In a heated competition to recognise the best island cooking, Jamaica was crowned “National Team of the Year” at the “Taste of the Caribbean” event held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, October 2 - 5. Trained by Grand Lido Negril executive chef Martin Maginley, the Jamaica national team pitted its culinary talents against 10 other Caribbean nations in this regional showcase of the cooking arts hosted by the Caribbean Hotel Association and the Caribbean Culinary Federation.
Chefs and bartenders from individual countries compete domestically for one of five spots on the national team, comprised of an executive chef, two sous chefs, a pastry chef and a bartender. Ice-carvers compete separately as independents.
The Jamaica team boasts three SuperClubs chefs - Adrian Weichenberger, Grand Lido Negril; Vinroy Green, Hedonism II; and Mark Cole, Hedonism III - plus bartender Alesha Essor from Hedonism II. In addition, Dewayne Griffith from Grand Lido Negril entered the ice- carving competitions. This talented group brought home nine medals during the four-day event: three gold, five silver and one bronze. Among its three gold medals, the Jamaican team won the “Team Hot” award for creating Suckling Pig Crepinet on Bed of Jackfruit Chutney with Yam Gratin and Pumpkin Ragout.
Launched in Miami in 1999, the “Taste of the Caribbean” competition is the only culinary showcase of its kind in the region. In addition to Jamaica, the following countries participated: Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Grenada, Curaçao, US Virgin Islands.