Celebrity chef Adrian Forte shares a recipe that takes him back to childhood in Jamaica

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Jamaican-Canadian celebrity chef Adrian Forte still remembers what it was like to see his grandmother cook for the first time.

“I was just so amazed at how she would take these simple, humble ingredients and transform them,” he said. The stream. “I was like, ‘It’s like magic.'”

Forte’s grandmother was the family matriarch in Jamaica. She had seven children and numerous grandchildren – and Forte said she made sure all of them knew how to cook, including the men.

“She always said, ‘You have to know how to cook, because then you’re more valuable as a husband,'” the Toronto-based chef said.

I strongly believe that if you can consume someone’s culture, you understand their struggle better.-Adrian Forte

With a household full of amateur chefs, he said cooking can become competitive, but it also brings family closer together.

That’s what stayed with Forte as he rose to the top of the culinary scene, with executive chef positions at Gangster Burger and Rock Lobster and a semi-final appearance on season eight of Top Chef Canada.

“I like to think of food as the culinary conduit that brings us together,” he said. “That’s why I love doing what I do – bringing people together, getting to know my culture and my background, and getting to know myself.”

Conviviality and education are two of the key themes of her new cookbook, Yawd: Modern Afro-Caribbean Recipeswhich hits store shelves on June 7.

The book is a collection of Afro-Caribbean recipes but also teaches readers about the historical relevance of certain dishes and ingredients.

“I always try to use my food in my designs as a way to educate people,” Forte said. “I strongly believe that if you can consume someone’s culture, you understand their struggle better.”

Porridge as a time machine

One of the recipes highlighted in Forte’s cookbook is porridge, which is among Forte’s favorite dishes to make.

“Growing up in Jamaica, one of the first things I learned to make was porridge, because it was so easy,” he said.

Forte said the porridge was like a time machine for him. When he tastes it, he remembers that at 11, he played cricket with all his friends after eating from his uncle’s big pot of porridge.

He also remembers Jamaican peddlers carrying 64-litre tubs of porridge on a cart – and the spectacle they put on when they handed out porridge around the neighborhood.

“They do a really high payout…like a cocktail party,” he said. “It’s not missing. Not a drop. And he puts it on his head and he dances and takes your money and hands it to you. And you’re like, ‘Well, how does he do that?'”

“That’s kind of where my first excitement came from putting on a show when I’m cooking, seeing these people doing things like that.”

Yawd: Modern Afro-Caribbean Recipes is Adrian Forte’s first cookbook. It hits shelves on June 7. (Appetite by Random House, instagram/adrianforte)

Forte said there are a variety of porridges Jamaicans make, from carrot porridge to peanut porridge. But his favorite is cornmeal porridge – which he makes with his own twist.

“I add my personal touch to it with the pineapple juice. It’s not traditional, but it’s my vision,” he said.

Cooking cornmeal porridge at home

As part of the interview experience, Forte showed The stream Matt Galloway how to make his version of cornmeal porridge – and the delicious value of Afro-Caribbean cuisine.

LOOK | Chef Adrian Forte shows host Matt Galloway how to make Jamaican cornmeal porridge:

Chef Adrian Forte shows Matt Galloway how to make cornmeal porridge

One of the first dishes chef Adrian Forte learned to make in Jamaica was porridge. He shows The Current host Matt Galloway how to make his version of cornmeal porridge – and talks about the importance of the dish to his childhood.

Readers can also make their own cornmeal porridge at home. Below is Forte’s recipe for cornmeal porridge, the same recipe he used in the video and featured in his first cookbook.

Ingredients

-1 cup fine cornmeal

-1 cup whole coconut milk

-1 cup of pineapple juice

-1 teaspoon of salt

-1 teaspoon ground allspice

-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-1 cinnamon stick

-1 cup of condensed milk

-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

– Pieces of fresh pineapple, to serve

-Ground cinnamon, to serve

Serves: 4

Preparation: 2 minutes

To cook: 10 minutes

Instructions

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cornmeal, coconut milk, pineapple juice, salt, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon stick.

2. Heat over medium heat, stirring with a whisk to avoid lumps. Cook the cornmeal until it thickens and has a porridge-like consistency, about 10 minutes. Add condensed milk and vanilla, cook 30 seconds more, then remove from heat.

3. Divide the porridge between bowls and garnish with pineapple and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.


Written by Mouhamad Rachini. Produced by Julie Crysler. Video shot and edited by Andrew Nguyen.

Michael M. Tomlin