There’s a major new Caribbean food festival coming to Miami, part of a regional push to take the Caribbean’s food scene to new global heights.
Indeed, celebrated Trinidadian chef Richardson Skinner is calling for the Caribbean to elevate the role of cuisine in attracting interest and travel to the region.
“In the past, visitors came to the Caribbean for sand, sun and sea, and the food was just simmering on the back burner,” said Richardson Skinner, the executive chef at Ti Bananne Caribbean Bistro and Bar, located at the Coco Palm Hotel in Rodney Bay Village in St. Lucia.
Skinner, who holds over 20 years of experience in Trinidad, Martinique and St. Lucia, points out that now travelers are beginning to go out of their way for fresh, local culinary experiences.
“As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually what’s driving business right now,” he Skinner. “Look at TripAdvisor, and see what visitors say in their reviews. More often than not, they’re talking about what they ate on their vacation. Food matters.”
The chef praised the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association for launching Caribbean305, the region’s newest culinary and cultural celebration taking place at Miami’s Jungle Island on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 8 p.m.
“This is huge,” Skinner said, explaining that efforts to spotlight Caribbean culinary excellence need reinforcing. “This event showcases what I have always believed – that Caribbean cuisine can step up to the plate against any other in the world.”
Skinner believes food can set the region apart from its global rivals.
“Caribbean cuisine is right up there with the classic cuisine of the French or the Italians — right there, ripe and ready to be plucked,” he says.
He encourages aspiring chefs to “use the techniques of your grandparents and don’t abandon your roots“ when crafting contemporary recipes for the global palate.
That’s what he strives to do at Ti Bananne, where his menu offers dishes that combine St. Lucian Creole heritage and classic French cooking techniques.
“Respect your culture, your style of doing things. Be innovative – and then take it to the next level,” he says.
Caribbean305 is bringing together top chefs and bartenders from across the region for a celebration filled with food, fun and festivities.
It features culinary professionals from 16 Caribbean nations and territories, such as Anguilla, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Martin, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Caribbean305 tickets are $95 for general admission, which includes access to the event from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m for an all-inclusive experience of unlimited drinks, food and entertainment.
VIP tickets are $140, featuring early access to the event at 7 p.m. and a VIP lounge area with an exclusive bar, food station and additional seating.