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In tough economic times, when many businesses are tightening their belts, investing $80,000 in a pizza oven might not be top of the agenda for local restaurants.
Enrico Garzaroli, however, thinks differently.
Perched on a high stool, he gazes from the bar into an open kitchen on the other side of the room. Amid tables adorned with colorful tablecloths, the head of Graycliff admires what he calls "the latest invention from Italy".
An Italian chef lords over Garzaroli's pride and joy, which is the new centerpiece of Humidor Piazza, the culinary hub of West Hill Street.
"The economy is what it is," he said, requesting a can of tomatoes, also imported from Italy.
"When you speak with people in this industry, everyone is getting laid off. Everyone is closing. I want to give the people something they will enjoy."
Garzaroli dips a finger into the can of imported tomatoes, admiring the deep red color. He releases a tomato and licks his fingers.
"I want to give them something fun," he adds.
The concept behind the new Humidor Piazza, now open, is part of a much greater expansion to this West Hill Street development. Out back, the sound of construction is clearly audible as crews prepare the location's next attraction - a beer garden.
Nestled amid stone, greenery and running water, the Graycliff chief said he has recently signed an agreement to bring in beers from Belgium and Germany to stock the garden. A similar agreement has been made with Commonwealth Brewery Limited, the makers of Heineken and Kalik.
He further revealed that "we have been in discussions" to add a possible microbrewery to the street to make the destination even more unique.
The philosophy, according to Garzaroli, is to never stop moving and innovating during a difficult economy. Indeed, there is plenty now cooking at Graycliff as it prepares to unleash the much-anticipated Heritage Village.
As first revealed by Guardian Business, the $25 million Heritage Village project is slated to include a number of unique, interactive elements.
Just off the Humidor Piazza, work on the upcoming Chocolate Factory is in full swing, with a projected opening date of sometime in August or September. Back in July, Guardian Business also described plans to bring an Androsia factory to the development.
Located in the building across from the restaurant, in the old convent, the traditional batik fabric, produced on Andros for decades, will be given a modern twist.
"We're going to set up an auxiliary factory in Heritage Village. We'll renovate the building," said Paolo Garzaroli, the president of Graycliff. "You'll be able to come in and make your own piece of clothing, and take it with you later that day."
The chocolate factory, he said, works in a similar fashion, whereby families receive an education on the production process, take part, and receive the fruits of their labors at the end of the tour.
It's a concept that has the major cruise lines licking their lips, according to executives at Graycliff. Negotiations with the cruise lines, and in particular family-friendly Disney, are ongoing, although they are expected to truly come to fruition once the attractions are functional.
The Graycliff president noted that Heritage Village will hire up to 50 Bahamians between the two factories. Heritage Village is designed to function independently of the downtown straw market and provide an authentic cultural experience for Nassau's tourists.
The manager of the Bay Street Marina has predicted a "bright future" for the marina and Bahamian yacht sector as a whole, while proposing a business hotel on the waterfront as part of a slate of possible further investments.
Marina Manager Peter Maury said that the marina "had a good start" and continues to perform well as the marina industry enters its busy season over the summer. In addition to the three restaurants onsite, Maury said that the marina hopes to further expand and is exploring proposals for retail stores, condos and a business hotel on the property.
"From our end, we're still putting proposals together to see what best suits the market," said Maury, adding that the addition of a business hotel would present a unique opportunity for the area.
Maury hoped that the marina could partner with a hotel chain to build a small business hotel on a portion of the marina's property, which would operate independently of the marina and would set itself apart from nearby competition by targeting businessmen and providing conference spaces.
The marina, which opened in November 2013, accommodates yachts of up to 150' and is currently at roughly 70 percent capacity. The marina is part of wider downtown revitalization efforts, and Maury projected that the area would continue to grow over the next few years through continued developments.
Turning his attention to the wider yacht industry, Maury stated that The Bahamas was currently in a unique position within the region to attract yacht tourism.
"With the increased price in fuel and modern navigation, we have a good opportunity here to raise the awareness of yacht visitors," said Maury, adding that the industry could expand by raising the frequency of super yacht visits to The Bahamas.
While Maury felt that the country needed to increase the ease of doing business in the face of mounting taxes, including value-added tax (VAT) and charter fees, he remained optimistic about the marina's future.
"I see a bright future for the marina industry if we can control the cost of yachts visiting the Bahamas...We can really increase the presence of yachts that spend more per capita in this country than any other tourism sector, but that's not going to happen if we scare everybody out of here."
FREEPORT, Bahamas- Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Co Ltd. (BBBC) is about to launch "Bush Crack" in the domestic market - the first local beer to retail in a 16-ounce can.
With about 22.5-to-23 percent of the beer market in The Bahamas now in the BBBC camp, according to sales and marketing manager Lynden Johnson, the company is hoping the new 16-ounce can along with the quality of the product will make it a hit with Bahamians. It could also mean a bigger share of the domestic market for the Grand Bahama based brewers.
"With the introduction of Bush Crack, we will be able to get no less than 30 percent of the market in The Bahamas," Johnson said in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday.
While he did not disclose what that translated to in dollar or volume sales, Johnson did say the size of the local market was around 2.6 million cases of beer per annum. BBBC has no problem 'co-existing' with the other local brewers, according to Johnson, but added that as the only 100 percent Bahamian-owned brewery the company is aiming to make its product-line the 'go-to' beers for Bahamians.
BBBC is targeting the segment of the local market now dominated by foreign beers retailing in16-ounce cans. BBBC General Manager Donald Delahey said Bush Crack provides a high quality, locally brewed alternative to the popular 16-ounce Colt 45 or Busch offers.
With a price point Johnson said would be 'competitive', he anticipates 3-for-$5, or 3-for-$6 retail specials for 5.8 percent alcohol content beer should be well received by the local market.
BBBC hosted a team of 11 managers and directors associated with Atlantis' newest restaurant,Virgil's, to a brewery-tour and sampling opportunity at its Freeport, Grand Bahama plant yesterday. Virgil's has an exclusive to serve the beer on draft.
Johnson said he's hoping the excitement that is building from the vote of confidence cast by Virgil's in choosing Bush Crack will carry over to the local market.
With it's 'Real Barbecue' theme, Virgil's customers have come to expect a broad range of quality beers, according to the Virgil's general manager Amaaris Pichardo. They will also serve the rest of the brewery's line of beer products. The restaurant opens on November 1.
Bush Crack is described as a gold-yellow color beer with a mild bitterness and a tangy, full-bodied taste profile, BBBC's Brew Master Dieter Stich told Guardian Business yesterday.
BBBC is busy crafting another new product as well. The ale they are aiming for would have a darker color and fuller-body than Bush Crack. That product may come to market as early as December, although BBBC is currently gearing up for a January release, Delahey said.
There will be an exclusivity agreement for distribution of that beer with Atlantis, Guardian Business has learned. That beer will likely only be available at its restaurants on tap.
BBBC now has Sands, Sands Light, Strong Back and High Rock in its product line-up. The company won Belgium's Monde Selection Grand Gold for its Strong Back beer in 2010, along with the Gold for the High Rock beer that year.
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - In
May 2010, the proprietors of Island Java located in Port Lucaya, began
operations of a new restaurant in the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand
Bahama Island. The restaurant is known as Mamadoo's Restaurant, or
Mamadoo's where local cuisine meets Bahamian creativity.
The Restaurant features a signature line of innovative Bahamian
inspired seafood and barbeque dishes, with gourmet pizzas/flat
bread along with fruit infused vodka like sappa dilly, love vine, guava,
mango and tamarind...
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Abaco's first wine and food festival won "overwhelming support" from locals and visitors alike, according to organizers.
A spin-off of a popular Nova Scotia-based festival, the Devour! The Beach food and wine festival took place at the Green Turtle Club and Marina from March 26-29, attracting a solid attendance.
"Devour! The Beach was an extraordinary cultural event that showcased local cuisine along with the talents of North America's best chefs," said Adam Showell, owner of the Green Turtle Club and Marina. "We are proud to be the host of such a successful event in its first year."
