A few years ago interest in Saint Lucia’s Culinary Arts started to bloom. It took persons like Chef Robbie, Chef Orlando and others to recognize that there was a lot more we could do with our local produce than just promote green-fig and saltfish. It became obvious, too, that visitors travel as much for a culinary experience as they do for sun, sea and sand. With the rise of Saint Lucian Chef Nina to virtual international stardom last year, there was an immense boost in interest in the culinary arts here in Saint Lucia. Suddenly it is higher on the agenda of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), The Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) and the schools’ curriculum.
Last weekend the Saint Lucia Culinary Team did the island proud once again at the Taste of Caribbean Competition in Miami.
On Tuesday June 16 the St. Lucia Culinary Team received a warm homecoming from the SLHTA, SLTB and media personnel upon arrival at Hewanorra International Airport. A reception for the team followed at Coconut Bay Resort in Vieux Fort.
While in Miami not only did the chefs shine in the various competitions and challenges but they also took part in the annual Caribbean Food and Beverage Event, networking and polishing their professional skills before a large audience of industry peers and food and beverage veterans.
The youngest culinarians of the group were Martha Hippolyte, 27 who works at Coconut Bay Resort and Edna Butcher, 21 employed with Cap Maison. Both obtained gold medals; Hippolyte for the Cheesecake Competition and overall win and Butcher for the Junior Chef of the Year Competition and overall win. Butcher was also inducted into the Hall of Fame and received US$2,500 from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Foundation.
“It was a wonderful experience overall, but then there’s nerves; I got really, really nervous but I pulled through. It was very exciting to get the result that I won overall,” said Martha Hippolyte.
“It was a very good experience. It was also my first time in doing an international competition. I learnt what not to do and what to do although I had the knowledge of competitions already Caribbean wide,” said Edna Butcher.
Saint Lucia also achieved five silver medals racked up by Caron Jean from Cap Maison for the Surf & Turf Competition, Refer Leonce also from Cap Maison for the Chef of the Year Competition, Gilry Samuel for the Pastry Chef Competition, Mario Alexander from Delirius Bar for the Bartender Competition and Team Saint Lucia for the Team Competition.
The Minister of tourism Lorne Theophilus congratulated and praised ‘team 758’ and Chef Robbie for the work he carried out with team members stating, “For years Chef Robbie has done what is necessary to transform the culinary landscape of St. Lucia,” adding, “In doing well in Taste of the Caribbean these ambassadors have carried the name not of themselves only but the name of Saint Lucia. Team 758 has flown that flag extremely high so the name of St Lucia has been brought into the wider world and our culinary presence is being felt.”
Assistance was provided by the SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund, GL, LUCELEC, SOLAR Tours & Travel, St Lucia Fish Marketing Corp, Sandals, Chairman’s Reserve, Crown Foods, Superior Fish & Seafood, St James’s Club Morgan Bay, LIME, Trans Caribbean 2000, Viking, Green Evolution, Saint Lucia Marketing Board, Cap Maison and RJB Hotel Supplies.