Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Chef Nickal Stennett: From dishwasher to Chef of the Year

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:13 AMRocheda Bartley /Gleaner Writer
Playing around with ingredients, the innovative professional cook came up with pesto grilled salmon, shrimp kebabs, steamed vegetables perfected with tomato sauce and served with carrot-infused mashed potatoes for the competition.
Fire on top and bottom, Chef Stennett is out to make tasty dishes that can be enjoyed by all.
It’s all about flavours for Chef Stennett’s winning dish – jerked barbecued lamb rack, accompanied with stir fired chicken and mushroom, vegetable polenta, reggae-style steamed fish and lamb soup.
Presentation sets Chef Stennett apart from other culinary artists.
Beef rolade stuffed with callaloo, jade sausage and roasted corn, accompanied with beet root-infused mashed potatoes, smoky grilled chicken breast, ‘yaad-style’ curried chicken with coconut flakes and pumpkin purée is one of the creative dishes Chef Stennett whipped up for the competition.
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He’s creative, insightful and a superb chef who has just been named Chef of the Year at the Taste of Jamaica Culinary Competition.

Recreating the dishes he made at the culinary clash, he impressed the team with his top-notch skills, attentiveness and story.

HIS PASSION

For four years, he worked as a dishwasher at the Blue Window Restaurant at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. Now, he’s celebrating his 11th year at the eatery and has become one of its most valued professional cooks who continue to wow taste buds with exciting dishes.

Chef Nickal Stennett started out experimenting with food around the kitchen. But soon after initiating his self-taught lessons, the culinary experts at the hotel saw his potential and started training to develop his skills.

“I see myself as Jamaica’s newest immaculate chef on the rise. Being the Chef of the Year is the best feeling any chef could have during their career. It makes me feel very proud of myself and to be a part of the Jamaica Pegasus culinary team,” he told Food.

Copping the coveted title with his dish of jerked barbecued lamb rack, accompanied with stir fried chicken and mushroom, vegetable polenta, reggae-style steamed fish and lamb soup, Chef Stennett is ready to live up to his name. Whipping up extraordinary and tasty options has become more than a job, but a lifestyle.

IN THE KITCHEN

Chef Stennett knows how to stand the heat in the kitchen. Competition or not, he’s always aiming to top the last meal he prepared, especially his presentation. He believes this sets him apart from other chefs. Still, food battles pushes him to do his best, accelerate his speed and develop consistency.

“The thing that annoys me the most in the kitchen is working with someone who is not passionate about their work. It makes me uncomfortable, and makes the work seems harder,” Chef Stennett said.

He enjoys preparing seafood and vegetarian options more than anything. That’s because he’s aware of the benefits of eating healthily. He sees himself moving up the ladder as an executive chef and/or owning a restaurant in the next five years.

rocheda.bartley@gleanerjm.com