It was all hands on deck as mixologist Phillip Antoine helped the chefs prepare the plates for the diners. (Nigel Browne)
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It’s almost D-Day for the Barbados culinary team. The three days of training each week seem to be paying off and their last lunch before selection of the final team showed their creativity, innovativeness and panache.
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s Taste Of The Caribbean competition is from June 6 to June 10 at the Hyatt Regency in Miami, Florida, and Barbados will be competing against Anguilla, The Bahamas, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, St Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, and the US Virgin Islands.
Taste Of The Caribbean is an annual celebration of Caribbean cuisine and beverages. It also provides an opportunity for participants to network and sharpen professional skills among an audience made up of industry peers and consumer culinary enthusiasts.
The Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) hosted the team’s last gourmet lunch at the Grille restaurant at Hilton Barbados Resort, Needham’s Point, St Michael.
Assistant executive vice-president of the BHTA, Michelle Smith-Mayers, said there are individual medals that the team members are seeking, along with winning Team Of The Year, but she also stressed it isn’t only about winning.
“Each person deserves to be here. They all compete for a place on the team. We do this process every two years and we take two teams but everybody gets an opportunity to go into the arena.
“We like to win as Barbados does consistently well at Taste Of The Caribbean but we use this competition to also develop the culinary talent in Barbados and through this programme we now have some of our top chefs who own restaurants and who are executive chefs.”
The lunch menu comprised a three-course meal of starter, main course and dessert. It was Team Lion Fish (Damian Leach, Willis Griffith, Javon Cummings) versus Team Scotch Bonnet Vikings (Kirk Ruck, Wilwore Jordan, Ron Maynard, and Marvin Applewaithe).
There were two different menus of ingredients indigenous to the Caribbean.
Smith-Mayers explained that it was all about “tasting our culture through our cuisine.
“What the competition is all about is teaching you different techniques and to put Barbados on the plate in a unique way.”
That unique way is using new applications, such as saltfish or eggplant as a dessert or sweet on a savoury plate.
The team is trained on proteins, starches, seafood, pastry and chefs at Taste Of The Caribbean will have to plate 40 plates while being timed and with the mystery basket round there is half an hour to determine the menu.
Sponsors were lauded for their continuous support, such as Pro Secure, which has been supplying uniforms for the team for six years and did the handover at the lunch, and Hotel Foods, which has a team on hand in Miami who are there from start to finish, setting up and packing up at the end.
Barbados will be part of the Caribbean Culinary Team Lunch Challenge taking place from 12 – 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8. The lunch will include three-course meals paired with wines and prepared by teams from The Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Jamaica, Suriname and Turks and Caicos.
Consumers can also attend Taste Of The Islands, taking place Thursday, June 9, where they will experience the culture of the Caribbean while sampling a variety of gourmet appetisers and desserts and tasting signature cocktails in an energetic atmosphere featuring authentic Caribbean music.