|Patrick Houghton, Chef of the Year 2006
|Mariano Coc, Bartender of the Year 2006|
|Amy Knox, Cake Decorator of the Year, 2006|
|Mitylene Bailey, Amateur Chef of the Year, 2006|
In what is known as the “signature culinary competition” in Belize, Patrick Houghton managed to nab the title of “Chef of the Year”, bringing glory to Cayo Espanto, San Pedro for another year. The fifth annual Taste of Belize, held this past Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, saw 15 professional chefs, seven amateur chefs, six cake decorators and eight bartenders compete for coveted titles in both the culinary and bartending categories.
San Pedro was well represented at this event, and Patrick Houghton, Chris Aycock, Amy Knox, Enrique Luna and Trevor Del Valle brought home trophies, cash prizes and lots of bragging rights to La Isla Bonita!
The competition started at nine in the morning, with the first round being the Professional Chefs Category. This was the most arduous of the four categories, as chefs had to face two rounds before qualifying for the third and final round. By four thirty, judges had decided who the seven main competitors would be in the final round. They were Colleen Schwendinger, Sheridan Sierra, Jason De O’Campo, Calbert Santiago, Jeff Spiegel, Patrick Houghton and Chris Aycock.
A first for the Taste of Belize this year was a cake decorating competition. This competition was open to any participant who enjoys baking and decorating cakes, but isn’t a Professional Pastry Chef. Participating were six decorators, including Amy Knox, Carmen Leticia Vasquez, Priscilla Ursula Castillo, Elvera Strawn, Emelda Vernon and Andrew Middleton. The crowd present during the day was very much interested in the creations of each participant, and everyone eagerly waited to see the final, stunning results that best captured the theme, “A Belizean Fantasy”.
In an adjoining room, while everyone awaited the results of the fine cake decorating, amateur chefs prepared delightful and creative dishes for the judges. During the professionals’ break, the amateurs took over the chef stations and whipped up dishes speedily and craftily. This category was open to hobby cooks, food and beverage students, kitchen apprentices or any cook with less than two years professional experience. Mitylene Bailey, Henry Jex, Stephanie Crawford, Jose Pech, Deona Pilgrim, Trinell Smith and Beverly Rubio gave their all in this competition, but only three would be called upon to receive trophies, and the anticipation was great.
Meanwhile in the courtyard below, bartenders were busy preparing for three rounds of intense drink mixing and blending. On board to compete for the prestigious title of “Bartender of the Year” were eight top-notch mix-masters, totally skilled in the art of bartending. Mariano Coc, Enrique Luna, Trevor Del Valle, Lelo Batun, Luis Velasquez, Roett King Lewis, Calixtro Tzul and Roquel Riviera faced a tough challenge, and in the end, it was down to three: Mariano, Enrique and Trevor. The crowd gathered under the tent loudly cheered on their favorites as they created signature drinks from a surprise cooler of ingredients. Adding to the excitement was the speed round, where the bartenders had to complete a task in the least amount of time. Mariano Coc had the crowd entertained with his antics as he created his mixes, and Mr. Enrique Luna wowed everyone with his speed and delicious creations.
In the background, by the pool, the Pantempers Steel Band filled the night with glorious Caribbean sounds, while upstairs, the Mango Jamz Jazz Band serenaded the crowd. Also on hand to keep everyone entertained was the Youth Connection Band alongside Leela Vernon. Over 1,200 attendees mingled and dined on delicious samples from the Tasting and Sampling Gallery comprised of nine business places from the local Food and Beverage Industry, namely Pirates Taiwanese Restaurant, brodies – Wine Tasting, Sunspree Resort, Princess Hotel & Casino, Karl H. Menzies – Liquors, Gallon Jug, Bel Mer Wines, Rendevous Winery, and Traveller’s Liquors.
By the end of the night, when all the judges’ scores had been tallied, attendees and participants gathered in the conference room to hear the final decisions. Cheers rang through the hall as Ms. Mitylene Bailey, teacher of Pallotti High School, was awarded the title of “Amateur Chef of the Year” She received a trophy and $500 for her Queso Doble Deluxe Burrito with cool Guacamole, Salsa Picante and Cheesy Sour Cream creation. Henry Jex, banker at the Belize Bank, placed second and he received a trophy and $300. The third place winner, Stephanie Crawford of the Radisson Fort George Hotel, also received a trophy and $150.
For her delightful creation, the “Coconana” (Coconut Cake with Banana Cream Filling), our very own Amy Knox of Wild Mangoes here in San Pedro captured the title of “Cake Decorator of the Year 2006”. As a part of her prize package, she received a trophy and a $500 cash prize. Second place winner, Carmen Leticia Vasquez of Journey’s End Resort in Placencia received a trophy and $300. The third place winner, Priscilla Castillo, Independent, was awarded a trophy and a cash prize of $150.
Mariano Coc, bartender at The Placencia Hotel and Residences, won the prestigious title of “Bartender of the Year” and his winning drink “Placencia Threat” was dubbed as “Belize’s best new signature drink for 2006.” Mr. Coc was also awarded a trophy and $500. Taking second place was Mr. Enrique Luna of Victoria House in San Pedro. He received a trophy and $300. Trevor Del Valle of Wild Mangoes in San Pedro placed third, and he received a trophy and a cash prize of $150.
“Professional Chef of the Year 2006”, Mr. Patrick Houghton of Cayo Espanto in San Pedro, wowed the judges with his savory Pan Plantain De Rosa with Mango, Chile Mojo and Gavifretts. As a part of his winning package, he received a trophy and fabulous cash prize of $1,200. The second place winner, Chris Aycock of Blue Water Grill in San Pedro, received a trophy and $800 cash prize. Third place winner, Jason De O’Campo of Global Spice Restaurant of the Philip Goldson International Airport, received a trophy and $500 cash prize.
The judges for this year’s culinary competition included Executive Chef Jereon Hanlo - Charisma Hotels, Cancun; Executive Chef Jan Kuska – Goddard Catering Group, El Salvador; Executive Chef Rainer Zingrebe – Ritz Carlton, Cancun; Chef Rob Pronk – Chaa Creek Cottages; Beverly Brown – ITEVET, Belize; Bernard Blades, Belize.
The BTB Taste of Belize 2006 – truly the signature “Culinary Competition in Belize”!