Fete des Cuisinieres and Guadeloupe’s Finest Restaurants – Grande-Terre, Guadeloupe, Lesser Antilles (French West Indies)

Island Cooks Celebrate an Art Form

One of the culinary epicenters of the Caribbean, Guadeloupe celebrates its marriage of African, French, and West Indian cuisine during the annual Fete des Cuisinieres. Honoring St. Laurent, patron saint of cooks, the colorful festival is launched with a gala parade of hundreds of the island’s women chefs,

lavishly dressed in traditional madras costumes and starched white linen aprons, carrying and bal­ancing baskets of the island’s exotic bounty on their heads as they wend their way through the streets of the capital city, Pointe-a-Pitre.

The parade ends with the day’s only solemn moment: high Mass at the 19th-century Cathedrale de St. Pierre et St. Paul. A five-hour cook-off feast follows, with music, song, and dance.

Even if you miss the late-summer event, there’s always a gourmet experience waiting to be found in Guadeloupe’s 200 restaurants, which, together with Martinique’s, prepare some of the best food in the Caribbean. Dinner in the port city’s La Canne a Sucre captures the elan of Guadeloupe’s contempo­rary dining scene, with enviable harborside views and a kitchen that knows its way around an ever-evolving nouvelle Creole cui­sine.

The quayside location guarantees the freshest fruits of the sea. Farther afield in a little-visited corner of Grande-Terre, the eastern “wing” of the butterfly-shaped two island group, a gifted French couple has created Chateau des Feuilles, a gastronomic hideaway where lunch specialties fuse the French chef’s European training with a cornucopia of island accents any non-Guadeloupean palate is bound to find exciting.

The changing menu might include a velvety sea urchin pate, fresh fish with a delicate vanilla sauce, or shark with a saffron sauce. The foolproof results draw international as well as local visitors for the finest meal in Guadeloupe.

The pineapple flan alone makes this spot worth the trip, but for an added bonus, guests are welcome to stroll the flower-decked grounds on the 8-acre estate, take a dip in the pool, or proceed with caution through a twenty-round sampling of different mm punch concoctions.

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