From left: National Culinary team coach Renata de Weever and SHTA Executive Director Wyb Meijer.
PHILIPSBURG--The 2022 St. Maarten Flavors programme has raised US $12,233 to enable a new team of St. Maarten’s culinary talent to participate in the prestigious “Taste of the Caribbean” competition in Miami this year.
St. Maarten’s National Culinary Team coach Renata de Weever was notified of the total funds raised on Thursday, when she received a symbolic St. Maarten Flavors cheque of this amount.
St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), in conjunction with main 2022 St. Maarten Flavors supporters, St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB), PDG Supplies and Rainforest Adventure Park made the announcement on Thursday.
Throughout the month of November 2022, 49 St. Maarten restaurants, bars and gelaterias designated a “signature dish” of either three courses or one course for both residents and visitors to experience at a highly reduced price of either US $49 or US $17.50. The goal of the St. Maarten Flavors programme is to reconfirm St. Maarten on the map for food lovers around the world, invite visitors and locals to immerse themselves in the dynamic food scene of the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean” at an accessible price and to give local restaurants a platform to showcase their diverse creations.
The event served as a fundraiser to get a national St. Maarten Team to the prestigious “Taste of the Caribbean” competition in Miami. The ”Taste of the Caribbean” food show is not just a great learning experience for local culinary talent, but also functions as a platform to put the Caribbean and its destinations in the spotlight in the Miami metropolitan area and throughout the United States, St. Maarten’s core tourism market. The final date for “Taste of the Caribbean” still needs to be announced by its host, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, but it is confirmed to take place in 2023.
De Weever was the team captain of a successful national St. Maarten team participating in 2017. The team returned with nine medals in total. “Having led the 2017 delegation, I know both the benefits and the cost of national presence at this competition. Whereas the benefit of talents competing in this high-end tradeshow is everlasting for St. Maarten culinary talent’s personal growth, the costs of subscription to the event, lodging, travel, and training are considerable. We have a great first start with this fundraiser and I thank all restaurants, sponsors, auction contributors and especially visitors of 2022’s St. Maarten Flavors month, for giving destination St. Maarten a kick start towards sending a new culinary team to Miami in 2023,” stated De Weever.
She currently serves as sous-chef at SALT restaurant at Morgan Resort, as well as department leader Culinary at the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA). As captain of the most successful St. Maarten culinary team to date, she accepted the offer this January to coach and help select a new team for the first Taste of the Caribbean to take place in four years.
A December 2022 restaurant survey showed that the St. Maarten Flavors programme contributed in well over US $200,000 worth of signature dishes and accompanying drinks for St. Maarten restaurants. This estimate does not include visitors choosing other dishes than those advertised by the campaign. When asked if the event should be repeated, all 35 survey participants responded positively. Therefore, the SHTA and partner STB launched “Appeteaser Week” to enjoy the St. Maarten Flavors concept for a week from June 15 – June 24. New to the concept is the St. Maarten Flavors Feast on June 17th, a one-day food show where participating restaurants will provide “teasers” of their signature dishes served during the week in June.
The funds raised were made possible by a public auction of hotel weeks, activities, and retail products on www.stmaartenflavors.com, as well as sponsorships. SHTA thanks the restaurants, bars and gelaterias taking part in 2022’s St. Maarten Flavors for making this first edition a success.
SHTA calls on volunteers wanting to help get St. Maarten’s culinary word out to the world to subscribe to its volunteer programme. Foodies interested in the 2023 St. Maarten Flavors Appeteaser Week food show and November events are invited to take part in the dedicated St. Maarten Flavors newsletter via the same e-mail address.