RESTAURANT WEEK IS A SHOWCASE FOR INDIGENOUS FOODS AND PRODUCTS

Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 19, 2017 (SKNIS): Eat local, buy local and showcase local cuisine is one of the aims of Restaurant Week being celebrated in St. Kitts and Nevis from July 19 to 30, 2017.

This is the third annual event to be organized by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, the Hotel and Tourism Association and other partners. A number of officials appeared on this week’s edition of the government radio and television programme “Working for You” and emphasized the promotional message.

“We are trying to make sure that we eat local, we buy local, we get our local people to have their small backyard gardens as well. We want our restaurants and our hotels and so on to purchase local fruits and vegetables and make sure that a lot of the things they have on their menu are made from locally produced products that we have,” said Carlene Henry-Morton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.

According to the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) – a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union (EU) – “the hospitality trade in many small island countries is dominated by western menus, based on imported foodstuffs, bypassing local producers and agri-processors.” It adds that the imported food is mostly processed, which poses increased health challenges such as obesity, hypertension and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to consumers. Indigenous produce is a healthier alternative and in most cases is cheaper than the imported product.

This year’s featured produce for Restaurant Week is yam. As such, a number of special dishes that include yam are available for discount prices at participating restaurants, while yam related products are also available for sale at reduced costs..

“We call it Restaurant Week, but a lot of the focus is on the eat local, buy local, consume local; that is the mandate,” explained the permanent secretary.

Networking is also an important goal of Restaurant Week. A tasting event was held on Sunday (July 16) at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort that allowed for exchanges between persons from local eateries and others. A forum was also held for agri-processors where they were able to interact with each other.

“We try as much as possible to create the space for networking. Just on Sunday for example, I had one entrepreneur saying to me that they have met another entrepreneur and they have said to that entrepreneur ‘listen, I am going to sell your goods at my outlet’ because some persons may not have a physical space to sell from so that is the type of networking we are trying to facilitate and promote,” Mrs. Morton-Henry stated.

The businessmen and women also interacted with representatives from some of the larger hotels on island and those under construction in a bid to increase the supply of local produce.

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