Afternoon on the Green brought hundreds to the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas Sunday, along with battling chefs, community booths, bands and an expanded kids’ area that helped raise funds for two special student scholarships.
Winners this year are J’kyla Bastian, a senior at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School who plans to major in Marine Biology and English, and Jadynn Sibilly from Charlotte Amalie High School, a talented dancer who intends to put her focus into English and journalism. The scholarships, named after longtime UVI board member Edward Thomas, will benefit both when they begin as freshmen at university in the fall.
It took about a year to plan the event, according to Afternoon on the Green Committee Chair Kyza Callwood, who said more than 100 cooks, bringing more than 100 dishes, turned out, complemented by a few new additions, including a demonstration cooking station manned by Chefs Larry Nibbs and Taj Siwatu.
“It’s just a great event every time it happens,” added Arthur Raymo III, who returned for his ninth year, toting pans upon pans of Brigo’s Firehouse Salmon – the dish he’s best known for – to the big tent in the middle of the green. “For me, it’s great to be able to test my skills, but it’s also a great feeling to see people, with smiles on their faces, keep coming back for more of my food.
Asked his secret, Raymo said there’s “a lot of love” in his dish but also credited the garlic and Italian seasoning he puts into the “secret sauce.”
Also new this year was the addition of UVI’s Culinary Arts Program students, guided by Chef Kerish Robles, who directed them on serving, prepping and interacting with customers. The program is certification based and includes six months of beginner classes that run the gamut between dicing to making sauces and is capped off by a few weeks of time spent running the new campus restaurant Robles has opened, which offers the classes a glimpse at the management end.
The program also offers refresher courses for those more experienced, along with hobby classes who don’t want to make the culinary arts a full career. Robles said the ultimate goal is, no matter what, that students come out with a skill that will enable them to work at a local hotel or restaurant.
Along with the food tents, large crowds also gathered around the stage throughout the afternoon as big-name acts such as Cool Session Brass, cultural dance groups, St. Thomas Carnival Princess and Queen contestants, and more entertained. Meanwhile, just behind, Reichhold Center for the Arts Director Denise Humphrey and her team had amassed a large play area for kids, with handmade game stations that took them about three weeks to put together.
“It’s been so great. Kids have been coming and going all day,” Humphrey said. “We came up with the concept of expanding the games we offered in the past so we came up with a whole new layout mixed with some new things we found online. But what we’re doing here is actually supporting scholarships for students to come to UVI, so this is like the perfect opportunity: why not have fun and play while supporting the next generation of students coming here.”