Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, his wife Deborah (right) and Deputy Permanent Secretary, Celia Toppin, interacting with the semi-finalists??from Queen’s College??(standing).??

Parents and guardians are being called upon to encourage their children to also choose non-traditional career paths.

While recently addressing the Junior Duelling Challenge Dinner at the Culinary Arena, Newton Industrial Estates, Christ Church, Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, said there were certain careers that persons wanted to move young people into.

But, Mr. Lashley told his audience: "What we have not recognised is that the world has evolved so rapidly, that there are so many different types of endeavours and careers which we need to excite our children with, because the world that we experienced is not the world that they are experiencing now.

"We have many famous chefs across the world … We have some from Barbados as well who are doing exceedingly well … They have honed their skills here … and they have taken that skill, that foundation, right across the world. They are being acclaimed as fantastic chefs in countries that we would never ever probably dream of and they are doing exceedingly well."

The Minister pointed out that many tourists returned to these shores to "taste our cuisine". Therefore, he underscored the importance of training young people in this field and expressed the view that "they [the youth] have already connected with this particular endeavour as a means of moving their respective careers forward".

Within Government’s programming, he explained, chefs were trained from very young through Hotel PomMarine, as well as the Youth Mainstreaming Programme. "We continue through those offerings to indicate our seriousness in ensuring that our young people can excel," he stressed.

Mr. Lashley disclosed that Barbados was at the very critical point of seeking to enact the Cultural Industries Development Bill. Giving an overview of the legislation, he said: "It will offer to our young people and of course our seniors the opportunity to be part of a cultural experience, where we transform everything that we have within our cultural dimensions into an industry… And, where we are sure that, for the first time in the history of Barbados, we would have cemented the future of this exciting, very dynamic industry which we call culture.

"And, by placing that confidence by means of incentives within legislation and creating the kind of bedrock by which we can actually move forward with this industry, we would also be offering our chefs … the opportunity to rely on a piece of legislation that provides the foundation on which they can continue to grow and thrive … and this will, in my view, redound to the benefit of Barbados, as we continue to diversify our economy".

The Junior Duelling Challenge, currently in its sixth year, is produced by Chef Peter Edey, who wanted to give students an opportunity to explore the culinary arts as a first option and not be an area to default to because of poor academic performance.

The Ministry of Culture and the National Cultural Foundation have provided monetary assistance to the project, including supporting the winning team financially, so the members can travel to the Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Conference in Miami, later this month.

This dinner was a new event introduced for the 2011 competition and it gave the semi-finalists an opportunity to showcase their creativity during the evening.??


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