Stop the heavy reliance on imports – chefs told

A group of visiting chefs has urged their Barbadian colleagues to lobby for the use of more indigenous products.

After sampling the fresh produce available in Barbados, Italian pasta chef Marco Maestroso said local chefs “should be angry at the fact that 90 per cent of your produce is imported”.

Maestroso is from a group of six internationally acclaimed chefs, led by UK-based Barbadian Jason Howard, who are here for The Art of Cuisine – Barbados Meets the World, a week-long culinary showcase staged under the auspices of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA).

The chefs who are taking part in the BHTA’s ‘Art of Cuisine – Barbados Meets the World’ culinary showcase this week. From left: UK-based Barbadian chef Jason Howard; Sabastian Wussler, founder of the Chefs Talk social media network; Jason Licker; Angel Betancourt; Marco Maestroso and Miles Watson.

As part of the event, the chefs spent yesterday visiting farms around the country to look at the indigenous products they could use in their recipes.

“The potential in this market is huge,” said chef Jason Licker, who recently moved back to the United States after spending 12 years in the Far East.

“The problem is that when you grow up in Barbados, you don’t appreciate it. In the US right now, a lot of chemicals are used in the food industry, but your soil here is so rich and that makes a difference in the taste,” Licker added.

Meantime, Howard said he believed Barbadian food could, and would evolve.

“We will need an investment in equipment to manipulate and deliver a high quality product. The food will be healthier because everything is locally grown, so it will lower our carbon footprint. We can effectively market the fact that all of our food is locally grown and organic and this is a big selling point in the world today,” he said.

The BHTA’s Chief Executive Officer Rudy Grant said his organization had discussed the matter of equipment with various partners in the tourism sector.

“In terms of taxes, certain items will be exempted, but we are prepared to work with our partners to ensure we equip our chefs with what they require,” he said.

Meantime, discussing his ambition to see Caribbean cooking on the world stage, Howard noted that for years a Caribbean team dominated the cricket world and he looked forward to the day when a Caribbean team takes top honours at the World Culinary Olympics.

“We have the talent to do it, and once you win these contests, the whole world will look to you for culinary advice,” he said.

18 Responses to Stop the heavy reliance on imports – chefs told

  1. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba July 5, 2017 at 1:23 am


  2. Hunte Omar
    Hunte Omar July 5, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Very good advice given to the local chefs. However, it is extremely unfortunate, such advice is coming from visitors to our shores. It is a reflection on the educational system. We have a dependence mentality to be fed by external sources , since we turn our back on agriculture and do not have a land use policy. That is why chefs have a heavy reliance on imports.

  3. Henderson Yarde
    Henderson Yarde July 5, 2017 at 2:57 am

    As I said before when Imports are cheaper than local grown, people will always go for the imports. Government and all other players need to find away to help farmers make there produces more competitive and affordable when they reach market.

  4. Sam Alleyne
    Sam Alleyne July 5, 2017 at 4:07 am

    Support your local farmers!! Wake up people, it makes no sense at all that Barbados imports 90 % of its produce. They’re farmers in Barbados being told by hotels that they buy only imported because it last longer and looks better. Maybe it’s because of the product being genetically modified, also the heavy use of chemicals. The mentality is; if it’s imported it must be better makes no sense. Government, NGOs, the Agricultural Society, the Hotel industry and all involved need to realize they’re doing a disservice to the country and it’s citizens by not only compromising their health, but negatively affecting the financial wellbeing of local farmers. There is a lot of noise about the cost of imports, if Barbados wants to cut the import bill, this is a great place to start. It’s a shame that an Italian needs to explain that to the establishment.

  5. Sam Alleyne
    Sam Alleyne July 5, 2017 at 4:13 am


  6. Kani Buss
    Kani Buss July 5, 2017 at 6:13 am

    What better way to uplift our island,buy local,it’s better by far also

  7. Lionel Gittens
    Lionel Gittens July 5, 2017 at 7:04 am

    This is a very positive step. Local farmers make money foreign exchange stay at home.

  8. Frank Bongolights Chase
    Frank Bongolights Chase July 5, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

  9. Penny July 5, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Breadfruit pasta anyone?

  10. Francis Blackman-StJohn
    Francis Blackman-StJohn July 5, 2017 at 8:29 am

    As long as the political parties are benefiting from the support of the importers it will be very difficult to get farming past the lip service phase

  11. Freeagent July 5, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I wonder when someone was going to give this advice. When we travel to overseas countries we have to eat what is available there. Why do we have to import so much food when we have our yams, cassava, sweet potatoes etc? Tourists enjoy our local foods.

  12. tedd July 5, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I agree
    but it is not only chefs, the government need to put things in place to promote local products by making them more competitive to the imported products.

    Remember the policy of Import substitution we had in the 1970’s.
    It is not old fashioned but it works to strengthen the economy.

  13. Lloyd Lovell July 6, 2017 at 2:36 am

    It’s a very sad states of affairs that Barbadian political leadership have lost they way. As someone who grow up in the Scotland District, made our money from sugar cane, growing fruits and vegetables, yams, potatoes, eddos and all the fresh fruits. We’ve offered to assist the Government of Barbados several years ago with organic farming working cooperatively with the local small farmers along with certain US Universities and US Department of Agriculture. Additionally, we were prepared to invest mones, work with the BAS and the BMC and we wrote the Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Tourism..we are still awaiting a response to our proposal..When you are not producing and only consuming, you will never have a profitable society in Barbados. All the raw land in Greenland, Bawdens, Porters and Scotland District should be producing and we are willing to participate in a Private Public Partnership with the Government, but we will not be begging.

  14. Malou Morgan July 6, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    This is why organisations such as Slow Food Barbados and the Barbados Organic Grower’s Association are so important! Support local!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *