Ambrosia: a culinary adventure

Persistent downpours during the day on Saturday were a bit disheartening, but, thankfully, the skies cleared in the evening for hundreds of Barbadians to make their way to Ilaro Court for Ambrosia.

This all-inclusive Food & Rum And Wine Festival event featured the talents of many local chefs, as well as a few international ones. The food was exquisite and when paired with the premium wines provided by Wine World, it was a culinary adventure. The event was a treat for all the senses. Not only did the food taste amazing, but it looked appealing and filled the tent with a mouth-watering mix of aromas.

Barbadian chef Craig Greenidge serving a sumptuous dish to patrons.
Barbadian chef Craig Greenidge serving a sumptuous dish to patrons.
Patrons lining up for drinks.
Patrons lining up for drinks.

Executive vice-president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Authority, Sue Springer, described the event, which is in its fifth year, as absolutely wonderful and spectacular.

“[The Food & Wine And Rum Festival] showcases the incredible variety of food we have and the talent we have. No wonder we are known as the culinary capital of the world. And if you look at most of the items that have been done, they are local products done with an international flair. What better way to experience Barbados culinary expertise!”

Publisher of Food & Wine magazine, Christina Grdovic, is incredibly pleased with how the festival is going. Despite the inclement weather, the patrons seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely while taking in the cooking demos and parties.

“We kicked it off at Oistins, and here we are at Ambrosia, and it is going really well.”

Grdovic was not surprised by the huge turnout as the event was a sell-out. What did surprise her was the eagerness of the patrons or their willingness to stay for the entire event.

“I’m from New York and people show up for parties and leave. But here, they eat, drink and hang around.”

She decribed the festival as on par with other Food & Wine festivals around the world, and explained that the decision to include rum was based on a suggestion from the Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy in an effort to promote our unique, local product. Grdovic added that Barbados had all the elements they looked for in a festival: “great local talent, great locations, wonderful hotels and wonderful hospitality”.

She hopes to be back next year, and that it will be bigger and better.

Toronto-based chef Roger Mooking had nothing but glowing praise for the festival and especially Barbados. This was his first time at the Food & Wine And Rum Festival, and he hopes it will not be his last. The Trinidadian-born chef has been to many other Caribbean islands, but says there is something unique and special about Barbados.

Celebrity chef Roger Mooking.
Celebrity chef Roger Mooking.

“You feel the energy of the people in the community and the love. Everyone is so proud of their island, and you feel like it is a warm hug.”

Mooking is no stranger to other Food & Wine festivals, having attended ones in Miami, South Beach and Toronto; but he said what set our festival apart was the infusion of music.

“During a cooking demo, a DJ would be blasting music, whereas at other demos, the demo would be the focus; and that is just the Caribbean culture where the music is just central.”

Young, local pastry chef Ashley Davis thoroughly enjoyed her second year at Ambrosia. Having experienced last year’s, she was better prepared for this year’s event, both physically and mentally, and was a lot more calm. Davis preferred this year’s venue over Lion Castle Polo Estate last year, and also liked the change in some of the chefs –– “which keeps the event fresh and interesting”.

“I would like to see a little more focus on the local chefs, because I find that [they] pull out all the stops at these events. International chefs are great, but local chefs really step up to the plate.”

The 29-year-old private chef for the British High Commisioner started cooking about ten years ago after leaving Queen’s College and going on to PomMarine. She said she would not mind being back next year, but would like the organizers to give new chefs a chance.

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