NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (July 07, 2020) — The COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent the Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA) from hosting its annual Nevis Mango and Food Festival from July 03 to 05. However, this year it was held virtually.
Chief Executive Officer of the NTA Ms. Jadine Yarde told the Department of Information on July 07, 2020, that the three day-event was seamless and the Virtual Nevis Mango Festival was a success.
“The Virtual Mango Festival that took place July 3rd to July 5th was in my opinion a huge success. Our goal was to connect our local and international audiences to experience the annual mango festival safely and responsibly. We were saddened to cancel this year’s physical event but the virtual happening definitely allowed us to connect with a wide range of people all over the world.
“The entire weekend was great, from the informational video done by the Ministry of Agriculture featuring “Bankie” [Rodney King] to the cook-off competition hosted at Cleveland Gardens to our honorary Nevisian, Judy Joo teaching us how to make a delicious mango tiramisu. We are grateful for a seamless experience and look forward to planning the 2021 mango festival,” she said.
Two competitors took part in the Nevis Mango Festival Cook-off Chef. Wentworth Smithen assisted by his mother Julie Smithen emerged winner, and chef and culinary artist Erika Stapleton, who was assisted by Joyelle Phillip, placed second.
Smithen was awarded a trophy and a staycation at the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, which was presented by Ms. Yarde.
The 20-year-old, an aspiring celebrity chef, said he was determined to walk away a winner.
“I was a little intimidated at first because of my opponent’s years of experience but I kept my calm and went for the gold.
“For the years I have been with the Nevis Mango and Food Festival, I was fascinated by the amazing local and overseas chefs going head-to-head so, when I was given the opportunity to compete, I was right on board,” he stated.
Mr. Smithen also offered some advice to younger persons who wish to follow in his footsteps.
“Those who are in high school, even primary school, who are interested in culinary arts, just know it is not easy but it’s rewarding.
“Even if you are not interested in the arts, whatever your choice of career or discipline may be, don’t forget to shoot for the stars and aim past the moon,” he said.
At the time COVID-19 struck, Smithen was a chef for two years at the Park Hyatt hotel in St. Kitts.
Before becoming a chef, he studied Culinary Arts at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts and earned an Associate Degree in that field. In 2019 he had the opportunity to attend a three-month culinary course in Taiwan, at the end of which he received a certificate in Chinese Cooking, from the Hungkuag University.
The other events in the festival was a Mango Tasting on July 03 and a Masterclass with Korean American chef and television personality Judy Joo.