The Bahamian communities warmly embraced the event with the majority of the attendees from Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.
International attendees travelled from the far corners of North America to join in on the celebrations. Guests came from Nova Scotia, Manitoba, British Columbia, Ohio, New York, Tennessee, Connecticut, Florida, and Wyoming.
"Devour! The Beach offered a new product for Abaco and was well-received by visitors and locals alike," said Wynsome Ferguson, manager of Abaco's Bahamas Tourist Office, who was representing the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
"It gave an economic boost to our economy and commenced our tourist season, attracting newcomers to the destination. Devour! The Beach has great potential for future growth."
The festival's events were near capacity with 70 percent attendance - a great accomplishment for the inaugural event. Despite minor weather interruptions, the beach party, appropriately titled 'Chefs on a Beach', was nearly sold out at the Green Turtle Club.
By the week's end, with four days of wine seminars and culinary indulgences incorporating local ingredients and the varied global backgrounds of all of the chefs, visiting chef, Jean Joho, who owns restaurants in Chicago and Las Vegas, said it was apparent that the event was a success. "The charm of the island, the warmth of the islanders, the appreciation of the attendees and the hospitality of the Green Turtle Resort staff made this a unique experience that I truly enjoyed and one that I would highly recommend," said Chef Joho.
Michael Palij, the festival's master of wine, thoroughly enjoyed his experience, adding: "Devour! That's exactly what I did. I devoured the amazing food prepared by a cadre of North America's leading chefs; I savored extremely fine wine; I absorbed the understated elegance of the unique Green Turtle Club and I reveled in mingling with dozens of like-minded foodies. 2015 - bring it on!"
Devour! The Beach is a spin-off of Devour! The Food Film Festival, based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The fourth annual Food Film Festival will take place this coming November, and will showcase more than 50 film screenings from across the globe. It will also feature the very best of local and international food and wine and industry sessions with culinary experts on a variety of topics.
"Devour! The Beach is just the beginning when it comes to the full Devour! brand extension," said Executive Director Michael Howell. "We could not have picked a better spot to host the first Devour! satellite event."
Organizers of Devour! The Beach would like thank all of its sponsors: Island Property Management, Sound Harbour House, Spectacle Group, T4G, Infuse Public Relations, Abaco Estate Services, Burns House, John Watling's Run, Big Green Egg and Bahamas Food Services.
"A very special thank you goes to the Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina, Devour! The Beach's official event sponsor and host, along with the staff and management team of the resort, who worked tirelessly to ensure the event's success," said Chef Howell.
Howell also tipped his hat to Abaco's welcoming communities, along with chefs Jean Joho, Michael Howell, Michael Blackie, Tom Fleming, Craig Flinn, Eric Williams and Master of Wine Michael Palij.
The government yesterday broke ground on the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport on Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
The $27 million airport will be the first facility of its kind on the island, boasting an expansive terminal, an air traffic control tower and a fire and crash rescue unit.
Minister of Public Works Neko Grant said that the terminal will include 22 counter positions, a state-of-the-art luggage scanning system, a pilot briefing room, two restaurants, one lounge, one VIP lounge, eight retail spaces, two kiosks, long and short term parking areas, along with taxi and employee parking areas.
Bahamian contractor FES Construction will be building the airport, which should take 10 months to complete.
During the ground-breaking ceremony, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said determining the priorities of infrastructure in Central Abaco has not been easy, but growth in the area has made such development and investment necessary.
Noting that the 2010 census showed that Abaco's population had grown 21 percent since 2000, he described the island's population as "exploding."
"My constituency (North Abaco) which had 1,400 registered voters upon my election to Parliament in 1977 will now have nearly 4,000 registered voters in 2012," he said.
"Points of view as to when, how and where this facility and new airport ought to be located expressed over the past years and months have been as far apart as east is to west. Trying to reconcile these different points of view has not been an easy task - sometimes I thought it impossible. Still, at the end of the day I believe that we have arrived at a consensus right here in Central Abaco; this decision will benefit Abaco and indeed, The Bahamas.
"It is important for all of us to recognize the importance of air service to Abaco's economy and to that of The Bahamas. This airport facility, located in the environs of Marsh Harbour, Murphy and Dundas Towns, and Spring City is a service centre for these communities, for the new development at Winding Bay and for the Cays: Great Guana Cay, Man-o-War Cay, Hope Town, and Cherokee Sound and at times, to all of Abaco."
The project is expected to create at least 30 training positions as part of the government's job training program.
South Abaco Member of Parliament Edison Key said when the airport is completed the mini-archipelago that makes up the Abacos will be established as an international air traffic hub.
EXUMA, The Bahamas - The Ministry of Tourism proved that its sports tourism initiatives are not limited to New Providence, as the island of Exuma hosted the inaugural Sandals Celebrity Getaway and Golf Weekend at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Great Exuma this past weekend.
A number of celebrities made appearances at the event, including the husband and wife team of Rodney and Holly Robinson-Peete, Alan Thicke, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Steven Bauer and Garcelle Beauvais, just to name a few.
Golf legend Greg 'The Shark' Norman flew in from China on Friday evening and was the featured attraction. He conducted a clinic for about 50 Bahamian youngsters at the driving range on the golf course and led a team of five celebrities trying to sink a historic "hole-in-one" for a $1 million donation to charity.
Pet Hanna from the Ministry of Tourism's office in Exuma said that when you have this caliber of visitor coming to Exuma, the benefits are going to be endless.
"Exuma on the whole was very excited about this tournament," said Hanna. "This is going to bring benefits for years to come. Just the idea of celebrities coming here for golf brings a lot of excitement to these shores. They will go back to their respective shows, or areas of work, talking about how they spent the weekend at Sandals in Exuma," she added.
There were a number of activities planned for the celebrities this past weekend, and some of them even ventured out of the regular confines of Sandals Emerald Bay to tour the island. Some of the guests even swam with the pigs at Staniel Cay. For most, the many amenities of Sandals Emerald Bay were quite sufficient though.
"People are going to want to come down and see where Sandals is, see the beauty of the water and the island itself," said Hanna. "The Ministry of Tourism is very excited about projects like these because they are high end and they will pay dividends for Exuma and the entire Bahamas for a number of years.
"When you look at the taxi drivers, the restaurants, the on-shore activities, the water sports, all of these entities are going to benefit. This is just the beginning. Next year, the tournament is going to be bigger and better."
As the event grows from year to year, Hanna expects the number of participants to increase as well. It is the first high end celebrity golf event to be held in Exuma, and just the second in The Bahamas, following in the footsteps of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational which was held at the One&Only Ocean Club Golf Course, for 10 straight years, from 2000 to 2010.
"The more we could get the word out about Exuma - the beauty of the waters and the hospitality of the people, the better for the tourism product in Exuma," said Hanna. "I'm very excited, and on behalf of the entire Exuma community, this is the kind of events that we are hoping that the government continues to support," she added.
Proceeds from the event went in support of the Sandals Foundation, which funds projects in the Caribbean in three key areas - education, environment and community.
When you look around New Providence today, what do you see? When you think of our institutions, what do they offer? What does The Bahamas look like now? Are we only sun, sand and sea or are we promise, potential, and possibilities? I think the latter.
Some Bahamians look around in New Providence through impatient eyes and see mounds and mounds of dirt, debris and open trenches. They see workmen and equipment digging, placing pipes and paving the roads on many of our major thoroughfares. I, however, look not at the present state but the future. I see the infrastructural improvements in fiber optic cabling, underground utilities for water and power. I see what the roadwork will offer, what it will change and what it will impact.
By ALISON LOWE
Bahamian restaurant, bar and hospitality stakeholders should capitalise on global trends in food and beverages to increase visitor and local customer traffic/revenue, an international gastronomy and beverage consultant said yesterday.
