US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
The USVI Culinary Team was awarded silver overall in the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s 2015 Taste of the Caribbean competition at the Hyatt Regency in Miami, Florida June 12-14.
“It is an exciting thing to represent your country and show pride in doing so,” said team captain George Sittig. “I hope that not only our team but the others as well will grow to become some of the best chefs in the world and represent the Caribbean as best they can.”
In addition to winning silver overall, team members were awarded several medals throughout the competition. Frank Robinson took the silver medal in the Bartender Competition and also won Best Vodka Drink. . Tatiana Connor won Best Seafood Dish and took silver in the Beef/Seafood Competition. Bronze medals went to Anissa Rhymer for the Junior Chef Competition and Sarah Meehan in the Cheesecake Competition. Honorable Mention was awarded to Michael Matthew in the Chef of the Year Competition as well as Anthony Peets for the Pastry Competition.
According to the CHTA website, since its inception in 1993, Taste of the Caribbean has served as an annual opportunity for culinary professionals in the region to network, polish skills and cheer on colleagues in competition before a large audience of industry peers and food and beverage veterans. Taste of the Caribbean provides education and inspiration through tastings and demonstrations, created to enhance performance, style and profitability in food and beverage operations. It is a forum for gathering practical information, sampling, purchasing, strengthening established supplier relationships and meeting new vendors.
Over the course of three days, teams from all over the region compete for the honor of becoming the best culinary team, chef, junior chef, pastry chef and bartender in the Caribbean. Team members also participate in individual competitions and the Taste of the Caribbean showcase, Taste of the Islands, where attendees experience the unique tastes, sounds and color of Caribbean culture and cuisine in one place. Each competition presents its own unique obstacles as chefs must take on challenges like preparing three-course meals from a mystery basket and making items within an allotted time period, all the while taking into account presentation and creativity.
Each participating team represents a Caribbean island which has held individual competitions to select their national team. The participating team members represent hotels, restaurants or educational institutions in the Caribbean which are members of the host organization, CHTA.
The 2015 USVI Culinary Team is comprised of: team captain George Sittig from Breezez Bar and Restaurant; pastry chef Anthony Peets from Northside Bistro; chef Tatianna Connor from Marriott Frenchman’s Reef; bartender Frank Robinson from Zion Modern Kitchen; chef Michael Matthews from Sand Castle on the Beach; junior chef Anissa Rhymer from Room with a View; and 2015 Taste of St. Croix winner, chef Sarah Meehan.
“I am so proud of our team’s performance this year. We were thrilled to welcome several new members who we could learn from and grow with. We are already looking forward to Taste 2016!” said USVIHTA President Lisa Hamilton.
We would like to thank our generous sponsors who provide funds for practice, travel, tools and uniforms. Without their support, we would not be able to participate in these regional competitions which bring much-needed publicity to the territory. USVI Culinary Team sponsors include the USVI Department of Tourism; Glazer Distributers/Cruzan Rum; West Indian Company Ltd.; Frenchman’s Reef Marriott; The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas; Merchants Market; Innovative; International Capital & Management Co.; Taste of St. Croix; and the VI Port Authority.