Chefs Royale 2005

"KILL the pig, cut the pig, barbecue the pig." I'd foolishly forgotten that I was in Queen's Royal College. It was, to be more specific, the QRC Old Boys Association's Chefs Royale, the College's annual fund-raising food-fest. And Hosein and the other fellas behind the counter were in ripping form. I should not have expected a serious reply to the question, "So how were these Queen's Pork Chops prepared?"

The Old Boys behind the counter were on point all night. When, toward the end of the evening, I made a lil' tackback by the Baby Back Spare Ribs counter, I was duly informed that the ribs were all gone and there were, in point of fact, no spares.

The names alone tell a story. Some were pretty standard, of course: Queen's Lamb, Royal Lamb, Queen's Royal Lamb, (you get the point). But some of the variations on the theme really made you smile, like Terry Joseph's Courtyard Shrimp and Larry Khan's College Pepper Shrimp. Keith Fung, Clifford Murray and Ronald Murray, I think, hit the nail squarely on the head with their "QRCeow Pork." But it was Charles Inniss and Burt Rochford's The Last of the Lambs Laborious that really took the cake.

Some apparently innocuous names, like No Man's Land Shrimp and Science Block Seafood, must have inspired long trips down memory lane among the hundreds of Royalians in attendance. Other less subtle conversation-starters, like Old Boy Sheppy Shrimp Delight, also got the job done.

All this, to say nothing of the food itself. Let's start with Earl Bacchus' pepperpot, since it spanned so many of the eight basic food groups represented on the night--chicken, fish, seafood, pork, lamb, beef, rabbit and dessert. (Yes, the Angostura bar was fully furnished but no, alcohol is not a basic food group.) Anyway, on second thought, what can one really say about the pepperpot besides that it was dark and sweet and spicy and succulent.

So we had better start with the pork. There was belly pork, seasoned with Paramin chives, five spice powder, garlic powder, black pepper, soy sauce, sugar, onions, and Fernandes Vat 19 Rum. Not to mention Jackie Hinkson's pork with mushrooms, Frankie Dolly's char sui pork and Ronnie Ramcharan's Caricom Pork.

Davindra Rajkumar's Lamb a la Raj was a slowly roasted meat prepared with creole seasoning, served with potatoes and garnishing, and topped with a mint sauce.

A couple fishes worth mentioning too, both dolphins.The first was Stephen Singh's Mahi Mahi a la Royale, a 20-pound dolphin served with a secret sauce. But the second, called Mahi Mahi a la Walke and stuffed with lemon seasoning, was a whopping 60-pounder!

Likewise, Bel Air International Airport Hotel's Crepes de la Mer--thin pancakes stuffed with crab meat, lobster, shrimp and fish, sauteed in butter and cheese sauce--proved to be a heavyweight beside Judy Ghany's Seafood Crepe, which was stuffed with crab, shrimp and mushroom in a white wine cream Béchamel sauce. (No room on my plate for Ray Holman's mussel chowder.)

It was former Hilton Trinidad Executive Chef Debra Sardinha-Metivier who really "put down a piece of wo'k" with her royal broiled grouper fillet with a coconut oildown sauce. That fish simply melted in your mouth!

Then the Lord said, "Let there be chicken." And there was Royal Pineapple chicken, Chicken Biriyani and the Chicken Chaccatoria. There was Tandoori Chicken, Dizzi-cell Chicken Parmesan, pineapple stuffed chicken breast and mushroom chicken. There was Brigadier Carl Alfonso's Military Precision Chicken and Major Anthony Whitehall's Stuffed Campari Chicken chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese.

The Saints also had their say. CIC's Turkey Delight and Saintly Sinful Seafood stood right beside Fatima's QRC Fish Broth. Elsewhere, the Old Hilarians' Association of Bishop Anstey High School pleased the most discerning connoisseurs with their Hilarian Herbed Chicken in Wine Sauce.

And still, not a vegetable in sight for miles.

Last Saturday being St George's Day, the UK Women's Club was on hand with some typical British desserts. To wit, apple and blackberry crumble, as well as bread and butter pudding. Luckily, they also had treats like lemon marangue pie and a tangy lemon tart, as well an assortment of cakes: a sponge cake with strawberries, cream and kiwis, a chocolate cake with Oreo biscuits, richly covered in layers of chocolate icing, and a chocolate cheesecake with pineapple and cherries.

At a second dessert table, the Gittens family played on the sweet tooth with their guava mousse and a mouth-watering layout of sponge cakes, topped with anything you could name from maraschino cherries, silver sprinkles, dessicated coconut or sliced almonds to whipped cream, whipped chocolate, orange gelatin or mandarin slices.