Consumers are invited to sample the cuisine of the Caribbean at the annual Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition featuring special event pricing for tasting opportunities at a luncheon, dinner, bartender competitions, seminars and the Taste of the Islands festival, presented by Ask Me, Inc. Consumers also have the opportunity to vote in the "People's Choice" competition and enter to win a variety of prizes. The consumer program is scheduled for June 28-29 at the Hyatt Regency, Miami.
Presented by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Taste of the Caribbean is a competition between chefs and bartenders from the region with teams from Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands competing for Caribbean Culinary Team of the Year honors.
On Friday, June 28, consumers can purchase tickets to the Caribbean Culinary Team Competition Lunch featuring three-course meals paired with wines and prepared by teams from the Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Suriname, and reigning Caribbean Culinary Team of the Year - Puerto Rico. The lunch takes place at 11:30 am and tickets are $50 each.
The Bartender of the Year Competition featuring vodka and Rums of Puerto Rico takes places from 2:30 - 7:30 pm on June 28. The 10 competing bartenders will receive a "mystery basket" of vodka and Rums of Puerto Rico to prepare, shake and stir into signature creations for judging.
For those interested in a night out, there is a Caribbean Culinary Team Competition Dinner featuring a three-course meal paired with wines prepared by teams from Anguilla, Curacao, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands and five-time Caribbean Culinary Team of the Year Trinidad and Tobago. The dinner is scheduled to start at 7 pm and tickets are $50 per person. Guests wishing to attend both the lunch and dinner competitions will pay $85 per person for the two events (a savings of $15).
During the Caribbean Culinary Team Competition Lunch and Dinner each competing team is given a "mystery basket" of ingredients (the provisions for the competition consisting of a meat, fish, poultry or game) which they must use to develop a three-course menu. The chefs have one hour to create and submit the menu and three hours to prepare and serve an appetizer, entrée and dessert for attendees at the luncheon or dinner.
On Saturday, June 29, the schedule of events is highlighted by the Junior Chef of the Year (from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.), Pastry Chef of the Year (8 a.m. - 12 p.m.), Bartender of the Year - Rum (10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.) and the Ice Carving competition (4:30 - 5:30 p.m).
The public can also participate in a series of seminars on June 29, 2 - 6 pm to hone their at-home culinary skills including: Mango Session: Presented from 2 - 3 pm by award-winning, nationally recognized Chef Allen Susser, who is also the author of The Great Mango Book. Chef Susser will provide insight on cooking with mango, one of the Caribbean's top fruits, which he has used in developing a tropical cuisine that led to the created of new world cuisine more than 30 years ago.
During Preparing Classical Cocktails At Home, A Hands-On Seminr Seminar, participants will learn the use of professional bartender tools and how to prepare the most famous classical cocktails from mojitos and Brazilian Caipirinhas, to the Cosmopolitan and the WW I Sidecar. Presented by Trinidadian cocktail master and 2005 Caribbean Bartender of the Year, Raakesh Madoo, this seminar will be a "hands-on" so registrants should come ready to shake, stir and strain their own cocktail creations. The session is scheduled 3:15 - 4:15 pm on June 29.
During the Rums of Puerto Rico Seminar, participants will become a true rum connoisseur as they learn about the different types of rum that comprise the Rums of Puerto Rico brand. Representatives from the Rums of Puerto Rico will provide an insider look into rum's history, rum making process, varieties of rum including light, dark, flavored and gold, and cocktails that are made with rum. The session will be held from 4:30 - 5:30 pm on June 29.
Tickets for Saturday's combined morning and daytime program, including the seminars, are $35 per person.
This year's program includes an enhanced Taste of the Islands festival presented by Ask Me, Inc. for consumers on Saturday, June 29 from 6 - 9 p.m. Featuring a pavilion of tourist boards, consumers can experience Caribbean culture through a variety of gourmet appetizers and desserts, sample signature cocktails, listen to authentic Caribbean music and gather information about exhibiting Caribbean countries. The Taste of the Islands highlights the street foods that are common throughout the region.
During Taste of the Islands, consumers can vote in the "People's Choice" awards to select their favorite culinary creations from participating teams. Consumers who vote in the "People's Choice" awards will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a variety of prizes. Tickets for Taste of the Islands are $30 per person. Consumers can purchase tickets for all of the events on Saturday, June 29, for $65 per person.
Another package option for consumers is purchasing tickets for the Competition Lunch, Competition Dinner and Taste of the Islands festival for $110 per person.