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T&T Restaurant Week, bigger and better
The success of any endeavour is proven in its positive growth. The organisers of T&T Restaurant Week (TTRW) boasted that the ten-day festival that takes place from September 15 - 24, has grown from an initial 19 restaurants to over 80 in this its fifth edition.
“We aimed for 70 restaurants but as of last night we have reached 86 and that too may not be a final number,” Restaurant Week founder Shira Mohammed said at the launch at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday.
The growth and progress of restaurant week will certainly please the woman in whose honour it was established.
Mohammed’s love of food came from her Italian grandmother Gianna who is now 95. “Nonna Gianna” as she is called, lived through the Nazi occupation of Italy in World War II. At the launch, Mohammed related how her grandmother hid a group of anti-fascists in a grotto close to her home in Monte Grappa. Nonna Gianna used the cover of darkness to sneak cheese (formaggio morlacco) and polenta to the hungry refugees.
Her home was subsequently burnt to the ground by Nazi soldiers and she was held.
“Restaurant week is my way of paying homage to a brave woman; it embodies the beliefs of my ancestors and is something I would be more than proud to share with generations to come,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed, the director of Bee Marketing and Events Company Ltd, said TTRW represents “a freedom and ingenuity of the human spirit and that is represented in the vastness of T&T’s diverse culture.”
Restaurant Week exists in other places like New York which hosts the NYC Restaurant Week, London which hosts the London West End Restaurant Week and Jamaica where the culinary celebration is now in its 11th year.
Mohammed said, “Our objective here is simply to deliver a signature culinary event on the Trinidad and Tobago entertainment calendar which celebrates T&T’s cultural diversity, promotes the development of a vibrant restaurant ethos and encourages dining out among locals and visitors.”
Some of participating restaurants include fine dining big hitters like Chaud, Aioli and Zazou. Some of the other popular restaurants involved are Jaffa’s at the Oval, Cafe Havana (Tobago), Kaizan (Movietowne and Price Plaza), La Cantina, Ruby Tuesday (all locations) and More Vino.
One of the features of this year’s TTRW is that all participating restaurants must have vegetarian options on their menus. It’s something that has come up every year and it means a greater number of people can partake in the events.
Restaurant Week has also attracted more support in the form of additional sponsors and partnerships, one of which is with the Rotary Club of Port-of-Spain. The Club has teamed up with TTRW to host a pre-showcase event on September 10, at which participating restaurants will present sample plates of their 2017 Restaurant Week menus.
Tickets for the event cost $475 and Rotary Club Port-of-Spain representative Sean Paddy said all the proceeds will go to charity.
TTRW platinum sponsor Scotiabank, will give its credit card customers three per cent cash back when they dine at any participating restaurant during TTRW.
Q: How do you think the recession can affect the festival?
A: People must eat! And with TTRW we are able to facilitate pocket friendly options and specials that cannot be found any other time of year.
There won’t be a separate Tobago Restaurant Week this year, how come?
We have three restaurants in Tobago interested in showcasing their dishes for TTRW 2017. Unfortunately this is simply not enough to warrant a separate marketing campaign. We have been working on developing Tobago Restaurant Week and have toyed with various combinations… together with Trinidad (which the organisers strongly believe in), unfortunately to date we have not found the right combination to be able to entice a large number of Tobago restaurants but we will keep on trying.
Was having a separate event in Tobago aimed at boosting tourism?
We have had a great amount of overseas interest through our social media and website, diaspora and tourists alike are asking when TTRW in Tobago will be hosted so that they can plan their trips to coincide. Trinidadians as well have been indicating that this would determine when they pop across to the sister isle to savour some of their restaurants’ offerings.
What are some of the constraints and challenges you face in maximising the success of TTRW?
Budgetary constraints. As you asked about the recession, we too as event organisers have felt the pinch from lack of sponsorship funds. The less funds we have the less hoorah we can make about it. Thankfully every year we have managed to outdo previous years. Our consistency and commitment takes us a long way and this year is no different, as a matter of fact we will be launching a mobile app.
Visit the TTRW 2017 Facebook page: Trinidad & Tobago Restaurant Week. The menus from participating restaurants will be posted.
How does T&T Restaurant Week work?
Restaurant Week was initially designed to attract people who don’t normally get the chance to eat out, to dine for a fraction of the cost. The restaurants design a set menu at a particular price range. The price categories are $120, $200, $300 and $400.
“Leading restaurants slash their prices up to 30 per cent in exchange for inclusion in a massive advertising campaign promoting the event,” Mohammed said. Last year, 94 per cent of restaurants were 100 per cent sold out before the event even started, some even extended the special for a further week also included a lunch time menu.
Tech in Restaurant Week
Trinidad and Tobago Restaurant Week will launch its own mobile app.
The app will be divided into restaurants, maps, cameras and offers. It presents all restaurants in alphabetical order, geographical location, prices, menus and contact information. Using the app a patron can take photos and instantly upload to their preferred social network. The app will soon be available on the Google Playstore and the App store.