The perfect pairing

Food and culture come together at The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival presented by Baha Mar

Food and wine/rum festivals are nothing new, because you never have food without beverage, but the inclusion of art in combination with food and libations – well…then you have something unique. This uniqueness is what sets The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival presented by Baha Mar apart.

And the countdown is on to what is expected to be an unforgettable weekend of culinary and cultural events featuring exclusive dinners and tastings with master chefs to intimate cultural conversations, October 21-23 at Baha Mar. Each experience will be brought by an unparalleled lineup of world-renowned and Bahamian chefs, artists and performers.

“There is something for everybody,” said chef Simeon Hall Jr. who is consulting with festival organizers to ensure Bahamian authentication of some of the events and menus.

“If it’s spicy – it’s spicy,” said Hall.

Diversification is front and center at this festival.

There are 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.

A sexy libation for “Sundown & Sips” to be hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson. The exclusive sunset welcome party to The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival presented by Baha Mar will be presented by Grey Goose Essences for weekend pass holders.

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 Patron.

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.

There is also a 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 The Current art gallery executive art director John Cox.

The “Grand Dine Around” at four spectacular locations will allow guests to explore the flavors of The Bahamas as international and Bahamian chefs curate an array of dining experiences at some of Baha Mar’s most breathtaking venues.

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.

Diversification is also front and center at this festival.

“You’re going to get a bang for the buck whether you want to come to the concert with Boyz II Men, go to a cooking class with Ming Tsai or Amanda Freitag, or have dinner at a restaurant during the dine around and enjoy dessert by the pool,” said Hall.

The daily six-hour expo scheduled for Saturday, October 22, and Sunday, October 23 will also be something special with tastings from local and international chefs, live music, a Junkanoo performance, and an exhibition of local and international artists.

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 John 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.

Hall, chef and owner of Simeon Hall Restaurant Management Group, and a staunch supporter of putting local ingredients and products on the table of not just Bahamians but ensuring visitors to The Bahamas are exposed to and get a true taste of the country, said the festival shows the “needle moving in the right direction.”

“I’ve been in consultation with them to ensure that we’re authenticating some of the events and menus, which they were really receptive of and I’m participating as one of their headlining chefs, not just to be local but to have a voice.”

He said the diversity of the festival’s offerings shows that food is becoming a more important part of the domestic and international tourism product. And that he appreciates people coming in and appreciating the local Bahamian culinary offerings.

“When I met Marcus, I gave him dried conch and he hadn’t had it before. Everyone is curating a menu that we haven’t seen at this level before. That will be the takeaway for them and to see that we have a number of local food enthusiasts. Being a son of the soil, I think I’ve represented my people well in conversations and giving feedback to the organizers which they have heeded and taken into consideration.”

Hall said he can envision the festival as it grows becoming a sought-after regional event.

“It’s a big deal. If you come to an event like this, you will see a food and art cultural festival elevated like you’ve never seen before. That’s one reason I agreed to participate because they’re doing a really good job. It’s a true food lovers experience.”

Hall is also a John Cox fan.

While Hall is ensuring Bahamian authenticity is a part of the event, the international chefs also have an opportunity to learn about local cuisine in the way that they haven’t had in the past.

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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