Josué Merced-Reyes, president of InterEmarketing, a food, wine and beverage consulting firm, specialising in the Caribbean and Latin American hospitality industry, provided this advice as he gave insights into the current biggest "driving forces" behind consumers' choice of dinners, desserts and cocktails.
He urged Bahamian stakeholders - including chefs, restauranteurs, hotel food ...
Fund Administrator for the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund Jerome Gomez expressed his thoughts on the elimination of restrictions on foreign investment in the Bahamian restaurant and entertainment industry during a luncheon held yesterday.
“I am personally calling for the immediate reversal of this new policy because it wil impact the little or small man negatively in the long run, and represents giving away a key sector of the Bahamian economy previously reserved for Bahamians to foreigners in an industry that does not require special, scarce or unique skills and resources.
“I see no good coming out of this policy change.
“From this enunciation to now, I, as have m ...
Workers at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) received a much-needed boost just in time for Christmas, Guardian Business can confirm, picking up a bonus worth a full week of wages.
Although workers have been promised another bonus equivalent to half a week of pay in January, the rest of the annual payment remains a sharp bone of contention.
Darren Woods, the vice president of the Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union, told Guardian Business a further bonus equivalent to another week of pay is a key issue in the talks.
"They made a payment for the Christmas bonus late last week," he said. "Initially they weren't in a position to pay anything. The fact they paid something and gave a commitment to make another payment is a very good thing. But the remaining week is a problem for us."
Woods told Guardian Business that the bonus from last week depended on the seniority of the employee. For workers on the low end, he speculated it worked out to around $250, on average. On the higher end, KFC workers would received $330. On a typical year, KFC workers receive a bonus worth two-and-a-half weeks of wages.
"They would have preferred to have received as much as possible up front before Christmas," he added.
Negotiations between the two parties for a new deal first began on Dec 9, and after taking a break for the holidays, they are not expected to resume until the New Year. KFC has insisted that to stay competitive the fast-food chain must reduce wages and benefits, claiming the company is already paying far more than rival restaurants.
Woods said his side is willing to step up at a moment's notice to solve the remaining issues.
"Whenever and wherever, we are always committed. We are cognizant not to do it at the detriment of the business. We want to form a proper alliance and partnership so both sides are happy, if it's possible."
Payment of the remaining week of bonuses will no doubt be on the agenda when the sides meet again in January, along with a slew of other issues sure to impact a large number of Bahamian employees. On Nov 22, KFC sent a letter to the union indicating it would not be in a position to pay some benefits. Representatives of the workers felt the notice came too late.
Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labor, has been involved in the negotiations as a mediator and insisted that progress is being made. The labor agreement between the two parties expired on September 24 of this year.
With plans underway to construct a Lucayan Village replica in San Salvador, the government is now placing a renewed focus on promoting cultural tourism, an area The Bahamas has "dropped the ball on".
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told Guardian Business he believes the project will go a long way in diversifying the country's tourism product, while bringing dozens of jobs to the island.
"I see this sector as being very profitable because people want that experience. It's true that we have dropped the ball in the area of cultural tourism, and that's something that we are trying to correct now. It's important that we ensure the world understands that we're a nation with many experiences," according to Wilchcombe.
He called the missed opportunity a shame, as more tourists are in search of history, culture and understanding the destination and its people while on vacation.
"It is significantly important because of what San Salvador means to world history. If you look at the country's constitution, you would see that the rebirth of the new world was pointed out in the first paragraph, the rocks, cays and the islands," he said.
"We have to utilize that reality and attract people from the world to visit an island like San Salvador and The Bahamas."
In San Salvador to sign a heads of agreement for the $90 million expansion of the Club Med resort on that island last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the tourism project will seek to recreate something that existed prior to Christopher Columbus' landfall on San Salvador, and he is confident that it will bring "great" economic value to the island and its residents.
"It will provide opportunities for architects, builders and construction workers. Entrepreneurs, artists and artisans will also be able to provide their services as there will be stores and restaurants located just outside of the village," he said.
"It will also create new jobs such as trained tour guides, hospitality hosts and support staff. That's going to happen with this project."
He said historical authenticity would be "stretched" in the village's design, making it more appealing for tourists, locals and students.
"I am sure it will become a uniquely enriching experience for Bahamians and visitors alike. There will be three main elements to this project," the prime minister revealed.
"The project will seek to recreate in a very tangible and visual form a historically faithful microcosm of the Lucayan civilization as it would have existed in San Salvador in the pre-Columbian period."
Baha Mar "wowed" New York's top corporate, media and travel industry executives, rolling out the "blue carpet" at an innovative series of interactive "reverse upfront" events that provided an insider's preview of what executives have promised will be one of the most compelling and exciting destinations in North America.
Attendees comprised an A-list of top executives from travel consortia, major networks and publishing companies such as Viacom, Facebook, CNN, Microsoft and Universal, according to a release issued by Baha Mar yesterday.
"Baha Mar is connecting The Bahamas to the world with all the glamor and style of a bygone era. They are doing something that will change our hospitality industry and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is proud to be an ally of Baha Mar," said Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who was also a guest at the event.
"We immersed potential New York sponsors, advertisers, editors and meeting and travel planners in vivid demonstrations of just how Baha Mar will revolutionize leisure and group travel opportunities. They were awed by our entire three million-square-foot campus on 1,000 acres featuring 2,200 hotel rooms and suites, 100,000 square feet of gaming, 200,000 square feet of combined, flexible, state-of-the-art convention and meeting space, more than 50,000 square feet of high-end retail and shopping, 18 holes of championship golf, over 30 restaurants, bars and lounges, and 20 acres of beach, pool and lakeside experiences including a 3,000-foot beachfront. The result? Baha Mar will dominate major business, promotional and editorial channels, supporting thousands of new jobs and a thriving economy," said Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar chairman and chief executive officer.
"The inspiration was to take a page out of what the networks and cable companies do when they preview their next season's lineup for advertisers at their annual 'upfronts.' Here, we gathered together an impressive collection of potential partners to show them what we will offer and invite them to come back to us with surprising and creative opportunities for the future," said Denise Godreau, Baha Mar chief marketing officer.
Invited guests arrived at the events in Chelsea, entering a simulated airplane boarding gate. They traveled through a jet fuselage-styled passageway overlooking beautiful Bahamian waters and arrived a glamorous "terminal", where a 52-inch flat screen displayed stunning video imagery of Baha Mar, The Bahamian Riviera. Images of the four hotels, Mondrian, Rosewood, Grand Hyatt and The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, as well as the Jack Nicklaus golf course, spa and pools told the story of what would await the guests at this new resort destination.
After this imaginative welcome, guests emerged into a contemporary salon gleaming in signature Baha Mar blue and white. Near the softly illuminated architectural model of the resort campus, the Baha Mar logo etched in white marble and highlighted with gold leaf was a striking beacon adjacent to distinctive food and drink with the flavor of The Bahamas, such as Rum Dums by visiting Bahamian mixologist Wilfred Sands.
Baha Mar presenters were the visionary Sarkis Izmirlian; President Tom Dunlap, responsible for making this $3.5 billion vision a reality, and Chief Marketing Officer Denise Godreau, who orchestrated the New York reverse upfront events with Las Vegas-based advertising firm SK+G and New York-based WCMG Events.
In addition, guests met Paul Pusateri, newly appointed chief operating officer and general manager of Baha Mar Casino & Hotel; Robert 'Sandy' Sands, Baha Mar senior vice president, administration and external affairs; Greg Saunders, general manager, Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar; Cate Farmer, general manager, Mondrian at Baha Mar; Luis Fernandes, managing director, Rosewood at Baha Mar; and Dianna Wong, Dianna Wong Architecture & Interior Design.
Serving as master of ceremonies for the morning editorial breakfast was Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS-TV and host of The Travel Detective, the new series airing on PBS.
The luncheon for 100 top travel and industry meeting planners showcased all of the resort's new amenities, but especially the state of-the-art convention facilities including an art gallery with the largest collection of Bahamian art in the country.
