Local Food in Traditional Setting Takes Center Stage at STX Event

Passionate about agriculture and education, Yvette and Dale Browne of Sejah Farm V.I. take a minute together during Bush Cook Chef Cook Competition. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Passionate about agriculture and education, Yvette and Dale Browne of Sejah Farm V.I. take a minute together during the Bush Cook Chef Cook Competition. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
USVI first lady Yolanda Bryan bumps elbows with Michelle Mehalick, whose hands are full of dough, at the Un Amore booth at Bush Cook Chef Cook. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
USVI first lady Yolanda Bryan bumps elbows with Michelle Mehalick, whose hands are full of dough, at the Un Amore booth at Bush Cook Chef Cook. (Source photo by Linda Morland)

Local culture and food shared the spotlight this weekend as the Bush Cook Chef Cook competition returned to Sejah Farm V.I. for the third year.

The three-day event was a venue for local restaurant owners, chefs, cooks and students to prepare and present local foods in traditional settings. From professionals to 4-H members, the focus was on local food prepared with coal pots, fire pits or a three stone setting.

On Saturday afternoon, people strolled among the tents sampling an array of food choices during the cooking competition. There were vegetarian, vegan and meat dishes available, providing selections for all tastes. Fresh fruits and vegetables were available for sale to those who wanted to try new ideas at home.

Dale and Yvette Browne, owners of Sejah Farm V.I., are passionate about agriculture. During the Bush Cook Chef Cook event on Oct. 26, he and his wife took a few minutes to talk about their vision for the future. According to Dale, there is a need to “make local food more accessible.” He said that local food has “real good value” and there should be an effort to “get it into the community.” “There is a lack in the schools of various areas of education which go beyond just farming.” Yvette was among the last agriculture students to graduate from UVI, which no longer offers an agriculture major.

The Brownes are proud of the program at Sejah Farm, which engaged children to learn farming “from seeds to harvest” during the summer. They hope to expand the program to include students during the school year.

A children’s cooking competition was canceled when one of the two teams could not attend. However, the 4-H Superlicious Chefs gave demonstrations and tastes of freshly sautéed vegetables and marinated chicken grilled over a coal pot. They were interviewed and given suggestions by Sommer Sibilly-Brown of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition.

The overall competition winners were:
– 1st Place: Dr. Marlon Williams
– 2nd Place: Chef Ashley Allen – St. Thomas
– 3rd Place: Chef Rickey Dean Andrews

Tending a cooking pit, Bush Cook Chef Cook guest Chef Ashley Allen of St. Thomas is assisted by Anthony Allen. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Tending a cooking pit, Bush Cook Chef Cook guest Chef Ashley Allen of St. Thomas is assisted by Anthony Allen. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
The 4-H Superlicious Chefs dish up sautéed fresh vegetables and marinated chicken cooked over a coal pot. From left: Justic Veira, Dawn Thomas, and Joey Swanson. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
The 4-H Superlicious Chefs dish up sautéed fresh vegetables and marinated chicken cooked over a coal pot. From left: Justic Veira, Dawn Thomas and Joey Swanson. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Cooking over a coal pot fashioned from an auto rim, Joey Swanson observes  Justic Veira. Both are members of the 4-H Superlicious Chefs. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Cooking over a coal pot fashioned from an auto rim, Joey Swanson observes Justic Veira. Both are members of the 4-H Superlicious Chefs. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Sugar Apple chef Blake Gardner stirs a pot as Micah Paul, aged 8 assists. Micah says he has already decided to become a chef. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Sugar Apple Chef Blake Gardner stirs a pot as Micah Paul, age 8, assists. Micah says he has already decided to become a chef. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
A local favorite, Carambolas, are ripe and ready for use at the Sejah Farm VI market. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
A local favorite, carambolas are ripe and ready for use at the Sejah Farm V.I. market. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
As Dionerca Ferreras serves customers at the 4-H Superlicious Chefs booth, Dale Browne, of Sejah Farm, chats with people in line. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
As Dionerca Ferreras serves customers at the 4-H Superlicious Chefs booth, Dale Browne, of Sejah Farm, chats with people in line. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Sommer Sibilly-Brown of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition (on right), discusses the menu prepared by the 4-H Superlicious Chefs. From left: Justic Veira, Melissa Ferreras, and Dawn Thomas. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Sommer Sibilly-Brown of the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, right, discusses the menu prepared by the 4-H Superlicious Chefs. From left: Justic Veira, Melissa Ferreras and Dawn Thomas. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Taj Washburn collects the menus for each competitor under the watchful eye of  Yvette Browne of Sejah Farm. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
Taj Washburn collects the menus for each competitor under the watchful eye of Yvette Browne of Sejah Farm. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
SALT chef Chris Booth offers a roulade of lamb, goat and rabbit. He hopes to encourage new and different ways of preparing local meats. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
SALT Chef Chris Booth offers a roulade of lamb, goat and rabbit. He hopes to encourage new and different ways of preparing local meats. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
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