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Bahamian chefs tapped

Showcase local cuisine at The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival presented by Baha Mar

Baha Mar is rolling out its celebrity chefs and then some, with a number of special guest chefs for this weekend’s Culinary & Arts Festival, but they are also showcasing talented Bahamian chefs – who by no means aren’t slouches themselves – and their cuisine, having tapped approximately 15 locals to participate.

Chef Jamall Petty who will present on Sunday at the Expo, said he is excited for the weekend.

“Baha Mar has provided a canvas for us [local chefs] to demonstrate our culinary art and share the unique flavors of The Bahamas in a creative way.”

Petty’s contribution to the festival is a coconut and guava bread pudding with a guava duff sauce and a coconut Swiss meringue.

“I look at is an opportunity to do what I love doing, entertaining and engaging people with food, fun, and flavors,” said Petty who has represented The Bahamas on the Taste of Caribbean national culinary team.

Each chef who opted to participate in the festival submitted three recipes to organizers who selected the recipe they wanted each chef to present. Execution of the dishes were done by Baha Mar’s culinary staff.

Of course, as the artists that they are, they still wanted to oversee the preparation of the dishes which their name would be attached to. Case in point – chef Ron Johnson is presenting during Sunday’s expo, but he plans to be present at the resort on Saturday to assist with the prep for his dish.

“That’s kind of your name on the line, so I want to go oversee certain things,” said chef Ron Johnson who was selected to showcase a vegan dish – his island vegan ragu with a spiced cracker and red bell pepper gel inside a plantain cup. It’s a variation of a dish he did before which received a People’s Choice Award

The Taste of the Caribbean national team representative, who also has Culinary Olympics credit to his name, found it ironic that he was selected for a vegan dish considering he is fresh off a three-month yachting stint that had him traversing the waters of New England and the Canadian border with a family that only wanted vegan fare.

“I laughed about it because my last job I got thrown into a family that only wanted vegan food and that required a high level of thought, because you can’t use certain ingredients, but you have to make it artistic at the same time.”

Johnson is also presenting during the expo on Sunday.

He likes that Baha Mar opened up to allow locals the opportunity to participate. He said it reminds him of growing up and of the days when the Bahamas Culinary Classic was held.

“The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival is an extensive showcase of food and flavor as well as art, without the competition aspect of the Bahamas Culinary Classic.”

He also almost missed participating.

“I got an email from the production manager but that went to my spam. Luckily, I got another one saying they wanted me to be a part of this.”

Johnson said he was flattered they thought of him.

“I must say thanks to chef Tevin Kemp [sous chef at Carna] – he sent a recommendation as well,” he said.

Keshlah Smith-Clarke said she found participating “interesting more than anything else”, allowing Bahamians to represent the Bahamian side of them and asking them to be as creative as possible.

“I’m looking forward to it. It is a lot of work, but we get to represent our country in our style.”

She thought she would have been perfect for a vegetarian option, but they chose a seafood recipe for her that they are calling, Junkanoo seafood explosion.

Smith-Clarke, who is also showcasing on Sunday at the expo, chose a play on traditional. Her dish she said is a cross between a pancake and a fritter featuring Eleuthera pineapple, passionfruit and conch from Andros, Nassau grouper from Exuma.

“It features lots of fruit with a little sweetness from a sapodilla relish, and heat from goat pepper.”

Jamal Small, who has won chef of the year at the Taste of the Caribbean, is showcasing oxtail tacos during the Saturday expo, and described being asked to participate as “a pleasure.” He said he geeked out a little as he met various celebrity chefs that descended on Baha Mar for the festival. But said he was prepared to knock some socks off with his contribution.

Chef Sheldon Tracey Sweeting said participation should be a good experience for all participating chefs, and give exposure to Bahamian cuisine to Baha Mar’s guests.

“I’m doing it because I haven’t done anything in a while,” said the Taste of the Caribbean Hall of Fame chef and Olympic culinarian.

Sweeting’s dessert will be a feature of Desserts After Dark at Privilege Pool on Saturday night. They selected a vegetarian/vegan dish from his submissions, which he said everyone will enjoy. He dubbed it the pineapple express. It features crème fraiche, vanilla and rum infused pineapple with gin and coconut water tapioca pearl, coconut pancake, coconut gel and coconut chip.

International chefs as well as Bahamian chefs employed at Baha Mar will also be featured during the two-day expo.

Saturday’s lineup features celebrity chef Carla Hall’s cooking demonstration, showcasing cracked shrimp and conch with pigeon peas and red rice; celebrity chef Ming Tsai demonstrating plant-based chorizo pigeon pea fried rice with mango-avocado salsa; a curated wine exploration experience, learning how best to pair with food, with Ray Isle of “Food & Wine” magazine; and an artist conversation on “Defying Tropicality: A discussion on being a contemporary artist in the Caribbean” with Sonia Farmer and Nicolette Bethel, moderated by Cox.

Sunday’s lineup will feature chefs Tevin Kemp and Basil Dean showcasing roasted banana leaf lionfish with sour orange rum chutney and spiced plantain chips as well as thick lip conch cake with citrus salad, avocado aioli and micro greens; a local miso fish with grits cooking demonstration with Samuelsson.

Headlined by internationally renowned chefs Marcus Samuelsson of Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chop House, Daniel Boulud of Café Boulud, and Dario Cecchini of Carna, along with The Current’s Creative Arts Director John Cox, uniqueness is what sets The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival presented by Baha Mar apart.

