Have you ever experienced British Virgin Islands cuisine aboard a cruise ship? Well, that is exactly what Chefs Neil and Erika Cline of the British Virgin Islands will be showcasing,when they set sail aboard Holland America’s MS Prinsendam from March 16-24, 2018. The husband and wife culinary team were invited as guest chefs aboard the ship, as part of Holland America Lines’ (HAL) “Port to Table” initiative. The initiative allows guests to immerse themselves deeper into local cuisine and culture, and meet the experts that tell the food story of the destinations to which the line calls.
While aboard for the week, the Clines will put on cooking demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes, create and produce a 5-course menu to be served at the ship’s Pinnacle Restaurant, and alsoprepare dishes for other onboard events. They will be presenting authentic British Virgin Islands cuisine, and sharing the Territory’s history and culture with guests. The Clines will present sample dishes including: scallion saltfish fritters, brown sugar braised pigtails with scotch bonnet mango chutney, coconut laced red peas soup and thyme scented roasted conch.
Chef Neil said, “I am very pleased to have this opportunity to showcase BVI cuisine, history and culture to discerning cruise visitors. HAL was looking for persons who were enthusiastic experts on cuisine and culture and were impressed with our resume of culinary expertise, culinary education and charitable contributions. I consider this an opportune time, with the rebuilding of the Territory, to show that we are not only a destination for the traditional sea, sand and sun vacations, but we are a great destination for experiencing unique authentic cuisine and heritage. Because of our great cultural mix,our cuisine is even more impressive and versatile and is as favoured and well received as any other. This was proven by the rave reviews we received when Erika and I cooked for the prestigious James Beard Foundation West Indian Dinner event, in New York, in June of last year.”
Deputy Director of Tourism Rhodni Skelton, extended congratulations to the Clines on being selected, and accepting the opportunity to represent the Territory, as an increasingly popular destination for culinary tourism. He indicated that the BVI Tourist Board has agreed to support the venture, providing BVI-branded collateral and materials for HAL cruisers to enjoy.
Chef Neil Cline is passionate about culinary education and giving our future culinarians the foundation to be successful in the Caribbean and International Culinary Industry. Neil has a Masters in Hospitality Management from The Baltimore International College and has been the foremost culinary educator in the British Virgin Islands for the past 25 years. Neil has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels in the Territory, having first taught at the Elmore Stoutt High School and currently at the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies. He served for several years as the Director of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College Culinary Centre, one of the region’s top culinary institutions. Neil owns and operates De Loose Mongoose Restaurant and Beef Island Guesthouse along with his wife Erika, who is also an accomplished chef and chocolatier.
For over 25 years, Erika Dupree Cline has crafted some of the world’s most scrumptious desserts and chocolates. Erika’s career began under Master Chef Milos in Detroit Michigan, and she progressed in her field becoming a chocolatier extraordinaire working at several high-end properties such as,Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee; Ponte Vedra Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida; and the five-star Graycliff Hotel& Restaurant in Nassau, Bahamas. She opened and developed the chocolate programme for Graycliff Chocolatier, which is affiliated with that property. In 2016, Erika launched the Bleu Chocolatchocolate boutiquein the BVI. Although the hurricanes of 2017 forced her to close the business, she is rebuilding her chocolate brand in Jacksonville Florida with a view to eventually reopening one in the BVI. She has made numerous television cooking appearances including; being one of the original 2010 “cheftestants” on Bravo’s ‘Top Chef Just Desserts’ and later as a judge for the Food Network’s ‘Rock N Roll Pastry Challenge’.
The British Virgin Islands has a growing reputation for culinary excellence, highlighted by the celebration of BVI Food Fete annually in November. BVI Food Fete is a month-long celebration of culinary events and activities throughout the island chain. It includes events presented by BVI food and beverage partners and the BVI Tourist Board’s anchor events, such as the Barefoot Gourmet Soiree, Jost Pork and the Anegada Lobster Festival.
About the British Virgin Islands
Known as a treasured destination, rich in undiscovered experiences, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an alluring archipelago comprised of 60 islands and cays located 80 kilometers (60 miles) east of Puerto Rico, in the northwestern region of the Caribbean Sea. The main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke have attracted travelers globally with its cultural Caribbean authenticity. Located in Tortola, Road Town is the British Virgin Islands’ capital.
Recently ranked #1 Best Place to Visit in the Caribbean for 2017-2018 by U.S. News, the BVI is where nature’s best secrets are kept with an abundance of pristine beaches, azure seas, towering sage mountains and burnt-orange sunsets. It’s no wonder the BVI’s Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke were featured on the “Top Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas” list in Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2017.
Despite its status as a United Kingdom territory, the BVI uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
The BVI Tourist Board invites everyone to experience the tropical mystique of the country’s unparalleled and enriching offerings. For more information about the BVI, visit www.bvitourism.com.