Spicy food and Caribbean rhythms: A taste of Jamaica rolls into Lachine

A picture of jerk chicken. Noel Cunningham

Montreal’s third Jerk Food Festival promises to fire up your tastebuds as it heads to Lachine’s Soccerplexe Catalogna.

There will be plenty of island dishes from 14 vendors, made with famous Jamaican jerk spices.

Jerk is a traditional Jamaican cooking process where meats and fish are seasoned using a mixture of spices — namely cinnamon, scotch bonnet peppers and allspice or Jamaican Pimento, a plant from which the unripe dried berries and leaves are essential to Caribbean cuisine.

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To obtain the smoky flavour that defines “jerk,” the meat marinates in the hot spice mixture for several hours and is then barbecued over a large emptied oil barrel cut lengthwise and filled with charcoal.

“To get jerk [food] the good way, most people have to travel,” said Vanessa Brown, who organized the event with her husband, Andrew Squire.
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“He always imagined doing an outdoor event like a food festival. He wanted to do something different for Montreal, but then we thought we have to bring entertainment.”

Chef Noel Cunningham gives a food demonstration on Caribbean cuisine. Noel Cunningham

Winnipeg-based Jamaican chef Noel Cunningham will be onsite to demonstrate how to make traditional Jamaican dishes.

Daring amateur cooks who think they’ve got skills can also take part in the “Run-a-Boat” cooking competition for a chance to win prizes.

Contestants will prepare a dish from a mystery basket and will be judged based on creativity, presentation, sanitation and taste.

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Mr. Vegas, a renowned Jamaican reggae and dance hall singer, is set to perform Sunday along with local and national rock and reggae artists like Panta Son, Saboo and Sustane.

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There’ll be activities for children, like inflatable games, soccer bubble balls, and a chance to share a few tricks with Montreal Impacts players.

After last year’s overwhelming turnout, which left many people waiting in long lines, Brown insists that this year, the festival is prepared to receive as many people the parking lot can hold.

The Montreal Jerk Food Festival is on June 23 and 24 at the Soccerplexe Catalogna (775 1st Ave., Lachine).

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