TURKS AND CAICOS, BWI (Aug. 21, 2007) â€“ The Turks and Caicos Islands, a burgeoning luxury destination of choice, is preparing to celebrate the islandsâ€™ culinary specialty at the Fourth Annual Turks & Caicos Conch Festival, Nov. 23-25, 2007, on Providenciales. The event honors conch with a competition featuring the best Caribbean food and music.
â€œThe Conch Festival is a much-anticipated event that allows Turks and Caicos to showcase conch as a fundamental element of Caribbean culture through the innovative dishes created by our world-class chefs,â€ said Ralph Higgs, director of tourism marketing at the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board. â€œWe are excited to offer this culinary extravaganza to our visitors from all cultural backgrounds.â€
The three-day celebration held on the islandâ€™s white, sandy beaches will include the â€œconch-etition,â€ a cocktail challenge, a conch blowing contest, a conch treasure hunt, live music and native boat races. While in Turks & Caicos, attendees are encouraged to visit Caicos Conch Farm where they can watch how conchs are raised, enjoy a show with the two trained and very friendly conchs, see conch pearls, and even purchase fresh conch. Travelers can also embark on full-day or half-day conch cruises where boat captains teach visitors how to free dive for conch, crack the conch open and then prepare fresh conch salads, to be enjoyed during a Caribbean BBQ on an uninhabited island.
Turks and Caicos is home to the worldâ€™s only conch farm, Caicos Conch Farm, which is a major source of pride for the islands. The farm exports 10,800 pounds of conch per year to restaurants locally and in hot spots across the Unites States. The Conch Festival will include many of these community restaurants and chefs who will vie for the distinction of preparing the best conch salad, best conch chowder, best specialty conch dish and best in festival categories.
Entrance to the Turks & Caicos Conch Festival costs $15, entitling attendees to a tasting of every conch dish entered in the competition. There are currently 20 restaurants entered in the â€œconch-etitionâ€ that will be judged by Executive Chef Clay Conley from Azul at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami, Fla., and Dean James Max, executive chef and owner of 3030 Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Latitude 41 in Columbus, Ohio, among others.
Please visit the Turks & Caicos Conch Festival Web site at www.conchfestival.com for more information and a complete schedule of events.
Conch (pronounced â€œkonkâ€) is a common name for large marine snails, also known as gastropod mollusks, more specifically the queen, pink-lipped conch, which are found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic and the Caribbean. The bright pink colored shells are 12 to 13 inches in length and have been a popular Caribbean treat since the 1400s. Common conch creations are soup and salad, conch fritters, conch chowder, conch steaks and marinated raw conch salad.
About Turks & Caicos
The 40 islands of the Turks & Caicos, of which eight are inhabited, are renowned for their award-winning beaches, diving and array of world-class resorts. Additional activities include tennis, golf and horseback riding. The islands feature a variety of spa and body treatment services and is home to the worldâ€™s only conch farm. There are three daily 90-minute direct flights from Miami, a US Airways direct flight from Charlotte, daily flights from New York and weekly flights from Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Toronto. For more information on travel, visit the Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Board Web site at www.turksandcaicostourism.com or call (800) 241-0824.