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Winners Announced: 2013 Table Talk Food Awards Trinidad & Tobago!

Table Talk Food Awards Trinidad Tobago Winners

Cristian Grini, BUZO; Raymond Joseph, Chef of the Year; Joe Brown, Lifetime Achievement award; Pierre Le Bihan, Zazou Bistro Moderne (clockwise from top left (pictures courtesy of photographer, David Wears))

Buzo Osteria Italiana took home top honours at the inaugural Table Talk Food Awards Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday evening, including Restaurant of the Year, Best Decor and Best Service.  Raymond Joseph received the coveted Chef of the Year award and Joe Brown was awarded the Scotiabank Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Held at the Hyatt Trinidad on Saturday, June 15th, the awards are a transplant from Jamaica thanks to the ever-expanding vision of The Jamaica Observer’s Lifestyle & Features Editor, Novia McDonald-Whyte.  These awards are a welcome addition to T&T as they will raise the bar for the entire food industry whilst celebrating the achievements of our local chefs and restaurants.

We were thrilled to serve on this year’s judging panel, tasting and sipping at dining establishments around Trinidad & Tobago with our fellow award judges.

Over the last seven weeks, Table Talk judges tasted countless dishes from nominees in nearly 10 award categories, with the Chef of the Year tastings being the absolute highlight as we did these tastings as a group.

And without further adieu, the complete list of the 2013 Table Talk Food Awards T&T winners:

Restaurant of the Year: BUZO OSTERIA ITALIANA (Port of Spain, Trindad)

Chef of the Year: RAYMOND JOSEPH (Executive Chef, Courtyard Marriott Trinidad and Team Captain for the Trinidad & Tobago National Culinary Team)

Scotiabank Award for Lifetime Achievement: CHEF JOE BROWN 

Food Personality of the Year: DUANE DOVE (Tobago Cocoa Estate)

Best Bar Experience: DREAM ULTRA LOUNGE & BAR (San Fernando, Trindad)

Best Wine Experience: BUZO OSTERIA ITALIANA (Port of Spain, Trinidad)

Best Food Styling: CHAUD RESTAURANT (Port of Spain, Trinidad)

Best Service: BUZO OSTERIA ITALIANA (Port of Spain, Trinidad)

Best Decor: BUZO OSTERIA ITALIANA (Port of Spain, Trinidad)

Best Lunch Value: KARIWAK VILLAGE (Crown Point, Tobago)

Best Dinner Value: ZAZOU BISTRO MODERNE (St. Ann’s, Trinidad)

Best Sunday Brunch: THE WATERFRONT RESTAURANT at the Hyatt Regency (Port of Spain, Trinidad)

Best Coffee Shop/Pastry/Dessert: ADAM’S BAGELS (Maraval, Trinidad)

Best Original Bacardi Mojito Experience: THE RISE RESTAURANT & BAR (Chaguanas, Trinidad)

Digicel People’s Choice Award for Best Street Food:  ‘D’ GREEN SHED (Debe, Trinidad)

The Chairman’s Award: BERMUDEZ BISCUIT COMPANY LIMITED

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3 thoughts on “Winners Announced: 2013 Table Talk Food Awards Trinidad & Tobago!

  1. Table Talk Food Awards Nominations – A celebration of mediocrity

    I am a lover of quality food, quality ingredients and quality service. The execution and effort that Chef’s and restaurateurs put in to making a unique and special experience is what sets restaurants, bars and bakeries apart from the rest.

    The Table Talk Food Awards held this month was aimed at recognizing those “leaders”, those that deliver excellence in every area. The cause is a noble one and is something that is necessary and long overdue for the food and restaurant industry in T&T. For that that effort I applaud the team.

    Where I hold grievance is in the false sense of acclaim given to those that were nominated. When the list of nominees was published, I was confused. Why is it that an establishment like Ritual’s Coffee house was nominated in the Best Coffee Shop / Bakery / Dessert category when their desserts and pastries are imported or made from some pre mixed bag provided by a wholesale supplier. No disrespect to those that put the items to bake but there is no care, artisanal or creative quality to their items. Their frappaccinos are made with powdered mix and while their coffee is enjoyable there is absolutely nothing that warrants them mention in such an awards ceremony. As a matter of fact, their “free WIFI” is even temperamental.

    Another similar issue is with Petit Gourmet, a wonderful store full of imported items and fancy imported desserts…however there is no Trinidadian Chef or baker behind the scenes putting their care and creativity into the items, they come right out of a box and are either ready to eat or simply need to be laid out on to a baking sheet. So what exactly are we celebrating or rewarding here? We might as well have Subway and Burger King nominated in the Best Lunch Value category!

    To put those former names up against, Peche Patisserie, Chaud Café, Zabouca Breads and Ciao Café for example, where Chef’s and Artisans create world class, unbelievable items from scratch, absolutely diminishes their dedication to their craft, the years of apprenticeship and years of study. All their efforts only to be put up against a franchise operation.

    Reading through the list, in every category there are those nominees who frankly, just do not deserve to be there. What exactly is special or unique about Frankie’s Bar on the Avenue to nominate them for the Coolest Bar Experience? You go to the counter, get your beer and then go on the sidewalk. The service is absolutely nothing to talk about; the décor is null and void.

    Vie De France for Best Sunday Brunch, a place that sells oversized imported cake slices, dried scrambled eggs and pays absolutely no homage to France in any way shape or form. I mean, come on now Table Talk!

    Imagine if the Grammy awards had nominations in excess of 20 per category! To my understanding only the best of the best deserve to be nominated. That is why in awards shows they typically have 4-5 nominees. To be nominated in itself is supposed to be a reserved honour, a privilege given to only those who rise above the rest, rise above mediocrity. To win against those odds would be all the more satisfying. For those Chefs who put their heart and soul into their food only to be nominated against those who put no effort besides signing an order form for the items they sell is frankly a disgrace.

    On a final note I wish to congratulate Chef Christian Grini from Buzo on his multiple awards. Buzo is a favorite of mine and to me, they certainly demonstrate a genuine care for their work. I noticed however is his presentation to the judges he left a wonderful heartfelt note noting “When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: To make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.” Wonderful words Chef Grini, but when you use them you should credit the Master Chef who spoke them, Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, America’s most celebrated Chef, holder of 3 Michelin stars for both of his restaurants. I hate to call plagiarism and I hate to say that in our beloved T&T we often celebrate mediocrity but some things need to be said.

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