Making the cut

Jerk sausage and pepper kebabs glazed with fruit chutney were well received by those in attendance at Copperwood's Making the Cut food seminar.

Jerk sausage and pepper kebabs glazed with fruit chutney were well received by those in attendance at Copperwood's Making the Cut food seminar
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Did you make the cut? Copperwood’s “Making The Cut” pork-themed food seminar, that is. The event took place last week Thursday at the Courtleigh Auditorium and featured celebrity chef Charlie McKenna of Lillie’s Q in Chicago and agricultural specialist Dr Timothy Dean Pringle, professor, animal and dairy science at the University of Georgia.

The duo spoke on healthy pork practices and demonstrated the multitudinous possibilities of pork. The enraptured crowd of foodies, chefs and restaurant owners hung on the guest speakers’ every word as they were treated to a live demonstration of creative ways to cut pork utilising “everything but the oink”. The seminar is part of Copperwood’s #knowyourpork campaign, aimed at educating customers on proper pork consumption and promoting sustainability in the local pork market.

Back for seconds!

It was chef Charlie McKenna’s second time to the island as a guest of the Making the Cut seminars. His first trip brought him to the tourist capital Montego Bay; this trip afforded him a different perspective of the Jamaican food scene in its bustling capital Kingston. McKenna has won numerous awards including first place at the Memphis competition, considered the world championship of BBQ. For his demonstration he used the simple ingredients of salt, pepper and garlic to season a tenderloin wrapped in string. The string promotes even cooking throughout the meat.

McKenna’s Chicago-based restaurants, Lillie Q’s and Dixie, are credited with bringing real southern cooking to the big city. “My restaurants heavily feature pork; it’s my favourite meat,” he shared with Thursday Food. Although only on the island for a few days he had been thoroughly enjoying the culinary scene, including, of course, jerk pork.

“This is not about Copperwood; this is about creating a sustainable pork market in Jamaica,” said Copperwood Brand Manager Tina Hamilton. She sought to highlight the problems sabotaging the Jamaican pork industry, such as praedial larceny, importation of foreign meat, and negative stereotypes about pork . “Pork has traditionally received a bad rap in Jamaica, as it has been labelled unhealthy or unclean. It’s simply not true”. She urged consumers to buy responsibly to make sure that their pork was coming from certified farmers and manufacturers who feed pigs clean food and practise healthy processing practices.

Wake up and smell the bacon

Hamilton also pointed out that over US $73,423,000 of meat is imported into Jamaica per year. She urged customers to buy local from responsible sources. “The bottom line is not to avoid pork, but as with any meat, to know that it is coming from a reliable source, so that it is fed properly and kept clean. So – do you know where your pork is coming from?”

Holy smokes!

Buying quality pork is easier than you would think. Lecturer Dr T Dean Pringle from the University of Georgia recommends a healthy pink to red colour and not to be afraid of marbling. He reiterated Hamilton’s message of knowing where your pork comes from, urging the audience to buy responsibly. “If you don’t know your pork farmers, how can you know what is being fed to the pigs or that it is stored at a consistently cool temperature?” he asked.

For lunch team Copperwood practised what they preached by serving a menu that included several creative pork concoctions. Along with sides of steamed vegetables and roasted potato wedges were Appleton BBQ smoked pork chops. Also served were jerk sausage and pepper kebabs with fruit chutney, an excellent finger food option for your next soiree. The much-loved traditional pork loin was on the menu with crackling and coated in rosemary jus.

Dessert — a formidable melange of two of earth’s most divine delights to make a mouth-watering bacon cheesecake brought the seminar to a comforting close.