Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe says that he is determined to attract the prestigious culinary competition “Taste of the Caribbean” to the Bahamas. The 2014 competition, which opened in front of thousands of food lovers in Miami over the weekend, features the Bahamas team and finishes today.
The competition brings together the best in culinary skills from countries like Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Suriname and the US Virgin Islands.
Visiting the Taste of the Island event, Minister Wilchcombe said Bahamian food is an important marketing tool. “It just tells about the enormous potential we have. It’s a part of our culture and it shows that we have to do more in The Bahamas. As we seek to redefine tourism and make tourism more relevant for the 21st century, a part of it is that we make sure that our culture is featured and that is of course our food,” he said.
“Our food is important and we want people to go everywhere and talk about our food. We are very proud of the effort that the national culinary team has made. I think that we have so much to offer and I would like to see this conference come to the Bahamas because I’d like to show the world what we can do in the culinary aspect.”
Event organiser Bill Moore spoke about how beneficial Taste of the Caribbean is to the region. “There’s a strong educational element but we also feel that it is very, very important from a tourism standpoint. We are trying to emphasise the fact that the tourism product needs to embrace the culinary product.
So this is also a marketing window and what you see here tonight is a marketing opportunity for the countries that are involved,” he said.
Mr Moore, who previously lived in the Bahamas and was an executive chef at Nassau Beach Hotel, helped to establish the Bahamas Culinary Organisation. He said he expected the Bahamian team to do well again at this year’s event.
“The Bahamas has always been a consistently strong team and it’s great to see guys like Tracey Sweeting come back and invest over and over again. There are certain core teams that you look for every year like Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica because they are key teams within the organisation,” Mr Moore said.
“The Bahamas’ cuisine is unique and well understood. You have a strong presence in the United States that we need to reach out to. You have a solid team again this year and I think they are going to do very well.”
Last year, the Bahamian team captured 13 medals, including golds for pastry and use of beef.
Each team is comprised of three select chefs, one pastry chef, one junior chef, a kitchen artist and one bartender. The Bahamas team comprises chefs Sheldon Tracey Sweeting, Charon McKenzie, Jamal Small, Richmond Fowler, Dwayne Sinclair, bartender Marv Cunningham and kitchen artist Indra Solihin. Team Administrator Charlotte Knowles-Thompson also travelled with the team.