By: Rhe-Ann Prescod
Do you know what makes a rainy day 100 times better? Good Southern Cooking!
If you’re wondering where you can find that unique pairing in Barbados, then I guess you may have missed Huda Mu’min’s Chef Classic, during the 2022 Barbados Food and Rum Festival.
Nestled in the Mount Gay Rum Barrel Aging Room at Harrison’s Cave Eco Adventure Park, attendees were treated to a private cooking demo with culinary powerhouse Chef Huda Mu’min. Chef Huda is a record-setting Champion of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and a favourite on ABC’s Emmy-nominated show, “The Taste” with Anthony Bourdain.
With host Dawn-Lisa Calendar Smith doing the talking and Chef Huda doing the cooking, we were taught how to make Cajun Shrimp and Grits. This dish was a top choice as it was a version of what Chef Huda made for her ‘The Taste’ audition. Anthony Bourdain loved it, so she has been making it every since.
Let’s Cook Some Grits!
Huda Tip: If you are new to cooking it’s good to experiment. Recipes are wonderful but they are guidelines. You must do what works for you.
Huda started by making savoury grits with her own little twist. Though the cooking time for grits is usually 20-45 minutes, she used five-minute grits to give us a simple and easy demo.
She started by melting butter to toast the grits then added water and salt. Continuously whisking, she then added garlic and a half cup of Anchor heavy cream to create a creamy consistency.
When that garlic hit the pan, Huda made everyone’s senses tingle!
To flavour it up, she then added sharp white cheddar and medium cheddar blend to give it some complexity. Next, she poured in sweet corn to add some sweetness, then topped it with parsley to add colour.
Now to the Shrimp!
Huda first seasoned her shrimp in her Cajun kick seasoning from her spice line called ‘Just Savour’. She then poured olive oil into the pan and sauteed yellow and red bell peppers and onions. The more colour, the more nutrients as Huda said.
She then placed the shrimp in the pan and cooked it for one to two minutes on each side.
Huda Tip: Don’t overcook your shrimp. It tells you when it’s done, it curls up, changes color and the firmness gets tighter so you can see.
Huda then made a nice cream sauce, topped the dish off with cherry tomatoes mixed with parsley and lemon juice, then plated it.
Of course, we all got a taste and the food was as exquisite as it smelled during the demo.
One of the attendees, Jackie, not only loved the food but also enjoyed how interactive the demo was.
“I loved the savoury twist that Chef Huda brought to the dish and the interaction between the demos and tips that were given, especially the tips about not overcooking our meats. I chose this demo because I wanted to represent the females but then after researching her and seeing all she had done, I was so excited. The atmosphere felt like I was interacting with a friend,” she said.
Huda’s Ties to Barbados
This wasn’t Huda’s first time in Barbados. She travelled to the island in 2021 for a very special occasion…her wedding.
While here she fell in love with Barbados’ culture and of course the macaroni pie.
Fun Fact: What makes macaroni pie different from mac and cheese is the ketchup
“Barbados has such a rich and beautiful culture. It is a wonderful culture. I love the people, the history and just how passionate they are about where they are from. You can taste the love in the rum punch and in the food. You can hear the love in the music,” She expressed.
So, when she got the invite, it wasn’t even a question of yes, it was more like “What am I doing?”
As this year’s festival is about developing youth in culinary arts, Chef Huda has a little advice for up-and-coming chefs.
“To any young chef, my advice is to trust yourself and know that you are learning the entire time. You are always being inspired, so take every experience even the bad ones as lessons that you can learn from. Remember that what you’re doing, feeding people, is a true gift and to share it with people is a blessing. So have fun!”
But wait the experience didn’t end with Huda, guests were surprised with a demo from liquid artist Philip “Casanova” Antoine. He created the ‘Casanova Kiss’ which is a twist to the classic Daiquiri.
It consisted of 2oz of Mount Gay Silver, ¾ of an oz of simple syrup, and 1oz of lime juice. He then topped it with a dehydrated lime wheel and a flower to represent nature as we were surrounded by the lush greenery in St. Thomas
It’s safe to say, everyone left with a taste of the south mixed with a pinch of Barbados.