Most Caribbean islands stake claim to the “culinary capital of the Caribbean” designation, but it’s Bajan chefs like Damian Leach and Javon Cummins that give Barbados a stronger argument for that title than most other islands.
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The restaurant opened in July 2016, which Leach describes as “perfect timing” since it was just one month after he won Caribbean Chef of the Year in the seafood category at the popular “Taste of the Caribbean” cooking contest in Miami.
“People used to travel to Barbados for our beautiful beaches and warm weather,” said Leach, “but I find more and more tourists come now to experience our culture through food. They want to experience authentic Bajan flavors and, of course, the beaches and weather are added bonuses.”
And boy was it good.
But what is his personal favorite dish?
“I change my menu a few times a year,” said Leach, “but my absolute favorite right now is the Roast Breadfruit, fire-roasted breadfruit with local lobster and salt fish, tobiko and Bajan pepper sauce aioli.”
“Be proud of your cuisine and realize that someone traveled thousands of miles to experience it,” he told TravelPulse. “Utilize all the amazing products we have locally – the black belly lamb, the breadfruit, super fresh fish.”
While dining at Tapestry, Treasure Beach by Elegant Hotels’ new restaurant, as part of the opening dinner of the inaugural Millennial Travel Forum last year, TravelPulse devoured arguably the best pork belly we have ever been served.
The man behind that exquisite meal, which came with plenty of expensive white wine, was Cummins, who has represented Barbados’ national culinary team at Taste of the Caribbean for the past seven years.
He’s racked up numerous individual and group awards, including Gold Junior Chef of the Year, Team of the Year and 2017 Gold Pastry Chef of the Year.
And what advice would he give to other Bajans looking to pile up some culinary awards?
“Always be open to continuous learning,” he said. “You never stop learning, so any chance you get to do an internship or one on one with a chef you admire, take the opportunity and always push yourself, and take it to the next level.”
#####IMG000000002#####PHOTO: Chef Javon Cummins (center) treated agents to dinner at Treasure Beach by Elegant Hotels’ Tapestry restaurant during last year’s Millennial Travel Forum. (Photo by Joe Pike)
“Being at the helm of it is also a dream come true because I was only 25 when I embarked on this journey, being the youngest head chef at the time, but it has been amazing,” he continued.
Now, back to that pork belly.
“I think it hits all the flavor notes perfectly,” he said.
And TravelPulse agrees.