Jamaica’s first-ever food and music festival, NyamJam—nyam means "to eat" in Jamaican slang—arrives tomorrow. Chefs, foodies, and music lovers will flock to the small parish of St. Mary for a two-day extravaganza featuring a celebrity chef dinner, a music-and-culinary bazaar, and a whole lot of cocktails. Since the festival was first announced last month, further details have been solidified, including Saturday's all-day NyamJam Culinary and Music Bazaar, where local and international chefs and artisans will be exhibiting their work (tickets are still available). Throughout the day, culinary experts including Mario Batali, Mary Guiliani, and Johnny Iuzzini will be cooking up samples for guests to snack on while live music plays. The real highlight of the weekend, however, is Saturday evening's five-course celebrity chef dinner prepared with local ingredients by April Bloomfield, Jose Enrique, Seamus Mullen, Iuzzini, and Batali.
But considering that the legendary producer Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, is backing the festival, it should come as no surprise that the weekend will be anchored by music as well as food. Angélique Kidjo, the Grammy-winning Beninese singer, will perform live at Saturday’s bazaar. Other acts include Rohan Marley, Ernest Ranglin, and Tarrus Riley, as well as a surprise performance after the chef dinner.
Batali hopes NyamJam will draw the world's attention to Jamaica's underappreciated culinary bounty. “When I opened Babbo almost 18 years ago, a good portion of the ingredients we highlighted were quite exotic to many New Yorkers," he says. "Nowadays, people don’t blink when they hear words like guanciale or bottarga. Jamaica is still an untapped region in that regard, and many of its native fruits and vegetables are still quite unknown to many people. I love that about Jamaica — that there’s still so much for me to learn and taste about the culture and food."
For more information on NyamJam or to purchase tickets, visit nyamjamfestival.com.