Witter wins Mixmasters Bartenders challengePOSTED: 05/27/13 1:54 PM
St. Maarten – Three months of hard work concluded with a mix off between three bartenders at the Point Bar, located on the premises of the Sonesta Maho Hotel and Resort, but only one person could have won and the top prize went to Nathalee Witter, the lone female in the finals.
“I am surprised actually, but I had the confidence that I would win,” said Witter who started out her career at Sunset and now works at Taloula Mangos. “I am very excited that I am the one to take home the winning trophy, this is just my first competition, now I am looking forward to more,” an elated Witter stated.
Witter, who has been a bartender for the past six years and is employed at Taloula Mangos did well to represent the Dutch side of the island when she beat Jean Rahmane, from La Playa who had to settle for the 1st runner up trophy, in third place was Draol Thierry, also from La Playa.
For her efforts, Witter, a Jamaican earned the rights to represent St Maarten abroad, she will be featured in the SHTA Magazine, a plaque and a bar tool kit. Each of the finalists also received medals for participating.
The Mix Masters Bartenders Challenge which had as its main sponsor Caribbean Liquors & Tobacco and the SHTA just to name a few was organized by Dwayne Mars and Kelvin Rouse, two very experienced bartenders and Bar Instructors.
“We did not just want to have bartenders from both sides of the island compete against each other just for the bragging rights, we wanted to make it a reality show and this idea came about after watching shows on television like Chef Masters and Kitchen Nightmares. That was the perfect opportunity to showcase the talents of the people who are always working hard behind the scenes,” Mars said.
According to Mars, the just concluded showcase was a first on St Maarten, but it is very popular in nearby islands, but having it as a reality show is a plus for the friendly island. “As a tourist destination, St Maarten needs these of competitions and the winner will get a chance to showcase her talent abroad at international events,” Mars added.
Mars is of the opinion that the reality shows will bring awareness to the general public when it is aired on Channel 15 and Channel 9 on the French side of the island. “Most people come to a bar, call for a special drink but don’t pay attention to what the bartender is doing, if you are not experienced, you can call for something and end up drinking something else.”
The Bartenders Challenge began three months ago with 11 participants and each week, the venues for the faceoff changed and so did the amount of participants. “If a bartended could not stick to the specified criteria’s, they faced eliminations, it was simple as that,” Mars pointed out.
During the preliminary rounds of the competition, each bartender had two minutes in which to mix a drink of their choice. In addition to the eventual taste and aroma, presentation was of vital importance and the movie cameras was always rolling.
The judging panel included Ruben T Jeffers, a 40 year veteran bartender, Kelvin Rouse, with 15 years of experience and Omar Illidge, with 13 years of bartending experience. Ironically, Jeffers, the more experienced of the three was able to judge a drink by just smelling while Rouse and Illidge were obliged to taste before making their final assessment.
However, for the finals, the format changed dramatically, it was up to the panel of judges to tell the bartenders what they were required to mix. Rahmane, the first participant in the final round had an opportunity to set the bar when he was called upon to mix a ‘Long Island Ice Tea’, Witter, was asked to prepare a ‘Rum Collins’ and Thierry was asked to prepare a ‘Bourbon Sour.’
It was a huge sigh of relief for the finalists while the judges tabulated the score sheets and the bartenders who all came from different backgrounds and had mixing styles of their own took that opportunity to exchange ideas.
As a token of appreciation, representatives of the sponsors present which included the SHTA and Caribbean Liquors & Tobacco were presented with certificates of appreciation. The judges were also recognized.