A Gastronomy Ambassador Program has been announced as a significant outcome of the partnership between the Ministry of Tourism’s Linkages Network and the Culinary Federation of Jamaica for this year’s Taste of Jamaica Culinary Competition and Expo.
Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett made the disclosure Saturday, December 2, at the opening ceremony for the tenth anniversary staging of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)-sponsored event at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Minister Bartlett also announced to his audience of hundreds of patrons at the TEF Taste of Jamaica that through the Ministry’s Gastronomy Network, the top awardees in three competitive areas would become Jamaica’s first gastronomy ambassadors.
“I am pleased to announce the Gastronomy Network Program which will see winners of the Chef of the Year (Michael Barnett of Hedonism II), the Pastry Chef of the Year (Oberio Walker of Jewel Paradise Cove) and the Bartender of the Year (Dwayne Barnett of Jamaica Pegasus) in Taste of Jamaica being sent to New York to receive training. The three will then become the first official Ambassadors of Gastronomy of Jamaica,” he said.
Minister Bartlett stressed that this was very important because training was a major element of the capacity-building exercise in tourism. He also mentioned that at the recently concluded UNWTO conference: “We signed an MOU with the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) to accredit our own chefs and food and beverage managers who we will train at the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation. So, we are preparing you to take up position anywhere in the world that you go.”
To further promote and sell local culinary delights to the world, the Gastronomy Network of the Tourism Linkages Network has also launched its Taste Jamaica Mobile App and Micro-Site, covering the best of Jamaican cuisine, from the pan chicken man on the corner to the top gourmet restaurants.
“In building out the gastronomy prototype and the gastronomy network as key drivers of tourism’s growth in Jamaica, we are tapping into a US$150 billion market and this is an opportunity for us to train, develop and provide resource support to enable our culinary experts to become financially viable,” he opined.
Earlier this year a Blue Mountain Culinary Trail was launched in St Andrew and Minister Bartlett said more would be launched “and with the technology and the app we are going to be allowing visitors, before they come to Jamaica, to be able to purchase culinary experiences in advance.”
Additionally, preparation is now being made for the island’s first Coffee Festival, which will be held over four days in March, next year. JAMPRO is on board with the festival and has been inviting international buyers as Jamaica seeks new markets for the world-famous brand.
Noting that coffee was the second most consumed liquid in the world, Mr. Bartlett said, “We are going to embrace the coffee tourism experience and it build out an important marketing platform to bring more visitors into Jamaica.”
He disclosed that he would be going to Colombia to look at their coffee experience because they have used the product not only to excite with the 20 percent of the beans that go into the beverage, but also a value chain in which the remaining 80 percent is used to provide jobs in the production of a wide range of cottage industries.