St. John’s, Antigua & Barbuda – December 5, 2023 – The highly anticipated Taste of Wadadli Junior Chef competition concluded with an exhilarating finish, as Azarie Crump from St. Joseph’s Academy clinched the top spot with his innovative creation of a Coconut Infused Fungi and Conch Shepherd’s Pie with a conch ceviche and passion fruit salad. Adding an unexpected twist to the challenge, Azarie skillfully incorporated Cassie as a secret ingredient into his fungi dish.

Guided by the expertise of his teacher, Chanda Joseph, and Chef Mentor Eustace Cabral of Jumby Bay Island, Azarie outshone the competition. The contest saw stiff competition from Sir McChesney George Secondary School in 4th place, Antigua Seventh-Day Adventist in 3rd place, and Antigua State College taking the 2nd place spot.

Azarie’s triumph not only secured him a coveted spot on Team Antigua and Barbuda for the Taste of the Caribbean 2024 competition but also garnered substantial rewards. His school, St. Joseph’s Academy, received EC$10,000 sponsored by The Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank to enhance their Home Economics facility. Additionally, Azarie’s mentor, Chanda Joseph, earned an all-expense-paid trip to Miami compliments the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, as a chaperone for Taste of the Caribbean. Digicel generously provided Azarie with a smartphone, one year of cell phone service, and free roaming for his upcoming journey to Miami.

In the runner-up position, Ashauny Rattary of Antigua State College earned EC$5,000 worth of equipment for the Home Economics facility, courtesy of Digicel. Janiya Murphy from Antigua Seventh-Day Adventist and Gregoryann Thomas from Sir McChesney George Secondary School secured $2,500 in equipment and supplies for their Home Economics facility, thanks to Mega Distributors and the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourism Association (ABHTA). The students were also showered with various gifts from Mega Distributors and the CHIEF Brand, Digicel, and Homebrew Hot Sauce.

Azarie Crump, talking about his big win, said, “This was super exciting for me! I got to try new things like conch, which I never tried before, and I even learned how to manage my time better. I’m so happy for my mom because she’s the one who showed me around the kitchen and taught me everything she knows. And a big shout-out to my dad for making sure I had everything I needed to practice. Having Chef Cabral and my teacher, Ms. Chanda Joseph, help me was awesome too! Thanks to our school Principal, Mr. Davis, for making sure I had all the ingredients to practice and for all the support from my school. This is just the beginning for me, and I’m super excited about going to the Taste of the Caribbean – it’s going to be an amazing adventure!”

Chanda Joseph, the dedicated Home Economics Teacher who guided Azarie, shared her thoughts on his preparation for the competition. She remarked, “Azarie demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment and preparation for the competition. We engaged in rigorous practice sessions two to three times per week, with him pushing himself to master the art of preparing Conch within the given hour and a half timeframe. While cooking the fungi came naturally to Azarie – he could do it blindfolded – mastering the conch and refining his time management skills were crucial aspects we focused on to ensure he was well-prepared for the competition. I extend my heartfelt thanks to Chef Cabral of Jumby Bay Island for his invaluable mentorship and support, and I am truly grateful for the unwavering support from Azarie’s parents and the St. Joseph’s Academy community. Azarie has made me immensely proud, and I eagerly anticipate witnessing him realize his dream of becoming a Chef.”

The Taste of Wadadli Junior Chef Competition not only showcased the culinary talent of these young chefs but also provided valuable opportunities and support for their future endeavors. Congratulations to Azarie Crump and all the talented participants for their outstanding achievements in this year’s competition.