Jamaica's haute cuisine took centrestage in Brussels, Belgium, earlier this month during the island's Heritage Week celebrations.
The Embassy of Jamaica and Mission to the European Union (EU) organised a 'Taste of Jamaica' culinary event to commemorate Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence.
The week-long event was launched on October 15 at a colourful reception hosted by the ambassador of Jamaica, Her Excellency Vilma McNish.
Two of Jamaica's top executive chefs, Dennis McIntosh of the Cardiff Hotel and Spa, Runaway Bay, and Mark Cole of The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, travelled to Brussels to share their culinary expertise and creativity at the Sofitel Hotel, one of Brussels' top boutique hotels.
Ambassador McNish noted, during the reception, that despite its size, Jamaica has made an indelible mark on the world with its strong sense of identity expressed through its music, sports and rich cultural mix.
"This is most visibly expressed in reggae music, which has transcended geographical and cultural boundaries, resonating in both the developed and developing world," she said.
The ambassador also highlighted Jamaica's achievements over the last 50 years in terms of its economic and social development, but said the country was cognisant that much more needs to be done to put the country on a path to sustained development.
"(The) Jamaica 50 theme, 'A Nation on a Mission', signifies the intention of the country to move forward, boldly and collectively, to build a better future for Jamaicans. The aim of the country's long-term national development plan, Vision 2030, is to put Jamaica in a position to achieve developed country status by 2030," McNish pointed out.
As she reflected on the performance of the Jamaican athletes in the Beijing and London Olympics, Ambassador McNish said they had demonstrated the ability of a small country to compete successfully at the highest international levels. She reminded the guests of Jamaica's intrepidness in sending a bobsled team to the Winter Olympics.
"Though their performance was ill-fated, it is this kind of boldness that Jamaicans want to take forward into the next 50 years," said McNish.
The approximately 200 guests at the reception included officials of the Belgian Federal Government, EU institutions, the diplomatic community, media and Jamaican community.
The event featured a display of Jamaican products, cultural and tourism promotional material and videos of Jamaica, including footage of the 1962 Independence Day activities. The Jamaica Tourist Board, JAMPRO, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and Jetair collaborated with the embassy in organising the event.