Patrons attending the third edition of the increasingly popular Priests Can Cook fund-raising event on Friday, September 27, at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain have been promised a feast of gourmet food plus music from champions. This fundraising event is being hosted jointly by the staff of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) and the staff of Archbishop’s House, with support from the past students of St Joseph’s Convent (PoS) and St Mary’s College, two of the iconic and oldest secondary schools in this country.
CEBM is responsible for managing the 118 public primary schools owned by the Catholic Church in T&T. This represents some 25 per cent of the public primary schools in the country with approximately 29,000 children of all ethnicities and religious denominations in attendance.
Church authorities are unhappy with the relatively high number of “under-performing” schools in its fold and accepts that they have a responsibility to address the situation. In other words, they have to help themselves to help the children at their schools. Thus was born Priests Can Cook in 2017.
The profit from the first edition was used to fix the physical infrastructure in four of the neediest schools in south and north Trinidad. The proceeds of last year’s event are being used to fund a literacy programme in ten of the under-performing schools. The programme which commenced last month, includes coaching and monitoring to track the progress of the principals and senior teachers of the selected schools. The profits from this year’s event will be used to address 12 of the remaining under performing schools.
Priests Can Cook showcases the culinary skills of the priests, deacons and parishioners from the 61 parishes of the church spread throughout the country, with a few guest chefs, all in a setting of camaraderie and fellowship.
While most of the cooks will bring their already-prepared dishes to the venue, patrons will see their meals cooked on spot by some chefs.
Among those cooking on spot will be Fr Kenneth Assing of Blanchisseuse parish, an accomplished chef in his own right, the well-known Deacon Derek Walcott (a chef who pays great attention to detail) and former CIC goal-keeper who is now a professional chef, Michel Peters of Mt Lambert parish.
One thing is certain, the cooks will deliver gourmet meals, regardless of the parish from which they come. The CIC past students will have their specially prepared roast-pig that always finds favour whenever it is served and some attractive dishes are coming from St Benedict’s College, St Anthony’s College and the two Presentation Colleges (San Fernando and Chaguanas)
A mouth-watering selection of specially-selected desserts, including Haagen Dazs ice-cream will be served up to round-off the food section. The Convent Past Pupils are co-ordinating this section so expect nothing but the best.
And what of the entertainment? A star-studded cast of entertainers will deliver music befitting the champions they are. Starting things off will be two family groups who are fast making a name for themselves and were crowd-pleasers at this year’s telethon hosted by the Living Water Community. The first group is the Cartar family, comprising Dax, Phillip and Angelique. The second group is the Gooding family who will deliver a most interesting repertoire.
Coming up next will be the multi-times parang champions who no longer participate in competitions, the ever-popular Los Alumnos de San Juan, led by the undisputed Parang Queen and president of the National Parang Association of T&T, Alicia Jaggassar. The full band will be in attendance and she promises to have patrons dancing throughout the band’s session.
One of the best received presentations on Trinidad Night at the recent Carifesta XIV celebrations was that by Rikki Jai. The poster boy of chutney soca will be on stage at Priests Can Cook 2019 and patrons can expect the same type of high-energy, pleasing performance that Rikki Jai delivered at the same venue last month.
The closing act is none other than reigning National Panorama champion, BPTT Renegades Steel Orchestra. The band has just returned from two overseas performances so they are in ripping form and anxious to please.
Surprisingly, tickets for this package of gourmet food and champion music costs just $275. Tickets are available from all RC Parish offices and Living Water Community on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain. Patrons also have the opportunity to win some attractive door prizes and secure parking has been arranged in an enclosed area at the venue.
Patrons should note that as they enjoy a wonderful Friday evening lime to raise funds to improve the standard of education in RC public primary schools, it has been agreed that a percentage of the net profits will go towards the relief effort to assist the ill-fated citizens in the Bahamas.
High profile cooks in the mix
There are a number of high-profile cooks turning out for the respective parishes at which they attend weekend mass. Their names will remain a secret for now but look out for them on the day of the event. (Here is a tip: Look for many of them in the Maraval/Paramin/Cameron cluster headed by Fr Ron Mendes who led a large team of cooks at last year’s event).
Entertainment by the champions