The glittering grand finale was the evening "reverse upfront" for sponsors and advertisers featuring David Verklin, the charismatic operating partner of Calera Capital, known for always being on the leading edge of media innovation, as the master of ceremonies.
"CMO Denise Godreau challenged partners to think outside the box, to innovate, to be bold, to be daring. It was a great challenge to lay out and one we at Viacom are very excited to take on," remarked Neils Shuurmans, chief marketing officer at the global mass media company.
Despite ongoing construction on the $400 million redevelopment of Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), the airport's revenue has steadily increased for the fifth consecutive year, according to the 2012 Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) report.
During the 2012 fiscal year ended June 30, LPIA generated $55.9 million. That was $9.2 million over revenue generated in 2011.
LPIA generated $41.4 million in 2010; $37 million in 2009 and $34.5 million in 2008.
NAD Vice President of Marketing and Commercial Development Vernice Walkine said those figures are up because management has been prudent with spending and increasing revenue.
"Never forget that we are privately financed and as such we have to answer to our lenders," she said. "They look very closely at our performance in terms of how we manage our expenditure, but also how we maximize our revenue.
"Clearly, the more revenue the better able we are to pay down the debt. As we get closer and closer to [completion of] construction that becomes even more important because we need to have cash accumulated in order to begin to pay down the debt as soon as construction is over."
Last year, passenger arrivals also increased to 3.2 million people from the 3.1 million recorded in 2011.
But the report indicated there have been fewer take-offs and landings, which Walkine explained is the result of airlines upgrading their fleet to larger aircraft to service the steadily growing airport.
There were 4,600 fewer take-offs and landings over the 86,700 reported in 2011.
"A lot of the airlines that serve LPIA have actually upgraded their equipment, so because a route is proving to be successful and the airlines are recognizing that they are earning good yields off those routes they tend to upgrade," she said.
"We have had a number [of upgrades] actually, where an aircraft has gone from an E190, which is 100 seats, to a 737, which is 148 or 158 seats. That's kind of what they call realignment."
As airlines recognize increased revenue, passengers could very well benefit with more savings on airfare and associated costs, she added.
LPIA facilitates 32 airlines that service 29 international and 16 domestic destinations.
Walkine, NAD's incoming president and CEO, was interviewed by The Nassau Guardian on the sidelines of a last beam topping-off ceremony at the airport's stage three construction site.
Work began on the new International and Domestic Arrivals Terminal in October 2012.
Walkine said the third terminal is on budget and on target for completion in November.
In the coming months, the perimeter walls and roof will be completed and the structure is expected to be fully enclosed by the end of July.
Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin said the third and final stage of the airport expansion project is significant because it signals completion of a world class facility.
"The new terminal is 112,000 square feet," Hanna-Martin said.
"It will include four restaurants, nine shops, two bars and a lounge, and when the airport is finally concluded at the end of the final stage we would have delivered a 21 percent increase in terminal size from 482,700 to 585,300 square feet.
"This is a 50 percent increase in capacity."
Since January of this year, 208 workers, including 142 Bahamians, have put in a total of 107,000 man hours on the site.
From the presentation to the creativity and the incorporation of tastes that Bahamians love, ensures that Munasan is a different Japanese experience than what people have become accustomed to.
The newest Japanese fusion restaurant at Superclubs Breezes on Cable Beach will make a sushi lover out of everyone that crosses its doorstep according to Superclubs Breezes executive chef Nigel Clarke. He believes people won't be able to get enough of what they are doing.
"What we're trying to do is make [the food at Munasan] a little more local," said Chef Clarke of the restaurant that officially opened its doors two weeks ago. The restaurant offers the standard Japanese restaurant sushi fare -- shumai, seaweed salad, miso soup, sashimi and sushi. But they have upped the ante with signature rolls -- spicy coconut shrimp roll, BBQ conch and pineapple roll, corn flake encrusted smoked salmon roll and their soft shell crab California roll -- that Chef Clarke said will entice people who aren't already sushi connoisseurs, but who are interested to try sushi, but are afraid, or hesitant, to try it.
"These rolls will draw them in to love sushi. When we did tasting, some of my staff had never tried a sushi roll until then. The perception was that it was raw, so they weren't going to try it. And now a lot of our guys have fallen in love with sushi rolls. Now they know that some rolls are actually cooked," he said.
An added feature that will make Munasan stand out from other Japanese restaurants around town is that Munasan has a create your own stir fry station. You choose your protein -- beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or tofu; choose your vegetables -- the server advises on the vegetable choices of the day; then you choose your sauce -- chili garlic, black bean, sweet and sour, Mongolian spicy ginger, Asian barbecue or Thai coconut curry.
It's a feature that Chef Clarke says makes for a lot of work and is risky, but he said they want to give a different experience because they realize people don't want to be limited.
And on the scope of different, where most folks would anticipate tempura (fried) ice cream for dessert, at Munasan they do a brownie roll (rolled with ice cream to look like a sushi roll), and they offer a mango-misu as opposed to a tiramisu.
"We wanted to be a little different ... a little unique. When people come in we want them to be able to say this is not what we'd get down the road. When people talk about coming to the Munasan, it's different and the taste has to be there," said Chef Clarke. He also said that presentation is important to them, but they want people to be able to see the plate, taste the food and want to come back.
"This is one of the smaller Japanese menus on the island in terms of what we offer. So for the create you own stir fry station, we have quite a number of sauces, and of course it can be a bit tedious, [especially if] you have a big table and everyone's having the same meat but different sauce. But people love options and we want to give them those options," he said.
Paramount to their decision on the menu he said was for them to understand the Bahamian taste buds and incorporate those tastes into what they would offer.
While the menu is indeed different from other Japanese offerings around town, Chef Clarke said it did not take long for Japanese chef Takeshi Tanabe to conceptualize their specialty rolls.
Edamame, shrimp and vegetable tempura, soft shell crab, agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu with agedashi sauce) and yaki hotate (sauted scallop with clear garlic-soy butter) are on the appetizer menu.
Green salad, seaweed salad, tofu salad and miso soup round out the soup and salad menu.
The Nigiri sushi is comprised of maguro (tuna), ebi (shrimp), unagi (eel), hamachi (yellow tail), shake (salmon) and kani (crab).
Hamachi, tuna and salmon comprise the sashimi offerings.
California roll (crab, cucumber and avocado), kappa maki (vegetable roll), spicy tuna roll (tuna, tobiko and spicy mayonnaise) and tempura roll (shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber) are the maki sushi offerings.
Beef negimaki (grilled rolls of sliced beef with scallions), lobster tempura (lobster deep fried in batter) and ebi chili (sauteed black tiger shrimp with Japanese chili sauce) are served with white or brown rice.
Meal finishers offered with the brownie roll and mango-misu are the layered chocolate mousse and profiteroles.
Munasan is the brainchild of Mona Issa, daughter of John Issa, chairman of Superclubs Breezes Bahamas.
"Japanese is something she loves," said Chef Clarke. The Superclubs Breezes properties in Jamaica all have Japanese restaurants.
Presently, Munasan opens two days per week, Fridays and Saturdays, 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Recognizing that the Asian market accounts for "large" amounts of outbound tourism, Baha Mar has made the decision to open up an office in Hong Kong.
Robert Sands, the resort's senior vice president of administration and external affairs, told Guardian Business yesterday he believes the company's latest move will generate "tremendous dividends for the future of Baha Mar".
Baha Mar announced that Gregory Djerejian, executive vice president, will head the company's new Asia business development operations to be located in Hong Kong. The new office in Jardine House is located in the heart of Hong Kong's central business district.
Sands said that for too long The Bahamas has been dependent on the U.S. to generate tourism-related business. With Baha Mar opening in December, he said it puts the country in a unique position to take advantage of other markets, adding that the decision to do so is "the right thing to do and a very prudent one".
"Certainly, Asia has been pivotal in the success of many touristic destinations and is also the contributor of large amounts of outbound tourism to many global destinations like Europe, the United States and Australia. Now The Bahamas is going to be getting a piece of the pie," according to Sands.
