IN its debut at the annual Taste of the Marianas International Food Festival and Beer Garden this past weekend, Oh My Grill! took home  first prize in the vendor booth competition.

Island Grindz came in second, D’Elegance Cafe was third and Herman’s Bakery placed fourth.

OMG! co-owner Geri Dela Cruz said  their booth concept was  inspired by the “Hafa Adai and Tirow” theme of the festival.

The booth featured a latte stone in honor of Chamorro culture, and a mwaar in honor of the Carolinian or Refaluwasch culture.

The latte stone was made of coconuts while the mwaar was made of leaves from coconut trees, symbolizing the livelihood of the island people who are known to utilize every part of the coconut tree for sustenance, transforming it into oil, food, drinks, and various household items.

OMG! also featured a fish woven from coconut leaves, as well as a talaya or throw net symbolizing the livelihood of the island people.

“Fishing is a part of island life here, whether it’s Chamorro or Refaluwasch, that was the way of life,” said Dela Cruz.

In addition, the booth featured an “upcycled” flame-colored grass skirt, with flame-like colors symbolizing OMG!’s use of fire to grill its products.

The booth, moreover, was decorated with flowers, representing the natural beauty of the islands.

“We all came together and put our heads together and came up with this concept,” Dela Cruz said.

She noted that OMG! also participated in the Marianas Visitors Authority Summer Jam because it is a member of MVA.

“But our run actually started two years ago during the Liberation Day [festivities]. It was just a bunch of friends that got together, and we enjoy it. That’s our way of life, our pastime,” she said.

“It’s actually really nice to see that people were really standing in line for our product, our food. We enjoyed it, too. We hope that we’re able to share that joy with the rest of the community.”

Dela Cruz recognized Ken Kalen as the backbone of the company, adding that he’s passionate and good at what he does.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Dela Cruz said the company opened about a year ago, and is mainly a take-out business.

“We’ve been able to operate during the pandemic because we’re able to adhere to all of the [CNMI Covid-19] procedures with regards to opening up a business,” she said.

“We’re still a take-out business today. With the amount of money stimulating the economy today, you cannot really tell that there’s a pandemic that is going on right now. I think as a community...we’re all kind of doing our part to ensure that everyone stays safe by wearing masks, observing social distancing and whatnot. The CNMI is one of the safest places in the world today [and] I think everyone feels it,” said Dela Cruz.

For more information about OMG!, call 788-4664 or email omgsaipan@gmail.com

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