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Florida Jerk Festival brings jerk cook-off competition to Lake Worth Beach

Florida Jerk Festival.png
Florida Jerk Festival
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Families in Lake Worth Beach are getting their taste buds ready for a jerk cook-off, a culinary battle of the best to kick off the summer.

The 19th Florida Jerk Festival is one of the largest Caribbean food events in Palm Beach County. The festival soothes the air with live reggae and soca performances, alongside parents vibin' in the interactive kids' zones and other activities.

“The jerk cook-off competition… it’s for bragging rights," says Damian Tater, CEO of the Florida Jerk Festival. “The person who actually wins, they’re the cook-off champion for South Florida.” 

The Florida Jerk Festival takes place on Memorial Day, May 30th, from 3 p.m. - 11p.m. at the John Prince Park in Lake Worth Beach, with live music from stars Ding Dong, Destra (Queen Of Bacchanal), Baby Cham, Iyara Somers, and FabFive.

The Jerk cook-off is where chefs put their authentic Jamaican jerk cooking skills to the test in front of thousands of people.

Judges will taste a variety of dishes, including slow-cooked jerk meat over a wood fire, often marinated with scotch bonnet peppers, allspice (pimento) and thyme. WLRN is one of the judges for the event.

Previous winner Craig McKenzie says how you cook matters, too.

“Our spice, we call it pimento. That’s one of the main ingredients. And jerk is a little bit spicy, but it's cooked on an open fire, so that’s what makes it really unique,” McKenzie said. “To me, presentation is the key cause anyone can just put anything on the plate, but I think presentation is very important.”