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Pineapple Plant at St. George Village Botanical Garden, St. Croix, USVI
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Food & Wine Experience - Cork & Fork

As a self-proclaimed "foodie", I have had the opportunity to dine in some amazing restaurants worldwide and experience a multitude of different cuisines prepared by top notch chefs. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that St. Croix definitely holds it's own in the culinary world. I was even more surprised to learn that each year in April the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience, a weeklong series of culinary events, showcases the island's talented chefs and culinary students, as well as it's vast array of local produce, agricultural products and delicious, Caribbean-inspired cuisine.  Even better, this event is the largest fundraiser of the year for the St. Croix Foundation which supports a broad field of community priorities including education reform, community revitalization, economic development, public safety, and fiscal sponsorship.

More intimate and welcoming than many other food and wine festivals, this event was named one of the Top Ten International Food and Wine Events by ForbesTravel.com.  The week of events offers something for every budget and personality.  Golfers will love 'Cuisine on the Green' which combines a scramble tournament with food and wine tastings.  If you want Food-and-Wine_cuisine-on-the-green_julie eatingto enjoy the historic beauty of St. Croix, try the 'City Crawl' and taste your way through historic Christiansted while enjoying three of St. Croix’s finest dining Experiences. For kids there is class on Saturday morning called 'Kids Cooking'.  If you are looking for something more relaxed, enjoy the 'Sunset BBQ' in Frederiksted with live local music and barbeque prepared by local and celebrity chefs.  For those looking for the ultimate experience of having a celebrity chef prepare a small intimate dinner for you and a few others, buy one of the coveted spots at one of two 'Cork & Fork' dinners.  Families will enjoy the fun and friendly, action-packed competition of 'Food Fight! On the Beach'.  Wine connoisseurs will love 'Wine in the Warehouse', while those looking for a full meal with wine pairings should not miss the 'Tutto Bene Gourmet Vintner Dinner' or 'The Galleon Wine Dinner'.  Then, there is the event that started it all...'Taste of St. Croix' (or "Taste" as it is known locally).  Taste is an elegant evening of sampling hundreds of different foods, wines and spirits from local restaurants, bars, caterers and farmers whilst they compete to be the best of Taste in several different categories as judged by celebrity guest judges and local VIPs.  The 2015 line up has added an additional event called ‘Just Desserts’ on Tuesday, where you can taste specially created confections, mingle with celebrity chefs, and celebrate all things dessert at Zion Modern Kitchen.In addition to enjoying some of the finest food and spirits St. Croix has to offer, the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience week offers the opportunity for attendees to get up close and personal with celebrity chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and culinary professionals brought in to participate in the events.  From personal experience I can tell you that the celebrity chefs are very friendly and approachable - after all, they are here to have a good time too.  According to Ellen Kassoff Gray, sommelier and restaurateur, the celebrity chefs keep coming back to St. Croix for this event "...simply put, because they love it."  In fact, Chef Billy DeSimone loved his time on St. Croix so much that he and his wife moved to the island last year!

Food-and-Wine_Aaron and DenikaAnother reason many of the culinary professionals participate in this event, and a rewarding experience for those attending, is to see and be part of the impact cooking makes on the kids of St. Croix.  In fact, Denika Boyd and Aaron Tutein were given two week culinary internships at Facebook thanks to celebrity Chef Josef DeSimone.  As a result of that opportunity, and because of their culinary skills and eagerness to work, in 2014 Denika and Aaron were offered full-time jobs at Facebook by Tony Castellucci, the Executive Chef of Facebook.

I recommend you plan your trip to St. Croix around the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience in April!  Enjoy the beauty and the abundance of things to do on St. Croix in addition to attending some of the many Food and Wine Experience events.  In addition to the great food and wine and fun celebrity chefs, you can support a number of great causes through the St. Croix Foundation.  Hotel packages are available if you should need accommodations, and several different Patron packages are available which include VIP tickets to Taste of St. Croix (allowing for early entry into Taste and a pre-event cocktail party) and other events.  Check out our St. Croix Food and Wine Experience event page for more details!

- Jennie Ogden, Editor

 

 

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