Banco Popular’s annual event, Ultimate Flavors of the Islands had a full schedule on May 29th beginning its day with a mentoring session in which more than 60 students sat down with celebrity chefs and got to hear success stories and tips for their future endeavors.
Eight celebrity chefs participated in the mentoring sessions, including: Chefs Xavier Pacheco, Javier Nasaar, Christian Quiñones, Digby Stridirion, Ariel Rodríguez, Emily Ellyn, Ben Vaughn and Jeremie Cruz. Among the various topics, chefs were asked about the things that define them as chefs, advice for the students that are on their way to defining their careers in the culinary industry, as well their biggest success and failures. Some chefs even shared their most challenging experiences when it comes to dealing with customers and embraced those moments as learning processes and as opportunities for reinventing their cooking techniques and interpersonal skills.
“This is what Ultimate Flavors is all about. It is great that we get to taste some pretty delicious food, but the purpose of the event is to showcase local talent from our culinary students and help them on their road to becoming successful chefs. This is one of our ways of supporting the culinary arts that define us as a culture,” commented Oran C. Bowry, Senior Vice President and Region Manager for Banco Popular Virgin Islands.
The mentoring that began at 1:00 p.m. also hosted the first ever Junior Chef Competition. Four schools selected a team of three members each to compete for a professional set of knives, as well as cash prizes. The participating schools were: St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie High School and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, St Croix’s Career and Technical Education (CTEC), and Tortola’s H. Lavity Stoutt Culinary School. The students had a 45-minute period to develop three portions of an appetizer highlighting the mystery ingredients that were provided to them at the moment, which were kale and shrimp.
Xavier Pacheco, Ben Vaughn and Jeremie Cruz served as mentoring chefs throughout the competition. In the end, St. Croix’s Career and Technical Education (CTEC) received the grand prize and bragging rights as winners of the first edition of the Junior Chef Competition.
This very same day, Banco Popular opened doors at 7:00 p.m. for the Grand Tasting event that has characterized Ultimate Flavors of the Islands for the past four years. This year, more than 1,000 people attended the culinary experience, surpassing all previous editions, and got to delight their palates with food from more than 30 local restaurants. Also, for the first time, guests were able to vote with tokens at their favorite food stations selecting an overall restaurant winner for the night. The winning restaurant for the 2015 edition was Island Flavor, located in Charlotte Amalie.
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