Chill out with chili cook-off

Independence Day weekend this year will be enjoyed in Cayman a little bit differently.

Cayman’s annual Chili Cook-Off has been a celebrated tradition in Cayman for more than 20 years, but this is the first year it will be held at The Reef Resort in East End.

Winners of the competition will proceed to the World Chili Championships in Las Vegas in October, due to the fact that the contest has been sanctioned by the International Chili Society.

To encourage international participation, The Reef is offering a cook-off package which includes accommodations, meals and drinks, airport transfers and admission to all cook-off events.

The cook-off will take place over three days, from Friday, 3 July to Sunday, 5 July and will kick off on Friday with a beach barbecue and live entertainment with Lammie, a local singer.

Families will enjoy the kid-friendly event, with the Kids’ Corner offering face painting, a dunk tank, bouncy castles, arts and crafts, snow cones, kids’ games, cotton candy and water sports, including snorkelling, kayaking and paddle boarding. Kids’ events begin at 1pm on Saturday afternoon. Shortly after, the cook-off will begin at 2pm until 5pm, after which tasting and judging will follow at 6pm to 7pm.

Guest judge will be Tracey Seaman, the test kitchen director for Every Day with Rachael Ray. She has a background working with Gourmet, Food and Wine, Martha Stewart Kids and will also host a book signing for her own recently-published book, Real Food for Healthy Kids. She will also donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book to the Blue Iguana Programme.

Entertainment for adults will be aplenty, with local radio stations Z99 and Rooster 101 broadcasting live from the event at 2pm on Saturday, and local bands Red White and Blue, Gone Country, Sea’n’B and the Barefoot Man all taking the stage during the afternoon.

Chuck and Barrie Quappe, also known as musical act Sea’n’B, will perform with Bugs Wilson and Mark McTaggart.

‘We have played the Chili Cook-Off in previous years and think it’s a real win-win for the restaurants, the public to get a ‘belly full’ and an excellent fundraiser,’ said Mr. and Mrs. Quappe.

‘We always enjoy the festive atmosphere, the community reunion aspect and performing for industry people who may not necessarily get to come out of kitchens when we play at their venues. It’s a wonderful event.’

After judging in the evening a fireworks display will light up the sky to signal an end to the day.

However, Sunday will continue the festivities as a Stoli Bloody Mary bar will be set up and an international brunch buffet will also be held for guests. Ms Seaman will also share her tips on how to cook a nutritious egg breakfast.

The Department of Tourism will host a cultural scavenger hunt, giving contestants a chance to tour the island recalling iconic culture landmarks, including Pedro St. James, the Mastic Trail, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Stingray City, among others.

Mike Flowers of The Reef Resort explained the reasoning behind moving the event to The Reef this year.

‘I had done the chili cook-off in conjunction with the Taste of Cayman in the past,’ said Mr. Flowers. ‘We on the Taste committee moved away from this event as it did not keep in the direction we were going with the Taste. When I started with the Reef, it seemed like a perfect site, and here we are.’