Bermuda foodie fans will be treated to a “first-of-its-kind” Bermuda food harvest almanac detailing “locally harvested foods”, where they’re available and when.
According to Glenn Jones, it’s all part of an enhanced Restaurant Weeks programme, set to get underway, for the ninth consecutive year, in January 2020.
Unveiling the upgraded programme at a news conference last week at Fourways Inn, the Chief Experiences Development Officer with the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) said Restaurant Weeks will feature a series of new culinary events.
“We think it’s a first-of-its-kind resource for Bermuda. It’s a visually appealing presentation of what locally harvested foods are available when.
“For visitors and for locals, we hope it becomes the go-to guide for eating Bermuda’s foods at their absolute freshest and for affluent travellers who care about sustainability, this guide should be especially valuable.
“Fruits and vegetables, seafood and herbs. There’s a lot in there.”
The end result was produced with assistance from local farmers, fishermen and beekeepers. It is also hoped that the new almanac will help boost demand for local produce and food.
Local restaurants have adopted home-grown ingredients for their 2020 Bermuda-inspired menus at 46 restaurants.
It’s all part of the plan designed to put the Bermudian-food experience at the top of the charts in Bermuda’s tourism industry.
Those new experiences include Eettafel, a company that organises upscale picnics with Lill Bermuda at a ‘Fragrance and Food Pairing Picnic’, to be held next year at the Waterville Rose Garden in Paget.
American chef and finalist on the TV cooking show Top Chef, will also team up with chefs from Bermy Eats and Fourways Inn for the Bermuda Culture and Heritage Dinner on January 24, 2020.
Inspired by the historic Cobbs Hill Methodist Church and the Africa Diaspora, Mr Jones said Chef Eric, who hails from Brooklyn, NY, with West African roots, used his heritage as a main thread in performance on the popular cooking show.
While “the food was unfamiliar to the judges — and to the audience”, Mr Jones said: “Chef Eric is convinced he can do the same thing out here and we can’t wait. He visited this past August to do his research.”
Also included in the line up this year, will be a fish fry on February 2 at the Bermuda Transport Museum in Dockyard, featuring food from Generosa’s, Frog & Onion, Bonefish Grill and beer from On de Rock and Dockyard Brewing, featuring rum swizzle by 9 Parishes.
Now in its ninth year, Mr Jones added: “Restaurant Weeks has resonated with locals and visitors for almost ten years and we hope these new food experiences resonate as well.
“But let me be clear. This is not an either-or proposition — it’s an opportunity to choose both,” he said.
Six weeks away from Restaurant Weeks 2020, Mr Jones added: “We felt it was the right time to start talking about it with our community because we want community to be a focal point of what’s happening next January.
“Our theme this year is simple. Three words: ‘Food is Community’,” on a theme that “rings true because culinary is the perfect platform for sharing conversation, sharing culture, and sharing time with one another – with family, with friends, with our visitors”.
Restaurant Weeks 2020 starts on January 16 and runs through to February.
Participants are “hoping to see further growth as we make a concerted effort to take Restaurant Weeks to the next level”.
The next level strategy is three-pronged to:
- 1. Further elevate local food culture and promote sustainability with a food harvest almanac;
- 2. Coordinate with local restaurateurs farther in advance to create a longer runway for marketing; and
- 3. Create memorable, only-in-Bermuda food experiences to capture imaginations and inspire travel
“We’re in the final production phase of a food harvest almanac. We think it’s a first-of-its-kind resource for Bermuda,” said Mr Jones.
On the almanac, he added: “It’s a visually appealing presentation of what locally harvested foods are available when.
“For visitors and for locals, we hope it becomes the go-to guide for eating Bermuda’s foods at their absolute freshest. For affluent travelers who care about sustainability, this guide should be especially valuable.
“Fruits and vegetables, seafood and herbs; there’s a lot in there. Because farmers are the epitome of community, we worked closely with them, along with beekeepers and fishermen.
“We hope this almanac supports their businesses by raising demand for locally grown food.”
He also commended local restaurateurs “for helping us act and think differently when it comes to Restaurant Weeks”.
“By and large, they have stepped up because they understand this gives us more time to promote their offerings.
“This is how we’re executing on the second part of our strategy: a longer marketing runway. In fact, if you go online right now, you’ll see most of the restaurant weeks menus listed at GoToBermuda.com/Food.
On Fourways Inn, he added: “This place with almost three centuries of Bermuda history has proudly built a crowd-pleasing, mouth-watering local menu.
Andy Detzer, of Fourways said the top tier package for Restaurant Weeks 2020, which offers a three-course meal for $52, while there are also $42 and $32 prix fix dinner menus.
Twenty restaurants are also offering a $22 two-course lunch menu.
“It’s been my experience that visitors and locals prefer restaurants with Bermuda-inspired menus versus those without, said Mr Detzer.
“Our food industry is taking notice: about 85 percent of them have dinner menus marked with a Bermudian onion. That means they have locally grown ingredients or a Bermuda story or tradition to share through the meal.
“It also means that restaurant is eligible for a People’s Choice Award, consumers determine their favourite in an online poll. But they’re only permitted to vote on Bermuda-inspired menus.
“Three food events, one in each of the three weeks of Restaurant Weeks. And all of them go beyond the walls of a restaurant.”
John Howells, the President of the Bermuda Rose Society added:“We’re creating a scenario where visitors from the Northeast of the US and Canada can travel here and have lunch in a rose garden while their friends and family are probably dealing with sleet and snow back home.”
On Bermuda’s “rich African diaspora heritage” as it relates to Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan, he said: “We’ve found a way to activate that plan through food and community.”
One of the places visited by Chef Eric was the Cobb’s Hill Methodist Church.
A special meal will be served up on January 24 at the church in celebration of “one of the island’s cultural treasures”, as “a pre-Emancipation sanctuary built by enslaved and free men in the moonlight so that they would have a house of worship”.
The church is still thriving today and has a story the world deserves to know,” said Mr Jones.
Church Elder Ivan Smith, who was also on hand, explained “what this history means to the parishioners of the church”.
The third of three events is a fish fry in February 2020 at the Bermuda Transport Museum in Dockyard – “put this place in the category of under-leveraged cultural assets”.
“For almost ten years Restaurant Weeks has resonated with locals and visitors…and we hope these new food experiences resonate as well,” he added.
“Restaurant Weeks is three weeks-long, which gives everyone a chance to eat in a restaurant and to eat outside the walls of a restaurant at one of the food experiences I mentioned.
“We look forward to seeing the community around the table starting six weeks from now on January 16.”