Chefs from Prime Restaurant grill specialty sausages during the Tortola leg of Taste of BVI on Saturday. (Photo: TREMIS SKEETE)

As the sun set on Saturday, residents gathered at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park to savour dishes from restaurants across the island.

They were there for the Tortola leg of the Taste of the BVI culinary series, which returned this year for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emcee Angelle Cameron, a business consultant and marketing strategist, narrated and cracked jokes into a microphone as she sampled the various offerings.

“I just want to make sure for the public: It’s for you that I’m risking my life to taste such deliciousness,” she quipped as she prepared to try a loaded hot dog from Hotdog & Things. From there, she continued to other tables.

“Definitely we’ve got quite a bit of vendors from the island of Tortola,” she said. “We’ve even got Scrub Island over today. So far, the food looks amazing. It’s a really good event to get to know some of the vendors that we don’t every day go out to.”

The event, which started in the late afternoon, featured restaurants including Best Burger, Prime Restaurant, Capriccio di Mare, Main Street Restaurant and many more.

Participants also sampled drinks from Margarita on Wheels and casual Caribbean fare from Crazy Coconuts and Man Jack Creamery.

Throughout the evening, the atmosphere was enlivened by reggae from the CP4 Band, soca from Harella Georges, and the energetic Caribbean mixes of DJ Dre.

‘The best food’

Tourism Director Clive McCoy shared the microphone with Ms. Cameron to highlight the event’s importance for the tourism sector.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had this event, and it’s put in place so we can showcase the culinary prowess of the BVI,” Mr. McCoy said. “We’re just not sun, sand and sea. We also have some of the best food in the Caribbean.”

He also urged the community to support the culinary industry and announced that all proceeds from ticket sales would support the BVI Tourist Board’s Student Tourism Programme. Natalie Penn Lake, the standards and training manager at the BVITB, noted the presence of one of the board’s former junior chefs, who is now the chef at Club 1973 at the Royal BVI Yacht Club.

“His sample is really amazing tonight, and he’s a prodigy of our junior chef competition, and he’s the winner,” she said.

Dr. Heskith Vanterpool, centre, samples conch chowder during an impromptu contest that featured soup from Pusser’s, which is owned by his brother Mark Vanterpool, right. (Photo: TREMIS SKEETE)
Chowder contest

The event also featured interactive culinary experiences.

Chef Lorenzo Leone from Trellis Bay Market & Grill shared his Caribbean-style mango passion barbecue ribs. Pusser’s General Manager Yonaho Leslie showcased the restaurant’s conch chowder, pizzas, jerk chicken wings, and Painkiller drink.

For many attendees, a highlight of the evening was an impromptu conch chowder contest between Pusser’s Restaurant and Scrub Island Resort.

Local businessmen Dr. Heskith Vanterpool and Clarence Faulkner served as judges along with other chowder fans, and Ms. Cameron ultimately declared Pusser’s the winner.

“Pusser’s is legendary,” proclaimed owner Mark Vanterpool. “Almost every customer who comes from all over the world enjoys the conch chowder.”

Miss BVI contestants

The evening also included performances by moko jumbies and an appearance from the 2024 Miss BVI Pageant contestants.

Lavanta Thompson, a first-time attendee, was sampling various dishes.

“I’m far behind, but I’m taking my time and making my rounds,” she said.

Also in the crowd were Audley and Delma Maduro.

“It is the place to be if folks know what was going on,” Mr. Maduro said. “If they don’t know, they’re missing out.”

His wife added, “We’ve visited a couple of the booths, and I am very, very impressed with what I’ve tasted so far.”

Later, as the event drew to a close, Mr. McCoy described the evening as a success.

“We plan to do it next year again, and the year after, so that at some point we’re no longer just known as the sailing capital of the world, but the culinary capital of the world,” he said.