By Lindsey Turnbull
The twelfth annual Cayman Cookout offered a plentiful supply of the best food, wine and cocktails that Cayman has to offer last weekend, as chefs from all around the world convened at The Ritz-Carlton for what has developed as one of the world’s best culinary weekends.
Even though the host of the event, Chef Eric Ripert of the resort’s Blue restaurant, was unable to attend this year, Cayman Cookout still buzzed with the excited atmosphere of a world-class event. This is primarily so because guests not only get the chance to mix and chat with some of their culinary heroes, they also get to eat their food as well, a unique chance for foodies as they enjoy lunches, dinners, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and signature events that even include a Golden Eye getaway to Jamaica for the day.
Chef José Andrés has been a mainstay star of the show since the Cookout first started and he didn’t disappoint this year, his spectacular entrances always making for a fun kick start to Friday’s proceedings. Known to have arrived via jumping out of a helicopter, out of a submarine and from a jet ski, this time he opted for a team of Mad Max lookalikes tearing down the beach to herald his arrival. Chef José and Chef Eric had supposed to be cooking paella and bouillabaisse in a head-to-head but Chef José was so entertaining that the crowd was forgiving of Chef Eric’s inability to attend. Chef José joked it was because he was scared of losing but looked forward to the challenge next year.
Later in the day TV Chef Andrew Zimmern joined hundreds of diners and toured the best of Cayman’s restaurants as they set up stands around the Great Lawn at the Ritz-Carlton with tempting plates of their food. Here, representatives of the Cayman Islands Brewery presented Chef José with a cheque for $18,938.32 that they had raised and donated to his World Central Kitchen. This is a charity spearheaded by Chef José that has fed millions of people in need, particularly in the Caribbean, following disasters such as hurricanes.
Chef Emeril Lagasse is an American celebrity chef and he was on hand bringing his particular style of New Orleans-based cuisine to the crowds, while Michelin-starred British Chef Clare Smyth, who has been voted the best female chef in the world, showcased two delicious-smelling British dishes – turbot with cabbage in cider and a spicy chilli chicken dish during her ‘To the Core of British Cuisine’ session.
Other formidable figures within the culinary world who brought their own style of cuisine to the proceedings included Los Angeles-based Chef Niki Nakayama who showed off the best in Japanese cuisine, French chef Daniel Boulud, whose cooking stretches from Miami to London, Singapore to Beijing, Greek chef Pano I. Karatossos and Bravo’s Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard.
Wine lovers were treated to a huge range of tastings, including those from Pinot Noir from around the world, Spanish wines from the Restless creator Paul Perez, a Sherry masterclass and a comparative tasting of wines from Napa and Bordeaux.
A barefoot barbecue beach bash at Royal Palms, a sunset sail sipping wines, a dinner featuring Moët & Chandon’s Rosé Champaign and the grand gala reception dinner all completed a fantastic four days of culinary feasting and enjoyment.