Anyone who attended the all-inclusive Sunday Bajan Fiesta would agree that the highlight of the event was the cooking demonstration with Aaron McCargo Jr.
“Can I teach you guys for a bit,” chimed the charming host of Big Daddy’s House, who was not short on praises to God and his team for being able to “do what he loves every day”.
The hearty cook admitted he was a bit nervous presenting to 30-some people who took time out to learn a “thing or two” about preparing a quick but healthy meal with bold flavours.
“The Devil put up a lot of obstacles in my way . . . . If not for my team, I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through”, he said, making a quick reference to the hiccups he encountered the night before at Ambrosia Restaurant.
The Food Network star from Camden, New Jersey, gave wannabe chefs and local food enthusiasts tips on how to throw down a gourmet meal of blackened mahi-mahi (dolphin), topped with anchovy butter and a side of lemon pepper orzo pasta.
“I’ve never been to an island with such great people. The reception that I got from the time I landed at the airport was so warm and welcoming,” said the family man who started his career at the age of four using his sister’s Easy Bake Oven.
The demonstration came with his unique style of engaging his guests while cooking up a storm.
“Organize yourself,” instructed the author of Simply Done. “Look at your recipe, do an inventory of your stock, look for equipment and then go shopping for what you need.” This was key, he said, in making sure you don’t overspend by buying items you may already have in your home.
When the flames got hot enough, the chef suggested “lay the fish away from you so you won’t splash your good clothes” and “use lemon juice as a substitute for salt”.
And even though the afternoon sun heated the small tent, which was separated from the food lines, many waited with bated breaths in hopes of sampling the final product.
Bajan chef Creig Greenidge was among the privileged who got to taste the fish dish. Drawing on his expertise, he simply said: “Crunchy, creamy, spicy and comforting.”
“It was fantastic,” said Barbados Tourism Authority’s senior vice-president Averil Byer. “It’s very tasty and savoury . . . . It was just so flavourful for something that had no salt.”
Celebrity host Mac Fingall also got a taste and another, and another, and another. The only word he used to describe the dish was “breathtaking”, as he grabbed the entire sample plate for himself.