Every April, the sun-soaked Virgin Islands brings together some of the best the culinary world has to offer for the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, named one of the 10 Best International Food and Wine Festivals by Forbes Travel. Running from April 6th through the 12th and will include wine auctions and seminars, gourmet dinners, food demonstrations, and the annual culinary competition, A Taste of St. Croix.
The entire event is a fundraising effort that goes to benefit the St. Croix Foundation, a nonprofit that works to assist the entire U.S. Virgin Islands in areas of education, historic preservation, and community and economic development. The initiative was started in 2001 by restaurant owners Katherine Pugliese and Kelly Odom, and is widely considered to be the best food and wine event in the Caribbean
Chefs participating in the festival are chosen from across the world for their prowess in the kitchen and for their commitment to philanthropy, as well as their eagerness to work with students from the local culinary educational complex.
One of the chefs participating in the event is Leah Cohen, a New York-based Top Chef participant and owner of one of the city’s premier Southeast Asian eateries Pig and Khao. Cohen talked to The Daily Meal about her involvement in the St. Croix festival and her role as guest judge in the Taste of St. Croix competition.
James Beard award-winning chef Sam Choy, one of the founders of the Hawaiian heritage cooking movement, will also join the team in St. Croix, and plans to prepare several island-inspired dishes as well as lead the Tutto Bene Gourmet Vintner Dinner. He tells us about his best food memories and what he has in store for St. Croix.
This year the St. Croix Foundation will also showcase the skills of two former CTEC (St. Croix’s Career and Technical Center) students, Denika Boyd and Aaron Tutien, who’ll return from a special culinary internship hosted at the corporate campus of Facebook in California. The two were selected to participate in a two-week internship at Facebook’s restaurant Epic under the guidance chefs Tony Castellucci and Dean Spinks. The foundation raised the funds to cover the students’ airfare and accommodation for the program.
“This [was] an incredible educational opportunity for these two kids who were willing to donate their time and talent to help us raise funds for the community,” stated Roger Dewey, the Director of the St. Croix Foundation in a statement. “This internship [was] a giant step in their culinary education.”
Boyd and Tutien will demonstrate their new skills with a selection of dishes prepared at the Sunset BBQ during the festival.
For a detailed list of events and to purchase tickets visit the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience website.
Serusha Govender is The Daily Meal's Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SerushaGovender