Carol Jappa had a hunch that most of the contestants in last Saturday’s inaugural Caribbean Cook-off competition in Mississauga would prepare jerk products and other favourite West Indian food, including oxtail and curried goat.
She was right.
The owner of Nanny’s Catering served up a delicious stuffed salmon with spinach and ricotta cheese as her signature dish and a secondary pumpkin squash soup dish that resonated with patrons and the judges who selected her winner over nine other challengers.
“I just wanted to be different,” said Jappa, who moved to Canada from Jamaica in 1976. “I didn’t want to do jerk or oxtail because I figured everybody else would be doing that.”
She started catering a decade ago and opened Nanny’s in 2004. The business folded three years later due to what she describes as a “bad location” and Jappa has been preparing orders from her home for the past three years.
“I just love cooking,” said Jappa, who worked as a customer service clerk for 15 years with a freight forwarding company that went out of business two years ago. “I inherited it from my mother.”
She won a $500 cash prize and a basket of groceries.
The competition was staged by Caribbean Promotions Arts & Culture (CPAC) which organizes the annual summer Jerk Food Festival which Jappa also won a few years ago.
“We just wanted to create an atmosphere of warmth during the winter for Greater Toronto Area residents,” said CPAC founding president, Anthony Plummer.
The contestants last Saturday included husband and wife team, George Allen and Dawne Apple of Sunrise Jerk Sensation, which won this summer’s King of the Jerk crown. They captured the Best Soup, Vegetable and Signature Dish individual prizes.
“We are just excited to be here,” said Guyanese-born Apple who has been catering for nearly two decades. “This is a good opportunity for us to showcase our great food.”
Her husband is Jamaican.
Freddy’s Kitchen clinched the Best Jerk Chicken prize, Jerkie’s Caribbean Kitchen secured the Best Curried Goat crown and Potluck Restaurant won the Best Oxtail award.
The rest of the field comprised of Easton’s Catering, Aunt Elsie’s Caribbean Kitchen and Best Choice Catering.