Kenria Taylor Snags Caribbean Junior Chef Of The Year Title



The youngest member and the most experienced members of the 2017 Taste of the Caribbean team returned home triumphant, each awarded a gold medal at the regional culinary competition, with one picking up an all-important category win.

Kenria Taylor, a recent University of The Bahamas graduate and Chef Emmanuel Gibson both earned the highest quality medals in their respective categories at the June 2-6 competition in Miami, Florida, but Taylor also earned the Junior Chef of the Year title and a gold medal for her preparation of a spice-rubbed beef with tamarind reduction, corn-dusted coconut marinated shrimp, sweet potato and thyme waffle, charred pineapple syrup and warm chayote and carrot slaw, in her stunning win in her first international outing.

“I was anxious, yet humble and confident so there was a mixture of all types of emotions,” said Taylor. It’s amazing.”

Gibson’s gold medal haul was won in the Chef of the Year competition. His winning dish included a spiced-rubbed beef ball tip, jerk chicken and thyme sausage with papaya chutney, mango and ginger-glazed shrimp, plantain and potato croquette, and medley of chayote brulee carrots.

Gibson, who was also a team manager who has also competed at the Culinary Olympics in Germany, took his gold medal showing in stride.

“The experience was basically the same for me.”

Although the squad was comprised of all new members from the podium topping 2015 team (Ron Johnson, Charon McKenzie, Sheldon Sweeting, Crystal Morley, Jamall Small, Leonardis Moss, Marv Cunningham, Rico Neely and Shelby Coleby) that took the Caribbean National Team of the Year title, Gibson said this year’s squad stood together and worked well.

“I think Bahamians should be proud of us. It’s all about Caribbean flavor and spices and I think as chefs we really tried our best to do that,” he said.

Barbados took home the Caribbean National Team of the Year crown — its third win in the 18 years of the competition (2017, 2013 and 2010); Team Bahamas was awarded a silver medal.

Trinidad & Tobago is still the winningest team in the competition’s history with six titles to its credit (2016, 2011, 2009, 2007, 2006 and 2004).

Puerto Rico has three titles (2014, 2012 and 1997).

The Bahamas, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Jamaica, Bermuda, Curacao and Aruba have one win each under their belt.

British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) Kenneth Molyneaux won the Caribbean Chef of the Year, the category in which Gibson won the gold.

Barbados’ Ryan Adamson won Caribbean Bartender of the Year. He also won Best Rum Drink. Trinidad and Tobago’s Clinton Ramdhan won the Best Vodka Drink. St. Maarten’s Paul Petterson won the Best Non-alcoholic Drink. Gino Wilson returned home with a silver medal for The Bahamas.

Cayman Islands’ Melissa Logan took home the Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year title; Angel Betancourt returned home with a silver medal.

Jamall Petty took silver in the Beef Competition for The Bahamas; BVI’s Kenneth Molyneaux took the gold and the win.

Kevyn Pratt was awarded a silver medal in the Seafood Competition that was won by Barbados’ Damian Leach who took the gold.

The Chocolate winner was Bonaire’s Sherundly Bernabela.

Presented by Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association (CHTA), Taste of the Caribbean hosted cooking and bartending competitions between teams from The Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Also comprising this year’s squad, also managed by Mario Adderley, were Owen Bain, Carvison Pratt, Asteir Dean, Tamar Rahming and Ryan McIntosh.

“We really applaud all these Taste of the Caribbean participants, their national hotel and tourism associations, team managers and sponsors for developing 14 astounding Caribbean national teams to compete at this event," said Frank Comito, director general and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA). “The teams’ commitment to the region showed in the heart and soul that each of the participants invested in their presentations.”

Taste of the Caribbean is the region’s premier culinary competition and cultural showcase. Since 1993, the best chefs and culinary teams unite to learn, demonstrate their skills and provide a scintillating exhibition of the most savory and delectable treats of the islands.

Produced by CHTA, Taste of the Caribbean provides a forum for gathering practical information, developing skills, sampling, purchasing, strengthening and establishing supplier relationships and meeting new vendors.

Bahamas Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA) president Carlton Russell said the organization is proud to support the Bahamas National Culinary Team and will continue to for many years to come.

“Our job is to support the overall tourism product and culinary is a very important part of that puzzle. What you see is that we are able to bring a team to compete in the Caribbean. The team is comprised with so many diverse individuals and it allows our team to compare their skills,” he said. “We are here to win but it is about taking our skills to another level.”

Shavaughn Moss
The Nassau Guardian
Published: June 9, 2017