THE TT 2019 National Culinary Team members won gold, silver and bronze medals in individual categories, and a silver in the team category at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA’s) annual Taste of the Caribbean competition.
At Mana Wynwood in Miami, Team TT, comprised entirely of currently-enrolled students of the TT Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI), stood head and shoulders with the Caribbean’s best culinary and bartending professionals from 13 other destinations. The competition ended on Tuesday evening.
TT’s junior chef Jodi Eversley topped her category for the gold, while pastry chef Keenan Lezama copped a bronze medal.
Eversley prepared cocoa and masala-rubbed certified angus beef top sirloin butt served with a tamarind reduction, citrus-infused squid on a tumeric cream sauce, layered provision rostis with curry sweet potato mash, topped with beetroot chutney and Angostura Aromatic Bitters coconut spinach, ending with geera-scented sauteed vegetables.
Lezama got his bronze medal for his sweet potato sponge layered with curry mousse, tamarind marsala jelly topped with saffron and cinnamon creme fraiche, nutmeg macaroon sticks, sweet mango pull, bandania air and amchar fruit, fresh thyme crumble and candied beetroot gastrique.
Brian Frontin, CEO of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA) and TTHTI said in a release: “Jodi Eversley produced an exceptional offering which earned her a well-deserved gold medal whilst in the pastry chef competition, Keenan Lezama’s dessert offering, packed with indigenous TT flavours, earned him a bronze medal.”
Another two medals went to mixologist Isaiah Trumpet, who competed in four categories and won silver for his non-alcoholic beverage, but owing to his age (19), he was restricted from tasting any of his cocktails during the entire competition because of US law. Notwithstanding, Trumpet won the gold medal in the Best Non-Alcoholic Cocktail and a silver medal for his overall bartender performance.
On top of that, Team TT won the silver medal in the Team of the Year competition.
Frontin said: “The student-team executed a scrumptious and balanced three-course dinner offering that creatively infused many of TT’s local flavours and spices, much to the appreciation of the judges and patrons alike.”
Cayman Islands and Barbados national teams received the gold medals in this category.
Frontin said from the very first showing at the CHTA’s Caribbean305 event on June 22, “Team TT’s mouth-watering offerings of geera pork, curried chicken, pholourie (with a range of sauces), and a mango chow cocktail, were all in demand by patrons from both the Caribbean diaspora and residents of Southern Florida.”
Team TT was led by captain Jeremy Lovell, the chef at Courtyard by Marriott, and included senior chefs Shonelle Greenidge and Gerard Cox. It was the first time in the history of the competition TT had fielded a team of students to compete against seasoned and professional chefs and mixologists from the rest of the Caribbean.
Team TT received its medals at a gala award ceremony on Tuesday at Hyatt Regency, Miami.