Toco reawakens for Taste T&T Community Food Festival
And so it began. On a bright and clear Sunday, the Taste T&T 2010 Community Food Festival came to life at the Toco Regional Complex on September 12.
Hosted by the Tourism Development Company (TDC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, the Taste T&T roving community festival made its first stop in the coastal village of Toco where fresh-caught fish, served in a range of styles, captured local flavours and highlighted traditional foods.
The day’s major highlight was the cooking competition where four community teams battled for the “Best Fish Broth” crown adjudicated upon by celebrity judges Chef Brent Sinanan, rapso artiste Roger Roberts of 3Canal, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Melba Dedier and Michael Abraham, Hospitality Consultant and Chief Judge.
Team Toco Joe, comprising of Mavis Rogers, Alicia Monsegue, Gretta Richards and Victor Rogers took away the Grand Prize with their winning Fish Broth recipe, while team La Main Doux – led by Gary Marin – took the People’s Choice award. Having benefitted from a practical seminar on several critical areas including food safety and presentation, hosted at the TDC’s office in Barataria, the community teams were well aware of just what their facilitator Abraham would be looking for; apart from their individual unique touches.
In his welcome remarks, Ernest Littles, President and Director of the TDC, spoke of a ‘reawakening of Toco” through steadfast support and partnerships with communities to develop signature tourism experiences and members of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, including Deputy Chairman Lawrence Lalla, and Councillor Terry Rondon were recognised for “going the distance to ensure the success of the event.”
Minister of Tourism and MP for Toco/Sangre Grande, Dr The Honourable Rupert Griffith, who delivered the feature address, said “…our country is rich in opportunities to express our unique identity, not only in creating opportunities to earn revenue, but also in developing high quality tourism products for local domestic tourists, which will then attract increased international visitors.”
In inviting the audience, comfortably accommodated under large canopy tents, some enjoying the nutmeg and coconut ice cream; to “sample the sweet hands that set us apart” the Minister spoke specifically to the role of Taste T&T, and culinary tourism, in creating sustainable employment and environmentally responsible entrepreneurship opportunities for communities such as Toco.
Among the featured attractions at the event was a Farmers Market, facilitated by the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation, where visitors could purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, condiments and preserves. Also doing a thriving business was the Craft Market where visitors purchased the wood and leather items on display. The Coconut Corner, for buns and other rich coconut products, was another popular booth, while many patrons enjoyed cowheel soup, seamoss punches and pacro water sold by vendors.
The ringing call of a drum signalled the start of live entertainment, and the stage danced to the feet of the Sangre Grande High School dancers whose performances elicited smiles and loud shows of appreciation of the audience. Prompted by crowd interest, the MC sought to get just one of the secret ingredients out of each of the teams, while the Taste T&T Text The Answer Quiz competition got underway. This spirit of audience interaction and participation was further heightened by entertainer Joel Parsons whose humorous renditions, full of innuendo and subtle turns of phrase, brought the audience to its feet.
Always a crowd favourite, Scrunter delivered the perfect performance to perk up the crowd, delivering hit after hit and inviting the audience to sing along, which they did as they danced. The pan round the neck side whose easy performance against the slowly sinking sun rung just the right tune for a day well spent; slowed the energy left by Scrunter allowing the crowd to ease on their way.
Sumptuous curry duck will take centre stage at the next instalment of the Taste T&T community food festival which will be hosted at the Honeymoon Recreation Ground in Tunapuna on Sunday, September 19.
Photo Caption: Minister of Tourism, Dr the Honourable Rupert Griffith (centre) and President of the Tourism Development Company Mr Ernest Littles (left) with members of Team La Main Doux – led by Gary Marin – winners of the People’s Choice Awards at the Taste T&T 2010 Community Food Festival Best Fish Broth Competition in Toco.