"Diversification is so important. We have been U.S.-centric both as a destination and as a company in the past. And we have not taken any real advantage of new, emerging markets."
In a press statement issued by the company on Wednesday, Baha Mar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sarkis Izmirlian revealed that Djerejian will oversee Baha Mar's Asia development interests, including travel and tourism partnerships, and working with its gaming partner Global Gaming Asset Management on developing Baha Mar's Asian clientele, as well as with other brand and strategic partners in Asia.
Djerejian said: "Chinese and Asian outbound tourism will be one of the defining industry trends of our time. We are extremely keen to establish Baha Mar as a 'China- and Asia-friendly' destination in close collaboration with our many hospitality, governmental and strategic partners active in the region."
Baha Mar, scheduled to open in December 2014, is set on 3,000 feet of white sand beach. The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, with 1,000 rooms, is the centerpiece of the resort, and includes a 100,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style casino - the largest in the Caribbean region. A 700-room Grand Hyatt, a 700-room Melia? hotel, a 300-room Mondrian and a 200-room Rosewood hotel are also part of the resort.
Amenities will include an 18-hole, 72-par championship Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course; 200,000 square feet of combined state-of-the-art convention facilities including a 2,000-seat performing arts center and an art gallery; more than 30 restaurants, nightclubs and bars; two spas, including the 30,000-square-foot destination ESPA at Baha Mar; designer retail boutiques; a beachfront sanctuary with native Bahamian flora and fauna; 14 distinctive pool experiences and a private island.
Investment in restaurants and other tourist-related businesses that are not in hotels — long reserved for Bahamians — has been opened for foreign investment under the National Investment Policy.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham detailed amendments to the policy in the House of Assembly on Monday. Previous Hotel Encouragement Act amendments have allowed for restaurants and other tourist-related businesses in areas heavily frequented by tourists but not in hotels to be open to foreign investment, Ingraham said. However, an amendment to the National Investment Policy removes the restrictions against international investments in restaurants and entertainment facilities altogether.
A well-known realtor and advocate for commerce in the Cable Beach area says the $40 million Towers Shopping Centre will have a "strong demand" due to its proximity to Baha Mar.
Mario Carey, the president of Mario Carey Realty, said the retail village should be just one step in the commercial development around the $3.5 billion mega resort.
The top realtor is a strong advocate for a rezoning of Cable Beach along West Bay Street. Long stretches of the area, he explained, are still off-limits to businesses. He said that The Towers will be successful, but more could be done to give Bahamians entrepreneurial opportunities.
"I think it will have a very strong demand. Its only challenge will be proximity. Maybe they will have a shuttle service," Carey said yesterday. "My zoning idea was on the main road, where the energy is more direct and closer."
As exclusively revealed by Guardian Business on Monday, The Towers Shopping Centre, completely separate from Baha Mar, will break ground in three months along Baha Mar Boulevard, stretching down towards John F. Kennedy Drive.
Charles Christie, chief developer and president of C.A. Christie Real Estate, said the first phase involves 64,000 square feet. He is also planning restaurants, a movie theater, a small supermarket and office space.
"It is being market driven," Carey added. "The demand for things will only increase out west. The new shopping center at Old Fort has been a success. And there is huge demand for office space."
The realtor told Guardian Business that the government needs to allow commercial activity all the way from Arawak Cay to the Caves development.
Looking at the capital as a whole he noted that nearly every major thoroughfare has evolved and includes commercial activity along the main strip. He said Cable Beach is undergoing a similar "transition and evolution" in terms of real estate growth.
At the moment, he said there is too much "inconsistency" in regards to residential and commercial zoning along West Bay Street. By rezoning, he believes a wide cross-section of Bahamians will truly see the benefit of Baha Mar.
"What is in the best interest of Bahamians?" he asked. "The idea is to create as any entrepreneurial opportunities as possible. That is the balance and history has shown it has happened on every major thoroughfare here. Right across from the prime minister's house you have a restaurant. Why is commerce in pocket areas?"
For Christie's part, The Towers is poised to indeed be a concentrated commercial force on the doorstep of Baha Mar.
The development is aiming for around 55 tenants, and while the exact employment opportunities are unknown, it should easily create dozens if not hundreds of jobs.
Christie views The Towers as similar to Marina Village on Paradise Island.
A new development overlooking Governor's Harbour is "full bore" into construction and expects to open its doors around this time next year.
French Leave Resort on Eleuthera, which broke ground several months ago, is targeting 16 hotel cottages and a "commercial area" within the next 12 to 16 months. At least 30 Bahamians will find full-time employment once this first phase opens.
Eddie Lauth, partner in Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina and the CEO of Shaner Capital, said the underground utilities are "well advanced" and crews have moved on to the third hotel cottage.
"In the next 12 months we hope to have 16 of these cottages on the seafront with the commercial area completed. We are definitely on schedule," he said. "The other 23 cottages will come online over the course of another 24 months or so following that."
Shaner Bahamas, a company founded by Lance T. Shaner, entered into a partnership with Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina to build and finance the property. Shaner Bahamas is an off-shoot of the Shaner Hotel Group, a corporation with more than 24 owned or managed properties and thousands of employees.
French Leave has already created dozens of construction jobs as local crews work to complete the resort.
Lauth told Guardian Business that the commercial area includes a bar and grill, pool, events lawn, fitness center, reception, gift shop, fire pit area and wedding pavilion. Developers have a beach pub lined up as well. Between the commercial zone and the 16 cottages, he said 30 full-time jobs is likely a "conservative" number".
The cottages, he explained, are built in a traditional Bahamian style with cedar roofs and hurricane resistant glass.
"Shaner has been really committed to doing the project the right way. He is interested in finding materials that will make the test of time," according to Lauth.
The French Leave executive revealed that the business model is continuously evolving. He said that developers are interested in putting some of the cottages up sale, effectively turning the development into a hotel and second-home hybrid.
He pointed out that Shaner Bahamas has access to some 270 acres. Investors have considered French Leave as potentially just the beginning of a much larger community, not unlike Schooner Bay on Abaco.
Second-home owners at French Leave would give rise to further expansion to the commercial area.
That said, Lauth was quick to note that developers are keen to get through the first six acres before making any decisions.
Formerly the site of Club Med, the property was purchased in 2004, with further land acquired from the Frank Lloyd Trust.
With a soft opening in its sights, Lauth insisted that airlift is not a concern for the new destination. The reason Eleuthera is special, he said, is the island represents the road less travelled.
For those that want to get to French Leave, there are plenty of flights available.
"It's real not that hard to get here. You can easily fly into Nassau and there are several daily flights to Eleuthera. We are wary of the mass market," he told Guardian Business. "Be careful what you wish for."
Lauth added that the small boutique hotel concept is the clear winning concept on the Family Islands, a formula more and more developers are looking to mimic.
French Leave is the second resort on Eleuthera injecting new life into the island in recent times.
Earlier this month, the $30 million Cove Eleuthera officially opened its doors and became one of the largest employers in the Family Islands.
It opened with 60 rooms and took on a monthly payroll of $100,000. Another 60 rooms are on the way.
The Cove also includes two restaurants and an impressive list of amenities.
The government has set July 1, 2014 as the date for the biggest change to the Bahamian tax system in recent memory. It plans to bring forward a value-added tax (VAT), to create a central revenue service and to cut many customs duty rates.
To inform the people of what will take place the government has published a white paper on VAT that is available for all to see on its website. The government has also pledged a significant public relations campaign to help educate the Bahamian people on the proposed new tax.
The government will have challenges with this education effort. In its white paper, it admits that VAT is one of the more complicated taxes. It involves multi level taxation up the chain of production and distribution and it also includes rebates for some.
The Bahamas has challenges with education. The public school system in New Providence has an average in the national exams somewhere not too far from an F. The technical language of the white paper is inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of our population.
