Eliza Carr is the 2018 Taste of Belize Master Chef!

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

20 Master Chefs took the competition floor, but only 1 walked away with the title of Belize’s Master Chef 2018. Eliza Carr, one of only two females competing, managed to impress the judges with her culinary creations in each round, and when the final bite of dessert had been tasted, she was declared the winner. Held on Saturday, July 21st inside the King’s Room at the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel & Casino, the Taste of Belize is one of the Belize Tourism Board’s signature culinary spectacles aimed at recognizing and promoting Belizean cuisine.

Aside from the Master Chef competition, there was also a Pastry Chef, Bartending and Junior Chef Category as well. With mystery basket ingredients like callaloo, chicken and chocolate, or turmeric, red snapper and cassava, or flank steak, plantains and coffee, the Master Chefs were challenged to bring their best game in terms of creativity, flavor and originality. The first round saw the elimination of 11 chefs, with only seven moving on to the evening portion of the competition.

 

Five Junior Chefs were tested with Nance (Craboo) Liqueur, masa (corn dough) and chicken for the one and only round in their category. Four pastry chefs brought their original creation to life in the first round, followed by the second round with craboo, rice flour and black peppercorn as the secret ingredients. Six bartenders were similarly tasked with presenting an original creation, then required to whip out a drink based on mystery ingredients as well.

 

Throughout the day, spectators enjoyed the events as they unfolded, entertained by the ever-gregarious Masters of Ceremonies John Palacio and William Neal. The event was staggered to best fit in the large number of participants in the Master Chef Category. The first group of seven Master Chefs faced off as the first round of pastry competition got underway. The second group of seven Master Chefs tackled their mystery ingredients while the Pastry challenge wrapped up. Junior Chefs then took center stage, while the first round of bartenders began mixing drinks. The second bartending round took place while the Junior Chefs points were tallied. The last group of Master Chefs rounded out the day’s events after which the seven Master Chefs that made the cut were announced. The top four bartenders were also revealed, as were the winners of the Pastry and Junior Chef competition.

Participating in the Pastry Chef Competition were Einar Marin, Tiffany Dawson, Elisa Quetzal and Amy Knox. Judging their creations were Karla Thurton of Cakes by Karla, Ernest Bradley of Sugar Fix bakery and Maria Urbina, a Private Pastry Chef and the 2016 Pastry Chef Winner. After two rounds of judging, Chef Einar Marin was declared the winner in his category.

Taking second place was Tiffany Dawson of Nelly’s Sweets and Elisa Quetzal of Elisa’s Cakes & Cupcakes took third place.

Junior Chef 2018 is Rojel Ian Lisbey of Guava Limb Café, who walked away with cash and several other prizes, including a scholarship worth $10,000 to a culinary school of his choice!

In second place was Dolores Gillett, a student at Cayo Center for Employment Training (CET). Third place went to Ernestina Acal, another student at Cayo CET. Judging their category were Chef Jennie Staines, Head Chef at Elvi’s Kitchen, San Pedro, Eva Longsworth, the 2016 BTB Master Chef from Corozal and Chef Rob Pronk of Chef Rob’s Gourmet Café at Parrot Grove Lodge, Hopkins.

Moving on to the final round of the Master Chef competition were Eliza Carr, Minor Hernandez, Kenton Castillo, Cesar Gomez, Michael Acal, Moses Bonnell and Enel Valez. Judging the Master Chef segment were Karim Mejia, Executive Chef, Riverside Tavern and Chan Chich Lodge, Patrick Parmentier, Owner & Executive Chef, The French Touch and Sam Galdamez from Rumfish y Vino Restaurant.
In the bartending category, judges Mark Jacobs – 2016 Bartender Winner from Hamanasi, Eddison Trapp – Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina and Ms. Kay Menzies of Karl H. Menzies selected the top four mixologists: Emir Sosa, Armando Wade, Cesar Reyes and Liberto Choc.

The evening events kicked off at 7PM, with the final seven chefs tasked to create a dish featuring lobster, ground pork and beets. After their delicious dishes had been tasted and judged, Eliza Carr, Cesar Gomez, Minor Hernandez and Michael Acal moved on to the final round. Tasked to create dessert, the four Master Chefs were given extremely distinctive and Belizean ingredients: bukut and seaweed (a form of drink). Meanwhile, one bartender was also eliminated from the group of four, leaving Emir, Armando and Liberto to fight for the title of top bartender.

When the final bite of dessert had been tasted and the last sip of cocktails drunk, it was time to celebrate the winners. MCs William and John had the honor of calling out the BTB Top Bartender 2018, and he is Emir Sosa from Tony’s Inn in Corozal.

Second place went to Liberto Choc of Turneffe Island Resort, and third place went to San Pedro’s very own Armando Wade (Sandbar).

Rounding off the evening was the announcement of Master Chef 2018.

In third place was Michael Acal of Chef Rob’s Gourmet Café, while second place went to Cesar Gomez of Mahogany Bay Village on Ambergris Caye.

Taking the top honors, and a signature BTB Taste of Belize Award was Eliza Carr of Hamanasi Resort in Hopkins!

She was thrilled with the honor, thanking her husband, coworkers and all those who taught her the love of cooking. As one of only two women competing in the competition, she also took the time to acknowledge “Woman Power!”

The winners of the various categories will represent Belize in next year’s Taste of the Caribbean, the region’s premier culinary competition, food & beverage educational exchange and Caribbean cultural showcase. All winners received numerous cash prizes and other surprises. Congratulations to all the participants and the winners of the Taste of Belize 2018. See you in 2020!

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