Local fruits and veggies abound in the Caribbean

Well, this is a new one on me . . . sourcing local foods in the Caribbean region for chefs  on megayachts, as Carol Bareuther reports in this article from The Triton newspaper.

They might be expensive. They might be hit-or-miss in availability. They definitely won’t be all in one place.

Yet, as Judith Michailiuk, a former freelance charter chef who has worked on sail and power yachts from 50- to 170-feet, knows, locally grown fruits and vegetables are much fresher and tastier.

“I went all the way across the Atlantic with some red and green leaf lettuces and mesculin that I got from a farmer in Antigua and they were still fresh when we reached Gibraltar,” said Michailiuk, who splits her time between Canada and the Caribbean where she runs a yacht provisioning business called Loose Ends during the winter in Antigua.

There is increasing interest from megayacht chefs for locally grown produce, said Claire Budhlall Spronk of Spronks’ Mega Yacht Services at Camper & Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina in Grenada.

“There will always be those who want to offer only what the guests might be used to in Europe and North America, but more chefs want to offer dishes that reflect the region, and that means local produce,” she said.

Sourcing local produce can be more challenging than one call to a supplier or one stop at a supermarket. Some farmers walk the docks at Caribbean marinas such as IGY’s Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, but this is more of an exception than the rule.

Therefore, a yacht chef’s best bet is to visit the local market where there’s an opportunity to create relationships with farmers or a provisioner who specializes in locally-grown products.

Every Caribbean island has a fresh foods market.

In Puerto Rico, the Mercado Agricola Natural Viejo San Juan is located in the San Juan Museum on Norzagaray Street in Old San Juan. It’s close to the megayacht docks at Club Nautico de San Juan, open every Saturday at 8 a.m., and boasts more than two dozen vendors selling fresh, organic produce.

East on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas, the Rastafarian farmers of We Grow Food sell their fresh, organic produce the first and third Sunday of each month at IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande marina.

“The yacht chefs are usually looking for fruits,” farmer Benita Martin said. “They are surprised to see we also grow broccoli, cauliflower and greens. I am always so amazed how important it is to the chef and their boss to have organic, locally grown produce.”

The Castries Market in St. Lucia is about half an hour by car from IGY’s Rodney Bay Marina. Saturday is the big day.

But “during the week, there are vendors on the roadsides who sell all day long,” said Portia Mogul, the marina’s marketing, sales and event coordinator. “There are also some farmers who grow high-end greens and provision directly to our marina tenants.”

Antigua’s big open-air market is located in St. John’s, a 30-minute drive from the many marinas to the south. Yet closer to the yachts, Sarah Sebastian, manager of the Antigua Yacht Charter Show and a broker for Nicholson Yachts, recommends Bailey’s Supermarket in Falmouth Harbor.

Bequia-based Iris Mösing, charter chef aboard the 75-foot ketch S/Y Shaitan of Tortola, takes the ferry to the Kingston market in St. Vincent when she wants to stock up on local produce.

“I make sure I go with $20s and $50s EC (Eastern Caribbean) because nobody has change,” she said. “I leave each of my bags with the market ladies that I bought the produce from so I don’t have to lug everything around. I’ve never had any problem doing this.

“In fact, the ladies are great. They will even tell you how to cook something if you don’t know. Then, when it’s time to go, I ask one of the ladies to get me a ‘pusher’. One of the boys or ‘pushers’ will bring a wooden cart and help me load up everything at once to take back to the boat for about $10 to $20 EC.”

In addition to the Kingston market, Narendra Sethia, base manager for Barefoot Yacht Charters in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, said “There are also individuals we can contact who grown their own produce and will deliver to the yachts.”

For the original report go to http://thetriton.com/article/2011/11/local-fruits-and-veggies-abound-caribbean

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