The Leeward Islands will be one of the largest groups that will be proudly represented in a virtual cooking series that features Caribbean cuisine during the holiday season. This group of tiny islands is situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean and comprises Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Saint Martin, Saint-Barthelemy, Saba, Sint Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis, Guadeloupe and Montserrat.
Travel Advisors Selling the Caribbean (TASC) will not only explore the flavors of the region, but also reveal history lessons about how the flavors in these islands have evolved. The 12 Days of Caribbean Cooking Festival will bring Caribbean cooking experiences to the homes of potential visitors during the pandemic, to keep the Christmas spirit alive. It will feature popular Caribbean chefs, bakers and culinary artisans, many of whom have experienced severe hardships as they try to keep their businesses afloat during the pandemic. They will showcase the food, rums, desserts and diverse culinary traditions of the region. The event will be staged during the period November 29 – December 11, 2020.
Some 10 Chefs from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, the British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, and St. Kitts and Nevis, will represent the Leeward Islands in this cook off, which will feature a total of 30 chefs from 20 different Caribbean destinations. They will share recipes which feature local rum as one of the ingredients. Connecting via ZOOM, each day, two chefs will prepare a feast of Caribbean-inspired dishes from the destination that they represent. They will demonstrate simple steps in making mouth watering dishes in 30 minutes of cooking time.
Known for amazing sailing attractions the history of the Leeward Islands is mired in the mystique of warring colonial powers and marauding pirates, who sailed between the islands to capture the fortunes on the seas. Many elements of this period have been woven into exciting modern dining and entertainment experiences throughout these islands.
Significant migration of people between the Leeward Islands during the last century is reflected in many similarities in the cuisine throughout the region. It reflects the customs of the Arawaks, as well as African, French, Dutch, British, Danish and Asian influences. With such an ethnic melting pot to draw on, the chefs from the Leeward Islands will feature game meats, seafood, vegetarian dishes and a range of homemade desserts. Salt cod is popular in all of these islands, as is goat meat. Legend has it that goat meat was a well sought after fresh delicacy by seafarers, upon their return from their ocean adventures.
Food Connections that Go Beyond the Map
“The connection between the Leeward islands goes beyond just memorizing these islands based on their geographical position on a map. Our common culture connects our families and communities and that includes the food, which we enjoy as much as our music and love for the game of cricket. Our history has made us neighbors. economics has made us partners, but through our shared culture, the people of Leeward Islands remain strong allies,” said Derede Whitlock, TASC Senior Administrator, who hails from the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.
Of all of the Leeward Islands, St Kitts and Nevis has the richest soil for growing fresh produce and is known for its lush surroundings which is home to a large monkey population. Barbuda is known as the home of the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. But it is also one of the rare places in the Caribbean where you get to sample venison, prepared in a variety of dishes.
Although comparatively smaller in size than the surrounding islands, the Leeward Islands’ history points to significant military strength and many historical elements have been integrated into local dining experiences. Some 300 years ago, Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua and Barbuda and Brimstone Hill in St. Kitts, were the center of military activity in the region. Relics of fortification have been restored on these former battlefields, which have also been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Named in the New York Times as one of The 5 Best Christmas Events in the World, Nelson’s Dockyard’s annual Champagne Christmas Party, takes guests back in time, to celebrate the destination’s British naval history. Seafood Fridays, an outdoor feast of the bounty of the ocean, is a “not to be missed” weekly event that is also staged in this historic naval yard. Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts and Nevis, is a great venue to enjoy on Sundays, when it’s not crowded and a cruise ship is not in port. Featuring incredible views of surrounding villages and the Caribbean Sea, this fortress is the perfect setting for drinks at sunset, memorable wedding receptions and special outdoor events.
In the British Virgin Islands, Norman Island inspired the Stevenson classic, Treasure Island, where two centuries ago, a pirate named Norman hid his treasure. Guests can dine at Willie T’s, an infamous floating bar and casual eatery that occupies an old tanker ship.
The 12 Days of Caribbean Cooking Festival will recreate “history on a plate” with global-inspired dishes using age-old recipes from the region. This virtual showcase by a line-up of authentic, veritable, culinary ambassadors from the Leeward Islands will transport visitors to celebrate Christmas in a bygone era.
Caribbean Recipe e-Book
An e-book featuring all of the chefs, their recipes and culinary stories will be created by TASC and will be used as a resource by travel advisors to promote the Caribbean. It will also support the growth and development of culinary tourism by showcasing the diversity of Caribbean chefs, food, rums as well as the dining culture throughout the region.
Chefs representing Antigua and Barbuda are:
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Below is a list of the 20 Caribbean destinations that will be represented:
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
- KITTS AND NEVIS
- VINCENT & THE GRENADINES
TURKS & CAICOS
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
For show listings and registration information visit: https://tastc.org/12-days-cooking-festival
Travel Advisors Who Sell the Caribbean (TASC) is a private group of travel professionals with a vibrant Facebook Group that facilitates a peer networking environment to sell the Caribbean. Its 7,000 members throughout North America unite digitally to converse, problem-solve, inspire and learn from each other.