MIAMI -- It wasnt
all just seminars, breakout sessions, toilet displays at the trade
show and buffet lines at breakfast at the recent Caribbean Hotel
Industry Conference, sponsored by the Caribbean Hotel Association.
Taste of the
Caribbean was the spicy, fun and spirited side of CHIC.
Taste, as its
called for short, began as a low-key barbecue get-together among
chefs in Jamaica some years ago.
Its evolved now
into a regional competition of chefs and bartenders, involving 16
culinary teams from the Caribbean who cook, mix, blend, shake,
pour, fry, poach, steam, grill, swirl, twirl and frost in a
live-kitchen environment, preparing a three-course meal for 35
people (who pay $50 each to sample the creations), using a mystery
basket of Caribbean ingredients.
Over the course of
the three-day conference, the 16 teams were pared down to the final
four by a team of international judges and then to the top
This years Taste
coincided with the World Cup competitions in Germany, making team
eliminations in both the kitchen and on the soccer field equally
dramatic. (Unlike its soccer team, which lost out before advancing
out of the first round, Trinidad and Tobagos culinary team did win
an individual honor for best use of U.S. cheese by team for its
recipe for roasted cheese and okra choka.)
celebration of contemporary Caribbean cuisine is designed to
provide a live showcase of the diverse culinary skills and styles
of the region, according to Rick Crossland, chairman of the Taste
of the Caribbean governing committee and one of the
This year, teams
represented Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda; the Bahamas; Barbados;
Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands; Curacao; Grenada; Jamaica;
Puerto Rico; St. Maarten/Martin; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and The
Grenadines; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; and the U.S. Virgin
Islands. Each team included a culinary coach, three chefs, a pastry
chef and a bartender.
Teams contended for
the Caribbean Food and Beverage Awards of Excellence.
The awards, which
were presented at the final banquet on the closing night of the
conference, had all the trappings of an Oscar ceremony -- speeches,
music, envelopes, please, a hushed audience, and then the
announcement of the winners, followed by tumultuous ovations,
especially from the representatives of the winners
The Chef of the
Year award went to Hans van Triest, chef at the Floris Suite Hotel
in Curacao; Paul Peterson of Temptation restaurant in St. Maarten
took the Bartender of the Year top honor; and Pastry Chef of the
Year was Tracey Sweeting (an appropriate last name, given the award
category), from the Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort,
There were so many
awards, in fact, in so many categories, that every team seemed to
emerge a winner. For instance, Puerto Ricos Ropa
Vieja was named the best use of certified Angus beef, and St.
Maarten/Martins Coconut Trilogy dessert earned the most innovative
In the bartender
competitions, special honors illustrated the creativity of the
competition. For example, the White Chocolate Express Martini,
created by the U.S.V.I. team of bartenders, was named the most
creative vodka drink; the Naked Mango, from Antigua & Barbuda,
was rated the most creative non-alcoholic drink. Meanwhile, the
creative rum award went to the team from St. Lucia for its Oh La La
drink and the most creative overall drink was concocted by Bonaires
team and was called the Caribbean Breeze.
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].