We're talking about the Fifth Annual BACARDI Cruise Competition, in which chefs and bartenders from cruise and ferry lines around the globe compete to create innovative and tantalizing cuisine and cocktails. The best of the best -- scrutinized by both professional judges and the Cruise Critic community -- were announced at a private awards ceremony in Fisher Island, Florida, earlier this month.
As we reported in our earlier coverage, Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown was part of a panel of judges that selected the best recipes in both the culinary and the cocktail categories of the competition. But we also opened up the vote to you! After publishing each of the 10 finalists' recipes on Cruise Critic, we opened a special voting booth on our message boards where members could vote for the recipes they found most appealing in each category: culinary and cocktails. A special People's Choice Award was up for grabs for the creator of the best-loved recipe in each category.
So which contestants were named BACARDI Chef of the Year and BACARDI Bartender of the Year -- and which did you choose as your favorites?
BACARDI Chef of the Year. The culinary award went to Emerlito Lago, who most recently worked on Cunard Line's Queen Victoria, for his BACARDI® LIMÓN™ Touched Maine Lobster Tail, which was inspired by the cuisine of America. The dish featured bright flavors, vibrant colors and an abundance of fresh produce.
BACARDI Bartender of the Year. Christopher Chudley, who most recently worked on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, took top honors in cocktails for his BOMBAY SAPPHIRE®-inspired Elderphire, a simple combination of gin and fresh lemon juice, spiked with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur.
Cruise Critic People's Choice Award: Culinary. Our very savvy members also chose Lago's creation as their favorite culinary recipe -- a clear cut victory, with 49 percent of the votes.
Cruise Critic People's Choice Award: Cocktails. Meanwhile, in the cocktail category, you all opted for a more traditional pick -- the Tropical Breeze Martini, which received nearly 44 percent of the votes. Dan Linley of Holland America Line, created this drink using GREY GOOSE® Vodka and the classic combination of pineapple and coconut.
José Chao, Vice President, Bacardi Travel Retail Americas, has acknowledged that the cruise industry is a trendsetter in both cocktail culture and international cuisine, and that Bacardi is proud to recognize and support its efforts and accomplishments.
The BACARDI Chef of the Year and BACARDI Bartender of the Year each received cash prizes of $5,000 each (which they have the option of using toward a five-day High Performance Leadership course at Florida International University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management), and crystal trophies. The Cruise Critic People's Choice Awards poll winners received special certificates at the awards ceremony.
This year's prizes were the biggest yet -- which, not surprisingly, rendered the competition stiffer than ever before and inspired fresh recipe trends.
Have you tried any of these recipes at home? We'd love to hear from you! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (put Bacardi in the subject line).
--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer