U.S.V.I. Culinary Team Captures Best of Show Honors

July 25, 2006 – The U.S.V.I. Culinary Team cooked and mixed its way to gold, silver and bronze medals and two Best of Show accolades at last month's Taste of the Caribbean culinary event held during the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference in Miami, Fla.
Steve Potter, bartender from Craig & Sally's Restaurant on St. Thomas, walked away with three honors from the event. He was awarded a gold medal in the Vodka and Rum category for The Green Flash, a layered rum punch with Midori and pineapple. Potter won a silver medal for the Mystery Basket category where he concocted a Mango Mint Bellini drink. He received a "Best of Show" for his creation of the Jamocha Jumbi, a Godiva chocolate espresso martini.
The culinary team was awarded a bronze medal in the overall "Mystery Basket" competition for its preparation of a three-course meal – appetizer: "pates old and new" featuring a curried chicken galantine with Angostura tomato jam and classic pork pate with a painted carrot ginger syrup; entrée: bacon and plantain wrapped grouper with molasses barbecue and a local pumpkin flan; dessert: buschwacker trifle pearl tapioca, rum cream anglaise, banana cheesecake and papaya-pineapple salsa layered in a large martini glass. The team won "Best of Show" for its curried chicken galantine with Angostura tomato jam.
The team was comprised of Leslie Gumbs, Chef Theo's Catering (St. Thomas); Rodney Rightenburg, Caneel Bay (St. John); Andrew Powers, Caneel Bay (St. John); Dennis Gribbin, Cultured Pelican (St. Croix); Steve Potter, Craig & Sally's Restaurant (St. Thomas) and Ric Ade, team manager, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort (St. Thomas).
The team was one of 16 to compete in the "Taste of the Caribbean," which showcases the development and refinement of Contemporary Caribbean Cuisine, presented by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA).
The team from the U.S. Virgin Islands was sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort and Angostura Bitters.
Taste of the Caribbean
The competition brought 16 teams of chefs, who won local culinary contests in their home countries, to Taste of the Caribbean 2006, for qualifying rounds of "live kitchen" competition in which each team prepared a three-course meal for 35 people in under four hours. The menu is designed from a "mystery basket" of ingredients, whose contents are not revealed until the beginning of the competition.
The competing culinary teams were from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Teams (in the preliminaries) and individuals from Gold Medal teams (who advanced to the finals) competed for point scores according to standards for professional competition set by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), not against each other. The scoring system provides clear criteria for excellence and is unaffected by the relative levels of the competitors skills.
In the bartender competition, bartenders from the competing teams prepared a variety of drinks to demonstrate their creativity, skills, personality, and showmanship. In the preliminary rounds, bartenders had 10 minutes to prepare his/her three portions of a rum cocktail, a vodka cocktail, and a nonalcoholic drink. In the final round, they had 30 minutes to review the secret contents of the mystery basket bar, design and prepare a cocktail of their choice.
All teams receive valuable detailed critiques of their performance from competition officials, adding a professional development component to the event. Taste of the Caribbean strives to promote the development and refinement of Contemporary Caribbean Cuisine, its signature food style, which rests firmly on the use of indigenous ingredients and the interpretation of Caribbean culture and traditions by food and beverage industry professionals. While maintaining a focus on professional development in the region, it also seeks to contribute to the promotion of tourism, and the region's overall economic growth, by enhancing the food and beverage experience offered to visitors by Caribbean resorts and restaurants.
For more info about the U.S.V.I. team contact the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association telephone: 340-774-6835.
For more info about Taste of the Caribbean, contact Lorraine Ortiz-Valcárcel or Melissa A. Rivera, email: lortiz@caribbeanhotels.org mrivera@caribbeanhotels.org; telephone 787-725-9139, extensions 244 and 232, respectively.

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