It is not often that you discover a nine year old who enjoys cooking in front of a massive audience and who is determined to surpass her mother’s awards received at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s Festival of Foods Showcase over the years. Shannel Barnett from the Liberty Learning Centre in Portland is one such nine year old whose talents are being sharpened through the JCDC Food and Performing Arts competitions.
Exposed to cooking at around age three, Shannel loves to prepare her favourite dish, cowfoot and pumpkin rice and also enjoys baking and sandwich making. It was her entry in the live sandwich making competition at the northern Festival of Foods competition on Friday (June 20) that caught the attention of several participants at the Anglican Church Hall. The energetic nine year-old danced to music while preparing her Hearty Rainbow Sandwiches from scratch which earned her a gold medal. The bigger the crowd the more she seemed to enjoy what she was doing which was confirmed by her mother Claudia Bunting who notes that she loves a big audience which seems to make her more confident.
Not only is Shannel involved in culinary arts but she is a parish and national gold medalist in the JCDC Speech Festival. She also copped a gold medal for her Fiesta Cupcakes Bouquet and a silver medal for her Hearty Fiesta Pizza entry at the JCDC Festival of Foods competition. She states that aspects of the Festival of Foods Showcase such as the Live Sandwich Making competition challenges her and helps her to be creative. “While preparing the sandwich the tomatoes broke into pieces and I had to be creative and use it even though it was in pieces” Shannel says.
Shannel says she was encouraged to enter the JCDC competitions by her mother who is a Food and Nutrition teacher and who motivates her to do anything that she believes in. She tells me “I can do anything once I believe and
strive for it”. Her mother, Claudia who has been entering the Festival of Foods for over six years copping several awards and medals commends the JCDC for its work in unearthing, developing and showcasing the talents of Jamaicans. “JCDC encompasses all areas of our culture and every Jamaican has an area that they can become involved in because there is a programme for every talent” she adds.
Claudia says her daughter is a well rounded young lady who is involved in several school clubs, is a part of her school’s Honour Roll, the 2011 Mini Miss Liberty Learning Centre and who has honed her culinary and performing arts talents through the JCDC competitions. “The competitions have helped to develop her culinary capacity and also her self confidence.”
The northern Festival of Foods Showcase culminated on Friday in Port Maria, St. Mary which featured the display of a wide variety of categories, including main dishes, desserts as well as napkin folding and table setting competitions.
Hundreds of participants enjoyed non-stop entertainment and prizes and exciting food displays, mystery basket competitions and a celebrity cook-off competition between Reggae artiste, Dannai who emerged the winner, Miss St. Mary Festival Queen 2013, Nordia Antwine, Port Maria Councillor, Trecia Harris-Smiley and Mayor Levan Freeman’s Administrator, Chelsea Chin.