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Annual Rum and Rhythm crowns best chef, mixologist

Party-goers wave the flag of Antigua and Barbuda at the sixth annual Rum and Rhythm benefit in Manhattan on June 9.
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The sixth annual Rum and Rhythm benefit concluded Caribbean week at the Capitale in Manhattan on June 9. Guests sipped rum and dined on foods from different islands in celebration of Caribbean culture.

Several countries were represented in the chef’s event, but taking home the people’s choice award was the island of spice. Grenadian chef Yvette LaCrette, represented her homeland in the competition by serving curry goat, pimento pepper stewed meat, callaloo, and a mash-potato style breadfruit dish. LaCrette said she took a special approach to the breadfruit widely eaten in the region, which made guests repeatedly ask for more.

“Breadfruit is a traditional West Indian food, and although several countries have the fruit many nationals don’t know how to utilize it,” she said. “I used it as a substitute for potatoes and made a garlic mash breadfruit and I had people coming back to it.”

Participating in past Rum and Rhythm competitions, this was LaCrette’s first win, which she said was the highlight of her night as well getting to introduce her country’s cuisine to new people. And the event is also an opportunity to see the many people who love her cooking.

“Every year Grenada has a long line, and I get to see old friends and old faces from last year, and it’s always good to see the same people come every year and support me,” said LaCrette. “I really look forward to seeing that, and after the event I felt like Santa Claus because I kissed everyone.”

Other countries which took part in the competition included, Anguilla, Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, and debuting for the first time, Turks and Caicos islands. For the mixologist competition, Dani DeLuna won for best mixer.

Other stars of the night was Trinidadian and Tobagonian string-playing duo Janelle and Janine Xavier. The sisters energized the crowd, playing violin renditions of Caribbean songs.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) hosts the annual fundraiser event during Caribbean Week to raise money for the hospitality industry in the region.

LaCrette said the event was a great chance to explore Caribbean culture and the varied, but similar traditions.

“I love to tell people about the Caribbean not just Grenada, and showcase what we offer,” she said. “Each island is unique in it’s own way with different foods and different cultures, so any opportunity I get to showcase Grenadian culture and Caribbean culture to a lot of people, I’ll be there. It’s something I always look forward to doing.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 12:10 pm, June 14, 2017
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