Chef Lorraine Kenlock answers to several monikers. Chef Irie Dawta is one of them. She laughs and interprets, “Irie Dawta means ‘good woman’ it’s been my nickname for fifteen years. I love it.” “I had a natural talent for food growing up. I grew up in very patriarchal family, with a Rastafarian background, women just had to cook. As a female, and in Jamaica, your skills in the kitchen are something you’re proud to talk about. I grew up like that and I always loved food,” she explained. With a job that took her all over the world, her life would take many turns over the next seventeen years before her corporate career in the health care industry would ultimately become the catalyst and conduit to her culinary calling. Her official induction into the food industry would be as the restaurant manager at the reopened Turks Head Inn on Grand Turk in 2007/2008. Then Hurricane Ike hit. While the Inn was closed for refurbishing, she came to Provo when asked to help with a wedding whose caterer had fallen through. ‘Help’ turned into taking charge of catering for 200 guests, cooking in a small apar tment with a little stove and the neighbour’s stove. Her talents got noticed and she never left Provo. “I spent a year doing nothing related to food. They realised I had this flair for design and being creative. I was styling, coordinating weddings and learning the business.” She met another wedding planner and became her right hand for a year. “But I always loved food,” she confessed. Her colleague recognised this passion and encouraged Lorraine. She said, “You love food. You’re good at this … but you love food.” Lorraine decided to make a choice. “There was a time I had to stop and realise how blessed I am. This is something that people studied and went to a culinary institute – and it’s something that comes naturally to me. Flavour comes naturally. I love the artistic side of it,” she acknowledges. “One of the things that got me fully established as a private chef was that I was always conscious of health. Being involved in projects with lifestyle diseases, like diabetic care, prevention and hypertension, that comes over into my food,” she explained. When she first started, other private chefs referred guests to her that had dietary restrictions, conditions, allergies and concerns. “That’s how my name got out there. There’s so many things you have to be aware of as a private chef. They’ve handed you their health,” she recognises. Caribbean Caprese Salad is one of her signature dishes. “That’s my creation. Everybody asks for it, and Mango Jerk Chicken, that’s very popular. They get all the flavours of jerk without the heat, and there’s a hint of mango in it. Because I’m from Jamaica, I know what the secret of jerk is. It’s not that sauce you buy in the bottle in the supermarket and throw it on the meat. I know what real jerk is all about,” she argues. This summer she launched her own wedding firm, Turks & Caicos Bride. Moniker #2. “That’s my new exciting baby, but Irie Dawta is still my core,” she grinned. As a certified wedding stylist and planner, she likes to focus on intimate weddings. “I’m the perfect person to do that. I can deliver that intimate, personal touch,” she insists. She does a lot of reading in her spare time. “I’m very much into history and anything to do with food. I write. Lately I’m learning to do embroidery and I garden. I grow my own herbs, rosemary, basil, tomatoes – I even have bananas.” When she’s not working she enjoys hosting dinner par ties at home on her deck. “I invite everyone, we all work in the industry. While busy developing the business, she’s also producing a cookbook. “Everything’s in my head. Putting the recipes down in writing is a test in progress. I don’t measure anything. You have to stop and think and write it down. It will be called, The Spice Girl.” Moniker #3.
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