Lifestyle

Bermuda rules world at food competition

  • Award winners: from left, Makeisha Smith-Campbell, Kai Campbell, Jamal Smith, Suzanne Smith, Tracy Smith (Photograph supplied)
  • Patron Gina Knowles, Makeisha Smith Campbell, Jamal and Tracy Smith (Photograph supplied)
  • From left: Kai Campbell, Makeisha Smith Campbell, Margaret Higgs, Jamal Smith Jr, Tracy Smith, Jamal Smith

Bermuda’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy ruled at a food and wine competition in the Bahamas.

Mussel pies were also a big hit, along with codfish cakes, beef pies and rum swizzles.

A Bahamian with Bermuda ties was responsible for it all.

Jamal Smith got the idea from his Bermudian mother Suzanne (née Joaquin), and approached the “less than a dozen Bermudians who live in Nassau full-time” for help.

Team Bermuda won the People’s Choice Award at the 22nd Annual International Culture Wine & Food Festival last month.

“For a long time my mother spoke about how she’d like to do it but the workload is a lot,” said Mr Smith, whose Bermudian relatives include Anthony Joaquin, the retired Ernst & Young partner, and OJ Pitcher, the captain of St David’s cricket team.

“There are literally thousands of people at the tent.

“My grandmother, Mae Joaquin, passed last year. We all came up to Bermuda for the funeral and it just so happened we were discussing heritage and that sort of thing. We have been coming up to Bermuda every year since we were kids and I thought it was so sad that a lot of people don’t get to experience the heritage we know as Bermuda.”

The annual festival was raised and this time, everyone got on board: Mr Smith, his mother and his father, Michael. Marketing expertise came from his sister, Makeisha Smith-Campbell, while his wife, Tracy, offered her skill in the kitchen.

“We came together as a family and that’s how we pretty much got involved,” the 36-year-old said. “My wife is a chef and every time we come, we stay with my uncle Oliver [Pitcher] and he makes her cook — codfish cakes, codfish breakfast, all the delicacies — and she got really well versed in Bermuda cuisine.

My sister did all the graphic designs and ordered all the paraphernalia.”

Gosling’s helped get rum to Nassau for authentic Dark ‘n’ Stormies and rum swizzles.

“We also had assistance from Bermudian Naeemah Fubler Gomez, who got married and moved here two years ago, Jovanna Douglas who is also from Bermuda, and Guilden Gilbert,” Mr Smith said.

“We have about a dozen Bermudians who live here full-time and we reached out to them. They lent support in different ways.”

Twenty-three countries were represented at the two-day festival. Roughly 1,500 people stopped by the Team Bermuda booth.

According to Mr Smith, the group poured approximately 400 cups of rum swizzle and 300 Dark ‘n’ Stormies; they served about 300 mussel pies, 250 beef pies and 900 codfish cakes.

There were also fish sliders on offer, a spin-off of the fish sandwich at Art Mel’s on St Monica’s Road, with coleslaw and raisin bread. Team Bermuda funded it all and charged for all the samples.

“People just loved them,” Mr Smith said. “The swizzle was a big hit. People lined up for that. We got the recipe from Dr Wilbert Warner, who lives in Bermuda but his sister married a Bahamian and lives here. He told us how to create it.

“And then we went heavy on the marketing and that’s how we won the most popular booth, the People’s Choice Award. Out of 140 booths, Bermuda came first.”

The hope is to continue.

“We are definitely looking forward to doing it again. The festival committee is urging us. We have small festivals at Christmas time and we want to see if we can expand to Bermudian gingerbread and things like that. We want to push the culture as much as possible. My uncle Anthony has a lot of relations with Bahamas because he’s on the board of a lot of banks, so we’re speaking with him to see how we can take it to a larger scale; maybe get a gombey troupe down.”

Learn more here: culturefestbahamas.com