The action-packed three-day festival kicks off today with a welcome beach party presented by Grey Goose with a special performance featuring Boyz II Men. It is co-hosted by Marcus Samuelsson, Simeon Hall Jr. and Carla Hall at Baha Bay Lagoon. It is the first of its kind in the Caribbean featuring intimate chef experiences and interactive cooking demonstrations, compelling artistic exhibitions and workshops, guest chef and artist appearances, exclusive activations, and live performances.

What is expected will be an unforgettable weekend of culinary and cultural events will be held today through October 23, at Baha Mar.

There are also five intimate chef experiences to be had.

“Sea To Table” with Marcus Samuelsson takes place aboard Baha Mar’s luxury catamaran, followed by an intimate lunch at Marcus Fish + Chophouse, inspired by the local bounty and curated by Samuelsson himself.

“Bouillabaisse & Rosé” with Daniel Boulud at the exclusive private club, Nexus, is an interactive dining experience. You get a closer look at how chef Boulud brings a uniquely Bahamian twist to one of his favorite French dishes. He will also share some of his Provencal secrets from the Riviera while serving up an intimate lunch for guests.

Join Amanda Freitag for “The Chef Next Door” in The Kitchen, to sharpen your culinary skills, all while hearing stories from the Food Network Star and Iron Chef competitor. Guests get a hands-on instructional demo as they prepare one of chef Freitag’s recipes and taste the results, joining her for lunch on the patio.

Or, you can opt to join Italian chef and butcher Dario Cecchini and Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine magazine, Ray Isle, for “Perfect Pairings” to experience the art of their culinary passions – perfectly paired bites from Carna with exceptional Italian wine.

“Flavors of Mexico” with chef Margarita Carrillo and Juan Meza takes place at Costa, for a delicious taste and exploration of the bold flavors of their home nation – Mexico. Enjoy an intimate lunch at this special gathering presented by Patrón.

There are also five special events.

“Sundown & Sips” hosted by Samuelsson is an exclusive sunset welcome to festival presented by Grey Goose Essences for weekend pass holders.

As well as the welcome party presented by Grey Goose with a special performance featuring Boyz II Men and featuring guest chefs set on Baha Bay’s Beach Lagoon.

The “Baha Mar Collection Tour” is a curated tour with insights into the cultural significance of key works in Baha Mar’s spectacular art collection hosted by John Cox, executive art director at The Current.

The “Grand Dine Around”, a special dinner series where guests will have the opportunity to choose one of four specially prepared dinners by the festival’s participating chefs at Baha Mar’s most coveted restaurants. Samuelsson will welcome guests to his signature Marcus Up Top with chef Garrette Bowe; chef Ming Tsai and Boulud will welcome diners to his signature restaurant, Café Boulud; Dario Cecchini and Amanda Freitag will host a dinner at contemporary steakhouse Carna; and Simeon Hall Jr., Carla Hall, Margarita Carrillo and Juan Meza will host a dinner at Mexican-inspired restaurant, Costa. Following dinner, all guests are invited to Desserts After Dark at Privilege Pool, which will feature bites from local Bahamian chefs, special cocktails, passed sweets and custom dessert stations.

Indulge in a true barefoot chic culinary experience, exploring global and Caribbean flavors by chefs for their ultimate beach getaway on Baha Mar’s private island. The “Long Cay Luncheon Private Island Brunch” is presented by Grey Goose Essences. Guests will be whisked away to the lush island hideaway of Long Cay, where they will spend a relaxing day on pristine sands enjoying live music, with all the festival’s honored chefs, and a special menu courtesy of Boulud and Samuelsson.

Tickets for the event are on sale at bahamar.com/bahamas-culinary-arts-festival/ and are priced upon experience, ranging from $69 to $499 per person. The festival weekend pass includes a premium welcome gift upon check-in, entry to The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Expo on Saturday and Sunday, and early access to some of the most exclusive, intimate guest chef experiences, as well as admission to the Sundown & Sips party, Welcome Beach Party, and Grand Dine-Around.

The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival presented by Baha Mar

Friday, October 21

6-7pm: Sundown & Sips hosted by Marcus Samuelsson at Marcus at Baha Mar Fish + Chop House

7-10pm: Welcome Beach Party co-hosted by Marcus Samuelsson, Simeon Hall Jr. and Carla Hall at Baha Bay Lagoon

Saturday, October 22

10:30am- 2:00pm: Sea to Table with Marcus Samuelsson and Simeon Hall Jr.

11am-1pm: Behind the Scenes with John Cox hosted by artist and curator John Cox at the Fairwinds Exhibition

11am-5pm: The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival Expo at Baha Bay Lawn

12-2pm: Bouillabaisse & Rosé with Daniel Boulud at NEXUS

12-2pm: Perfect Pairings with Dario Cecchini and Ray Isle at Carna

11:30am-1:30pm: The Chef Next Door with Amanda Freitag at The Kitchen

12-2pm: Flavors of Mexico with Margarita Carrillo and Juan Meza at Costa

7-11pm: Grand Dine-Around

Sunday, October 23

10:30am-2pm: Long Cay Luncheon co-hosted by Marcus Samuelsson and Daniel Boulud at Long Cay Island

11am-5pm: The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival Expo at Baha Bay Lawn

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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