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August Martin HS in Jamaica hosts hip-hop culinary competition

August Martin 2nd place with Dream Director , syreeta gates
Photo by Trivella Osbourne/ Gallery by Anthony Giudice and Trivella Osbourne

August Martin High School teamed up with nonprofit The Future Project (TFP) last week to host Stay Hungry, the first-ever hip-hop culinary competition.

Students from August Martin High School’s Culinary Academy in Jamaica, along with several other city high schools, competed in the experimental exhibition of hip-hop and its relationship to food on May 21. The event aimed to bridge the worlds of culinary arts, visual arts and lyrical art.

Syreeta Gates, the dream director for TFP at the high school, created the innovative event with the idea of having an unconventional opportunity for students to demonstrate their shared love for the hip-hop culture by preparing dishes illustrated in hip-hop lyrics.

“This type of event has never been done before,” Gates said. “There has never been a culinary competition around food led by young people.”

Gates pointed out that this competition not only bridges the worlds of food and hip-hop, but creates an important bridge between the students and some of the artists and their lyrics that they used to create their dishes.

“Some of [the students] were born after Biggie Smalls died, so it now creates an intergenerational bridge between the students and these artists,” Gates said.

In its inaugural year, Stay Hungry attracted over 60 guests who watched and cheered on the 33 students who competed for the best hip-hop inspired dish.

The competition was judged by several professional guest judges who tasted over eight dishes, which they judged based on cooking time, description of the dish, presentation and creativity of the use of lyrics.

The first-place winner of the competition was the Secondary School of Law whose lyric was “A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape of / Me and Eric B., and a nice big plate of fish / Which is my favorite dish / But without no money, it’s still a wish,” by rapper Rakim.

The host school, August Martin High School, came in second place. Their dish’s corresponding lyric was “Got the lamb rack, pan-roasted, laced it with fennel / Little yogurt that been drizzled over—might be a winner,” by Action Bronson.

“I am so proud of the kids. It has been a dream of mine to make this event happen for a very long time, and I am so glad it was a success,” Gates said. “Parents, students and teachers are all asking about next year. Now we have to start planning.”

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