Tue | Dec 10, 2019

Unlock Your Inner Chef with Delicious Occasions

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie/Gleaner Writer
Delicious Occasions Cooking Class
Delicious Occasions Cooking Class
Delicious Occasions Cooking Class
Delicious Occasions Cooking Class
Delicious Occasions Cooking Class
Delicious Occasions Cooking Class
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"Everyone can cook, but not everyone is a chef," said Latoya Panton, founder of Delicious Occasions Cooking Classes. Cooking is an unforgiving art which takes time, effort and years of practice to master. However, under the right guidance and encouragement, one will be able to witness themselves flourish as they learn the different techniques and acquire the knowledge of combining mouth-watering flavours. Instead of searching online or purchasing a plethora of cookbooks, get first-hand experience with Delicious Occasions Cooking Classes, which started in earlier this month.

FOOD was able to sit in on the first class, which focused on knife skills, spices and deboning an entire chicken, led by Panton herself. The demonstration kitchen was enchanting and surprisingly homey and spacious enough to accomodate the persons gathered within the yellow room decorated in warm, earthy colours. We eagerly wrapped on our aprons and sat at a station as Panton began with the basic which will set the foundation for our culinary experience.

With a knife in hand, Panton began to teach us about the different types of knifes and how to spot a good quality knife. She went in depth about knife care and taught her students how to sharpen the knife with a sharpening stone, and maintain the sharpness with a hone. "The purpose of the stone is to sharpen and the hone is to keep it sharp. A knife is considered an investment," said Panton as she slid the knife along the stone at a twenty-two degree angle.

Once our knives were sharp, it was time to learn to cut. With carrots, onions, garlic and leafy vegetables, the students practised their Julienne, Brunoise and Dice cuts until Chef Panton was satisfied with their level of expertise. "This is a lot of fun," said Shaneille Falloon, who decided to take the class to improve her skills before starting her own catering company.

After our vegetables were sliced, diced and minced, we were led to a tray of spices, where Panton told us how important it was to use fresh, unprocessed spices to add flavour to our food. "With whole spices, you know exactly what is going into your food. A lot of these processed powder spices contain fillers to make up the volume," explained Panton, using black pepper as an example. "Peppercorns are expensive. An entire bottle of black pepper powder may contain fillers such as papaya seeds and even ash. Buying whole peppercorns and using a grinder is the best way to get black pepper," said Panton.

After our one-on-one spice tutorial, separating and deboning an entire chicken was next on the agenda. As Panton chopped the chicken, she spoke about the common mistakes most Jamaicans make when preparing the meat. "Most persons cut out the back and you find yourself eating all this bone in your meal," said Panton as she demonstrated the right way to separate a chicken.

In the end, each student was able to create their own combination of spices to flavour their chicken and prepare it themselves. At the end of the class, we were able to taste the individually prepared meals. "Wow! did I really cook this," said Alexi Willis. "I have cooked before, but I have never prepared anything that taste this good," he beamed with pride.

With Delicious Occasions Cooking class, you will be able to unlock your inner chef and learn the skills needed to become a culinary maestro.

For more information, call 509-0093 or 819-0959, Email: deliciousoccasions@yahoo.com, visit Web: deliciousoccasionsja.com, Facebook: Latoya Johnson Panton or view Instagram:@deliciousoccasionsja.

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com