2023 Barbados Food and Rum Festival celebrates the island’s culinary diversity

(Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Barbados Food & Wine)
(Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Barbados Food & Wine) /

While many people dream of an island getaway as the ultimate relaxation escape, food flavors the overall experience. After stepping off the plane, it is time to push aside the burgers, pizza, or other classic comfort foods for local taste. During the 2023 Barbados Food and Rum Festival, the diverse culinary talent is ready to showcase the island’s signature ingredients.

From October 19 through 22, the Barbados Food and Rum festival will immerse guests into a wide array of culinary offerings. Savory, sweet, and more will be showcased by local chefs and some well-known names.

This year’s theme is Feed the Future, which is a nod to the organization’s desire to foster young chefs as they learn to appreciate and showcase Barbadian Cuisine. As Aprille Thomas, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s Director, Public Relations and Corporate Communications said, “This October best in Barbadian culinary talent will be on display. From award winning mixologists to vegan chefs; we look forward to wowing patrons with new things in Caribbean and international cuisine.”

Joining the local talent will be Food Network’s Anne Burrell, UK MasterChef, Chef Shelina Permalloo and from Colombia Chef Juan Diego. Burrell has supported the food festival previously.

For the local culinary talent, many of the chefs accepted the culinary challenge to combine 50% Barbadian ingredients, rum, and a mystery ingredient. While each dish will be unique, it is an opportunity for guests to appreciate the flavor, nuance, and versatility that local ingredients offer.

Also, this type of challenge can push the professional chefs. More importantly, it is an opportunity for guests to gain a better appreciation of Barbadian ingredients.

For example, Scotch Bonnet Pepper might have a bold spice, but it can be balanced by a deft hand. Convincing guests to embrace that flavor could leave a lasting impression far longer than the flushed cheeks from the rising heat.

In addition, the use of rum in the savory dishes could start a new food trend. While many people pair cocktails with food, finding a way to bring the rum in and beside a dish could be a new approach for food festivals.

Recently, more countries are offering annual food festivals. Cayman Islands, Grenada, and more have all showcased these opportunities. While tourists can enjoy a getaway anytime of year, these special events entice food travelers to book that trip around those few days. In one centralized locale, they can feel as if they have traveled around the island and enjoyed a taste of the country’s past, present and future.

2023 Barbados Food and Rum Festival runs from October 19 through 22. Tickets can be purchased online starting July 14.