Sweeping tax reform requires the understanding and consent of the people. If the people think something they don't understand is being forced on them, and it leads to a higher cost of living, the political party that did the deed will pay at the polls. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration should know this.
While one challenge for the administration will simply be breaking VAT down for regular Bahamians to understand, there are some fundamental questions that will be asked by those who do understand. These are questions the white paper does not answer.
It remains unclear how the imposition of VAT will impact the cost of goods and services across the board.
In fact, the white paper acknowledges that the government is unable at this time to indicate comprehensively either way.
"The effect of VAT on prices will vary as between goods and services and, within the goods category, the effect will depend on the current taxation of individual goods.
The final impact on the price of goods will depend on the extent of reductions in import tariff rates flowing from accession to the WTO," according to the white paper.
The government attempts to reassure the public by saying that agricultural, food and certain other products that currently benefit from duty free status under the Tariff Act will also be exempt from VAT.
"Similarly, the services also proposed to be exempt from VAT, such as health and education services, etc., should experience no direct change in price under a VAT system," the white paper adds.
However, Bahamians will simply want to know how much more expensive items at the grocery store will be as a result of this proposed change. How much more expensive will clothing and electronics be? Is there a tax for using the already expensive services of lawyers? Will there be a 15 percent tax at restaurants on top of the 15 percent charged for gratuity?
To answer some of these questions, the government would have to announce its full range of cuts to customs duties. Other answers may be so unacceptable to the people that the government may have to alter its position.
When the official education campaign begins, business owners and professionals will have many questions for the government and its representatives, as will concerned citizens who can understand the magnitude of the change. It is necessary for the government to ensure that it works out the answers to the obvious questions Bahamians will ask before it starts the talking and education tour.
Prime Minister Perry Christie led the government's communications effort on gambling. He was not well versed on the subject. He confused the issue and said things that were contradictory. The people noticed and rejected the referendum - an initiative the governing party hoped Bahamians would support.
Government bureaucrats and the PLP should not just assume Bahamians will accept VAT because international advisory agencies said we should try it. The people have to think it is better for them and the country. They know little of the details of this move now. If this tax reform is to succeed they must know more and agree to it by the implementation date.
"... the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain."
- Khalil Gibran
I was fortunate to have spent this week in Rome, en route to Switzerland. During this Italian sojourn, I visited numerous prominent historical attractions that many only read about in school books, view in movies or see in tourist brochures. During my entire stay in the Italian capital, I was frequently reminded of Khalil Gibran's observation that often we more deeply appreciate our own environment from a distance. Accordingly this week, we would like to Consider This... what are some of our reflections from Rome that help us to more fully appreciate the small country that we call The Bahamas?
Europe is very different from North America. And like the United States, the countries within Europe are as different from each other as are the different cultures, ethnicities, conventions and idiosyncrasies of the individual states that form the American union or even the different islands of The Bahamas.
Immediately upon arriving in Rome, the often expected difficulties that one could anticipate with border control were non-existent. There was no sense of immigration paranoia about foreigners that one sometimes encounters when traveling abroad. It was refreshing to experience such a welcoming and relaxed, almost nonchalant, vetting by immigration officers at the airport.
One of the earliest observations was that virtually all automobiles in Rome are very small - best characterized as either compact, mini or miniscule. The absence of large vehicles was extremely noticeable, as urban residents either use scooters as a primary means of transportation around the capital or the fairly reliable public transportation system of buses and trains. It is said that there are more scooters in Rome than automobiles, the result of both skyrocketing fuel costs combined with the ease of parking in public places.
One quickly appreciates that Italians are Euro-centric, with little concern about what's going on in the Americas. The majority of people I engaged about the state of affairs in Italy expressed a disappointment with the quality of Italian life since joining the European Union, primarily because of the adverse impact on the level of salary and wages and the replacement of the Italian lira with the euro in 2002.
Watching the news on television offered another perspective of and discernible difference in Italian life. Apart from the limited number of English-speaking channels in my hotel, it was obvious from the channels that were available that Italians are not inundated with CNN or other American media as we are in the Americas. Rather, Al Jazeera, Euronews and BBC World are viewed with greater regularity with those news services presenting a more balanced reporting of world news, again with greater interest and focus of what is taking place in Europe, Africa and Asia. For example, while scrolling the news channels, the latter broadcasts focused more on diverse international developments whereas CNN International, while reporting on selected international developments, provided more American news.
Notwithstanding claims about Italians' apathy to politics, I got the distinct impression that this is not a completely accurate assertion. The Italian Parliament, which is comprised of more than 600 deputies in the lower house of Parliament (the Camera of Deputies) and more than 300 senators, seems to be very active and engaged. While visiting the Italian Parliament, I observed several organized, albeit rancorous, demonstrations in front of the Camera of Deputies. I was also advised that this is a common occurrence, that Parliament meets regularly and that there are always organized demonstrations outside by Italian activists.
The church and history
There are certain realities that transcend national boundaries. Citizens here express disappointment about the level of taxes imposed by the Italian government, including personal and corporate taxes. There is also a value added tax (VAT) rate of 21 percent on goods and services (10 percent in restaurants), which some observe has significantly contributed to the high level of domestic prices. Another common feature of this society is the number of people seeking alms, although it appeared that more women engage in this activity than we are accustomed to seeing.
During a visit to Vatican City, one could only marvel at the enormous impact that the Catholic Church has always had on Italian culture. Historically, more than 16,000 people visit Vatican City daily, although since the election of Pope Francis in March, the level of daily visitors has increased to 25,000.
Although Rome has a population of four million, the streets of this city felt safe for walking, both day and night. Security in Rome is provided by a ubiquitous police force particularly in the city center, including regular uniformed officers, and the elite Carabineri. The regular army is even present in some places. Of course, the Swiss Guard protects Vatican City.
I visited the usual tourist attractions, including the Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna (the Seven Steps), the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Castel St. Angelo, the Forum, the Coliseum, the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Chains, and the Vittoriano Monument - a large white marble edifice in Piazza Venezia, which was erected to commemorate the unification of Italy in 1861. Wherever you go, you will find that residents of Rome have a tremendous sense of national pride about the role that Rome has played in the history of civilization.
Italians have every reason to possess such pride, having regard for the enormously incalculable contributions that Rome has made to the development of politics, academics, culture, the arts, jurisprudence and civil society.
The resurgence of the appreciation for the importance of the Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance is visible on an international scale as well. These time periods were recently featured in films beginning with the movie "Gladiator", other Hollywood productions of Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" and recent TV series such as "Spartacus", "The Borgias" and DaVinci's "Demons".
Rome is a city of contradictions and ironies. During the Roman Empire, Rome led in the persecution of Christians, including the crucifixion and beheading of Sts. Peter and Paul, respectively, along with many other Christian martyrs, but it is also the city which ultimately became the center of the Christian church and the establishment of the Vatican as a separate and autonomous state and the seat of Catholicism.
It is also ironic that the some of the most beautiful churches in Rome were built with stones that were taken from the Coliseum, where Christians were executed, and from the pagan temples of the Forum where the early polytheistic Romans worshipped. It is equally ironic how many previously taboo pagan practices, rituals and customs were amalgamated or absorbed into the Christian church, particularly during the reign of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity.
Although we do not enjoy the millennia-long historical perspective of all that Rome has to offer the world, we in The Bahamas should also be proud of our accomplishments as a young country. From its earliest days, settlers both black and white demonstrated a robust resilience against great odds. They were able to survive by coaxing crops from the barren rocks of our islands. They withstood storms and starvation for centuries and created the vibrant society we call The Bahamas, complete with a rich culture, vigorous democracy and promising future. Certainly there are many exemplary episodes in Bahamian history that we can be as proud of as any Roman. All we have to do is make more of an effort to learn our own stories.
My recent visit to Rome provided not only a deeper understanding of the city that I visited nearly 20 years ago and of its contribution to humanity, but also a richer appreciation of Gibran's observation that "... the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain."
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
New Providence is set to become a culinary mecca when the inaugural Minority Chef Summit rolls into town.
