The Best Caribbean Food and Wine Festivals

Island happenings where you can eat, drink, cook and hobnob with international award-winning chefs

 

Sun and fun aren’t the only reasons to come to the Caribbean. With more and more celebrity chefs opening signature restaurants throughout the region, foodies have much to celebrate. And for the ultimate taste of the islands, you can time your visit to coincide with one of the growing number of culinary festivals that have made their way south. Visiting during a food and wine event is a high point of any Caribbean vacation—you get to mingle with other foodies, drink rum-infused tropical cocktails, taste worldly treats while overlooking the blue Caribbean Sea. Here’s the line-up of events.

January

Cayman Cookout, Grand Cayman

This weekend-long celebration of food, wine and “barefoot elegance,” on Grand Cayman culminates with the Barefoot BBQ where guests dine under the stars while big name celebrity chefs like Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés and Marcus Samuelsson work the grills. During the day the Beach Bash takes place aboard a catamaran sailboat cruise. There’s plenty of time to snorkel, swim and swing in a hammock while sampling beach bites. Current dates and more info: www.caymancookout.com

March

The Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival, Cancun, Mexico

Each year, this four-day event pairs world-renowned chefs and top sommeliers in one of the most beautiful destinations on earth. The 2015 festival celebrates Mexico’s leading female chefs, with emphasis on Mexican and Spanish cuisines, ingredients and talent. The most popular event is the Gourmet Tasting Village where guests get to meet and mingle with local and international top chefs. While world wines are featured throughout the event, an additional 35 Mexican wineries supply wine at the tasting village. Current dates and more info: www.crmfest.com

April

Saborea Puerto Rico, San Juan

Puerto Rico San Juan’s neighborhood stretch of sand at Escambrón Beach transforms into a tasting village during this flavorful weekend. Local restaurants offer up their best dishes as rum, wine, spirits and beer flow. Each day the village features different restaurants, guest chefs and cooking demos. New in 2015 is the Bubbles & Bites Event, the Saborea kick-off party where local renowned chefs whip up Puerto Rican bites to be paired with champagne. Current dates, tickets and more info: saboreapuertorico.com

St Croix Food & Wine Experience, St. Croix, USVI

The start of this popular event began in 2001 as the brainchild of two local restaurateurs, Kelly Odom and Katherine Pugliese. From a one-night event, it grew to the weeklong extravaganza that it is today, drawing top-named talent to one of the biggest culinary celebrations in the Caribbean. The festivities include a golf tournament with tastings via a golf-cart tour, a “Food Fight” with celebrity chefs and a selection of wine dinners showcasing visiting chefs. The original event, The Taste of St. Croix continues to draw big crowds, selling out every year, and the night’s “after party” takes the festivities on into the morning hours. Current dates and more info: stxfoodandwine.com

St. Croix Food & Wine Festival

The St. Croix Food & Wine Experience is an island-wide celebration that has grown from a one-day event into a weeklong party. The Taste of St. Croix is still the most popular evening of tasting. Photo: Debbie Snow

November

The Caribbean Food & Wine Festival, Provo, Turks & Caicos

2015 marks the fifth year for this well-received event. The Turks & Caicos, and Provo in particular, is known for a high level cuisine. Mix that up with local and visiting celebrity chefs, gorgeous stretches of beach at Grace Bay and you’ve got a winner. Saturday afternoon brings on the Island Street Food Fair where local restaurants showcase their specialties and attendees cast their votes for their favorites. The finale is a luscious and elegant dinner with featured chefs and wine makers. Current dates and more info:caribbeanfoodandwinefestivaltci.com

Barbados Food Wine & Rum Festival, Barbados

The Barbados Food Wine & Rum Festival is in its fifth year and growing into a full on-island spectacular. It’s the only festival that includes rum tastings and demonstrations during the weekend of festivities. Local food is highlighted on Saturday at Sizzle Street held in a park setting during the afternoon and evening. Favored celebrity chefs include Marcus Samuelsson and Anne Burrell. Current dates and more info:www.foodwinerum.comwww.visitbarbados.org

Barbados Food & Wine Festival

In addition to providing distinctive vintages and memorable meals, the Barbados Food Wine & Rum Festival features cooking demos by celebrity chefs. Here, Marcus Samuelsson whips up a selection of appetizers. Photo: Debbie Snow