Good Morning, Good Morning! It has been a LONG time since we have seen an elevated culinary event on St. John! Anyone out there remember the Taste of St. John that happened annually at the Westin? Well, it was one of my favorite evenings of the year but hasn’t occurred since before Hurricane Irma. And, while this weekend of culinary festivities on Lovango Cay may look a bit different than Taste of St. John did, this three-day celebration of renowned chefs, fine foods, locally crafted spirits and elevated wines promises to be a fantastic way to spend a day or an evening (or three!) celebrating the arts of food and drink in style.
This inaugural food festival, Taste of Lovango, will take place May 2-4 at Lovango Resort + Beach Club and feature two up-and-coming celebrity chefs from the New York area, Robbie Feliz and Brian Arruda. The featured chefs, along with Lovango’s Executive Chef, Stephen Belie, are longtime friends and are planning three days of an amazing culinary program in this truly beautiful setting.
Meet the Chefs
Chef Brian Arruda – Founder & CEO of premier chef-placement agency Executive Chefs at Home. Prior to this, he traveled the country working for acclaimed chefs including José Andrés, Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud, working his way from prep cook to Executive Chef.
Chef Robbie Felice – James Beard Rising Star semifinalist Robbie Felice is the co-founder and chef-partner of the exclusive pop-up, pastaRAMEN, as well as Viaggio Ristorante and Osteria Crescendo in New Jersey.
Chef Stephen Belie– Chef Belie’s culinary approach is rooted in using the freshest regional ingredients, as well as teaching and mentoring staff on the consistent production of high-quality food. Prior to joining Lovango as food & beverage director and executive chef, he was the executive chef at Noble House’s Little Palm Island Resort & Spa and Gateway Canyons Resort.
Additionally, celebrity chefs Adrianne Calvo (8 Most Innovative Restaurants in Miami, BestChef Miami and Best Chef Florida) and Tiffani Faison (Top Chef Winner, James Beard nominated as “Best Chef: Northeast” four times) will be in attendance for Taste of Lovango!
Oh, but excellently executed and incredibly tasty food is not where this particular culinary event draws the line. No, no. The organizers at Lovango Resort + Beach Club have teamed up multiple local USVI businesses. In particular, two are bringing the guests of this exclusive event the best in wine and spirits as well!
Mutiny Island Vodka will provide elevated craft cocktails featuring Lovango’s own spirits brand distilled by Mutiny, Little Gem Spirits, throughout the weekend with their divine selection of spirits made on St. Croix with two unique island ingredients: Caribbean Rain Water and Bread Fruit.
And the wines for the weekend will be provided by the boutique wine distributor based on St. John and St. Thomas, Island Hope Wines. There will be a wide selection of wines from all over the world provided throughout Taste of Lovango with staff from Island Hope on site to educate and widen your lens on their unique small batch collection.
Ok, so what are the details on the weekend? I thought you would never ask 😉
On Tuesday, May 2, from 6PM-9PM, the festivities kick off with a Mutiny Island Vodka Welcome Party. Guests to the first evening’s event will enjoy handcrafted cocktails made with Mutiny Island Vodka and culinary treats in the form of passed apps from the Taste of Lovango super star chefs. Once you have filled up on all of the deliciousness, dance the night away under the stars with live music and a delicious cocktail in hand.
Wednesday, May 3 offers a divine tasting menu for those of you who are more interested in a sit-down dining experience. Of all of the events over the “course” of this weekend (pun intended), this is the one NOT to be missed. Each chef will indulge guests with two courses on this six-course menu with wine pairings provided by Island Hope Wines.
Oh, and for the third evening, Lovango Resort + Beach Club, Taste of Lovango Chefs, Mutiny Island Vodka and Island Hope Wines are teaming up with Friends of Virgin Islands National Park for a family style dining experience that will benefit this very essential organization dedicated to preserving and protecting our cultural and natural resources. But, this is not just a divine culinary experience. No, the conversation that evening will be centered around, not only the cuisine but also Friends VINP incredible work as a non-profit here on St. John. Guests of this exclusive dining experience will not only indulge their tastebuds, but also broaden their horizons (while also giving back to Friends VINP)!
For all of the evening events a reservation is required and, in order to keep this event intimate, a very limited number of “tickets” will be available for each evening. Transportation to and from St. John or St. Thomas, food and drinks will all be included, and a 20% gratuity will be added at the time of booking. Currently, they are still nailing down the pricing as the chefs prepare the menus and source the ingredients for Taste of Lovango, but each night will likely range from around $150-$200 per person. You can JOIN THE WAITLIST now to get in line for this very limited number of tickets for Taste of Lovango’s evening festivities.
Oh, but there is daytime fun to be had as well! On May 3 and 4 the Beach Club at Lovango Resort will convert from simplisitc and indulgent fun in the sun to yet another incredible culinary experience. Throughout each day, featured USVI restaurants (TBA) will provide delicious treats from their “pop-up” kitchen at Lovango. The ala carte menus from USVI-based chefs will be available to Beach Club guests during Taste of Lovango on both Wednesday and Thursday from 10AM-5:30PM.
Additionally, the island elegance of Lulee and Golden Hour, two lovely boutiques located, owned and operated on St. John, will make appearances during the Beach Club hours as pop-up shops. This is an excellent opportunity to shop the best of the best from these amazing boutiques!
The Beach Club Takeover menus, provided by USVI restaurants and chefs, will be ala carte for those of you who sign up for a poolside cabana, chaise lounge or beach hideaway for two on the afternoon of May 3 or 4. So, it’s basically like a normal Beach Club day at Lovango, but the menu will feature a USVI restaurant’s cuisine with wine provided by Island Hope and featured cocktails from Mutiny. For this daytime option, all food and beverages are ala carte but transportation is included with your Beach Club pass!
If you really want to indulge for the week, you could STAY at Lovango Resort + Beach Club for the duration of the event! A very limited number of these luxurious accommodations are available during Taste of Lovango. So, if you are interested in three indulgent days and nights filled with culinary adventures, fine wine and craft cocktails, book now with TAST for complete access to all of the events of the week as an overnight guest at the resort.
Oh, and one more thing, from May 2-4, the regular dining options at Lovango Resort + Beach Club will be closed as Taste of Lovango takes over the kitchens! So, if you are planning on a visit to the restaurant or Beach Club during that timespan, act fast and get on the waitlist for one event or for a pass for the week or get your Beach Club reservation today!