Vegan Recipes Shine at BVI Annual Charter Yacht Show

Khalila’s winning appetizer Quinoa Spinach Bites with Ginger Orange Honey Dipping Sauce.

“Discover Plants: Eat Vegan” was the theme for the Culinary Contest at the 37th BVI Annual Charter Yacht Show, held at Nanny Cay Marina. Another excellent show by Janet Oliver the Executive Director.

Some chefs were already vegans and some were excited for the challenge. The judges also had their own challenge with the torrential rains, which abated during the day; Chef Gorvey Harvey from the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College Culinary Arts, Cara Rogers, a former yacht chef, and Chef Kenetha Ashton. 

To give you an idea how the contest works; here is the judging criteria.
• Presentation
• Taste/Flavor
• Creativity/Originality
• Plant based ingredients
• Execution/technique
• Overall impression

The chefs are given a time the judges will be onboard.  There is a 15-minute time window for the chefs to present their two dishes and the judges to make their decisions on all six categories. The Culinary Contest Coordinator, Captain Jan Robinson (author of the Ship to Shore cookbook collection) navigates the judges to each competing yacht on time! 

Winner Best Appetizer: Khalila Bartley aboard Laurel Lee
Runner up:  Laura Kurton aboard Twin
Winner Best Lunch Entrée: Leah Wheeler aboard Second Star To The Right
Runner up: Kate Fairfield aboard Foxy Lady
Best Dessert: Khalila Bartley aboard Laurel Lee
Runner up: Leanne Ho Chung aboard Zingara
Best Dish Overall: Khalila Bartley aboard Laurel Lee

The winning chefs enjoyed receiving Veuve Clicquot distributed by Caribbean Cellars, along with other beautiful locally made gifts from Nutmeg Designs and Clean & Green W.I.

Khalila’s winning dessert Poached Pear in Red Wine with Vegan Mascarpone and Garnish of Mint Leaves.
Khalila Bartley aboard Yacht Laurel Lee

What a treat to meet Khalila Bartley, winner in two categories – appetizer and dessert – of the chef competition, and overall winner. Khalila was born and raised in Jamaica. She feels that she was born to cook and at the age of 12 cooked her first full meal for her three siblings – French Fried Chicken, Peas & Rice and another vegetable. No recipe, just instinct and taste.

Khalila always wanted to be a chef but got pregnant and had a baby at the age of 18, putting her career on hold. She first visited the BVI in 2005. After many visits Khalila finally got her working visa and worked as a bartender and became a mixologist. 2013 Khalila was offered a crew position of stewardess at The Moorings. Watching the chefs perform on the yachts, she kept saying (to herself), “I will wait my time to shine.” Knowing more than ever that she wanted a chef position, she saved her wages and ten days after Hurricane Irma, flew to the U.K. and attended the Ashburton Cookery School and Chef Academy. At graduation, the other chefs told her she was a “Rock Star.”

And so she is! With tears of joy, she now holds chef position on charter yacht Charter Laurel Lee, a 57 ft. catamaran.

Leah Wheeler on Yacht Second Star to the Right

Leah Wheeler on Yacht Second Star To The Right. Winner of the Lunch Entrée with a Vegan Surf and Turf. Portobello ‘Steak’, lightly crumbed, with turnip ‘scallops’, cauliflower rice, local beans, oven roasted tomatoes, mushroom gravy and Chimichurri sauce.

Born in Alberta, Canada in 1990. Before 2014 Leah was working at a law firm in Canada, then changed career path and took a job at the Quarter Deck in Croatia and Greece. Started training as a stewardess at the Quarter Deck Hostess Academy. Found she enjoyed teaching and later took over to run the program. Met her partner Captain Marcus Fossel and attended the Camosun Culinary College. Recently they both moved to the British Virgin Islands and together they run a charter yacht. Leah entered the culinary contest because she loves Vegan food and delights in ‘pairing protein with food’.

Leah Wheeler’s Lunch Entrée of Portobello ‘Steak.’
Capt. Jan Robinson
Capt. Jan Robinson’s Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection is available at your local marine or bookstore. Visit email [email protected] Tel: 704-277-6521. Don’t miss the new cookbook added to Jan’s collection: DINING ON DECK