It`s All About Jerk For Caribbean Chef


CaribWorldNews, MIAMI, FL, Fri. Nov. 6, 2009: Caribbean-born Chef Helen Willinsky developed an interest in the tropical fruits and vegetables used in the region`s flavorful cuisine at an early age and this weekend she will share her take at the  8th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival gets underway on November 8 at Markham Park in South Florida..

Growing up in Jamaica, a former British colony, Willinsky says she always thought that British cooking was `pretty dull` and so she turned to local products to create one-of-a-kind tastes that are delicious, interesting and perfectly balanced.

After completing high school in Kingston, Jamaica, Willinsky trained at the Ecole Hoteliere in Lausanne, Switzerland. She spent several years cooking professionally in Europe before returning home. In 1978 she emigrated to the United States bringing the secrets of the island recipes with her and founded Helen`s Tropical-Exotics.

She sees herself as was the `originator` of bringing the dry jerk seasoning to the United States to chefs and American consumer.  Helen`s Tropical-Exotics includes authentic jerk dishes of all kinds as well as marinades, pastes, sauces and seasoning capture the zest and excitement of Caribbean cuisine.

In 1990 Chef Willinsky published `Jerk from Jamaica` and in 2007 released a completely revised edition that begins by explaining exactly what jerk is  – `an authentic Jamaican method of cooking pork, chicken, seafood, beef, fruits, and vegetables over a fire pit or on a barbeque grill` – and how it`s seasoned (in general, a combination of scallions, onions, thyme, pimento, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilies and salt).

She first explains how it`s done in Jamaica (where jerk huts can be found everywhere), then demonstrates how these recipes can be adapted to a kitchen or backyard grill. Recipes for jerk rubs, dry seasonings and marinades are included in the first chapter, as well as a list of traditional Jamaican ingredients, like breadfruit, a large starchy vegetable.

To order visit or go to: or catch Chef Willinsky in South Florida by getting a ticket to the event at

Here are two of Chef Willinsky`s American adapted recipes using her favorite spice.
 Jamaican Coleslaw
Coleslaw and barbeque make great companions. This version adds spice to give it a taste of Jamaica.
4 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon Helen`s Dry Jerk Seasoning
In a large bowl combine cabbage, carrots, and walnuts. Set aside.
In a separate bowl mix together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, and seasoning.
Combine the cabbage mixture with mayonnaise mixture.
Mix well. Cover and refrigerate (at least 30 min) before serving. Serves 4.
 Sauteed Mushrooms a la Jerk
1.5 lbs sliced mushrooms (approximately 4 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine (dry)
1 tablespoon Helen`s Dry Jerk Seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley (optimal)
In a large frying pan melt olive oil and butter together in medium heat.
Add onion and saute until slightly softened (approximately 2 min).
Add mushrooms and increase the heat. Saute until mushrooms become soft and produce quite a bit of liquid and are rich and brown in color (approximately 5 min).
Add the white wine and Helen`s Dry Jerk Seasoning.
Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are perfectly coated.
Sprinkle with Parsley and serve. 


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