Jamaican chef to compete in food competition

Chef Andre Fowles at a recent Jamaican Tourism reception in New York City.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Twenty-seven-year-old Jamaican-born Chef Andre Fowles who served up a mouth-watering dish of Goat Curry with Chick Pea, Buss Up Shut, and Jasmin rice, to clinch the title of Champion on the Food Network TV reality show, Chopped, will compete in the April 19, championship tournament — Chopped Champions Battle 4 Kitchen Storm — that will be aired on Food Network TV at 10 pm E/T.

Fowles, the first Jamaican, and the youngest to win the competition in the history of the reality show, told Caribbean Life recently at a Jamaican tourism reception in New York City, that he would be competing to take home the $50,000 prize when he returns to the kitchen to create the best cuisine among other champions.

Fowles said he finished his dish in just 20 minutes in the “Cooking Caribbean” episode that aired Feb. 23, 2016, highlighting Caribbean-inspired ingredients – after excelling throughout the season’s competition to win $10,000. He will be one of 16 chiefs cooking for the prestigious title, and the $50,000 pay day.

The sous-chef who is now cooking up spicy fare at Miss Lily’s a Jamaican restaurant on West Houston Street in New York City, crushed the competition, shining over famed chefs, Rocco Nankervis, executive chef of The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Houston, Brandon Soverall, chef de cuisine at Triniti Restaurant of Houston, and Keisha Bocage, executive chef, and owner of Bocage Catering, among others.

“My grandmother Victoria David inspired me from a very young age to become a career chef, after I watched her cook some of the best peas and rice, curried goat, and jerk chicken,” said the winner, who has become a household name since winning the title on the hugely popular cooking series.

He said he became a big fan of the show and after his wife encouraged him to apply to become a contestant on the show, he was called by the network after just two weeks of signing up on the website.

The Kingston-born young man, who attended Quarrie High School, and later studied at Runway Bay Heart Academy before arrived in the United Stated in 2014 to further his studies in the culinary arts, spoke proudly of “Mama Cherry,” an affectionate name for his grandma.

He said his cooking showcases different flavors of the Caribbean islands, especially Jamaica, from where he adds ingredients to produce a modern Caribbean taste of bold flavors.

“The Jamaican culture is all about cooking,” said Fowles, adding that there is a custom in his homeland called “runabout” where Jamaicans cook and invite friends and family over to partake of their appetizing foods. “That inspired me,” he said.

Now a master chef, Fowles spent two years as chef de partie under the tutelage of Martin Maginley, multi-award-winning chef at the cashmere-chic Round Hill Hotel & Villas. He also experienced great cooking at Kingston’s celebrated Mac’s Chop House alongside famed chef Mario Machado.

His motto is “find your passion, work hard and you can be successful.”

The mystery basket from which Fowles chose ingredients for his 30-minute challenge, in the Entree round, contained: Goat chops, chickpeas, callaloo and whole coconuts. Chef Fowles made traditional Jamaican Curry Goat using beef stock, chicken stock and jasmine rice.

Sugarcane, mangoes, sweet potatoes and rum were in the appetizer round from which Chef Fowles created a Sweet Potato Mousse with Candied Mangoes using egg whites, maple syrup and Pistachio nuts.

According to Food Network.com, “Chopped” is a cooking competition show, which is all about skill, speed and ingenuity.

Each week, four chefs compete before a panel of expert judges and turn baskets of mystery ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. Course by course, the chefs will be “chopped” from the competition until only one winner, remains.

The competitors have seconds to plan, and 30 minutes to cook an amazing course with the basket of mystery ingredients given to them moments before the clock starts ticking!

Once they have completed their dish, they have to survive the Chopping Block where three judges wait to be wowed, and are not shy about voicing their culinary criticisms.

Ted Allen leads the high energy, high-pressure show, according the Food Network website.

Good luck, Andre.

More from Around NYC