Grace Bay Resorts, in partnership with the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board and The Wine Cellar, today announces the official schedule for the Fourth Annual Caribbean Food & Wine Festival. The weekend-long festival brings together international chefs and winemakers who partner with local chefs to create a truly memorable, and always sold-out, event focused on the local food and flavors of the island.
This year the event takes place from November 6 through November 8, 2014, and welcomes all-star chefs from around the world, including Leah Cohen, David Lefevre, Hans Peter Haider, as well as renowned vintners from Benzinger Family Winery, Cuvaison Estate, Weingut Salzl Seewinkelhof and Duck Pond Cellars & Desert Wind Winery. The not-for-profit event will raise funds for The Department of Youth Affairs and the islands’ Little Chefs’ mentor program that supports and encourages young local chefs to pursue careers in hospitality, a vital industry of Turks and Caicos.
The fourth annual event welcomes former “Top Chef” contestant Chef Leah Cohen of New York’s Pig & Khao. Cohen’s first experience in a New York City kitchen was at Park Avenue Cafe, where she worked under renowned Chef David Burke. After this, Cohen spent a year in Italy in a Slow Food program, learning the Italian style and the importance of fresh, local ingredients. Cohen then took her travels to Sicily, where she spent a year at Michelin-rated La Madia learning the bold flavors of the Mediterranean. Upon returning to New York, she spent time refining her craft at Eleven Madison Park and Centro Vinoteca. While at Centro Vinoteca, Cohen landed a spot on Bravo’s “Top Chef”, where she had a successful run and returned to Centro Vinoteca as Executive Chef. She then spent a year in Southeast Asia and now uses her knowledge of the art of Asian street food at Pig & Khao. Cohen combines her New York technique with the bold, striking Asian flavors to create truly unique yet authentic dishes.
Chef David Lefevre of Manhattan Beach Post in California will also join this year’s festival. Chef Lefevre followed his passion for food at an early age, attending the renowned Culinary Institute of America and landing an internship at Chef Charlie Trotter’s celebrated restaurant in Chicago. Chef Lefevre developed a close relationship with Trotter, who served as a mentor throughout Lefevre’s early career. During his time in Chicago, Chef Lefevre also participated in more than fifty national and international culinary events, and still found time to devote to travel, exploring new and exotic cuisines and teaming up with leading hoteliers and restaurateurs in Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia, Caribbean and Europe. Chef Lefevre served as Executive Chef of the Water Grill, downtown Los Angeles’ seminal seafood restaurant before opening Manhattan Beach Post, a soulful restaurant offering a rustic menu of playful, artisanal dishes designed to shared, complemented by handcrafted cocktails and small production wines in Manhattan Beach, California.
The 2014 festival also features Hans Peter Haider of hotel12 in Austria joining the team of top chefs. Known for his use of traditional Austrian techniques and classic dishes with unique Austrian twists, Haider began his career with an apprenticeship at Austria’s authentic Hotel Antonie, before gaining prominence in various prestigious hotels throughout the country. In 2003, at just 28 years old, he became Executive Chef at the acclaimed Hotel Holzknecht. Seven years later, Haider joined the team at one of Austria’s top seafood restaurants, the Stiftschmiede, as Executive Chef in 2010. Since 2012, Haider has spent his time at hotel12, focusing on traditional Austrian cuisine made with the fresh and local ingredients.
This year the festival welcomes esteemed winemaker Benzinger Family Winery, a family winery based in Sonoma County California that boasts certified Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods for a portfolio of authentic and memorable wines.
Cuvaison Estate, a Napa Valley Winery and Vineyard that handcrafts Napa Pinot Noir and Napa Chardonnay will also join the festival. Dedicated to a philosophy of producing vineyard-driven wines, Cuvaison employs block-by-block farming methods and a hand-crafted vineyard-to-bottle winemaking approach, for wines that are balanced and complex, showcasing the distinctive characteristics of the cool climate estate.
Weingut Salzl Seewinkelhof, an Austrian winery nestled between the lakes and plains of Lake Neusiedl Seewinkel National Parks feature fruit-driven wines that reflect the terrain of its vineyards. Well known for its Chardonnay, over 30 percent of the vineyard produces white wine including Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gruner Veltliner.
Returning ambassadors include Duck Pond Cellars and Desert Wind Winery,. Duck Pond has focused on crafting quality wine at an affordable price. Utilizing fruit from the family-owned vineyard sites throughout the Northwest allows the winery to control every aspect of the winemaking process from the vineyard to the bottle.
Schedule of Events
This year festivities commence on Thursday, November 6, with a starlit Welcome Dinner at Blue Haven Resort’s Fire & Ice restaurant. Featuring a five-course dinner and carefully selected wine pairings this event typically garners more than 100 guests.
On Friday, November 7, the festival will host the second annual Women of Wine luncheon with distinctive dishes and carefully selected wine pairings. This event was first introduced two years ago to give guests and locals an opportunity to meet the festival’s’ incredible female chefs while learning about new wines in a fun and casual atmosphere.
Later on Friday evening, the most highly anticipated event of the festival weekend, the Gourmet Safari’ will lead guests on a progressive dinner party around Providenciales. Now in its eighth year, the Gourmet Safari was the original event that served as a catalyst for the festival and continues to be a guest favorite today. Guests will whet their appetite with innovative cocktails at Krave courtesy of Grace Bay Club and then proceed to the appetizer course at Coyaba. From there, guests will enjoy their dinner at Seven Stars and The Regent Palms, before concluding with dessert at The Gansevoort. This interactive dine around’ is a completely local experience that gives festival guests an opportunity to discover the incredible restaurants and meet the talented chefs.
On Saturday, November 8, guests are invited to attend the annual Food & Wine Pairing event at West Bay Club a Grace Bay Resorts Managed property, featuring four 20-person introductory food and wine pairing seminars, highlighting meat, seafood, cheese, and dessert/chocolate. Each of the tasting rooms showcase the guest chefs and winemakers with support from the young local talent of the Little Chefs’ mentor program.
Following the Food & Wine Pairing, the third annual Island Street Food Fair’ focuses on the expert grilling and barbeque techniques of local chefs around the island. With the growing trend of food trucks in major cities around the world, the founders of the festival created its own street food fair for Turks and Caicos, and this event continues to receive rave reviews year after year, as it gives guests an inside look at the many cultures and cuisines of the island.
To conclude this epicurean journey on Saturday evening, all of the guest chefs will headline Dinner with the Stars’ at Grace Bay Club, a lavish event that officially closes the weekend festivities with a five-course food and wine pairing under the stars directly on Grace Bay Beach.
Already acclaimed as the island’s premier culinary event, the festival is hosted annually to celebrate Caribbean cuisine and culture. This year’s event promises to continue the success of the Turks and Caicos Islands tradition.
posted by: Eric Fujimori