St. Lucian Culinary Team Emerges Champion at Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge
Karina Abraham and Cheyenne Hippolyte, students of the Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School, represented Saint Lucia in the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge and delivered a spectacular performance that ultimately won the hearts of the judges and earned them high praise from the audience and other participants in the event.
Prior to their victory in Barbados, Karina and Cheyenne had been crowned champions in the final leg of the 2018 Chefs in Schools Competition sponsored by the SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund, which was held on June 15 at the Ciceron Secondary School. This qualified them to represent their country at the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge which was held August 14-19.
The competition was the highlight of the Caribbean Junior Culinary Conference (CJCC), a seven-day event which also featured workshops and presentations on culinary techniques by respected industry professionals. Junior teams from seven Caribbean islands participated in this year’s competition, from the Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, Grenada, St. Croix, Barbados and Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia’s dynamic duo came away with the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge trophy, thereby making them the overall winners of the competition. They also captured gold medals in the first two rounds, which required the teams to cook and present a national dish in the first round and a dish from a mystery basket in the second round.
During their stay in Barbados the two victors were accompanied by their culinary arts teacher, Nashanka Henry and Wendel George, Projects Coordinator of the Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association’s Tourism Enhancement Fund.
On their return to Saint Lucia on Monday August 20, Karina and Cheyenne received a heroine’s welcome from the SLHTA. The association hosted a reception in their honour at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort where they were showered with accolades and commendations by representatives of the SLHTA and other industry stakeholders.
The reception turned out to be a joyous occasion for the two young culinary stars who both expressed their delight at winning the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge, and the pride they felt at being able to represent Saint Lucia at the competition. They said they gave it their all and felt very satisfied with their performance and the results.
“The competition was very exciting and challenging but we overcame the pressure and we brought the gold home. We’re very proud,” said Karina. “We performed exceptionally well and we were consistent. We set standards for ourselves and we were able to rise to those standards in every round of the competition."
In addition to the Saint Lucia team’s glorious win, the SLHTA has been invited to host the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge in 2019. Wendel says the association welcomes the opportunity to host the event and believes it will provide tremendous benefits to the local tourism and hospitality industry, and Saint Lucia as a whole.
“It is going to be very beneficial to the hoteliers, the local vendors and the Saint Lucian people in general. We’re going to have teams from seven or eight islands coming to Saint Lucia to participate in what has become a major culinary event in the Caribbean. A wide range of businesses, including local food and beverage suppliers, restaurants and shopping malls, will benefit as a result of the competition being held in Saint Lucia. We believe that this is the time for us to take this amazing competition to another level and really push the culinary arts in Saint Lucia. Public interest in culinary arts is really picking up, especially among the youths, and people are always looking forward to the competitions. More students are becoming aware of the culinary arts and increasingly they want to take it up academically and participate in the SLHTA Chefs in Schools programme. This means that the SLHTA now has an even bigger responsibility to really push that agenda on the heels of all the awards that we’ve already won,” said Wendel.
Karina Abraham and Cheyenne Hippolyte (front left and right respectively) holding their winning trophy as they celebrate culinary excellence.