BVI Culinary Creations Gone Gold
Their performance was the antithesis of a flash in the pan. A few well orchestrated culinary flashes, seasoned with teamwork, team spirit and practice, and marinated with enthusiasm simmered to the right consistency, allowed the BVI National Culinary Team 2011 to bring home an array of medals from June’s Taste of Caribbean in Miami: five gold, one silver and three bronze. The team’s stellar performance brought the territory international notoriety and has helped the local culinary industry catapult forward.
During a recent interview, team members re-lived the excitement, finishing each other's sentences with words like “intense,” “psyched,” “focused,” and “hard work.” The team explained that fatigue gave way to determination, but they stuck to the game plan, using finesse and creativity to persevere.
According to team captain Kenneth Molyneaux, their main mission is to “generate contemporary Caribbean cuisine around the world." He said, in a sense, it’s “ building on old-style cooking, but with a contemporary twist.”
Culinary members pose proudly with their medals. Photo by Hezikiah Maddox.
“In addition to sand and sea, this win is a nice addition to our tourism portfolio,” Molyneaux said. “It gives us bragging rights and it puts the BVI on the front page for Caribbean tourism.” Adding to the captain’s sentiments, Mikhala Bagot, a junior chef on the team, said, “Being in the culinary field has given me the opportunity to explore different dimensions of food and taste.” She also said that culinary training is an art form. Since returning from the competition, she has received four job offers.
Pastry chef Ansony Salmon’s prized culinary piece, a black cake with avocado mousse, finished with a sorrel shooter, wowed the judges. One particular judge went as far as comparing the dish to her grandmother’s treasured treats. The team would go on to secure a gold in the Pastry Division.
When asked what’s ahead now that the competition is behind them, team members looked forward with enthusiasm. I learned that on the return flight home, some team members made mental notes while others organized plans for next year’s competition. They said they have grown, not just as culinary professionals, but also in intrinsic ways—winning has done wonders for their confidence.
Still riding aloft in victory, the culinary crew is now gearing up for the upcoming season, when they will ply their talents and winning recipes in the categories of beef, seafood, ice carving, bartending and pastry.
The team unanimously agreed that bringing home so many medals, especially the gold, gives the BVI wider exposure and it tells the world that although the territory is small—both in geography and population—its talent is big. Their hope is that this victory will generate further interest in the BVI and that travelers will want to visit and try their medal winning recipes.
Pastry chef Ansony Salmon dishes up a tasty treat from Peter Island Resort and Spa. Photo by Dan O'Connor.
The team arrived home to a reception held in their honour in the VIP lounge at Terrace B. Lettsome International Airport, and since then, accolades and recognition are still pouring in. At the airport reception, the team was greeted by the Premier Ralph O’Neal, as well as other government officials and sponsors. Along with the VIP reception, recognition has included an official motorcade, a victory party and a golden dinner which replicated the award-winning recipes. Throughout the remainder of this year and into 2012, the team will be featured in local publications such as the BVI Restaurant Guide, BVI Welcome Magazine and Experience the British Virgin Islands.
The team’s performance evoked organoleptic responses from the judges. Could it be that team’s cohesion—its synchronized mindset to go for the gold—and its stellar performance yielded not only top category results but it also achieved umami for the BVI? Maybe the proof lies in the pudding.