April 25, 2009 — Seven chefs from some of the top restaurants in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands will butt toques Wednesday in Banco Populars first Ultimate Chef Challenge at the St. Thomas Carnival Cultural Fair.
With ingredients from a mystery box of "Virgin Fresh" ingredients — meats, vegetables, fruits, juices, herbs and spices originating in the Virgin Islands — the chefs must use them to create a main course or plate within 60 minutes. The dishes will be scored by a panel of judges on visual appeal, taste, originality and best interpretation of the Virgin Fresh theme.
The chef with the highest combined number of points will win a grand prize of $1,000 from Banco Popular and a gift basket from NACO Restaurant Supply. Organizers plan on making the challenge an annual event.
Competing this year will be:
– David Benjamin, sous chef for Bleuwater, Ritz-Carlton; St. Thomas
– Heidi Erwig, executive chef, Heidis Honeymoon Grill; Water Island
– Jennifer Litwin, chef de cuisine, Oceana; St. Thomas
– Davide Pugliese, executive chef, Brandywine Restaurant; Tortola, BVI
– Mathayom Vacharat, St. John Catering; St. John
– Dennis Vanterpool, assistant specialty sous chef, Marriott Frenchmans Reef; St. Thomas
– Brian Wisbauer, executive chef, Zebos Wine Bar & Restaurant; St. Croix.
The challenge heats up at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday opposite Fort Christian adjacent to Emancipation Garden, on the sidewalk in front of the Francois Complex.
Introduction of chefs and official welcoming remarks will precede the official timed start at 3 p.m. Judging will start at 4 p.m. with awarding of the grand prize by Banco Popular officials at approximately 5:15 p.m.
Judges include Carrie Freyn, Antolin Velasco Velez, Larry Nibbs and Eddie Sternberg. The challenge will be officiated by Leslie Gumbs, member of the VI Culinary Team, instructor, and chef for Theos Personal Chef Services.
The St. Thomas All Stars Steel Orchestra will provide live music for the competition.
The Department of Agriculture and UVI Extension Service will promote Virgin Fresh produce with a display of local produce and proteins grown in the Virgin Islands. St. Thomas Dairies is sponsoring dairy products.
More information on chefs, restaurants, judges and sponsors can be found on the chef challenge website.
On May 15, all recipes plus photos from the event, including the grand prize winner, will be available for download on the site.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.