Team Bahamas is definitely in the running for the Taste of Caribbean competition, if their showing at their recent gala dinner is any indication to go by. There’s no better confidence booster than knowing you’ve nailed what you set out to do – and Team Bahamas did just that, checking off all the boxes in satisfying the senses of sight, smell and taste, and upping the ante ensuring that the flavors of The Bahamas shone through at their send-off gala. If a menu card read “spicy”, you got the spice. If it read “sweet”…you got that. If it read “savory”, you got that too. Textures were spot on and the composed dishes were beautiful to say the least.
Team Bahamas was the complete package.
The chefs delivered on dishes that were delightful, and in some cases shocking, but in the final analysis the pairings worked beautifully together. Indigenous down-home products were elevated to the level of gourmet, showcasing flavor in every bite. And forget those bland off-white plates that restaurants use to showcase their food these days – in keeping with the down-home theme, they carried the concept across the board in some instances, serving offerings on plates that were reminiscent of the dishes you would more than likely have found in Grammy’s kitchen decades ago; and many of us are all too familiar with those patterns.
Stunning dishes included a Vitamalt-braised short rib with yellow grits and crispy okra by Asteir Dean and junior chef Hazen Rolle; coconut-crusted Nassau grouper with fire-roasted native heirloom vegetables by Jamal Small; fire engine and roast corn fritters by Tevin Kemp and apprentice Ryan McIntosh, along with a new-fashioned chicken ‘n da bag with guava hot sauce; pickled conch marinated in Goombay Punch and a hog snapper ceviche by Kevyn Pratt; plantain cup with tropical fruit salad and a pumpkin bisque with coconut foam by Leonardis Moss; fever grass pudding on mango-banana bread with white chocolate and roast corn ice cream by Celeste Smith; and sour sop sky juice and a non-alcoholic dilly lemonade by mixologosit Derrick Blackmon.
As far as missteps are concerned, Team Bahamas sidestepped them all.
The gala dinner has been a benchmark into the flavors that Team Bahamas hopes to showcase at the regional competition. Last year, the team stepped away from this approach, which was somewhat off-putting to say the least, but the team led by manager, organizer and coach Devin Johnson took criticisms in stride and came back swinging – hard.
“After getting some comments last year that it was too traditional and more gourmet-style, we decided to go down-home. We used a lot of native root vegetables. We gave the people island food,” said Johnson.
It wasn’t only the food that got upended – the shift in how the evening played
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.