By Dana Niland
One of the region’s most popular food festivals is fast approaching.
And while this year’s Barbados Food and Rum Festival will have all of the culinary and rum-filled features travelers have come to expect, it’s making some changes, too.
Launching on International Rum Day, this year’s festival will run from October 18 to 21, and will see some changes oriented towards refining the nine-year-old series for the long haul.
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. CEO Billy Griffith said that the developments come as the organization continues to “delivery a product that both satisfies the appetite of our audience, while perfecting those unique selling points for which destination Barbados is known and loved.”
The first of the two major changes is the shift from the past November dates to October.
Griffith noted the decision was made based on feedback from local stakeholders, who requested that BTMI assist in driving business to the island during the lighter tourism period.
“But we didn’t just change the date, we met with restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists and even event promoters with the idea of expanding the Barbados Food and Rum Festival from just four days to a month-long experience,” he said.
The month of festivities will include food truck crawls, restaurant specials and bar pop-ups spread across October.
The second change announced was the move away from the model that brought in multiple international chefs for the festival, to one that promotes the exposure of local culinary talent.
“We have seen our local talent grow exponentially over the past nine years of the Festival,” said Griffith. “We now have a pool of award-winning chefs and mixologists that cannot be contained to our previous model; that’s why, beginning this year, we will be further elevating and capitalising on the wealth of talent we have in our island.”
BTMI has engaged Michelin-star chef Tom Aikens from the U.K. to be an ambassador for this year’s festival.
A celebrity chef and owner of four restaurants across the U.K., he has authored several cookbooks and has a large social media following.
In his role as ambassador, he will be using his status to officially endorse the festival– encouraging customers, readers, fans and more to journey with him to Barbados for the experience.
Among the featured chefs for 2018 are Barbados’ own Damian Leach, Taste of the Caribbean Chef of the Year; Craig Greenidge, owner and executive chef of CM Catering; Michael Harrison, executive chef of Camelot restaurant at Cobbler’s Cove; and pastry guru Javon Cummins of Tapestry restaurant, among others.
In the months leading up to the festival, BTMI will host a series of Food and Rum pop-ups across various restaurants such as The Mill & Co., East Point Grill, Fisherman’s Pub, Braddie’s Bar and Golden Sands Hotel.