Maintaining the title of “The Caribbean’s Culinary Capital” is by no means an easy endeavour, but one that the island of St. Martin seems to conquer, year after year. The French side of the island seamlessly mixes heritage techniques from the homeland with bold, Creole seasonings, creating a unique cuisine that keeps visitors coming back. Whether you opt to eat in a Grand Case restaurant or a Marigot beachside ‘lolo’, St. Martin impresses you with truly delectable dishes. Don’t take our word for it, though: bring your appetite when you fly south this winter season and check out St. Martin’s vaunted Festival de la Gastronomie.
The third edition of this beloved festival is set to take place from November 11 through the 22nd, 2023. This 11-day celebration of St. Martin’s incredible food promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience, uniting visitors and locals alike to enjoy bespoke special menus, workshops, a dedicated Gastronomy Village, food trucks, special events, and much more!
This year’s program has been unveiled and the key ingredient has been selected: sorrel! During the festival, the attending chefs - many of whom are Michelin-starred - will be invited to concoct Caribbean Tasting Menus that highlight the unique qualities of this ingredient. Their creations will be judged by a panel of experts who will then choose the winner of the Best Table of St. Martin 2023/2024.
These culinary creations will be available to taste at the participating establishments competing for the Best Table award. The aforementioned Culinary Village will be open on the Marigot seafront from November 17 to 19, near the Tourist Office kiosk. The ever-popular cooking classes are set to be held at the Marina Fort Louis on Wednesday, November 15, in the afternoon for children, and Saturday, November 18, and Sunday, November 19, for adults.
Attendees at this year’s culinary festival can look forward to experiencing two important aspects of St. Martin’s culture: barbecue and mixology. St. Martin’s guavaberry rum is the stuff of legends and a crucial part of the island’s heritage: don’t leave without tasting it! The invited grilling champions will be taking part in the BBQ competition on Thursday, November 16, at Rue de la République in Marigot. The six semi-finalists for the title of ‘Best Mixologist of St. Martin’ have already passed the first qualification phase that took place from July 1-8. During the festival, candidates will compete over several days to try to earn their place in the finale on Tuesday, November 21. Lots of opportunities for tasting, abound.
On November 12, guests will enjoy a local breakfast on the beach at 978 Beach Restaurant, featuring live music, during the “Taste of Sunrise” event. The Culinary Festival is also a real boost for the younger generation studying in the hospitality division of St. Martin's Daniella Jeffry Vocational High School. The guest chefs will meet with the students on November 13 to provide step-by-step cooking demonstrations. The next day, the talented apprentices will participate in a competition, in the presence of a jury. On the evening of November 13, the Tourist Office is organizing a "Cocktail & Food Pairing" event for Epicureans, an original event that combines fine dining and mixology. The big closing gala for the Culinary Festival will take place on Wednesday, November 22, when the winners of all the various competitions will be announced.
The line-up for this year’s Festival includes a wide range of talent from within the Caribbean, of course, but also from Europe, South America, the U.S. Award-winning chefs, authors of prominent cookbooks, Top Chef participants and other renowned culinary consultants will all descend on St. Martin for a titanic gathering of gastronomic talent. Bartender Mia Mastroianni, one of the founders of Soho House in West Hollywood, Miami Beach, and Toronto, and Phil Wills, owner of Spirits in Motion, a consultancy firm for bars and beverages will host the mixology competition. Both have starred as experts on the TV show Bar Rescue. American hotel industry and mixology expert and trendsetter, Arthur Sutley, will also be in attendance at the 2023 edition. Kevin Bludso, the famous American pitmaster, TV star, successful author, and owner of several restaurants, is coming back to St. Martin to challenge the participants of the barbecue competition. Mareya Ibrahim, "The Fit Foodie", star chef from American TV, nutrition coach, and author of Eat Like You Give a Fork will also be participating at the festival.
Canadians will no doubt recognize the name of Frédéric Cyr, the Directeur Culinaire at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. A generational chef, Cyr has been cultivating his culinary passion since the age of 12. After a stint in the kitchens of Asia, he returned to his home of Quebec to lead his team of over 130 cooks at Le Château - and now brings his years of expertise and friendly demeanour to St. Martin.
Foodies, mark it in your calendar: this November is the absolute best time to plan a trip to St. Martin. If we’ve whet your appetite, head over to www.festival-st-martin.com/en for more information about the Festival.
Tickets are now available: https://www.festival-st-martin.com/en/program-2023