Barbados Food and Rum Festival

By: Rhe-Ann Prescod

Meaningful. Authentic. Delectable. Exciting.

That’s how one can describe the 2022 Barbados Food and Rum Festival.

After a two-year hiatus, the Barbados Food and Rum Festival successfully returned in a more purposeful and meaningful way. Under the theme “Feed the Future”, the festival not only celebrated the culinary talents of Barbados but funded the development of young aspiring chefs.

The festival reignited the interest of locals and attracted scores of tourists to the island to experience the festival.

Speaking on the return, Dr. Jens Thraenhart CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc stated “This Food and Rum festival is so important because it shows that Barbados is more than just the beach. In the end, it’s about the culture, it’s about diverse experiences and it’s also, of course, about the rum and food behind it.”

An Overview of the Festival 

This year 32 local chefs and mixologists and 5 international chefs were featured during the entire month of October. 

During the month, Food Truck Mashup was held, which showcased over 20 food trucks and vendors. There was also the Culture of Cuisine Lecture Series, which was an intellectual discourse about the Slow Food Movement, the history of rum and Barbados’ heritage. 

From October 27th-30th, seven official events were held which included a combination of old stables and new exciting events. 

The festival kicked off with a fan favourite “Oistins Under the Stars”, which was hosted by international chef Anne Burrell and local chef Creig Greenidge. Patrons were treated to a live cooking demo with a twist on Bajan fishcakes and live performances which journeyed through Barbados’ musical culture. 

This year we saw a return of cooking demos which was one of the highlights of the festivals. Patrons had a choice to learn culinary secrets from international chefs Huda Mu’min, David Rose, Eric Adjepong, and Anne Burrell through the Chef Classics events. Added to the events calendar was Rum Route, which was held in the renowned St Lawrence Gap where many indulge in the various rum specials that were offered.

Rise and Rum: The Breakfast Beach party was a new event and the most anticipated event. Many thoroughly loved the concept and couldn’t get enough of the food and bottomless rum. 

Journey through Food gave patrons the opportunity to dine with international chefs at restaurants around the island.  

As Mount Gay Rum was the official rum sponsor of the festival and the oldest rum in the world, people got the unique opportunity to learn about Barbados’ rum heritage through rum tours called Cask: The Story of Rum.

And finally, the festival came to a spectacular end with Liquid Gold Feast which patrons described as the crème de le crème. 

Aprille Thomas who is the lead coordinator of the festival and the Director of PR and Communications at Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc commented “After a two-year hiatus, we didn’t just want to have the same events that we had before. So what we did was bring a mix of some of the old faves like Oistins which is a staple for Barbadian culture. But then we had to introduce something that would bring in new audiences, younger blood and get them excited about the festival because if young people are not excited about the festival then it is going to die out and we wanted to make sure it had that longevity so we came up with Rise & Rum: The Breakfast Beach Party and we also added a gala event like Liquid Gold Feast to the festival as well which by all counts was extremely well received.”

Partying with a Purpose

Furthermore, through the inaugural Junior Chef Competition, the proceeds from the festival will fund two aspiring chefs, Samanta Greenidge and Mikalee Williams in continuing their culinary careers at the Jean and Norma Holder Institute.

Newly appointed Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Hon Ian Gooding-Edghill described the conceptualization of the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, as an element of our calendar events as a significant milestone. 

“It is something that we must continue to harness as we continue to explore our offerings, our attractions and the many events that we have to offer in Barbados. As we go forward with plans and initiatives to ensure we enhance and increase our market share, I look forward to the enthusiasm with the conceptualization of similar events that Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. will produce,” he said.

The success of the 2022 Barbados Food and Rum festival not only showcased the culinary talents in Barbados but increased the culinary tourism product offerings. 

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