The first annual British Virgin Islands Food Fête was a savory success. The month-long celebration welcomed a variety of foodies and renowned chefs all looking for a taste of the Territory’s heritage and distinct flavors.
The Fête welcomed a host of new activities such as a gourmet soirée, rum tastings, visiting chef competitions, and culinary arts workshops. The celebration also included event favorites such as BVI Restaurant Week and the Anegada Lobster Festival, both of which saw significantly increased turnouts of local and visiting guests.
Among the visiting chefs who spent time in the BVI during the Food Fête is Canadian-born chef Roshni Gurnani, winner of the 2009 season of the Food Network show Chopped. Chef Roshni had the honor of participating and winning the title of Best Chef during the Food Fête’s Visiting Chef Cook-off on Tortola on November 14th. Rosewood Little Dix Bay resort executive chef, Torsten Rumprecht had the honor of winning the Best Chef title during the second cook-off on Virgin Gorda held November 15th.
On Chopped, chefs are pitted against one another using a mystery basket of ingredients. This same style of competition is what made the BVI Food Fête’s Visiting Chef Cook-off such an exciting event.
“[The Visiting Chef Cook-off] is very similar to the Chopped experience in not knowing what to expect,” Gurnani says. “I am working with items I’ve never worked with before and things I’ve never handled, such as spiny lobsters and conch seafood as well as beef, chicken, and goat meat.”
Gurnani wasn’t the only visiting chef used to a little competition in the spotlight. The BVI Food Fête also held a lavish Barefoot Gourmet Soirée at Peter Island Resort & Spa on November 22nd featuring pastry chef and chocolatier Erika Dupree Davis, one of the first contestants on Bravo's Top Chef: Just Desserts.
Many programs within the BVI Food Fête also served as a platform by which culinary arts students were able to interact and learn from notable chefs. During the Barefoot Gourmet Soirée, culinary students assisted Chef Davis, and participating chefs, Digby Stridiron of St. Croix, Mario Pagan of Puerto Rico, and local chefs Lisa Sellers and Jenese Adams, with their unique Caribbean-infused dishes at live food stations. The beautiful beachside culinary event raised more than $5,000, which will go towards a scholarship for a student interested in studying tourism, hospitality, or culinary arts.
Gurnani, also a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Houston, offered the students hands-on experience in her workshops on Tortola and Virgin Gorda along with the assistance of her sous chef, Jill Bromley. Gurnani’s lessons included live cooking demonstrations, instructions on plating and serving guests, and a question and answer session.
The BVI Food Fête culminated its program with the highly anticipated two-day Anegada Lobster Festival on November 29th and 30th. Hundreds of guests participated in a self-guided culinary journey around Anegada to sample the island’s savory spiny lobster prepared in a variety of ways by the island’s talented chefs, ending the night with a sensational sunset party.
The success of the British Virgin Islands’ first annual Food Fête further establishes the BVI as not only a beautiful vacation getaway but also as a solidified culinary destination. With all of the extraordinary flavors and fresh seafood in abundance throughout the BVI, experiencing new foods on the islands is a must for any food lover.
“I think it is very important to have festivals like this and allow people to know and learn about the specific islands. It is a great way to put these islands on the map for something that brings people together, like food,” Gurnani says.
For more information on traveling to the British Virgin Islands and upcoming events in the destination, call 800.835.8530 or click here [www.BVITourism.com].