Barbados was named the Caribbean National Culinary Team of the Year and Jason Thomas Ao of the Cayman Islands was crowned Caribbean Chef of the Year when the 2019 Taste of the Caribbean competition results were announced last night at Hyatt Regency Miami.
Taste of the Caribbean featured 14 Caribbean destinations, competing in a friendly but intense battle for cooking supremacy. The culinary tournament was held in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) annual industry conference, the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), from June 21-23, and the Caribbean305 culinary and cultural consumer celebration on Saturday.
Teams hailed from the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos.
Hazen Rolle of the Bahamas was crowned Caribbean Junior Chef of the Year; Rajasekar Ravindran of Turks and Caicos Islands was named Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year; while Bonaire’s Dhanesh De Kok and Elise Weerstand took home the glory in the beef and chocolate competitions, respectively. The Cayman Islands’ Dimuth Munasingha reigned supreme in the seafood category.
The Caribbean Bartender of the Year award went to Jurnick Merced of Curaçao, and his nation also won Best Vodka Drink. Trinidad and Tobago won Best Non-Alcoholic Drink; St. Lucia captured Best Rum Drink and the Cayman Islands won Best Mystery Bar Drink.
Grenada won the Josue Merced-Reyes Spirit of the Competition award, while Floris van Loo of Bonaire took home Tony Mack Spirit of the Competition honours.
“We congratulate this year’s Taste of the Caribbean participants, their national hotel and tourism associations, team managers and sponsors for an exhibition of excellence, competitive spirit and camaraderie,” said Patricia Affonso-Dass, President of CHTA.
“The future of food and beverage in the region is undoubtedly in good hands,” she said.