A call has been issued for a facility to be established where local chefs can go for training to constantly upgrade their skills.
Assistant executive vice-president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), Michelle Smith said there was need for such an institution to provide advanced training for those in the profession.
She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the first training lunch for the Barbados Culinary team 2014 at the Dining Club.
The BHTA is in the process of choosing the participants for the annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition, which is scheduled to begin on June 28 in Miami.
The team will consist of one pastry chef, two senior chefs, one junior chef, a bar tender as well as the team manager and an assistant. The training competitions started in January 2014.
Smith said the association saw it fit to use competitions as one avenue to allow chefs to bring out their best and become better at their trade but there was still a need for a facility for advanced training.
“We have a culinary school here but it is a basic level and we don’t have and we still want a place where culinary people can go and get higher level of training without having to go overseas. In places like Jamaica and Bahamas they have facilities where [people from overseas] can come in and do training on the ground, because culinary courses are expensive and they cannot afford to leave to go overseas to do it, and some of them have commitment on the ground too,” she said.
“If we can get facilities where they can come in and actually train here in Barbados that would be great. But in the absence of that, we find that the process of competition and then training with the Barbados culinary team helps them to grow as a professional and personally too,” added Smith.
The association invested in excess of $80,000 for this year’s competition, a large portion of which is food inputs.
“It is a big investment and we have some new players on board this year,” said Smith.
“We continue to struggle to make sure that we raise this money every year. Costs go up every year in terms air fair, hotel accommodation, taking all of them to Taste Of The Caribbean because we don’t only take those who are on the team. We also take other people. As many as we can to make sure they are exposed to it,” she said, adding that the association and chefs were always tweaking the product in an effort to constantly improve.
The chefs and bartenders presented a taste of what was to come for the competition to a room of sponsors and journalists today, much to their delight.
Smith said despite the absence of a facility for the advanced training of chefs she was proud that many local establishments were utilising them and some of them had even been headhunted by overseas companies. In addition, Smith said the number of foreign chefs here were only about five, based on recent research.
“The reason that they may have those expat chefs is because they might be in speciality areas that we are not able to provide,” she said.