The recent staging of the Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition in Florida saw the Jamaican team walk away with their biggest medal haul yet, five bronze, three silver and one gold.
One of the team sponsors, Best Dressed Chicken, hosted them at the residence of one of its executives recently, where Chef Jacqui Tyson and her team From Thought to Finish prepared a fantastic meal for the culinary team and their guests. Yours truly assisted with the selection of a few wines to complement the menu which included a range of grilled meats and fish and gourmet burgers accompanied by a full salad bar.
Summer wine selections
The wines of this soirée followed the selection recommendation made in this column recently where we called for light and refreshing wines for summer.
The bubbly selection for the evening was Prosecco, of course; we sampled both Canella and Caposaldo. The Canella was the more fun Prosecco, it is straw yellow in colour with lively perlage, the bouquet is fresh, fruity and aromatic. On the palate, it characteristically combines softness and freshness thanks to perfectly balanced acidity and sugar. The Caposaldo was also great, showing a bit more of the serious side of Prosecco with a soft, round mouth feel.
Red and white wines were both from Cupcake Vineyards, a brand created for upcoming wine drinkers who want to enjoy great wine without the sophistication. On the bar was 2011 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc which is a light to medium-bodied refreshing white wine with key lime notes. The 2010 Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Noir has the rich aroma of cherries that carries through the palate with a touch of red currants and a hint of spice.
Chefs, please taste the wine.
In the midst of the celebrations, I could not but notice that most of the chefs were drinking sodas, beer or mixed drinks. While I do realise that everyone has a preference for beverage of choice, I wondered if they were even curious about the taste of the wines being presented. A quick survey indicated that while they cook with wine, most don't drink it. Chefs, please taste the wines on your menu, especially if you're working in the hospitality industry in the tourist areas, as most of your patrons are having your creations with wines from your list.
Wine is important to restaurants
Internationally, wine-centric chefs and their restaurants are the most successful. Wine lovers are restaurants' best customers. On the all-important revenue side, a restaurant's income comes from food and beverage; wine is the beverage of choice for most patrons who dine out. If the chef has a basic understanding of wine, he/she can better prepare complementary wine and food dish.
Unfortunately, most chefs are about food only and I am making an appeal to our Jamaican culinary professionals to take note of how your customers consume your creations and to improve the experience.
Congratulations to all the winners, supporting team members and to all who made the trip possible.