After teasing the public this year with mini-events due to the pandemic, the 21st “A Taste of St. Croix” will begin Thursday with fewer attendees who will follow the Virgin Islands COVID-19 regulations and show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus prior to the events.
The three upcoming events will also be smaller than pre-pandemic years with only 250 guests sampling bites from 20 restaurants, chefs, farms and caterers on Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m. The Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino will once again host the signature event – not by the pool but across the street on the lower level of the casino banquet room and garden.
A Taste of St. Croix: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday
As in the past, there will be early access and a wine reception for VIPs and live music throughout the night by the Spectrum Band, DJ Felix and DJ 4T. In addition to samplings from some of St. Croix’s finest restaurants, there will be tastings of wine, beer and other spirits. Attendees and 10 judges will award prizes for the best tastes in several categories.
Tickets are $95 per person and $150 VIP, and proof of COVID-19 vaccination must be provided before receiving tickets. (As of Wednesday, these tickets have sold out.)
Sunset on the Terrace, Friday, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The Terrace Restaurant at the Buccaneer Hotel is the site of the second event. It will feature chefs demonstrating the preparation of a four-course meal. Samples will be distributed to guests at the end of each presentation. Live jazz, wine and spirits will complement the fine food.
Tickets are limited and proof of COVID-19 vaccination must be provided by guests.
Bubbly Brunch, Saturday, seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Fred Hotel will host Saturday’s brunch with two convenient seating times, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Guests will enjoy three courses with wine or champagne in the open air, beachside restaurant. DJ music will keep the party lively. Tickets are $85 and all guests must provide proof of COVID vaccination.
The Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino hosted A Taste of St. Croix for 17 years until the 2017 hurricanes destroyed parts of the hotel. In 2018 and 2019, the event was held in downtown Christiansted, and in 2020, all of the events were cancelled due to COVID.
Last April, smaller run-up events, were held including a virtual tasting at the Divi, where only sponsors and members of the press attended. This year’s Sunset on the Terrace and Bubbly Brunch are patterned after the earlier tastings. All of those events limited the number of patrons, who also were required to show proof of vaccination.
A food demonstration in September, also at the Buccaneer, featured three chefs and 50 guests. It was billed as an event for the vaccinated. Supporters were divided into three groups with one chef for each group. After the demonstration, samples were provided with wine pairings. The groups rotated together until they sampled all three chefs’ dishes.
In the past, funds raised by A Taste of St. Croix provided culinary scholarships. Because only 250 tickets, instead of the usual 800-1000, are being sold this year, little if any money will be made, according to Collin Hodge, one of the founders and the president of A Taste of St. Croix.
These events are all about vaccinations and following the governor’s COVID-19 regulations, Hodge said. Hopefully, the events will motivate people to take the vaccine and communicate a sense of normalcy for those who are immunized. Hodge also said they want to partner with businesses that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
“This is more about branding – marketing the island and the restaurants. If there is any money left, a donation will be made,” Hodge said.
This year’s sponsors include the V.I. Government, V.I. Tourism, V.I. Lottery, Viya, Tropical Shipping, Avis, TEAM Consultants, Lee J. Rohn and Associates and Just Right Trucking and Trash Removal LLC and Budget Rent a Car.
There are no tickets remaining for the Thursday event. However, Hodge said a few tickets for Sunset on the Terrace and Bubbly Brunch are available on Eventbrite.com. The events will be streamed live on Tempo, Facebook, Kalalloo and other media platforms.