Taste of Belize - A Success
--Belize City, July 4th, 2005The Belize Tourism Board held its fourth Culinary Competition “Taste of Belize on Saturday, July 2nd, 2005, at the Radisson Fort George Hotel which featured 10 professional chefs, 6 amateur chefs and 7 bartenders.
“Taste of Belize” is a ‘signature competition’ geared at developing the Culinary Arts in Belize where contestants must create a unique dish using his/her choice of ingredients. This dish may be an appetizer, main dish or dessert and must reflect any Belizean or regional cuisine. There were three main components – the professional culinary competition, the amateur culinary competition and the bartending competition. The first component, the professional culinary competition, was comprised of persons who are employed as chefs in Belize’s Food and Beverage Industry. The “Taste” commenced early that Saturday morning and the judges had the unwieldy task of short listing from 10 to 6 chefs. There were two rounds, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and at the end of the day, the judges had chosen the top 6 professional chefs to compete in the finals.
Ms. Amy Knox, Chef at Victoria House in San Pedro, captured the title of “Best Chef of the Year 2005” with her savory Pan Seared Tilapia with Curry Jerk Shrimp, Caribbean Rapatouille, Green Onion Arepas and Ginger Wine Gastrique. As a part of her winning package, she received a trophy and cash prize of $1200. The second place winner, Jason De Ocampo of Global Spice Restaurant of the Philip Goldson International Airport, received a trophy and $800 cash prize. The third place winner, Patrick Haughton of Cayo Espanto in San Pedro, received a trophy and a $500 cash prize.
The Amateur Competition consisted of public cooks, kitchen apprentices, and caterers. Mrs. Corrie Pronk was awarded the title of “Amateur Chef of the Year” and received a certificate, a trophy, and a $500 cash prize for her Caribbean Hot Shrimp. The second place winner was Henry Jex, Banker at the Belize Bank, who received a trophy and a $300 cash prize. The other contestants of the amateur competition were awarded prizes for their effort as the competition was fierce and their presentations were similarly impressive.
Participants competing in the bartending category were required to create a signature drink, giving the audience and judges, a sample of what was expected to meet with their stamp of approval. Enrique Luna, bartender at Victoria House in San Pedro, won the prestigious title of “Bartender of the Year” and his winning drink “Caipirinha” was dubbed as “Belize’s best new signature drink for 2005.” Additionally, Mr. Luna was awarded a trophy and a $500 cash prize. The second place winner, Marcia Jones of Radisson Fort George Hotel was awarded a trophy and $300 cash prize. The third place winner, Kenny Wilshire of Victoria House was awarded a trophy and a Belize tour package.
The Gala night included cultural entertainment by Paul Nabor and the Garifuna All Stars Band, Pantempers Steel Orchestra, and Echoes Rock Band. Attendees were able to enjoy samples of an array of dishes from the booths that had food displays. Well-known Belizean entertainers William Neal and Gwen Nunez Gonzalez hosted the night’s event. The “Taste of Belize” attracted over 750 attendees.
The judges for the Professional and Amateur Competitions were Beverly Brown, Hospitality Lecturer at UB, Bernard Blades, Independent Chef, and international judges were Reiner Aukenthaler, Executive Chef at the Hilton Princess in El Salvador and Jan Kuska, Executive Chef at the Airport Catering Company in El Salvador.
“This event highlights the proficiency and ingenuity of our culinary personnel in the tourism industry and provides them with an audience to showcase their talent, while concurrently learning new techniques and having fun,” comments Tourism Director, Tracy Panton. “Taste of Belize is a project geared at involving food connoisseurs to take an active role in developing and sharpening their skills and the culinary sector in Belize.
Other participants in the professional and amateur chef categories included Calbert Santiago of Five Sisters Lodge, Ainsley Castro of Radisson Fort George Hotel, Luis Cawich of the Villas at Banyan Bay in San Pedro, Victor Nal of Captain Morgan in San Pedro, Carlos Jacol of Zeboz in Placencia, Manuel Contijoch of Belize Biltmore Plaza and Mario Carlino of Turtle Inn in Placencia. The remaining competitors in the Bartending Category were Jose Alvarez of Mata Chica Resort in San Pedro, Deshawn Sosa of Radisson Fort George Hotel, Charles Nuñez of Captain Morgan in San Pedro, Sherlene Esrada of Journey’s End Resort in San Pedro and King Lewis of Hamanasi Resort in the Stann Creek District.
Local sponsors for the event were Santiago Castillo Ltd., Appleton Jamaica Rum, Heinz, Absolute Vodka, Mc Cormick, Gallon Jug Estate, James Brodies & Co. Ltd., Fresh Catch Ltd., Nova Shrimp Farm, Southside Meats, Charros Fruits & Vegetables, Belmont Butane Gas Depot, Polystructure and Architectural Works Ltd., the University of Belize, the Belize Hotel Association, Courts Belize Ltd. and the Belize Tourism Industry Association.