The first morning in the Bahamas I took a leisurely stroll around the hotel property and the moment I spotted the ocean, its clear ice blue color and the gentle waves clapping at the beach, I took this picture and wrote the caption below on Instagram.
“Do you ever get overwhelmed with a bite so delicious, a moment too perfect, a place so beautiful you gasp and shriek even when walking alone? I’m in that moment. Pinching myself with the goodness, feeling so loved and hoping I could share just a sliver of this feeling with you all.”
I felt vulnerable in sharing that because it felt too much. That moment I mean. Immediately I got this rush of, well, it almost felt like guilt. Why me? I think. How do I get to be standing here taking in this beauty, feeling the warmth of the sun and breathing in the lightly salted air. Quickly I turned that guilt into gratitude and simply breathed in that moment for the gift that it was.
We all need those moments of deep inhale so our exhale, our giving of ourselves, is full.
I was brought to the Bahamas to help capture The Good Taste Series. It’s a cooking competition where Hyatt chefs from all around the world compete with one another to win a spot at the Global competition next spring. But beyond that it’s an opportunity for sous chefs – those who don’t always get an opportunity to show off their creativity – to create their own dishes, travel and compete to win incredible prizes and also help them launch their own career.
At the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, eleven chefs competed from all over the Americas. They had two days to prepare two dishes for a large reception held outdoors. It was hot, humid, windy – all the elements were not in their favor. The first day they were greeted with four ingredients well loved in the Bahamas. These “surprise” ingredients had to somehow be incorporated into their dishes: Hog Snapper, Zucchini, pigeon peas, and Sugar apple.
The day of the competition I got to go into the kitchen and watch these chefs prep for the event. They were all so passionate and eager to talk about their process even in the midst of nerves and high stakes. One chef traveled with his family’s olives and olive oil from Greece. Another was meticulously carving watermelon radishes and zucchini into intricate shapes while another was filling tubes resembling toothpaste containers with a ginger laced gel as a palate cleanser.
I was so inspired by their creativity, passion and generosity witnessed throughout the entire competition. In the end the two chefs headed to Hong Kong in the spring: Jonathan Pasion from Andaz Maui and Leo Minielli from Grand Hyatt Baha Mar.
Congratulations, Chefs! I can not wait to follow along as you compete at the Global Competition this spring.
To bring you all a taste of the Bahamas I couldn’t leave here without sharing a tropical drink. There were many fruit and rum laced drinks over the course of three days but I kept on hearing about Sky Juice. Even in the pastry kitchen I learned all about Sky Juice as I popped a white chocolate truffle into my mouth and immediately was flooded with sweet coconut and herbal gin. Yes, GIN! In a coconut drink!
Sky Juice consists of gin, fresh coconut water and sweetened condensed milk, shaken and served over ice. I actually like mine with a touch of fresh nutmeg on top and a squeeze of lime. In the Bahamas they are often served in coconut shells but you know, those are actually quite hard to come by back here in Seattle. So I’ll settle for this simple and refreshing cocktail served in a highball glass while I dream about floating in the Bahamas letting the waves carry me.
Of course we all could just head back to the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar and drink Sky Juice on the beach. I like that idea.
Bahamian Sky Juice
Yield 1 serving
2 ounces Gin
1 ounce sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces coconut water
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Pour into a glass over ice then garnish with a grating of fresh nutmeg and a lime wedge.