Antigua and Barbuda, May 2, 2024 – The culinary scene of Antigua & Barbuda is once again abuzz with excitement as the esteemed Taste of Wadadli Pastry Chef competition, presented by the Antigua & Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association in collaboration with The Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Transportation, and Investment, enters its climactic stages.

This gastronomic pursuit owes its development to the exceptional partnership between the ABHTA and industry luminaries including Jesse Thomas, Director of Agri-Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Transportation, and Investment, Chef Olvanah Richardson Burnette, Executive Sous Chef at Blue Waters Resort & Spa, Chef Maurine Bowers, Executive Pastry Chef at Curtain Bluff Resort and ACF Certified Executive Pastry Chef, and Cleo Henry, Accredited Hospitality Trainer, and Consultant. Their collective expertise has been instrumental in shaping the success of culinary initiatives undertaken over the past year.

Over the preceding three weeks, the ABHTA and the esteemed panel of Chef Judges embarked on a quest to unearth the island’s premier Pastry Chef. In the preliminary round, each Chef was tasked with presenting a dish incorporating local fruits and tubers. The judges visited the competing properties, evaluating the Chefs on a set criteria including Caribbean identity and utilization of local ingredients, taste, texture, flavor, balance, Creativity, presentation, organization, and time management.

The preliminary round saw the following Chefs competing:

  • Kimone Stewart, Chef de Partie at Pineapple Beach Club
  • Tameka Hamilton, Chef de Partie at Blue Waters Resort & Spa
  • Vivia Ingram, Chef de Partie at Jumby Bay Island
  • Britanya McLaren, Pastry Cook at Hermitage Bay
  • Johnisha Hixson, Pastry Cook at Royalton Antigua
  • Sophy Federick, Pastry Cook at Galley Bay Resort & Spa
  • Tehrica Benta, Chef Tutor at The Antigua & Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute

The stakes are particularly high for the Pastry Chefs as they vie for a coveted spot on Team Antigua and Barbuda, with the opportunity to represent the nation at Taste of the Caribbean in Miami later this year. As per the guidelines outlined by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, the team composition necessitates a Manager, 2 Senior Chefs, 1 Junior Chef, 1 Bartender, and 1 Pastry Chef.

Among those who have already secured their spots are Chef Rodrick Beazer, Chef of the Year 2022 at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Awards Gala and Executive Sous Chef at Curtain Bluff Antigua, Chef Ronald Wilson, Chef of the Year 2023 at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Awards Gala and Chef de Cuisine/Head Chef at Blue Waters Resort & Spa, Altino Spencer, Winner of the Taste of Wadadli Mixology Competition 2022/2023, and Azarie Crump, Winner of the Taste of Wadadli Junior Chef Competition 2023.

Chef Maurine Bowers in her presentation to the Competing Chefs remarked that “I had the opportunity to represent Antigua and Barbuda at Taste of the Caribbean in 2010. I entered the competition feeling apprehensive as competing for the first time against seasoned Chefs was very scary for me. Nevertheless, I embraced the challenge, driven by the desire to showcase my skills and, more importantly, to represent my country. When entering this competition, focus not on your stature, but on honing your technical skills and believe in your ability to rise to the top”.

The final three Chefs who have secured top marks in the competition are:

These Chefs must now prepare for the grand finale, scheduled to take place at the Antigua & Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute on Saturday, May 11. They were introduced to the star ingredient that will feature in the dessert they must prepare for the finale – Sweet Potato. During a presentation by Cleo Henry, it was revealed that Antigua boasts forty-two (42) varieties of sweet potatoes.

The Chefs have been tasked with selecting one of the three varieties handpicked by the Judges to be the centerpiece of their dish: Beauregard Sweet Potato, Japanese Purple Sweet Potato, and Back-rah Mary Sweet Potato. With just over a week remaining, the Chefs now have the opportunity to refine and perfect their culinary creations for the finale.

Image Caption: Taste of Wadadli Pastry Chef Competition Finalist with the Judges and Tourism Officials