Taste of St. Croix Winners Compete at Ridge to Reef Farm

Photo Credit: Ridge to Reef Farm

Chef Michael Ross of Zion Modern Kitchen prepares one of  his entries to the competition.  (Photo Credit: Ridge to Reef)

Ridge to Reef, a sustainable farm in the rain forest of St. Croix, hosted an Iron Chef style cook-off mid-May.  Competing against one another were the winners of the annual Taste of St. Croix event in April (the original and signature event of the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience).

According to event organizer Katherine Pugliese, this cook-off has taken place following A Taste of St. Croix for about 10 years.  Traditionally the champion among the winners of their respective categories, goes on to represent the island on the United States Virgin Islands Culinary Team.  That team represents the USVI at the annual Taste of the Caribbean competition, generally held in Miami.

The judging criteria for this event was mirrored from A Taste of the Caribbean.  Everything was reviewed from plate presentation to amount of waste created by the contenders.

The structure of the competition was as follows:

  • 15 minutes to examine products
  • 15 minutes to plan menu
  • 30 minutes to create appetizer
  • 30 minutes to create entree

The farm provided the venue and local, organic ingredients for the event.

Local products available to the competitors included:

  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Chiya
  • Mustard Greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Mango
  • Okra
  • Honey
  • Ramen Noodles (the X factor ingredient)

Cook-Off Participants from A Taste of St. Croix 2015 included:

  • Dessert Winner Sandy Toes Beach Shack at Gentle Winds
    • Chef Saerah Meehan placed first in the cook-off 
  • People’s Choice & Beverage Winner Zion Modern Kitchen
    • Chef Michael Ross placed second in the cook-off 
  • Vegetarian Winner Ridge to Reef Farm
    • Chef Jessica Rockstein placed third in the cook-off 
  • Local Fare Winner Sejah Farm
  • Best Presentation Winner La Reine Chicken Shack

Pictured (left to right) are Judge Frank Robinson of the USVI Culinary Team (standing);  Judge Colin Hodge from A Taste of St. Croix (seated); Judge George Sittig, Captain of the USVI Culinary Team (seated); Judge Michael Mathews of the USVI Culinary Team (seated); and Event Organizer Katherine Pugliese, Co-Founder of The St. Croix Food & Wine Experience (seated). (Photo Credit: Ridge to Reef)

About Ridge to Reef:

Ridge to Reef is a sustainable farm offering community supported agriculture (CSA) shares to residents on all three U.S. Virgin Islands.  It is well-known locally as a resource for fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and know-how on growing most anything in the island environment.  They offer workshops, classes and farm stays to volunteers, interns and apprentices.

About The St. Croix Food & Wine Experience:

For almost 15 years, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience has been a showcase of the island’s culinary expertise.  Co-founded by Katherine Pugliese and Kelly Odom, the event has expanded from one night to an entire week of interactive programs.  It is on the top ten list of international food and wine events according to Forbes Travel.

Chris Hanley not only knows the best restaurants on St. Croix, but the best properties too.  He was the top broker on St. Croix in 2014 and is the authority on Virgin Islands real estate.  Contact him today and download our free guide the 10 Best Reasons for Living on St. Croix.

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