them.

The ingredients were laid out, so too were serving platters, pots and pans, and everything necessary for a successful demo event.

The class got underway with much chopping, slicing, shredding and seasoning. As the flame kicked underneath the frying pans, the fragrant flavor of freshly prepared food found its way out and into the mall. Within a few toss of the cabbage the demo area was littered with onlookers.

I cooked and served cabbage, chicken and cupcakes to an uber-satisfied crowd.

A dreary and damp day had turned sunny side up. We walked out of Williams-Sonoma and into a blindingly bright Sunday afternoon. It was a remarkable day from start to finish.

For recipes, entertaining ideas and more, visit www.jadegrill.com or email flavors@jadegrill.com.

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Working with Williams-Sonoma

As I sat at my desk outlining my fall calendar a few weeks ago it occurred to me how fortunate I am to be working with Williams-Sonoma. With two upcoming food events at the gourmet retailer, I began to reflect on how our collaboration began. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how it all came to be.

Our relationship is no accident. I had taught cooking classes at another chain store. After about three years, I decided to fold it into my own product offering as Pantry Parties – private, hands-on instruction in the comfort of the client’s home. So, I’d been there, done that so to speak.

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Seeking to establish my brand as a flavorful food venture- not merely a Jamaican one, I set my sights on a company whose name is synonymous with taste, quality, style and functionality.

If you’re a food connoisseur,           Williams-Sonoma’s high quality cookware, specialty products, gourmet foods, in-store culinary events and stylish home furnishings are familiar. And it’s not just passionate foodies; professional chefs are hot for the brand.

Not long after I formed my namesake JADE in the fall of 2013, I contacted the Princeton, New Jersey store to see whether they offered cooking classes and how I would go about getting on the roster. During our conversation I fired off my list of accomplishments – numerous television appearances on NBC and FOX, a cooking series on PBS, mentions in the local print press, having taught culinary demonstrations previously, and so on. They were impressed and we scheduled a meeting and site tour. I followed-up with an email, included the standard accompaniments – my resume, bio, head shot and media clippings.

We met, all went well and we booked my first cooking class. Thrilled about my score I wasted no time. I telephoned the flagship store at Columbus Circle in New York City. A similar scenario transpired. After a site tour the assistant manager and I discussed how we would incorporate my brand of flavor into the mix. Long story short, we settled on a date for demo number two.

My first demonstration was a success. So much so that by the time I reached out to the King of Prussia store the following Monday they were well aware of who I was and equally as excited about me doing a demo there.

Since then I’ve taught almost ten classes, in five cities and three states in under two years. I’ve loved every minute of it! And from the fact that they’ve invited me back numerous times – I think it’s safe to say they relish having me there too.

And that’s how the story goes!

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