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Cultural diversity shines at Taste of the Caribbean 2006

Bahamas, Curaçao, Sint Maarten/St Martin and Trinidad & Tobago receive top culinary honours

Miami, Florida (July 7, 2006) – Sixteen teams of Caribbean chefs, pastry chefs and bartenders elevated Caribbean cuisine to an art form during three days of live professional competitions before an audience of approximately 1000 people at Taste of the Caribbean 2006, held during the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference in Miami, Florida, last week. The awards, highest honours for food and beverage professionals in the Caribbean region, culminate the annual showcase for the development and refinement of Contemporary Caribbean Cuisine, presented by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA).

The top honour in mixology, 2006 Caribbean Bartender of the Year, went to Paul Peterson of the Sint Maarten/St Martin National Culinary Team. In the culinary competition, chef Hans Van Triest, with the Curaçao Culinary Team, was named 2006 Caribbean Chef of the Year having scored the highest marks in the preliminary and final rounds of competition. Meanwhile, chef Tracy Sweeting from the Bahamas National Culinary Team swept the highest scores in patisserie, winning the 2006 Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year Award.

Team Trinidad & Tobago dominated the National Teams category with a gold medal performance and the highest scores overall, which earned honours as Caribbean National Team of the Year 2006. The team is composed of chefs Raymond Joseph, Bernard Long, Debbie Metivier, Tricia Oliveire and Sabrina Rosales. This is the second overall win for Trinidad & Tobago, whose culinary team also garnered Team of the Year honours in 2004.

Team awards, following the qualifying rounds of culinary competition, were presented as follows: bronze medal – Bonaire, Grenada, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname and United States Virgin Islands; silver medal – Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica and Puerto Rico; gold medal – Bahamas, Curaçao, St Lucia, Sint Maarten/St Martin and Trinidad & Tobago. Further, Team Bahamas received the Hans Schenk Commemorative Award for the Most Innovative Menu of the competition.

Special awards were also presented to Team Barbados – Spirit of the Competition; Sint Maarten/St Martin – Most Innovative Dish, Coconut Trilogy Dessert; Puerto Rico – Best Use of Certified Angus Beef, Ropa Vieja; and Trinidad & Tobago – Best Use of US Cheese, Roasted Cheese and Okra Choka.

Bartender medals were presented as follows: bronze medal – St Vincent & the Grenadines; silver medal – Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago; gold medal – Bonaire, Sint Maarten/St Martin and United States Virgin Islands.

Special awards in mixology were conferred to Steve Potter, United States Virgin Islands - Most Creative Vodka Drink, White Chocolate Espresso Martini; Thor Berntsson, Antigua & Barbuda – Most Creative Non-Alcohol Drink, Naked Mango; and St Lucia’s Barkus Henry – Most Creative Rum Drink – Oh, La-La. In addition, event sponsor Angostura also recognized Steve Potter of the USVI Team for the Best Use of Angostura Bitters in his Tomato Angostura Jam.

The competition brought 16 teams of chefs who won local culinary contests in their home countries to Taste of the Caribbean 2006 for qualifying rounds of live kitchen competition in which each team prepared a three-course meal for 35 people in under four hours. The menu is designed from a mystery basket of ingredients, whose contents are not revealed until the beginning of the competition.

In the bartender competition, bartenders from the competing teams prepare a variety of drinks to demonstrate their creativity, skills, personality and showmanship. In the preliminary rounds bartenders have ten minutes to prepare his/her three portions of a rum cocktail, a vodka cocktail and a non-alcoholic drink. In the final round they have thirty minutes to review the secret contents of the mystery basket bar, and design and prepare a cocktail of their choice.

All teams receive valuable detailed critiques of their performance from competition officials, adding a professional development component to the event.

Taste of the Caribbean strives to promote the development and refinement of Contemporary Caribbean Cuisine, its signature food style, which rests firmly on the use of indigenous ingredients and the interpretation of Caribbean culture and traditions by food and beverage industry professionals. While maintaining a focus on professional development in the region, it also seeks to contribute to the promotion of tourism and the region’s overall economic growth by enhancing the food and beverage experience offered to visitors by Caribbean resorts and restaurants.

Disclaimer: The information in this article/release was accurate at press time; however, we suggest you confirm all details and prices directly with vendors.
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