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).
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.