The Master Chef winners of the 2018 Taste of Belize competition are Eliza Carr of Hamanasi, who secured first place. In second place is Cesar Gomez of Mahogany Bay and in third is Michael Acal of Chef Rob’s Gourmet Café. The winners took part in the Belize Tourism Board’s Taste of Belize Competition that was held in Belize City on Saturday. The event, which is held every two years saw the participation of over twenty culinary experts, including experienced bartenders. Herbert Haylock, the Director for Quality Assurance and Industry Standards at the Belize Tourism Board spoke of what the competition has done to enhance the Belizean experience for both visitors and Belizeans.
Herbert Haylock the Director for Quality Assurance and Industry Standards at the Belize Tourism Board: In terms of history of the competition we started off a number of years ago, different iterations of the competition that may have looked at simply trying to provide dishes, just to do dishes and then we integrated a more competitive aspect into the process as we have come along in the history of the competition. The last one we did was in 2016 in Orange walk and we did that at Muffles College. A very intense competition as well in terms of the persons who are actually participating. In terms of if I compare 2016 and 2018 which is the competition we are at today I can certainly tell you that in 2016 we did necessarily see the level and number of participants and competitors signing up and joining and that necessarily wasn’t a challenge but we took it as maybe not necessarily the level of interest or direction for people to be looking at but I think we’ve began to understand and recognize the importance that the culinary components plays in the Tourism sector and its importance because guests and visitors of course they come to see the attractions, the come to savor those attractions, they come to enjoy them but in the end of the day all guests, all visitors are looking to be able to eat, to also be able to enjoy the cuisine and the process here is a twofold process: one it is allowing those competitors to showcase their skills to be able to put it to the test and really set themselves apart from their colleagues in the field. The other is being able to allow them an opportunity to be able to create awareness of who they are for basically the industry to become aware of those persons because as you know it’s a growing industry, it is widening every day in terms of the things we are able to showcase, the things we are able to deliver to guest and visitors and of course the Culinary component is one that goes along with that. Basically as more places come on board as there expansion as there is a need to fill those positions, to be able to place people in the restaurants, to be able to serve up the foods, the cuisine to prepare and cater to the guests and visitors who come so this competition is geared to support all those faucets in terms of again awareness building, being able to show case the talent that we have and being able to generate interest in the field and in the this particular area.
Winners in the Junior Chef of the Year 2018 Competition are Rojel Ian Lisbey from Guava Limb Café in first place, Dolores Gillett, a student at Cayo CET in Second place and Ernestina Acal, another student at Cayo CET. In the Pastry Chef category, Einar Marin and Independent Pastry Chef took first place and Tiffany Dawson of Nelly’s Sweets took first place. In the Bartender of the Year Competition Emir Sosa of Tony’s Inn & Beach Resort at Cielo Restaurant took first place. Liberto Fermin Choc of Turneffe Island Resort took second place and Armando Wade of Sandbar took third place.