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The tastes and flavours of Antigua and Barbuda will be showcased in New Jersey during this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

A sister city agreement was established between the twin island nation and Jersey City, New Jersey’s second largest town, in November 2002.

Now, Chef Claude Lewis, winner of Food Network’s ‘Chopped’, who was born in Jersey City to Antiguan and Barbudan parents, wants to reactivate this relationship.

Independence is typically marked – both at home and around the diaspora – with a grand feast of national dishes, an explosion of culture and an outpouring of community pride.

This year, many nationals in the diaspora will forego the usual patriotic gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lewis will host “A Taste of Antigua and Barbuda” on November 1 at his establishment, Freetown Road Restaurant in Jersey City.  Here, the Antigua and Barbudan flag is proudly flown daily as a symbol of the delicious Caribbean cuisine that the restaurant is known for.

 The event will highlight the food, rum and unique cultural traditions of Antigua and Barbuda. In collaboration with fellow Antiguan chefs Alycia Matthews and James Murphy, Lewis will conduct live demonstrations. The trio will prepare a range of traditional dishes including fungi and seafood pepper pot,  ducana and salt fish, goat water and more.

 “My parents met while working at Half Moon Bay Hotel, one of Antigua and Barbuda’s legendary resorts. My father was from the village of Freetown and my mother was from Old Road,” Lewis said.

“They migrated to the United States but always kept our Caribbean food and traditions alive.  Caribbean food is one of the proud symbols of our heritage and I look forward to sharing the stage with two other fantastic Antiguan and Barbudan chefs to promote our cuisine to the world.”

 Freetown Road Restaurant will be transformed into a culinary theatre and this hybrid event will address both virtual and live audiences. Patrons can dine in and sample these dishes by purchasing VIP tickets for $50, or dine out tickets in advance for $25 and watch the cooking demos via Zoom. 

Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite and they include a premium Antigua and Barbuda Associations United (ABAU) Independence T-shirt. There will also be live performances and prize giveaways.

 The event celebrating Antigua and Barbuda’s 39th anniversary of Independence is supported by the Antigua and Barbuda Associations United (ABAU), an umbrella not-for-profit organisation representing 25 Antiguan and Barbudan community organisations throughout the US.

 “The number of Antiguans and Barbudans in Jersey City continues to grow and the sister city connection remains an important platform to promote the destination in the tri-state area,” said Andy Howell, president of ABAU.

 “Nationals in the diaspora can become the best ambassadors for Antigua and Barbuda and this event will be a bridge that allows patriotic nationals to not only celebrate, but also promote their heritage,” he added.

The sister city agreement was signed by former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Lester Bird, and former mayor of Jersey City, the late Glenn Cunningham. As a member of the sister city committee, Howell was named an “honorary citizen of Jersey City” in 2002.

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