The annual Taste of St. Croix is one of the true gems of the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience. Food and wine vendors all descend on the oceanfront of the Divi Carina Bay Resort to set up displays showcasing their best offerings. Celebrity judges then taste a little bit of everything to determine just who really outshined their competitors. While winners were crowned at the end of the night (see the full of list of winners below), the festival really is all about celebrating St. Croix’s culinary scene.
“It’s a fun event not meant to be too competitive,” said Katherine Pugliese, one of the founders of Taste of St. Croix, at a pre-Taste press conference. “This event celebrates the diversity of our cuisine.”
From sushi to Mexican and traditional island fare like smoked chicken, the island really is brimming with diverse food options. But food is not what the festival is all about.
As the funds raised from Taste benefit the St. Croix Foundation, a nonprofit that works with youth and focuses on education, the chefs at the press conference also commented on what the festival has to offer budding young culinary professionals.
“When you set your sights on something, it’s amazing what can happen,” says Sam Choy in regards to those looking to start their food careers. “Be confident. Be sure about yourself. What’s important is what we leave for our children.”
Top Chef alum Leah Cohen came to the festival (despite leaving a busy kitchen in New York City) to show young women how they can rise.
“I’m a good example of a young, female chef,” she exclaimed. “Someone you can look up to.”
Ellen Gray of Washington, D.C.’s Equinox noted just how special St. Croix really is.
“When you come down here, you fall in love with the place,” she said.
And the beauty of St. Croix really was emphasized at Taste. The sun was setting on the beach as festival attendees filed in and lined up to get food from different booths lined alongside the Divi’s private boardwalk. When the sun finally set, the Divi’s pools acted as a gathering for people who were dancing, drink and just enjoying themselves.