Date: 1st to 4th November 2007
Location: Rodney Bay Village. St. Lucia, W.I.
Promotions: St. Lucia Tourist Board, MACO Caribbean Living Magazine
Click on thumbnails to see the big picture/entire gallery
The plane landed in St. Lucia at 9:45 AM "Welcome to Paradise!" Somehow, I don't feel like I am away from home when the Immigration officer jokes with me about my passport photo, when every other person is grinning at me and when I see Digicel and B-mobile practically on every billboard on the way to the hotel. We stayed at The Village Inn and Spa in Rodney Bay, walking distance from the 2007 Food And Rum Festival.
My first question was, "Why St. Lucia for the Food and Rum Festival?" And now, I think I do not need an answer because I saw for myself. Of course MACO Caribbean Living Magazine wanted to endorse and spotlight Caribbean cooking/food. After all, we live to eat and we eat to live. Already, MACO has shown us many sophisticated ways that we here in the Caribbean have been and can live, so now they bring to us: gourmet food, rum and more rum from all over the Caribbean!
St. Lucia is a paradise-pimple on the face of this earth. That island reminds us a lot of T&T. Like Tobago, St. Lucia is relaxing and not as fast paced as Trinidad; and like T&T (on the whole) the people are warm, welcoming and the beaches are simply amazing! I remember my first St. Lucian beach experience like it was yesterday:- There I was on some attractive beach, unaware of it's name. All I knew was that I had to walk through a luxurious hotel grounds to get to it. I grabbed a beach chair, laid my towel on it and began setting up my stuff. The water was blue green and clear with an awesome Pirate Ship (yes, a Pirate Ship) sailing in the distance. I remember a man in a little paddle boat selling fruits, sailing through the anchored jet ski's and banana boats. There's a couple next to me that can't stop smiling, the sun is blazing hot and there's a Gigolo on my left that's eyeing me in my sexy bikini. YES, THE BEACHES ARE GREAT! And this was consistent from Gros Islet to Vieux Fort (north to south of the island) .... Gigolos 'n all ... hahaha. I also went on a hike at Pigeon Island National Park. The Annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival is usually held here, and I can identify why. The place is spacious and gorgeous. I hiked to Fort Rodney, passing the Captain's Cellar Pub stretch. Apart from being very proud of myself because I didn't faint for the entire hike. And I must mention the view ... oh my gosh, it was the most stunning view I had ever seen!! THAT HIKE IS A MUST! After (or before) hiking, you can go to near by beach, Jamb de Bois, a cozy beach area that's right by the Jamb De Bois Restaurant. Both beach and restaurant were named after a French pirate who used Pigeon Island as a hideout in the 1500's. Pirates in St. Lucia??? That explains the Pirate Ship we mentioned earlier!! The land mass is small but the people have BIG hearts, an eye for business and some of the best chefs!
Now, the festival that Trini Jungle Juice got a taste of, was way beyond what we imagined. This Food and Rum Festival was straight to the point of satisfying it's audience, valid demonstrations and entertaining!
If you were there at the Coco Resorts Grounds, you would have gotten a chance to eat and sip from some of the finest; eliminating the veil of cuisine-celebrity cooks, because there were chefs like Art Smith and Eoghain O'Niel within a distance preparing a meal for YOU. They were even explaining and demonstrating the process of the tasty, but at first sight, BEAUTIFUL feast. We definitely know how to judge a meal before it's even tasted, and when we asked what to expect this year, we heard that the food presentation would be more complex than last year; so we were keyed up!!! IT WAS VERY IMPRESSIVE GUYS!
To add to the weekend's excitement, there were even live stage performances by Rootz Underground (GREAT REGGAE BAND from Jamaica) on Saturday night, All Stars Steel Band and Kan-L from Martinique (PRETTY LADIES with GREAT VOICES) on Sunday. That was just a glimpse of what happened in the four days. No matter what I write on this little report, it would be nothing compared to what Neysha Soodeen (publisher of MACO Caribbean Living Magazine) along with the St. Lucia Tourist Board accomplished putting together TWICE! After my first experience, I think the festival will only get better and better every year ... might be too much sweetness for one to handle!! We eh complaining though because St. Lucia sweet too bad!
