Spice Island is tops in culinary arts says Grenadian chefs in Canada


Grenada accredited “Culinary Capital’’ by the World Food Travel Association

By Lincoln DePradine

Belinda Bishop, Dawne Francois & Karim Doyle

New York University graduate Belinda Bishop, a professionally trained chef with many years of experience in the culinary arts, is excited to be now visiting Canada as part of an exercise to generate greater visitor interest in Grenada, where her father was born.

“I’m ecstatic. I love being here in Canada,’’ Bishop told The Caribbean Camera. “We’re here to make sure that we bring a lot of folks back to Grenada.’’

Grenada, which is one of the leading producers of spices, is the first destination to become an accredited “Culinary Capital’’ by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA).

The government and the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) have been leveraging the WFTA designation by trying to create greater links between tourism and agriculture; and by embarking on initiatives such as the “473 Connect Diaspora Programme’’ and a GTA-sponsored “Young Chefs, Young Mixologists” competition held last December.

The competition’s winner, Karim Doyle, is now a Tourism Authority “culinary ambassador’’ and is visiting Canada with Bishop, who is popularly known as “Chef Belinda’’.

Another young chef on the visiting team led by Bishop is Miguel Mitchell.

“We need to connect tourism and agriculture and this is a wonderful way to do it,’’ said Grenada’s Honourary Consul General Dawne Francois, who hosted an event at Tropicana Community Services in Scarborough.

It featured the sampling of food prepared by the visiting chefs, as well as by Toronto-based, Grenada-born chef Frederick Alexander.

Sekou Stroude, the GTA’s director of sales for Canada, also made a presentation on the “473 Connect Programme’’, which aims to recruit Grenadians in the Diaspora as ambassadors who will recommend the Caribbean nation as an ideal vacation destination to others.

 “I encourage you to check out the programme,’’ Stroude urged. “You can be rewarded with an all-expense-paid trip to Grenada.’’

Last weekend in Montreal, the Spice Island Cultural Day Association of Quebec – after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic – held its first in-person Cultural Festival.

The festival’s theme was, “Grenada – A Culinary Delight!”. It brought together several leading Caribbean chefs, including Bishop, who owns an outfit in Grenada called “Flavours of Grenada’’.

One of the services of Flavours of Grenada, which opened in 2016,

is training. “We don’t just train young people who want to be chefs, we also train young people to cook,’’ said Bishop.

Doyle is among those trained by Bishop. She also was one of the judges in the “Young Chefs, Young Mixologists” competition that he won last year.

“Kareem took a lot of what he learned and he was able to apply it,’’ Bishop said. “What impressed the judges was that Karim prepared a flatbread from scratch, in a small amount of time. We thought that was quite amazing. That was the deciding factor.’’

As part of their Canadian itinerary, Doyle, Bishop and Mitchell will visit a culinary training establishment in Muskoka. The stop there is arranged through Anthony Mair, an executive chef and president of the Grenada Culinary Network (Toronto).

Mair is also leading an effort to create and publish a Grenadian cookbook, with proceeds to be used to assist aspiring chefs to visit Canada to engage in internship programs.

It’s Doyle’s second visit to Canada. He spent one year in the country, beginning in September 2016, acquiring job-ready skills and hands-on training in culinary skills at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).

He was one of two Grenadians selected to attend NSCC, as part of their culinary arts associate degree training at Grenada’s T.A. Marryshow Community College.

“In Grenada, they teach us a lot of theory, in terms of the culinary arts. But in Nova Scotia, we got practicals,’’ Doyle explained.

“With the blend of the high level of theory that we receive in Grenada, and incorporating it with the amount of practicals we got in Nova Scotia, it really helped me to grow as a chef,’’ added Doyle, who said his ambition as a child was to become either a chef, scientist or doctor.