Grace Bay Resorts, in partnership with the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board and The Wine Cellar, recently announced the official schedule for the Fourth Annual Caribbean Food & Wine Festival. The weekend-long festival brings together international chefs and winemakers who partner with local chefs to create an event focused on the local food and flavors of the island.
This year the event takes place from November 6-8 and welcomes all-star chefs from around the world, including Leah Cohen, David Lefevre, Hans Peter Haider, as well as vintners from Benzinger Family Winery, Cuvaison Estate, Weingut Salzl Seewinkelhof and Duck Pond Cellars & Desert Wind Winery.
The not-for-profit event will raise funds for The Department of Youth Affairs and the islands’ "Little Chefs" mentor program that supports and encourages young local chefs to pursue careers in hospitality, a vital industry of Turks and Caicos.
The fourth annual event welcomes former “Top Chef” contestant Chef Leah Cohen of New York’s Pig & Khao. Cohen’s first experience in a New York City kitchen was at Park Avenue Cafe, where she worked under Chef David Burke. Chef David Lefevre of Manhattan Beach Post in California will also join this year’s festival. Chef Lefevre attended the Culinary Institute of America and landed an internship at Chef Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago.
The 2014 festival also marks Hans Peter Haider of hotel12 in Austria joining the team of top chefs. Known for his use of traditional Austrian techniques and classic dishes with unique Austrian twists, Haider began his career with an apprenticeship at Austria’s authentic Hotel Antonie, before gaining prominence in various prestigious hotels throughout the country. In 2003, at just 28 years old, he became executive chef at Hotel Holzknecht.
This year the festival welcomes winemaker Benzinger Family Winery, a family winery based in Sonoma County, California that offers certified Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods for a portfolio of authentic wines. Cuvaison Estate, a Napa Valley winery and vineyard that handcrafts Napa Pinot Noir and Napa Chardonnay will also join the festival. Weingut Salzl Seewinkelhof, an Austrian winery located between the lakes and plains of Lake Neusiedl – Seewinkel National Parks feature fruit-driven wines that reflect the terrain of its vineyards. Well known for its Chardonnay, more than 30 percent of the vineyard produces white wine including Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gruner Veltliner.
Returning ambassadors include Duck Pond Cellars and Desert Wind Winery. Duck Pond has focused on crafting quality wine at an affordable price. Utilizing fruit from the family-owned vineyard sites throughout the Northwest allows the winery to control every aspect of the winemaking process from the vineyard to the bottle.
This year festivities commence on Thursday, November 6, with a welcome dinner at Blue Haven Resort’s Fire & Ice restaurant. This event typically attracts more than 100 guests and includes a five-course dinner with wine pairings.
On Friday, November 7, the festival will host the second annual Women of Wine luncheon with distinctive dishes and carefully selected wine pairings. This event was first introduced two years ago to give guests and locals an opportunity to meet the festival’s’ incredible female chefs while learning about new wines in a fun and casual atmosphere.
Later on Friday evening, the most highly anticipated event of the festival weekend, the Gourmet Safari will lead guests on a progressive dinner party around Providenciales. Now in its eighth year, the Gourmet Safari was the original event that served as a catalyst for the festival and continues to be a guest favorite today. Guests will whet their appetite with innovative cocktails at Krave courtesy of the Grace Bay Club and then proceed to the appetizer course at Coyaba. From there, guests will enjoy their dinner at Seven Stars and The Regent Palms, before concluding with dessert at The Gansevoort. This interactive ‘dine around’ is a completely local experience that gives festival guests an opportunity to discover the incredible restaurants and meet the talented chefs.
On Saturday, November 8, guests can attend the annual Food & Wine Pairing event at West Bay Club, a Grace Bay Resorts managed property, featuring four, 20-person introductory food and wine pairing seminars, highlighting meat, seafood, cheese and dessert/chocolate. Each of the tasting rooms showcase the guest chefs and winemakers with support from the young local talent of the Little Chefs mentor program.