Gastronomic feast at Caribbean Rundown

Guests at the Ritz-Carlton’s Caribbean Rundown were treated to a gastronomic weekend that delighted taste buds from beginning to end.

On the menu? An action-packed weekend filled with a series of tastings, cooking demonstrations, an extravagant gala dinner, Top Chef style cook-off, and champagne brunch.

The event, hosted by award-winning chef Eric Ripert, was in celebration of the Ritz-Carlton’s restaurant Blue by Eric Ripert scooping the AAA Five Diamond Award – the first restaurant in the Caribbean to receive such an accolade.

Supporting Eric Ripert at the gastronomic event were leading chefs from Le Bernadin – New York’s internationally acclaimed four star seafood restaurant, co-owned by Eric Ripert – Dale Levitski, winner of television programme Top Chef, and chefs from the Ritz-Carlton.

Designed to be fun, informal and interactive, the event aimed to introduce guests to Ripert’s signature dishes and some fun improvisations.

The event, attended by approximately 200, kicked-off on Friday night with a cocktail reception, where guests had the opportunity to meet the chefs.

Saturday included cooking demonstrations by Chef Eric Scuiller of the Ritz-Carlton, Eric Ripert and Chef Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernadin, and concluded with an extravagant gala dinner.

The dinner was an opportunity for the chefs to show off their culinary genius, and, judging by the food served, it was easy to see why Eric Ripert has led both restaurants to outstanding success.

The five-course menu included spiced moulard duck carpaccio with a warm country mustard potato salad created by Ritz-Carlton chef Eric Scuiller, pan roasted monkfish, truffled celery root emulsion and red wine brandy sauce, created by Blue chef, Eric Ripert, and a chocolate, banana buerre noisette pistachio for dessert, created by Michael Laisonis, executive pastry chef of Le Bernadin and winner of the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef, 2007. Courses were paired with wines provided by Tortuga.

The team of chefs made an appearance at the end of the dinner, garnering a well-deserved standing ovation from the some 150 diners.

The night was rounded off perfectly by musical entertainment provided by local musicians, The Pam Burgess Band – Murray Speiline, John Shilito and Mark McTaggart – with vocalist Pam Burgess singing a selection of classic hits, taking diners on a trip down memory lane.

It was then on to the ballroom terrace to end the night with a game of poker – bragging rights only, of course.

Sunday’s highlight was the Cook Off, with three Caymanian chefs – Glenovan Balfore, Sean Collins and Paul Furze – competing in an exciting Top Chef-style competition for the grand prize of a week-long internship at Le Bernadin.

Judged by Eric Ripert, Dale Levitski and Michael Laisonis, Sean Collins scooped up the grand prize, impressing the judges with a snapper ceviche, chicken, chorizo and black bean gumbo and a curry and Cajun fried snapper filet with a lemon berblanc and pineapple and avocado salsa.

The three-day event was rounded off with a special Sunday champagne brunch at 7.

Encouraged by the event’s success, organisers at the Ritz-Carlton are hoping to turn Caribbean Rundown into an annual festival.

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