Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence is typically celebrated with a grand feast of national dishes, an explosion of culture and an outpouring of community pride. Sadly, because of the global pandemic, this year, many nationals in the Diaspora will forego the usual patriotic gatherings that celebrate the vibrant colors of national the flag and local traditions.
A Taste of Antigua and Barbuda will be held on the country’s Independence Day, November 1, 2020. It will highlight the food, rum and unique cultural traditions of the Antigua and Barbuda. This hybrid event will address both virtual and live audiences by leveraging digital communications technology in a limited dining setting.
Hosted by Chef Claude Lewis, “Chopped” episode winner, this specially designed, live-assembly will bring nationals together to celebrate Antigua and Barbuda’s 39th Anniversary of Independence in a safe environment. Strict physical distancing protocols will be followed to address the concerns of patrons and to meet industry guidelines for safety.
“My parents met while working at Half Moon Bay Hotel, one Antigua and Barbuda’s legendary resorts. My father was from the village of Freetown and my mother was from Old Road. They migrated to the United States but always kept our Caribbean food and traditions alive. Caribbean food is one of the proud symbols of our heritage and I look forward to sharing the stage with two other fantastic Antiguan and Barbudan chefs to promote our cuisine to the world,” said Chef Lewis.
At Freetown Road Restaurant in Jersey City NJ, the Antigua and Barbudan flag is proudly flown daily and the restaurant is well known throughout the Jersey City community for its delicious Caribbean cuisine. The venue named after the villages where Lewis’ parents were born, will be transformed into a culinary theatre. Chef Lewis will be joined by two Antiguan and Barbudan Chefs, Chef Alycia Matthews and Chef James Murphy. They will conduct 30-minute live demonstrations, and each chef will prepare two local dishes. Patrons can dine-in and sample these dishes by purchasing VIP Tickets for $50 or purchase dine-out tickets in advance for $25. Ticket purchases include a premium Antigua and Barbuda Associations United (ABAU) Independence T-Shirt. There will be live performances and prize giveaways and the event will be broadcast via Zoom.
The event is also supported by the Antigua and Barbuda Associations United (ABAU) an umbrella not-for-profit organization representing twenty-five Antiguan and Barbudan community organizations throughout the United States of America (USA).
“Antiguans and Barbudans in the Diaspora have a strong connection to their country and it remains their number one holiday destination. They are more likely to visit local shops, eat at local restaurants and stay at local accommodations. The money that they spend goes straight to the local community. Ultimately, they will be the best ambassadors for Antigua and Barbuda, to promote the destination to their friends, family and associates, as we reopen our doors to visitors. This event will be a bridge that allows patriotic nationals to not only celebrate but also promote their heritage,” said Andy Howell, President of ABAU.
This socially distanced gathering will also be promoted in partnership with the local Mayor’s Office in Jersey City and will target restaurant’s loyal patrons as well as the community. It will also be positioned as a “Get Out to Vote” initiative and will target the local community while celebrating Antigua and Barbuda’s 39th Anniversary of Political Independence.