ST. LUCIA is poised to become well-known in culinary circles around the world should this weekend’s Food and Rum Festival hits all the major targets set by organizers.
The St. Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA), which is working with Events Company of St. Lucia (ECSL) to make the festival resonate with international media specializing in culinary arts, will be hosting more than 15 international journalists at the event.
The goal of the organizers, as noted by the Authority’s Press/Public Relations Officer, Charmaine Joseph, is to position the festival as a premier culinary event in the region and, hopefully, beyond.
“Preparations are going on just fine for the event,” Joseph said.
Lovers of food and rum have a bumper weekend ahead as the festival, which kicks off Friday night, is set to light up the Anse la Raye Fish Fry & Gros Islet Street Party.
Executive chefs from hotels on the island will be working with Anse la Raye Fish Fry vendors throughout this week to help them put together rum-infused menus, while participating restaurants island-wide will be featuring creative rum-inspired menus starting at US$39.
But there will be more in Anse la Raye that night. Aside from vendors offering fish dishes complemented with rum-infused sauces, live entertainment is set to dominate the scene as Herb Black, Lucian Kuduro artistes and Burning Flames out of Antigua are down to perform.
There will be a ‘Kabawé’ competition, meaning local rum shops will compete to make the best local spiced rum. Entry price for that competition is EC$20.
Also on Friday night, vendors at the Gros Islet Street Party will meet acclaimed international chef, Marcus Samuelsson. He will visit the street party to sample and enjoy the ambience of Saint Lucia’s favourite street party.
The action moves to the Rodney Bay Strip on Saturday night for what will be known as the Rodney Bay Village Culinary Pavillion, where sampling booths from the island’s best restaurants in Rodney Bay will be available along with live entertainment by local DJs, steel pan and rum-infused treats. Entrance to this event is free.
The participating restaurants are Big Chef Steakhouse, Coco Palm, Pink Papaya Restaurant, Delirius, Coconutz, Spice of India, Triangle Pub, Banana Countree, Bay Gardens Resort, Keebees, Jamrock, Carro’s Kitchen and Verve.
A Celebrity Chef Dinner will also take place at Coco Resorts on that night where Samuelsson will recreate the Obama inauguration dinner with a St. Lucian twist, as he will be using local ingredients. The award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and TV personality will present local foods on his menu from President Obama’s first State Dinner.
Chef Samuelsson has been a judge of the popular Bravo show, Top Chef and has had countless appearances on the Food Network. Crowned champion of television shows “Top Chef Masters” and “Chopped All-Stars”, he has served as a mentor on ABC’s “The Taste”. Chef Samuelsson will be assisted by a team of Saint Lucian chefs, including the award-winning Saint Lucia National Culinary Team and Coco Resorts Executive Chef, Richardson Skinner.
On Sunday, the festival moves into higher gear at the Pigeon Island National Landmark. In keeping with the theme and spirit of the event, it will be called the “Main Course”. Restaurants will have sampling booths at the Landmark.
St. Lucians are asked to come out and enjoy samplings from the Caribbean’s best rums and enjoy the final competition of the Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum Cocktail competition where local bartenders will compete in a 20-minute mystery basket competition in a bid to create their finest spiced rum cocktail.
The evening will end with an open-air concert by Teddyson John and Grammy-nominated Freddie Jackson who will close the show. Jackson has compiled 11 number one hits and 12 studio albums but is best known for his hits “Rock Me Tonight”, “You Are My Lady” “Just Like The First Time”, “Tasty Love”, “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” and “Jam Tonight”.
A major highlight of the festival will be the inaugural Caribbean Rum Awards which will be held in partnership with Caribbean Journal. This competition will give fine rum producers the opportunity to have their creations sampled by an expert judging panel as well as local, regional and international rum fanatics.