Charlestown, Nevis – Hungry patrons gathered in a ballroom of the Four Seasons Resort  July 15 to sample some delicacies from local restaurants that are participating in St. Kitts and Nevis’ Restaurant Week. The booths lined up and down the ballroom and people packed inside to sample local fares. In addition to cuisine, there were also merchants sampling local jewelry and recipe books, all from establishments within St. Kitts and Nevis.

Visitors were treated to a small tasting of three course meals from Montpelier Plantation Inn, Carib’s newest beers and many other delicacies. The festivities also included dinner giveaways to the Four Seasons Resort, and live local music hummed in the background.

“This event was an opportunity for the restaurants to come out, for people to come out and get a little taste of restaurant week and it’s also a chance for some of the sponsors that may not be on the radar of visitors and customers to have the spotlight,” said Kathleen Pessolano, consultant to the federal Ministry of Tourism. “Restaurant Week is all about building bridges between local producers, the hotel and restaurant scene and the public at large, so that people will eat local, source local and celebrate using local products.”

The event ensured Restaurant Week started off with its best foot forward. Restaurant Week was officially underway on Wednesday and runs through Sunday, July 30. Each year, organizers pick a signature local ingredient that all meals will be focused around and this year’s food item is yams. Chefs at many local restaurants will be preparing specialized dinners with already established price points, either $60, $40 or $20 USD.

“The objectives of Restaurant Week are two-fold: The first one is to improve restaurant business during the slow season,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism John Hanley in opening remarks. “The second is to increase consumption of local agricultural produce. Our island has an abundance of organic fruits, vegetables, meats and other produce. It is critical that we increase the consumption of local food in order to strengthen the linkage between tourism and agriculture.”

In addition to the dinner specials, some local restaurants will be offering specialized lunches featuring local ingredients and pre-dinner wine tastings throughout the islands.

The week-long local food celebration is in its third year. New this year, there is an ‘and-more’ category that allows local chefs without a venue to participate in the event, as well as a dining experience section, which goes beyond the preparation of a single meal. The creation of these additional categories was done in hopes of getting all aspects of the dining scene on St. Kitts and Nevis involved together during this event.

“Really trying to connect independent small producers with the mainstream tourism chain is why we have lunch-only restaurants, snackettes and street vendors working with us,” Pessolano said. “The and-more category is for those that may not even have a store, but are making wonderful things that are not necessarily part of the tourism and agricultural ecosystem at the moment. Restaurant Week is about trying to build those bridges.”

Those wishing to dine out during the week are encouraged to call ahead to ensure they get a chance to taste the cuisine. For more information on participating restaurants and festivities throughout Restaurant Week, visit Facebook at St. Kitts-Nevis Restaurant Week.