The four-day event, May 1-4 will showcase the talents and creativity of some of the leading minority professionals in the food and beverage industry worldwide.
Taking place at The College of The Bahamas, the summit will include an array of seminars, hands-on classes and competitions, as well as a culinary market. The conference will allow culinarians to come together to network, educate and to support the minority culinary community.
The Minority Chef Summit was founded by chef and chocolatier, Erika Davis, who formerly served as creative director for Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, and who is a highly-celebrated chef within the culinary field. Chef Erika has been in the chocolate-making industry for over 22 years, and recognized as one of the United States' top chefs. She has received many note-worthy commendations, among which include: Competing Chef 'Top Chef Just Desserts' inaugural show by Bravo; First Black female chef to receive Detroit's Chef of the Month; Showcased in several culinary magazines and invitational culinary events; Featured chef of 'Sunday Dinner' promotion with Publix Grocery Stores and Chocolatier Ambassador of Cocoa Barry Chocolates.
Chef Erika's time spent in New Providence working with and teaching aspiring Bahamian chefs lies at the heart of her inspiration for creating the Minority Chef Summit.
"This is a unique opportunity to come together, recognizing not only our individual craft, but the true excellence of our culinary community," she said.
The 2014 Minority Chef Summit keynote speaker will be Chef Jeff Henderson, an award-winning chef, public speaker and author of the New York Times best seller 'Cooked'.
Additional featured culinary artists include:
Chef Asha Gomez, owner/chef of Cardamom Hill Restaurant and Third Space in Atlanta, GA. Cardamom Hill was a 2013 James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant.
Chef Jerome Brown, a celebrity private chef whose clientele include Shaquille O'Neal, Colin Powell and Priscilla Presley, to name a few. Chef Brown also has his own TV show, 'Cooking with Rome'.
Chef Guy Wong, owner/chef of Miso Izakaya, who was recently named one of Atlanta's 2012 Rising Stars.
Chef Ron Duprat, a fierce competitor on season six of Bravo's 'Top Chef.' Chef Duprat is author of "My Journey of Cooking" and is affiliated with organizations that contribute and give back to the community and people around the world, including United States First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative.
Chef Keith Rhodes, voted Wilmington, NC's Best Chef for three consecutive years.
Chef Hugh Sinclair, executive chef and owner of Irie Spice personal catering in South Florida.
Chef Bryant Terry, eco-chef, food justice activist, and author. Terry was a 2008-2010 Food and Society Policy Fellow, a national Program of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Chef Dana Herbert, owner of Desserts by Dana and winner of TLC's 'Cake Boss Next Great Baker'.
Chef Kenny Gilbert, executive chef of Plainfield Country Club and contestant on season seven of Bravo's 'Top Chef'.
Chef Nedal Mardini, chef de cuisine of Matthews Restaurant in Jacksonville.
Chef Thierry Delourneaux, executive pastry chef at Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore.
Chef farmer, Matthew Raiford, a sixth generation farmer behind Gilliard Farms and executive chef of Little St. Simons Island a private resort located off the coast of Georgia.
Chef Dwight Evans, who was recently awarded Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation.
Chef Duane Nutter, chef at One Flew South, voted one of the best airport restaurants; as well as mixologists, Tiffanie Barriere and Tokiwa Sears, from One Flew South.
"Lies, damned lies and statistics" is how Mark Twain popularized a refrain sometimes attributed to a variety of British pundits and politicians when forced to address opponents using statistics to bolster their position.
Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Statistics released the annual unemployment report reflecting a dramatic increase of two percent in unemployment. Immediately, government ministers became "spin doctors" issuing silver lining statements as rings around the ominous dark cloud portrayed by the latest labor force survey. The increase in unemployment should not be of concern, we are being told because it does not truly reflect a loss in jobs in the economy; rather, it is claimed, it reflects an increase in the number of previously discouraged workers who have rejoined the labor market because they are now hopeful of finding employment, and they have swelled the numbers of the unemployed.
But this is "spin". It does not reflect the facts. There has been a loss of jobs in the economy. Between May 2012 and May 2013 the number of persons employed decreased by 1,260. Furthermore, there was an increase in the rate of unemployment as 3,455 new entrants came to the job market while the number of employed persons was falling by 1260.
Trying to find a silver lining
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Michael Halkitis was first out of the gate with that fanciful story. He was soon followed by Minister for Grand Bahama Michael Darville, who advised that employment had increased at the Freeport Container Port since May of this year. And he claimed to be hopeful that the employment numbers would be up in Grand Bahama before the next survey, as a number of new small businesses had opened on that island.
Then, the prime minister joined the chorus expressing hope that by next year the "economy will begin to shift in our favor..." This was followed with the live radio coverage of the signing of a heads of agreement that would see the construction of a number of condo-hotel units in collaboration with Club Med in San Salvador.
These PLP ministers remind me of the propaganda spun by a Jamaican prime minister in the 1970s when he told his party faithful to ignore criticisms about the "devaluation" of the Jamaican dollar against the U.S. dollar. He told them what had happened was that the Jamaican dollar had not been "devalued"; it had been "revalued". And the people cheered. Just like Bahamians cheered when then Minister of Finance Carlton Francis announced at a PLP convention that following years of a balanced budget under a socially deficient UBP government, The Bahamas under the PLP would have a deficit budget for the first time. Today of course, Jamaicans no longer cheer at the thought of their severely devalued currency, and Bahamians shudder with the thought of the long-term consequences of a growing national debt.
The reality of the Bahamian economy
We have come through a terrible economic period; an economic and financial crisis which sent the entire global economy into collapse and recession, even if the PLP in opposition refused to acknowledge it. The fallout from the Great Global Recession caused the Bahamian economy to lose more than 17,000 jobs between 2008 and 2009; the number of employed persons fell from 174,920 in 2008 to 157,805 in 2009. Those 17,000-plus jobs lost in the Great Recession have not returned.
In times of international and national economic and financial crisis, it is left to the government to seek to adopt policies and programs to stimulate economic activity in the private sector so as to sustain as many jobs as possible and to maintain to the extent possible employment in the public sector.
Thousands of jobs were created in the private sector between 2009 and 2012 through infrastructural projects undertaken by the FNM government. These were supplemented by additional real jobs created through the jump start and self-starter programs and through the national jobs and skills training 52-week program, which put qualified and capable young Bahamians into positions to begin to earn honest incomes to support their families.
Such infrastructural and skills training policies are exactly the kinds of policies that the international financial organizations and the international ratings agencies recommend governments adopt during difficult economic times. One wonders whether the PLP government understands the value of the millions of dollars spent by contractors and their workers in the Bahamian economy with Bahamian construction suppliers, food stores, utility corporations, restaurants, lenders, motor vehicle dealerships, etc.
These various and legitimate programs undertaken by the last FNM government helped to sustain and create jobs in our all-important construction and services sectors during tough economic times.
The Department of Statistics reports for the years 2008-2012 indicate that the economy had begun a slow recovery by 2009. By May 2011, some 2,380 new jobs had been added to the economy. In the last year of the FNM government from May 2011 to May 2012, an additional 5,070 new jobs were created. This gradual recovery came as a direct result of government policies.
Tourism is the engine of the Bahamian economy; and tourism is in serious trouble. Small wonder then that the economy is performing poorly and the number of the unemployed is increasing.
A senior tourism executive was recently quoted in the media commenting on declining air service to The Bahamas. The official admitted to "a loss of over 50,000 seats" for 2013. We know that the loss is nearer to 70,000 seats, which is more than any other destination in our region in terms of both absolute and percentage loss of air seats. This significant loss of air seats also explains why The Bahamas is performing poorly in terms of the lucrative stopover visitor segment.
We have experienced more than a seven percent year-over-year decline in stopover visitors as compared with competing destinations in our region. Unlike The Bahamas, most countries are recovering from the effects of the Great Recession and recording positive stopover growth.
