Caribbean cuisine takes centre stage at JerkFest

For 16 years, the Grace International Jerk Food & Music Festival has brought tantalizing tastes, mysterious flavours and captivating aromas of jerk food to Toronto.

This summer’s three-day JerkFest — from August 11-13 at Centennial Park in Etobicoke — will carry on the tradition of serving up a little taste of the Caribbean to the city.

“Jerk cuisine is loved by many for its sheer tastiness, while also being treasured for its historical significance within Caribbean culture,” says Anthony Plummer, Festival Executive Director. “We’re going to have a lot of traditional jerk favourites that people have loved for years, as well as some interesting new twists to spice things up for visitors.”

Trends to look for this at next month’s festival include:

Techniques from Back Home
Jerk meat is believed to have been conceived when the Maroons introduced African meat cooking techniques to Jamaica which they combined with native Jamaican ingredients and seasonings used by the Arawak during colonial times. The method of smoking meat for a long period of time over fires made from the aromatic wood of the island’s allspice trees served two practical purposes, keeping insects away from the raw meat and preserving it for longer once it has been cooked. Although meat preservation isn’t a large concern today, jerk experts swear this process introduces the strong smoky flavor to the meat that they love.

Jerk It Up
Chicken is most commonly associated with jerk cuisine, but at JerkFest be ready to find pork, beef, lamb, seafood, and vegetables prepared in delicious jerk fashion.

Caribbean Meets Mediterranean
Celebrity Chef La-toya, has begun fusing her cooking style of traditional Caribbean ingredients together with Mediterranean flavours. Experience this mouth-watering journey with Caribbean flavours yourself in the Grace Foods Experience Tent on August 12 & 13. Chef La-toya will whip up signature dishes in live workshops each day at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.