the Trinidad Hotels Restaurants & Tourism Association started the quest for the best onsunday, january 16th as chefs and junior chefs from some of the top hotels and restaurants, as well as some independents and even students came to try out for the Trinidad & Tobago Culinary Team. it's a big deal. this is the team of chefs, pastry chefs and bartenders that represents the country at the international culinary competitions, so everybody brings their A game. simply put, it's 2days of food and beverage fun.
day 1 of the competition saw 4 junior chefs (Anesa James - Hilton Trinidad, Ariel Benny - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Emmanuel Jones - Hyatt Regency Trinidad and Isaiah Connell - Toppers Restaurant)
15 senior chefs (Devon Joseph - Chaud Restaurant, Ca-el Seebaran - Chaud Café, Jeremy Lovell - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Tricia Wright - Hilton Trinidad, Josh Stephens - The Shamaiah Café, Damion Thomas - Magdalena Resort, Chelsea Payne - Hilton Trinidad, Arnold Jupiter - Independent, Gerard Richards - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Xenon Thomas - Magdalena Resort, Margaret Jones - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Kyle Ali - Magdalena Resort, Dominic Ventour - Magdalena Resort, Nigel Walcott - Hilton Trinidad, Janelle Ollivierre - Hilton Trinidad, Rajesh Goolcharan - Independent)
4 pastry chefs (Anslem Allette - Chaud Restaurant, Kendall Mulzac - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Cheryl-Ann Shortt-Charles - Independent, Marisa Julien - Courtyard by Marriott) go at it in a battle of flavours that could tease almost any taste bud.
for the chefs and junior chefs, the competition took the mystery basket format which always adds an element of excitement. the challenge was to use all the items in the mystery basket along with elements from a community pantry to create 2 plates. 1 for the judges to sample and 1 for display.
pastry chefs however had to submit their menus from before, but they had to make 8 plates to prove that they had the ability to be consistent.
it made for a great day of food. check out some of what we saw:
allspice and chocolate seared duck with fish stuffing duxelle style, yam with sweet potato gratin, eggplant ratateuille and orange cilantro sauce.
trini style ravioli trio with orange fish, curried eggplant and provision foo foo, tossed in a tomato choka and cream cheese sauce, served on a pumpkin puree. pan seared chicken breast on braised patchoi, topped with coconut and chocolate chutney accompanies the trio.
cilantro chicken stuffed with fish mousse with citrus cocoa butter sauce, served with oil down, assorted vegetables and coconut, plantain, eggplant sugar cake.
chicken cubes stuffed with fish pastelle-like filling, enhanced with stewed chicken and served with plantain anna topped with mashed sweet potatoes, accompanied by seasonal vegetables.
curry pan roasted duck breast, brown sugar stew sauce, provision darphin, coconut, lemon grass, green seasoning emulsion, wilted greens. balata wood smoked caribbean salmon, vegetable tomato creole, marinated fresh fruit.
pan seared duck breast topped with a shadon beni gremolata. scotch bonnet pickled white fish, nutmeg spiced provision tortilla, plantain paille with redwine reduction and tumeric sauce.
poppy seed eclair grid, roasted baighan cannoli, tonka bean mousse, pumpkin crumble cake with passion fruit caramel sauce.
molasses/almond cookies sandwiching orange bitters cream, nesting in mango compote. sorrel pudding topped with torched lime meringue and a sorrel reduction. pumpkin mousse topped with portugal jelly and candied pumpkin.
banana rum rumba
this one came out a little late, so we didn't get the menu. we'll follow up on it though. for now, lets just call it a balanced flavoured, well executed slice of heaven that displayed a great level of technical skill as and creativity.
pigeon peas and provision filled omlete on a crusted snapper fillet, accompanied by sauteed ginger vegetables. duck flavoured sausage on a clove and rum reduction sauce, topped with a fresh caribbean salsa.
duck rolled stuffed with eggplant and pigeon peas. pan seared fish with lemon grass sauce. ground provision mash with pawpaw salsa.
grilled duck breast, orange and pimento glaze, "rum down" provisions and papaya chutney.
orange and lemon grass scented duck breast, pan fried and baked to perfection, served with tobago styled groupa, pigeon peas, patchoi and provison oil-down with eggplant choka and pawpaw salsa.
orange glazed duck breast, geera fish, on top of julienne vegetables and provision mash with a pawpaw and lemon grass sauce.
curry duck flavoured with white rum, accompanied by ginger infused fish topped with papaya salsa. served with a creamy provision, cinnamon plantain and seasonal vegetable medley.
pan roasted duck with a plantain crust resting on a bed of vegetables and topped with a provision salsa.
lemon grass and ginger infused pan seared duck breast, orange pickled fish, provision oil down, garlic infused patchoi sautee eggplant choka, pigeon peas dash and a coconut curry sauce.
pan seared rum and raisin fillet of fish, accompanied by a ginger chocolate beurre blanc, orange glazed duck breast accompanied by trini eggplant pancake and sauteed provision, plantain flavoured butter served with garlic sauteed vegetables.
orange infused duck breast pan seared to perfection, accompanied by a papaya cream sauce resting on a bed of sauteed green peas and patchoi. provision oil down with a cinnamon plantain chutney and a chive and shadon beni infused souse, garnished with a breaded pan seared eggplant slice.
pan seared duck breast with orange and lemon grass sauce. rolled plantain stuffed with white salmon, eddoe and cassava mash with a pawpaw salsa, basket of patchoi with eggplant and green peas.
geera marinated duck breast rolled with caramelized pumpkin, herb ground provision mash, stir fried vegatables with orange rum sauce with a pineapple and tomato chutney.
and the final plate of the day also came out a little bit into the other excitement, so we have to get that menu too. but you can still enjoy its pure beauty. not to mention the nerves of steel the chef had calmly plating his dish with only seconds left to go. no sweat at all.
imagine what a task it must have been for judges raymond, debbie and rachel (left to right) to go through all these meals and eventually select from all this talent. luckily it doesnt have to come down to one, but from this line up they will select a pastry chef, a junior chef and two junior chefs. still not easy, but they knew the job was tough when they took it. trust us, they love it!
the next leg happens on tuesday january 17th from 11am to 5pm at TTHTI Chaguramas. that's when the mix masters will come to try out for the ony bartender spot on the team. it's open to the public, so come down if you can. if not, i guess you can check us back and we'll link you up with some more pics and a cool video like this one: