BTMI announces the 2024 Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition


Bridgetown, Barbados, 3rd June, 2024: The Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition, as part of the 2024 Barbados Food and Rum Festival has returned for another year. Now in its third season, the competition continues to be the most anticipated culinary challenge which showcases the cooking capabilities of young, aspiring Barbadian chefs.

Ten (10) contestants, ranging in age from 18 to 24 years were selected from a field of twenty-six (26) entrants. The participants were announced at a press conference on Monday, June 3rd, 2024 held at the headquarters of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) at One Barbados Place, Warrens, St. Michael.

The announcement of the ten (10) contestants was made by BTMI’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Franklin and include: Kanye Clarke-Forde, Teneal Dawson, Aliah Hazzard, Matthew Howell, Kenyada Kellman, Omari Layne, Javonte Patrick, Shacoby Riley, Shari Weekes and Makayla White.

The selection followed an interview process conducted by an esteemed panel of Executive Chef of the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, Henderson Butcher, Barbados Food and Rum Festival Chef, Anne-Marie Leach, Chef Instructor of the Jean and Norma Holder Hospitality Institute, Natalia Reid and BTMI’s Chief Product Development Officer, Marsha Alleyne on May 15th, 2024. The contestants were assessed based on their passion for cooking, level of originality and ability to think creatively, their dedication to learning and communication skills.

In officially welcoming the 2024 cohort of the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition, Chief Executive Officer of BTMI, Andrea Franklin, noted “It is said that competition brings out the best in us. With this in mind, I encourage our aspiring chefs – as they embark on this amazing journey – to embrace the spirit of camaraderie, and collectively revel in all that the process has to offer.”

In observing the significant contribution of Barbados’ cuisine to the overall experience of visitors, Franklin emphasized the importance of the Barbados Food and Rum Festival in enhancing the island’s tourism product. She remarked “Since inception, the Barbados Food and Rum Festival has augmented our island’s tourism offering; enticing scores of travellers to our shores to indulge in what is undoubtedly becoming one of the most sought-after food festivals worldwide.” Franklin further commented that promotion of the Barbados Food and Rum Festival has already commenced in major source markets, with plans to launch locally during mid-July.

Aprille Thomas, Director of Public Relations and Communications at BTMI and Director of the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, explained in her opening remarks that through the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition, under the theme of “Feed the Future”, BTMI tangibly empowers the upcoming culinary talent of Barbados as part of the Festival; investing in the provision of important training opportunities which serve as a strong foundation for participants’ professional growth in the field of culinary arts.

She also commented on this year’s partnership with the Jean and Norma Holder Hospitality Institute and that entity’s role in the coordination of the training element of the competition. She revealed that as part of the educational component of the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition, contestants will have the opportunity to not only gain certification in Basic Trade Cookery but also full certification in the Level 2 Food Preparation and Cookery National Vocational Qualification accredited to the Caribbean Vocational Qualification, upon successful completion of the training phase.

Thomas added, “The 2024 Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition will also have a key emphasis on mentorship as a means of encouraging both professional and personal development among contestants. By having our seasoned Food and Rum Festival Chefs and Mixologists host specialised workshops and provide mentoring throughout the Competition, a stimulating setting for learning will be fastidiously created for our junior chefs.” She also mentioned that participants will gain exposure to various aspects of Barbados’ culinary tourism including an authentic farm to table experience and tours of manufacturing facilities.

Thomas continued “As BTMI remains committed to spearheading innovative initiatives which broaden our market reach and promote Barbados as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, we are delighted to be undertaking production of a web series which will capture the exciting moments of this year’s Competition and provide engaging marketing content across BTMI’s social media platforms.” She further encouraged the general public to follow the action on BTMI’s Instagram page @foodandrumbarbados and on the BarbadosTourism YouTube page.

Thomas also expressed gratitude for the partnership with the Jean and Norma Holder Hospitality Institute as well as Roberts Manufacturing Co. Limited which is a gold sponsor of the 2024 Food and Rum Festival and has provided support to the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition since its inception.

An exciting new addition to the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition will be the introduction of a mixology challenge round for contestants which will see them utilising Barbadian rum in keeping with the Barbados Food and Rum Festival.

The winner of the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition will receive a scholarship for an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts at the Jean and Norma Holder Hospitality Institute, an internship at one of Barbados’ premium fine dining restaurants as well as BBD $3,000.

The finals of the Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition will take place on October 5th, 2024.



About Barbados

The island of Barbados is a Caribbean gem rich in cultural, heritage, sporting, culinary and eco experiences. It is surrounded by idyllic white sand beaches and is the only coral island in the Caribbean. With over 400 restaurants and eateries, Barbados is the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.


The island is also known as the birthplace of rum, commercially producing and bottling the finest blends since the 1700s. In fact, many can experience the island’s historic rums at the annual Barbados Food and Rum Festival. The island also hosts events like the annual Crop Over Festival, where A-lists celebrities like our very own Rihanna are often spotted, and the annual Run Barbados Marathon, the largest marathon in the Caribbean. As the motorsport island, it is home to the leading circuit-racing facility in the English-speaking Caribbean. Known as a sustainable destination, Barbados was named one of the world’s Top Nature Destinations in 2022 by the Traveler’s Choice Awards’.