The 16th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival will have something for everyone.


Staff Report

SUNRISE, Fla. – Prepare to wave your flags, eat to your heart’s content and get a slice of Jamaica. Jerk season is upon us, and the biggest Caribbean food festival in the U.S is back for its sixteenth year following two successful editions earlier in the year in New York and Washington, D.C.

The annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival presented in association with Publix is raising the bar this year with an expanded line up of international headliners, dozens of food vendors, and a premium experience.

On Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Markham Park in Sunrise, Jamaica’s rich culture will be on full display with an array of well-known chefs, competitions, culinary demonstrations, product sampling, musical guests and more.

“Jamaican culture is international and infectious and we want to share it with as many people as possible by attracting all ethnicities and demographics,” said Eddy Edwards, CEO of the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. “This year’s festival is an opportunity to create a bigger experience that appeals to a broader audience of South Floridians who can appreciate the culture, music, cuisine and the Caribbean energy.”

Chef Dee (personal chef to DJ Khaled), Troy Tingling (personal chef to NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire), Kelsee Major (winner of the 2016 Festival) and Jose Valines (of Cooking Militia) will each put on their culinary gloves to create a jerk masterpiece.

The Publix Cook-Off Pavilion will feature “Taste the Island’s” Chef Irie and Food Network’s two-time “Chopped” champion Chef Andre Fowles showing off culinary skills with food demos. More than 30 food vendors will offer a variety of food choices.

“There’s something magical that happens on stage when breakout chefs, each with their own accolades, compete against each other, and the crowd absolutely loves it,” said June Minto, Managing Partner and coordinator of the Publix Cook-off Pavilion. “Jerk food is more than just the seasoning; it’s the preparation, the combination of the flavors and the balance of the spices. So the chefs will show if they’re really a jerk master and compete for the Dutch Pot trophy.”
Local 10 Weekend News Anchor, Todd Tongen, will also defend his title against Jamaica’s Interim Director of Tourism Donnie Dawson in the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge, which has developed into an intense rivalry with a lot of trash-talking by both contestants. Last year Tongen defeated Miss Jamaica World Ashlie Barrett to walk away with the trophy and bragging rights.
“We’ve enhanced this year’s Publix Culinary Pavilion with a dynamic lineup of chefs, coming together to add more excitement to our competitions and culinary demos,” Minto said.

As the festival continues to grow, new experiences are added. For the first time in the festival’s history, three female judges will decide the winner of the cooking competitions – Chef Chrissy Benoit, Chef Treisha Hall, and wine expert and sommelier, Shari Gherman of the American Fine Wine Competition.

Patrons will also be treated to some mouthwatering cooking demos by Chef Max Hardy, author of the Rohan Marley Cookbook. Another enhanced experience this year is audience participation with a lucky person getting the opportunity to ‘play’ in the kitchen with Chef Irie. Attendees can also enjoy giveaways such as Publix gift cards and a variety of Grace products.

The Party Pavillion will boast some of the hottest DJs creating a club atmosphere for the young and the young at heart. There’s also a Kids Zone, the Western Union Cultural Stage and the Fuzion Sound Stage.

Headlining the main stage are international performers Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, King Yellowman & the Saggitarious Band, Ken Boothe, Leon Coldero & Code 868 and Code Red Band.
Overall attendees can expect to enjoy multiple experiences showcasing the Jamaican culture and the air will be thick with the delicious aromas of Caribbean-inspired cuisine.

Tickets are $30 general admission; $140 for VIP and can be purchased at or at local authorized ticket outlets throughout Dade and Broward County.