With tourism, our most important economic sector performing so abysmally, it is not surprising that we are now experiencing the highest level of unemployment in 35 years. According to the Ministry of Tourism, each air arrival represents more than $1,300 per person in expenditure in the Bahamian economy. The loss of 70,000 seats represents a loss of more than $100 million in visitor expenditure.
When the FNM administration left office in May 2012, air arrivals were growing at more than 11 percent, which was equal to the best performing start of any year for foreign air arrivals in recorded tourism history. Tourism, which accounts for more than 60 percent of our GDP, is such an important driver of our economy that a fall-off in air arrivals and stopover visitors of that magnitude easily explains the current state of our economy. The treasury of The Bahamas will lose millions of dollars in departure taxes, room taxes and import duties alone. Under these circumstances, businesses will continue to close, no businesses will hire additional staff and existing workers will suffer through prolonged periods of two- and three-day work weeks throughout the industry.
While the overall performance of The Bahamas is the worst in the region, Grand Bahama in particular has recorded a jaw dropping 17.4 percent decline in air arrivals so far this year, according to the latest information from the Ministry of Tourism. To make matters worse, even the cruise business is down in Grand Bahama.
It has been stated publicly on several occasions that we will need an additional 300,000 air seats annually in order to satisfy the needs of Baha Mar. With the loss of 70,000 air seats so far this year, that required number has now increased by 23 percent to 370,000 or an average of roughly 1,000 additional air seats needed per day.
Many times people can observe problems in their society, but few can put forth the resources and time needed to resolve them.
In 2008, a group of students wanted to make a difference in their community where so many people went to bed hungry while good food was discarded. Spearheaded by Alanna Rodgers, they formed the humanitarian organization, Hands for Hunger, and set out to resolve the problem.
"They asked: How can we bridge the gap between hunger in the community and food waste?" says Executive Director of the non-profit, Yolanda Darville.
Modeled after City Harvest out of New York City and Second Harvest out of Canada, Hands for Hunger simultaneously rescues food from local restaurants and redistributes them to centers who can reach the hungry.
Years after its inception, Hands for Hunger can measure their success in pounds--with their refrigerated trucks, they've provided 300,000 pounds of food to their community, and on average, every week they rescue and redistribute up to another 2,000--that's enough food for 2,000 people.
"We're proud to have been able to provide 300,000 meals to Bahamians," says Darville. "It's even more amazing when you think about how that's all food that could have been thrown away."
Indeed, by partnering with hotel restaurants -- like those found in Atlantis, the Sheraton at Cable Beach and the Wyndham Nassau Resort -- and local restaurants such as Starbucks, Subway and Sbarro's, they can provide discarded food to eighteen local doner centers, including the Salvation Army, Urban Renewal Kemp Road and Great Commission Ministries International.
It's a mission that for Darville, who just began working for the organization in March, is truly inspired by.
"One of the first things I did when I came on board was ride on the trucks and see what happens every day when food is picked up and delivered," she says. "It was so exciting to see -- I remember at Great Commission Ministries, people were actually running to the trucks and they were so excited to see us and they wanted to help us offload the food and they were saying thank you."
"It just hit home for me that even though The Bahamas is a wealthy country, there are still so many people in need and they're just so grateful someone is stepping up to help."
Though the focus for Hands for Hunger began on food rescue, they're now also turning their attention to education and research, pushing for a food security assesment in the nation.
A little research has been completed in that area, and they've been looking at a variety of factors that influence food security, including food importations and farming, so as to eradicate hunger at its root.
At the same time, they're going into schools and local communities to educate people about the realities of hunger in the community. On October 15th, designated World Food Day, they'll partner with the Ministry of Agriculture for a day of awareness, educating the public about food insecurity.
"That's something we're really trying to educate the public about--why do we have the issue of hunger in The Bahamas in the first place and what can we do about that?" Darville says.
"There's currently no research and there's no expert you can go to, so what we're trying to do is be one of the forces pushing for change so that we do have that assessment in the country, we can see what the issues are and how we can change them."
Yet they don't plan to drop their food rescue program anytime soon--in fact, they're pushing for more corporate involvement for the community.
With their new volunteer resources and corporate partnerships coordinator joining the team, they hope to attract local businesses who want to make a difference much like Starbucks did earlier this year during their international initiative, Global Month of Volunteerism Campaign, collecting donations from patrons for a local organization.
"We were told by Starbucks that the reason they wanted to partner with us is because they know we partner with 18 recipient agencies we donate the food to--so really by partnering with us, they were able to partner with 18 organizations all at once," says Darville.
"We know that there are many companies that want to do something with their employees," she continues. "They're into corporate social responsibility but they don't have the time to coordinate things -- companies are more likely to do it if you're organized to coordinate it, so we're excited about that opportunity."
They also hold fundraisers and reach out to the community for assistance through their annual events Paradise Plates and their bread and soup booth at Jollification every year.
Yet, Darville says, no matter their expansion or direction, the organization is truly driven by their many tireless volunteers--over 400--who give their time loading trucks, taking pictures, and putting any of their skills to use for the organization that makes such a difference in the lives of many Bahamians.
"I just love seeing all sectors of the community come together," says Darville. "One of the things I love is that we're constantly being approached by people who want to volunteer. It's great to see -- it's so heartwarming to see people who want to make a change."
For more about Hands for Hunger, visit their website at www.handsforhunger.org.
Do you know someone who positively impacts your community? Contact us to share their story!
By ALISON LOWE
Bahamian restaurant chain, Bamboo Shack, aims to begin franchising the business in the United States "within about another year and a half", its owner said yesterday, revealing that it is bucking trends with steadily increasing growth.
Elaine Pinder, Bamboo Shack's proprietor, spoke with Tribune Business yesterday, just over a week after the popular food vendor opened its sixth New Providence location on Prince Charles Drive. Twenty employees were taken on to man that site.
She said the company continues to look for appropriately positioned real estate on which it could build additional locations, with southern New Provi ...
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - In
May 2010, the proprietors of Island Java located in Port Lucaya, began
operations of a new restaurant in the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand
Bahama Island. The restaurant is known as Mamadoo's Restaurant, or
Mamadoo's where local cuisine meets Bahamian creativity.
The Restaurant features a signature line of innovative Bahamian
inspired seafood and barbeque dishes, with gourmet pizzas/flat
bread along with fruit infused vodka like sappa dilly, love vine, guava,
mango and tamarind...
Luciano's of Chicago has started its preparations for Hands for Hunger's one-of-a-kind culinary experience and most anticipated charity event in The Bahamas - Paradise Plates, a culinary celebration benefiting the fight against hunger in the Bahamian community.
As a culinary partner of the event, Luciano's is excited to once again join this year's Paradise Plates marking its fifth year of participation in the lively evening that features gourmet cuisine from top local chefs and restaurants, fine wine, beer and cocktail tastings. Additional highlights of the evening include exciting silent auctions, raffles and live musical entertainment, all contributing to a great cause.
"Paradise Plates has become one of our favorite annual traditions since its inception in 2009," said Sue Lawrence, director of special events at Luciano's of Chicago. "It's an event we particularly look forward to as it's all for a great community cause, as well as being an enjoyable event that showcases culinary art at its best."
At last year's event, Luciano's of Chicago prepared a number of unforgettable and delectable dishes which included variations on arancine (traditional Italian deep-fried stuffed risotto rice balls), as well as variations on meatballs, including Luciano's signature Beef and Pork Meatball, with a choice of Penne or Rigatoni Pasta with Pomodoro Sauce and much more.
"Over the years, Paradise Plates has become an annual social highlight in Nassau. This year we expect to offer guests and supporters a sensational Luciano's of Chicago experience with the culinary options being prepared for the event," continued Lawrence.
The restaurant's culinary team will prepare a number of menu selections which will be featured at Paradise Plates on Saturday, September 28, in the Crown Ballroom, Atlantis.
To learn more about Luciano's of Chicago, please visit the restaurant's website at http://www.lucianosnassau.com or visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LucianosNassau.