Wednesday Night was the kick off celebrity party. From international chiefs to decorators, executive producers to sponsors, visitors to locals - this was the night when you got a first peep of the location set up - the Scavolini Tent (where cooking demonstrations were done) and a beautifully put together kitchen area by Dillonamberdane Commercial and Residential Furnishings. Dillonamberdane used the Scavolini kitchen designs which made the chefs very comfortable. Wednesday night there was also a performance by Ten-90. We heard we missed out on a good one!
Both Thursday and Friday Morning were boat cruises on the 'Spirit of Carnival Boat' that lead you to a stunning, expensive restaurant for lunch. Thursday was the Element 8 Rum Lunch Cruise, where the animated but well known Chef Orlando Satchell from Landera Resort prepared lunch. He was named 'Chef of the Year' in 2003 by the London-based Caribbean Food Emporium. Besides being blown away by the Landera Resort; the very talented Satchell broke the ice with his funny personality. He's so much fun to be around.
The Appleton Rum Lunch Cruise was on Friday at Ti Kaye Village where executive chef Bryan James (Trinidadian) stole the show! Who didn't like his Lobster Brandade Cake?? WOW!! Bryan obviously took his Trini techniques and flavors to St. Lucia!
Now, there were six (6) choices for dinner on Thursday & Friday. We wanted to be there for all!
Restaurants that collaborated with the event were:
Chefs for Thursday night were:
Chefs for Friday night were:
Tents where lined up alongside each other on Coco Resorts Grounds where sponsors, media, hotel chefs, and rum distillers got a space to do fancy demonstrations or advertising and where we ticket-holders were able to sample the Food or Rum!
Saturday to Sunday's entertainment consisted of steel bands, who were North Stars, All Stars and Harmonities Steel Bands along with Diamond Steel Orchestra at the rum pavilions. On the Rodney Bay Strip, singers like Vert-x Band and Rootz Underground entertained the outside crowd creating a street-party scene.
There were cooking demonstrations in the Scavolini Tent by chefs Art Smith, Doran Payne - who taught us to 'have a style' and how to make a ten-minute caviar - and John-Conrad Ste. Marthe, a renowned private chef to T.V. personalities and executives.
"The best rum ever is the rum in your glass", says UK's mixologist Ian Burrel. Drink demonstrations were given by Ian (who was assisted by chef Orlando Satchell) and Tony Abou Ganim taught us how to make our very own Fruit and Rum drink. The audience definitely paid attention to theses demos because it's always hard to make your guests feel honored drinking a drink you made from scratch!! So the knowledge of creating cocktails was well received.
Chef Duane Dove and owner of Tobago's Cocoa Estate gave a Chocolate and Rum presentation. We got to sample many Caribbean and worldwide demanded chocolates and rum. Trinidad and Tobago's Angostura Ltd. even launched their new 'Orange Bitters', which was NOT yet on the market, but soon to be! Other Rum distillers that were new on the market came out for us to sample. Herbert B. Linge and his Berlin Rum from Haiti was most present. There was Rum from Angostura - Trinidad and Tobago, Appleton - Jamaica, El Dorado - Guyana, Berlin - Haiti, Belfast Estate - Dominica, Barbancourt- Haiti, El Dorado - Guyana, Element 8 - UK, Chairman's Reserve, Bounty and TOZ - St. Lucia.
I don't think being absent for next year's Food & Rum Festival would be a smart move. All the things that took place this and last year will be improved for 2008. Imagine ... not only more food to sample, but more elaborate, one of a kind tasting dishes in your plate? Over the years developed or some of the already known to be best-tasting liquors in your glass? Who doesn't want to be in attendance for the initiation of such?? Plus, Trini Jungle Juice made some really cool friends in St. Lucia ..... so we'll be back in 2008 for sure!!
Special thanks to MACO for your support and help in our coverage for this festival. We won't miss the next one!