Showcasing Barbados’ food and rum

Put together a bunch of internationally acclaimed chefs with good Bajan eats, add in some superb mixologists on the island that invented rum, and you have the right formula for your own international food and rum party.

It is this formula that empowered to boast Wednesday night that Barbados has come of age by placement on the international foodie calendar of its own Food and Rum Festival as an annual fixture.

 

BTMI Chief Executive Officer William Griffith (left) chats with Tourism Consultant of Guadeloupe, Elaine Poirier; Director General of Guadeloupe Tourism, Willy Rosier (third left) and Caribbean Tourism Organization Secretary General Hugh Riley (right).
BTMI chairman Alvin Jemmott (left) about to sample some on the culinary delights available.
Caribbean Tourism Organization Secretary General Hugh Riley (left) Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy (centre) and Tourism Consultant Hugh Foster have a light moment.
The choice of sweets at this table ranged from guava cheeses to French pastries to dark chocolates.

Fact is, Barbados has had its name on that calendar for over seven years now, but six of those annual events had borrowed part of an already established brand name for the coinage Food, Wine and Rum Festival.

But as Sealy said Wednesday night at George Washington House, “I thought it was important that when we were celebrating our 50th year that we should make the shift, the quantum leap, and allow our local talent to do the heavy lifting for the festival”.

He was speaking of the decision in 2016 to drop the non-Barbadian sounding part of the moniker and step out as the Barbados Food and Rum Festival.

Sealy was speaking at the launch of the eighth hosting of the festival, set to run from November 16 to 19. It is also the second year of the festival as a Barbadian dominated event, as compared to the first six occasions when there was an influx of international culinary experts.

Sealy’s swank was in no small way encouraged by the recent showing of Barbadian chefs who walked away with top honours in the 2017 Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition at the Hyatt Regency in Miami in June.

Individual honours went to Ryan Adamson, Caribbean Bartender of the Year; and Damian Leach for Seafood.

Some of these champions are among the local headliner local chefs for the November 2017 festival: Michael Harrison, Michael Hinds, Henderson Butcher, Craig Greenidge, John Hazard, Damian Leach, and Willis Griffith.

They will be joined by only three international cooks from Barbados’ tourism source markets.

Adamson will be among the mixologists along with the 2012 champion, Jamaal Bowen.

“It is a classic example of how you can see a festival coming of age. We were importing the talent in the main before, but we have effectively seen the crossover. We have gone over the Rubicon; we’re seeing the locals are taking up the challenge,” Sealy said.

“We pair great food and fine rum with the diversity of the island for a savoury medley that includes polo, fish fries and even a sunset beach party. It doesn’t get more Bajan than this,” chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. William Griffith added.

The launch of the 2017 Barbados flagship eating and drinking event was not by accident; neither was the venue of George Washington House.

Wednesday was National Rum Day.

This little known fact, even among self-respecting Bajan connoisseurs, prompted Sealy to quip, “for some of us, every day is Rum Day. For those of you who celebrate once a year, happy Rum Day.

“Food could be found everywhere but the best rum could be found only on this piece of real estate we call Barbados.”

The first American President might have beamed at the use of the location that bears his name to launch this particular festival on that particular day. Legend has it that in his trip to Barbados, George Washington sampled the brown liquid and was forever hooked.

For Wednesday’s affair, noted Barbadian Historian Dr Karl Watson donned the garb of some 300-plus years ago and impersonated the US leader to welcome guests.

During the formalities, he took to the podium to declare that “as a young man I spent six weeks in this house”.

“I drank good Barbados rum in this house,” he said of the historical building on the Garrison where Washington stayed in 1751 before becoming US leader.

Continuing his impersonation of Washington, Watson related how he dismissed the wine offered at his inauguration on becoming President, in favour of “good ole Bajan rum”.

Source: By George Alleyne

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