St. Lu­cian Culi­nary Team Emerges Cham­pion at Caribbean Ju­nior Du­elling Chal­lenge

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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.

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