Rainforest Seafoods Dinner

Throwing out our line for a host for a Rainforest Seafoods-themed dinner party, we reeled in quite a catch — Sagicor Holborn Road Branch Manager Christopher Lawe. The accomplished insurance executive surprised us last weekend with a command performance in the kitchen of his upper St Andrew townhouse. His intuitive and razor-sharp culinary skills — who knew? Lawe teamed up with attorney-at-law fiancée Michelle Fitz-Henley to host a four-course seafood dinner for an intimate coterie of friends, work colleagues and family. Utilising Rainforest Seafoods’ retail offerings of seafood mix, shrimp, salmon and gourmet trout steaks, Lawe produced a winning buffet spread that had most guests returning for seconds. Join us at the table for highlights from a special seafood dinner.



Thursday Life (TL): You’re as comfortable in the kitchen as you are in the insurance biz. How and what stimulated the interest in cooking?

Christopher Lawe (CL): As a child I was extremely close to my mother and she was an excellent cook. Food has been in my family for many years as my mother owned a restaurant from before I was born. My older brother closest in age, Richard, is the one who ended up pursuing a career in culinary arts and is now a professional chef in Cayman (studied culinary arts at Johnson and Wales). Also, growing up in our household we never had typical snacks like the popular branded potato chips or cheese puffs. Instead, from a young age, we would go to the kitchen and whip up a well-seasoned tuna or egg sandwich, or cabbage and corned beef with rice…. so after many tries to get it just right, it was hard to be a non-cook being so close to mom and my brother Richard.

TL: Is seafood your favourite food to prepare?

CL: Seafood is absolutely my favourite to prepare- specifically lobster. I find that it is a fabulously flavoured meat and is easy to prepare and quick to cook. Also my fiancée Michelle does not eat meat, so it just works.

TL: How often do you host dinner parties at home? How do you go about deciding on the menu?

CL: Once upon a time in the bachelor pad days, I used to have dinner parties and drink-ups with my best friend Kerith Foster every Friday night. I have slowed down a bit now to maybe once or twice every month or two. The menu quite often is decided by whatever is in the fridge or pantry. I like to be stocked up, so there always tends to be food around and meats to choose from in the freezer. Or of course the question may be asked “wha unu want?”

TL: What’s your favourite restaurant that you’ve dined at?

CL: That’s a hard one; I am such a “foodie”! I always enjoy the food at Strawberry Hill, but when it comes to my favourite place, it is not only about good food but also the experience. Once when Michelle and I on impulse decided to stay on Fort Lauderdale Beach, we strolled along the beachfront looking for food. We found this amazing little restaurant named Café del Mar and listened to live music being performed by guitarist Alex Fox while eating freshly prepared seafood on the ocean front. That was great. I have also had amazing dining experiences in Argentina.

TL: Your family owns the popular Michael’s restaurant, and word is that relaunching plans are in the works. Share details with us.

CL: Well, what some people don’t know is that it is my mom who operated the restaurant and named it after my dad. My mom passed and the business has more or less just maintained itself with my dad not having much interest in the restaurant business…not to mention he can’t cook (sorry for the loud-up, pops) but he does make a wicked omelette, though. With that said, I took a stand and although my career consumes my time, my mother’s legacy must live on. So with negotiation after negotiation, my father eventually gave in and I purchased the majority share from him just a few weeks ago. I am now at the drawing board with my planning team and the manager of the restaurant and there will be major changes coming into play. My stepmother Janet is an excellent interior designer and is assisting with the internal layout and décor. We will be upping the ante on service and changing the aesthetics while adding a full café service and vibe. We will also shift our opening time to 7:00 am and include new café-inspired breakfast items to the menu while maintaining our great Jamaican food.

Rainforest Seafood Recipes

Seafood Gumbo (serves 12-15)
2 packs of Rainforest Seafood mix
2 stalks of fresh thyme
1 stalk of fresh rosemary
1 large potato
6 cloves of garlic
2 medium-sized onions
1 large sweet pepper
1 scotch bonnet (amount to your taste)
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons of garlic salt
3 stalks of escallion
1 half of a medium-sized pumpkin
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons of butter
8-10 cups of water

Simply cut all ingredients in medium to large pieces and place in a soup pot with one pack of Rainforest Seafood mix, except cream.
Put enough water to barely cover the top of the ingredients in the pot, bring the water to a boil, then turn the stove down to a med/low heat so it is still bubbling, but not fiercely. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes so nothing sticks to the pot and is well mixed. Intermittently add small amounts of water, as needed, to ensure the level of liquid is maintained.

Cook for approximately 1 1/2hrs to 2 hours; the trick to great soup is the longer it cooks the better. When everything is all soft and mushy, pour the ingredients, including the liquid into a blender and blend until a smooth consistency is achieved. The heavy cream should then be added to the mixture and further blended for approximately one to two minutes.

The mixture should have a very heavy but creamy texture.

Return this to the pot, add five cups of water, your other pack of seafood mix and cook for another half-hour stirring consistently. Meal is ready to be served.

White Wine-Marinated Salmon (8 slices fillet to serve 8)

8-pack Rainforest Seafoods Fresh Salmon Fillet
1 cup of white wine
3 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
1 medium-sized onion
1 sweet pepper
1/2 cup of honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbl spoon oyster sauce

After salmon fillet is properly thawed, put in a bowl and add wine and lime juice.
Put in fridge for an hour. Finely chop garlic, onion and sweet pepper and add along with
the herbs to the salmon fillet. In a bowl mix sugar, water, honey and oyster sauce.
Put seasoned salmon in a baking tray in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove and brush salmon with the honey glaze mixture.
Turn oven up to 380 degrees and put the salmon in for 5 minutes. Remove and serve.
Wine-infused Fettuccine Shrimp Alfredo

3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 packs Rainforest Seafoods peeled and deveined shrimp
1 pack shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons of cream cheese
2 packs regular fettuccine
2 stalks of fresh thyme
1 stalk of fresh rosemary
6 cloves of garlic
2 medium-sized onions
2 large sweet bell peppers
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoons of garlic salt
2 stalks of escallion
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon of butter

Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Rub the shrimp with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and garlic. Slice onion, bell peppers, and escallion and add to a large wok on high heat. Stir ingredients immediately and add shrimp, stir consistently on very high heat for 4 minutes. Throw in a stainless steel bowl and put bowl to sit in ice (this is to stop the shrimp from cooking further and becoming rubbery). Add pasta to olive oil in wok then add cream, cream cheese and cheese. Stir well together, then add shrimp and stir together. Serve.