It’s not often we meet two charismatic, outgoing and jovial teenagers who aren’t into social media. Just the thought of that alone was mind boggling, but after spending a few minutes with these two bubbling personalities, we understood why there is little need for them to desire the “excitement” of online living because they are living, breathing socialites.
Meet Karina Abraham and Cheyenne Hippolyte, from the picturesque town of Soufriere by way of Crestland who together are shining a beam of Gold on the island. The two students of the Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School represented St. Lucia in the 2018 Caribbean Junior Dueling Challenge, one of the Caribbean’s biggest and most prestigious culinary competitions, and delivered “a spectacular performance that ultimately won the hearts of the judges” and yes, brought home the Gold and “a big trophy”.
Their journey started after they were selected to represent their secondary school at the annual Chefs in Schools Competition sponsored by the SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund. At the grand finals, which was held in June at the Ciceron Secondary School, the two eased passed their competitors to earn the right to represent the island at the Caribbean Junior Dueling Challenge in Barbados.
A surreal experience according to Cheyenne: the duo,who, accompanied by their culinary arts teacher, Nashanka Henry and the SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund Projects Coordinator, Wendel George, would go up against junior teams from six Caribbean islands, namely the Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, Grenada, St. Croix and Barbados. “It was our first time in Barbados and we were very excited”, Karina said with the broadest of smiles on her face. “We went to have fun but we really wanted to win the gold”.
And that they did: and while it was fulfilling, they were ever grateful for the workshops and presentations on culinary techniques made available to them while in Barbados, by respected industry professionals. The two fifth form students possess a work rate that far exceed their years. Such sentiments were echoed by their local leg trainer Chef Frank Faucher, Chef du Cuisine for Anse Chastnet & Jade Mountain.
Their winning dish in the final round was macaroni and corned beef wrapped in blanched cabbage leaf with fried potato, mango, carrot and corned puree, coupled with stewed chicken wings coated in chocolate biscuit and deep fried, plus grilled shrimp and pan-roasted pork with a drizzle of spicy sauce.
An elated Chef Faucher had nothing but praise for the two junior Chefs commending them on their attitude, and most importantly, discipline while they were under his watch. He also commended the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association for ensuring young people have an avenue available to them to be able to tap into the Culinary Arts. He indicated that such initiatives auger well for the future of youth development.
While our two champs may not see their future in the Culinary Arts industry (make no mistake they love cooking), Karina has plans to head a Human Resource Department at a reputable company and Cheyenne has her sights set on being a lawyer or a detective. They, as well as Chef Faucher concurred that the industry is indeed vibrant and one that could sustain individuals and an island’s economy.
On their down time you can find Karina enjoying television or socializing with friends whereas Cheyenne would take to her favourite app, Netflix and catch up on one of her favourite shows, “Boys over Flowers”.
The two are now getting ready for their next big challenge and if winning the Junior Dueling Challenge is any indication of their metal, then CSEC is about to be chopped.