Last Monday, we were lucky enough to enjoy lunch and dinner cooked up by the Trinidad & Tobago National Culinary Team for their Taste of the Caribbean practice session.
The team worked their magic in the Hilton Trinidad’s poolside kitchen while we peeked at the mystery baskets and chatted with THRTA* staff about the team’s process, and then it was lunch time! Swoon-worthy plates bursting with local flavours and diverse ingredients emerged from the kitchen and we took a few bites (or more if we took a shine to the dish) and jotted down some notes. With three courses, a welcome cocktail and wine, the team practice dinner was a formal sit-down event, which is open to the general public.
After tasting nearly ten dishes during lunch and dinner, we had a culinary epiphany — Trinidad & Tobago may be home to the Caribbean’s best food scene!
We all know that our dual island nation boasts an outsized food culture, a complex tapestry of multiple cuisines, food-crazed residents, etc. But what does that mean to the average T&T resident or tourist? It means that fantastic street food like souse, roast corn, pows or doubles can be found on the corner, at beaches or in front of bars and rum shops across Trinidad & Tobago.
Better yet, we even have a smartphone app to locate the doubles man. What other country in the Caribbean has a mobile app (BlackBerry & Android) devoted to locating one street food item? And of course, T&T has a thriving restaurant scene and an ever-expanding artisan food community — think Dolce Valle Dairy, Sabrina’s Exotic Chutneys, Del Mano Pesto and Cocobel Chocolate.
Want more proof? Let’s go back to the award-winning Trinidad & Tobago National Culinary Team, which competes (and racks up the wins) in the annual Taste of the Caribbean competition held in Miami every June. Sponsored by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, this event sees nearly 20 countries strutting their culinary stuff in a celebration of Caribbean cuisine.
Trinidad & Tobago grabs top honours in at least one Taste of the Caribbean competition category almost every year. By our math, it’s the winningest team in the history of the competition — Chef of Year (2012), Culinary Team of the Year (2011, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2004); Bartender of the Year (2007, 2005); and Junior Chef of the Year (2012).
Any country that repeatedly wins Taste of the Caribbean must have a booming food culture and a serious command of its local fresh fruits, vegetables, unique spices and herbs , as well as its meats and seafood. Based on what we tasted on Monday without giving too much away, we understand why the Trinidad & Tobago National Culinary Team does so well in this competition.
The team assembles every Monday for a day-long practice session and mock competitions, so please come back next week for more on T&T’s most valuable team and their progress!
In the meantime, enjoy our pictures from lunch and dinner and remember you can support our National Culinary Team by attending their weekly practice dinners at the Trinidad Hilton (three course dinner is $200 and includes wine). Please contact the *Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association at (868) 634-1174 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve – link to more information.