St. Lucia's Bay Gardens Resorts Showcases Culinary Creativity at its Tastiest

Author  Darcel Choy

ST.LUCIA - One of the Caribbean's leading indigenous hotel groups is responding to an increasing global trend among travelers to seek out unique culinary  experiences while traveling abroad. resizeimage 26St. Lucia's Bay Gardens Resorts is tapping into the creative expertise of its award-winning professionals to expand the menu of culinary combinations and offerings guests can enjoy at the family-owned hotels.

Reflecting the island's diverse cultural and Creole influences, Bay Gardens' chefs have created dishes such as lobster roti, seafood bouillabaisse, green fig and saltfish gnocchi (an Italian interpretation of St. Lucia's national dish) and oxtail wontons.

"We are undergoing a culinary renaissance," declared Executive Director of Bay Gardens Resorts Sanovnik Destang.

At its four distinct properties - Bay Gardens Inn, Bay Gardens Hotel, Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa, and the new Bay Gardens Marina Haven - the resort group's restaurants all pay homage to authentic Caribbean food while incorporating an international twist in signature dishes.

SeaGrapes Beach Bar & Restaurant at Bay Gardens Beach Resort specializes in fresh seafood prepared utilizing mini coalpots. Lionfish, infamous for threatening coral reefs and eating indigenous fish species, takes center stage for entirely different reasons here as the star ingredient in unique dishes such as lionfish ceviche, lionfish salad and the popular lionfish and octopus burger.

"Everything in sous chef Peter Lawrence's lab is very St. Lucian, very local, but they appeal to an international palate," explained Destang.

Hi Tide, Bay Gardens Beach Resort's main restaurant, is famed for elevating Caribbean fusion to lofty levels. Those tantalized by the Italian-inspired green fig and saltfish gnocchi can find it there as a signature lunch dish. Managed by executive chef Nicodemus Joseph, a former captain of St. Lucia's national culinary team, Hi Tide also presents themed dinners such as Caribbean Tapas on Mondays, Caribbean Plantation Night Buffet on Wednesdays and Caribbean Dim Sum on Thursdays. For New Year's Eve, there will be an Around the World special with dishes from China, France, Greece, India, Peru, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.

At Bay Gardens Hotel, 20-year veteran sous chef Shirley Alphonse, shows her expertise at Spices restaurant, luring guests with a tasty Caribbean buffet on Monday nights, which features cuisine from around the region. In addition, Creole tea is served every afternoon, with traditional English tea plus local herbal teas and pastries such as coconut turnovers, homemade banana or golden-apple jam with scones.

Anchor Restaurant at Marina Haven is popular for its Creole breakfast and three-course lunch.

Destang noted that chefs Lawrence, Joseph and Alphonse - as well as sous chef Edna Butcher from Bay Gardens Beach Resort - have distinguished themselves as members of St. Lucia's culinary team, which has excelled at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's Taste of the Caribbean competition in Miami throughout the years. Chef Lawrence won gold and copped the top prize in the 2014 seafood competition while Butcher is a former Junior Chef of the Year.

The chefs and their Bay Gardens culinary colleagues participate in the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association's Chefs in Schools mentoring program where they share their skills with the local community and stimulate youth interest in culinary careers. Bay Gardens Resorts has also been the caterer of choice for major events in St. Lucia, including St. Lucia Jazz, international cricket tournaments and tourism conferences.

"We are pushing the envelope with respect to fusing Caribbean cuisine with those of other cultures and countries. It's a fine balance of keeping it traditional as well as global. That is important for our island's discerning guests," Destang affirmed.