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Culinary / Entertainment / Virgin Islands / March 21, 2018

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development announced on Tuesday the event lineup for the 2018 St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, a culinary, wine and spirits festival held on St. Croix from Thursday, April 5 through Sunday, April 8. The weekend event series will consist of an impressive roster of guest chefs including well-known TV personalities, James Beard winners and private chefs, according to the Foundation.

Through a deepening partnership with the Department of Tourism, the event also brings to the territory a variety of travel writers and media representatives who expand St. Croix’s national and international exposure as a culinary and cultural destination, according to the release.

Funds raised from the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience support the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development and enable the Foundation to continue its high impact work in the areas of hurricane recovery workforce development, public safety, public education, and economic development, the Foundation said.

St. Croix Foundation Executive Director, Deanna James, said, “The Foundation’s theme for this year’s Food and Wine Experience, ‘Resiliency in Action’, exemplifies the St. Croix Foundation’s commitment to sustainable, strategic rebuilding efforts through holistic community development. Our annual benefit is about more than just food and wine – it is all about connecting our community and celebrating the spirit of collaboration that is truly the bedrock of our collective recovery from the 2017 hurricane season.

“After Irma and Maria, coming together is more important than ever before and although we did scale back our events, the Foundation is here, holding the vision of a healthy Virgin Islands. With so many incredible partners and sponsors, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience is evidence that our community truly is Resiliency in Action.”

This year’s line-up of guest chefs for the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience includes:

Robyn Almodovar – Winner of Food Network’s CHOPPED and Cut Throat Kitchen, Staten Island native and Florida resident Chef Robyn Almodovar knows how to give you “A Party in Your Mouth”. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Almodovar’s diverse career has ranged from executive chef of a 172’ yacht on the high seas to South Florida restaurants including The Forge, Danny Devito’s Devito South Beach, and the Royal Palm Hotel. Casted for FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen Season 10, Almovodar finished as a Top Finalist. In 2011, Almodovar purchased a 24’ food truck and founded “Palate Party”, a fresh, mobile café that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. In 2013 Miami New Times voted Palate Party as the Best Food Truck in Miami and in 2014 Almodovar served as judge for Food Network’s Food Truck Face Off.

Michael Ferraro – Executive Chef and Owner of macbar since 2009, a restaurant fully dedicated to gourmet macaroni & cheese, Chef Ferraro has a long and distinguished career in the culinary arts. A member of Zagat’s inaugural class of “30 Under 30” , Ferraro has since established himself as an authority within the culinary industry and has been featured on many national TV networks such as CBS, ABC, NBC, VH1, WPIX, Travel Channel, Iron Chef America and Chopped on Food Network, and the Cooking Channel. Chef Ferraro has also appeared as a judge on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, as well as a reoccurring Chef Expert alongside Jon Taffer on Spike TV’s hit series Bar Rescue.

Julius Jackson – Julius Jackson is a chef, boxer, author and Olympian. He has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Beach Bites with Katie Lee and Food Network’s The Kitchen and the Telemundo series, El Cesar. Chef Julius developed “The Chef’s Cooking Lab,” an interactive event where Julius demonstrates his recipes and cooking techniques. Julius’ first cookbook, My Modern Caribbean Kitchen: 70 Fresh Takes on Island Favorites, will be published July 2018. He specializes in Caribbean, Italian, and French cuisine and a fusion of all three. Julius is the Head Chef/Manager at My Brother’s Workshop Bakery & Cafe, a non-profit training program for at-risk youth.

Negust Kaza – Owner of Kaza House, award winning member of the Virgin Islands Olympic Culinary Team, former Executive Chef at the St. Croix Yacht Club, and now working closely with Chef Tiffany Derry in Texas, Kaza is a welcome addition, personifying community through his commitment toward educating and promoting health and wellness to families through his culinary skills.

Featured in Ebony Magazine in 2017, St. Croix Food & Wine Experience has also been named one of the top 10 international food and wine events by and features St. Croix’s culinary talent, wine purveyors, rum distilleries, and a philanthropic spirit that is unique to the community.

This year’s events have been retooled in response to the hurricane, including combining two events (the Cork & Fork Dinner and the Gourmet Vintner Dinner) into one, new dining experience and postponing the much-loved Sunset BBQ. But guests will find a refreshed event lineup that still allows for a full range of events – from relaxed to elegant – for foodies and wine connoisseurs. The 2018 schedule is as follows:

Thursday, April 5

bond @ balter – a special, invitation only reception held at balter restaurant for sponsors and national and local media, bond @ balter combines outstanding cocktails with delectable appetizers all choreographed in perfect harmony by balter’s owner and manager, Sommelier Patrick Kralik. New sponsors are always welcome to sign up and support the Foundation and its many partners. Contact the Foundation for information. 4:30 p.m.

Friday, April 6

The Giving Table – Marrying the sophistication of the Cork & Fork Dinner with the lively and community-centric Gourmet Vintner Dinner, this new dining experience features an all-star team of celebrity guest chefs including CHOPPED Winner, Robyn Almodovar, New York’s Michael Ferraro, Cook Book Author Julius Jackson, and St. Croix’s talented Negust Kaza. Guests will have a one of a kind experience as each chef contributes to a delectable 5-course menu paired with renowned wines. With a gourmet themed live auction and expert winemakers from Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the results always astound. – 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 7

Wine in the Warehouse – All wine connoisseurs and wine enthusiasts will want to book their flight for “Global Resiliency from Shore to Shore”. Located at Bohlke International Airways’ exclusive jet hangar, this unforgettable wine tasting will feature wines from the Napa Valley Region in honor of California’s own resiliency through the fires they experienced in the fall of 2017. Boasting an extensive portfolio of wines from Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and the culinary genius of seven renowned local restaurants, Wine in the Warehouse is not to be missed. 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 8

Reef Responsible Fish Fry – As testimony to the collaborative spirit of the St. Croix community, Reef Responsible’s annual Fish Fry is teaming up with the Foundation to add even more flavor to the Experience. Restaurants who are a part of the Reef Responsible “See Food Sustainably” Program will be serving up some of the finest, sustainably fished seafood for your delight. This family friendly, affordable event will have you enjoying incredible tastings from BES Craft Cocktail Lounge, Café Christine, Empress Fresh Foods, Un amore, Cibone, Kaza House, Twin City Coffee House, La Reine Chicken Shack, Zion Modern Kitchen, balter, the Buccaneer, and Galangal. With live music by Romanza and DJ Slik spinning tunes, and the Moko Jumbies Guardians of Culture performing, the Fish Fry is going to be a true Crucian celebration of community. $25 per person with children 12 and under free (must be accompanied by an adult). Located at Fort Frederik Museum and starting at 4:00 p.m.

“Despite St. Croix’s struggling economy, the Foundation is grateful to all the organizations and individuals that have continued to support their fundraising event in deeper ways, recognizing the impact of their investment on the quality of life of residents in our community,” James stated. “Even more consequential this year is the fact that the Foundation is directly linking the sponsors of the event to its comprehensive and ambitious community development agenda. We are so proud to report that every sponsorship dollar raised for this event is leveraged many times over and reinvested into the community to support the Foundation’s Territory-wide mission of social and economic transformation.”

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