A cadre of culinary chefs from around The Bahamas have once again come together to challenge the Caribbean in a four-day showdown at Taste of the Caribbean in Miami, Florida from June 2-6.
The event, which is now in its 24th year, unites top chefs in the region to learn and demonstrate their skills in an all-out cultural showdown.
The Bahamas Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA) searches for the best chefs from different organizations to compete in the region’s top premier culinary competition.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism proudly sponsors the event among others.
This year, the Bahamas’ National Culinary consists of 14 chefs including Mario Adderley, team manager,University of The Bahamas; Emmanuel Gibson, team captain, Manuelos Lettuce Eat; Owen Bain, senior chef, Cassava Grill; Jamall Petty, senior chef, Courtyard by Marriott; Angel Betancourt, pastry chef, One & Only Ocean Club; Carvison Pratt, senior chef, Baha Mar; Kevyn Pratt, chef, One & Only Ocean Club; Asteir Dean, chef, private chef; Tamar Rahming, chef, Island House (Shima); Kenria Taylor, junior chef, University of The Bahamas; Ryan McIntosh, apprentice chef, Sandals Royal Bahamian and Gino Wilson, bartender, The Cove at Atlantis.
Team Administrator is Charlotte Knowles-Thompson.
Chef Adderley said he feels that the new team will surprise the Caribbean with its skills.
“From we walked into the room it’s been energenic.The guys are super excited to represent not only their individual properties, but The Bahamas. And so, they have been working endlessly for the past several months to prepare their dishes, practice them to make sure they have a strong presentation at the Taste of the Caribbean,” he said.
“Each chef brings a certain element to the team and from that we have been able to create a strong team.We are a new team and so we want to put our best foot forward and so this is just the beginning for these young men and we expect even greater things to come within the next two to three years.”
Chef Gibson is no stranger to the competition as he has participated in the Taste of the Caribbean four times.
Gibson, who is also a Culinary Olympian, said the key to the team’s success will be how well they work together.
“I’m definitely going to use my experience to bring the team together. The team definitely has the strength and character and the skill set. What I’ve seen is a tremendous growth. We have some chefs who have never competed before but I think this is a really good opportunity to go away and get that international experience,” he said.
Chef Petty, who is also a Culinary Olympian, may not be a stranger to competition, but is competing for the first time at Taste of the Caribbean.
While he is going up against the Caribbean, Petty says his biggest rival is himself.
“My experience has changed my perspective on food. When it comes to culinary it is something that is continuously changing and sharpens what you perceive food to be. This competition is basically putting The Bahamas on a fork and I have never had to do that in any other competition,” he said.
“To be honest, my greatest nemesis is myself. Everytime you go into a competition like this you are judged by what you did last and so you have to constantly improve.”
Executive Vice President of the BHTA Suzanne Pattusch said for the past 16 years, the organization has taken delight in coordinating the chefs.
“We are here to promote the fact that The Bahamas is one of the best destinations known for its culinary prowess and it is a way to show our burgeoning culinary artists what lies ahead because they gain so much from just being a part of competition at this level,” she said.
“They’re already winners in my eyes.
The team is expected to make out-of-the-box dishes using foods indigenous to The Bahamas.
Some of the ingredients include, goat pepper, cassava, Eleutheran pineapple, sapodillas and okras just to name a few.
In 2015, The Bahamas won the title of Caribbean National Team of the Year and inducted past team members coveted bartender Marv ‘Mr. Mix’ Cunningham and Chef Sheldon Sweeting into the competition’s Hall of Fame.
Last year, the team took home the gold medal but was beaten out by Trinidad and Tobabgo for Caribbean National Team of the Year.
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