January gets dubbed Culinary Month

Cookout, Taste will be combined

January is to be a dedicated Culinary Month for the Cayman Islands when the top gastronomic events will be celebrated side by side.

Januarys Cayman Cookout

Participants at Januarys Cayman Cookout.
Photo: Cliodhna Doherty

Aside from the return of the highly successful Cayman Cookout, which took place in January this year, the popular Taste of Cayman event has been moved to January and there will be other wine dinners and culinary events to choose from throughout the month.

The Cayman Cookout, billed as the Caribbean’s Premiere Epicurean Event – a collaboration between the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Food & Wine Magazine – is scheduled for 14-18 January 2010, while the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s Taste of Cayman event will be held on Saturday, 16 January.

‘For the Department of Tourism it’s a unique opportunity for us to promote the destination. We have so much talent on this island when it comes to great places to eat,’ said Rosa McLean, manager National Promotions and Events, DoT.

CITA has decided to focus on the benefits to tourism to ensure that projects and events are in line with the overall goals of the association, said Executive Director Trina Christian.

‘This has been applied to the Taste of Cayman, food and wine festival event so that we can build the international exposure of this culinary event and still build on the success of this as a fabulous local event.

‘The goal is to utilise this event to increase tourism visitation during a time in January that has historically dipped in occupancy. This will be accomplished by working closely with all accommodation partners to package rooms with the Taste tickets.’

She added that moving Taste of Cayman (which took place last year in November and has previously taken place in July also) to January also means that hotels and restaurants are fully staffed so it’s easier for them to participate in such a large scale food tasting event.

There is also less of a rain threat in January, she added.

Ms Christian said another event that will take place during the month is the CITA’s charity wine dinner, which was a great success last year.

And the culinary theme for January is now taking on a life of its own, with other partners jumping on board.

‘There are other hotel and private restaurant partners who will be having their own wine dinners throughout the month of January and dates are currently being firmed up,’ she said.

Another part of the festivities in January looks to be the Flair Bartending Competition which took place last November.

The Taste of Cayman, being held at Camana Bay again this year, will have double the space it had last year, said Mrs. Christian.

There will also be some additional restaurant participation with three to four forthcoming restaurants for Camana Bay’s Restaurant Row that will come on board as restaurant partners for the Taste of Cayman.

Also, this year there will be an incentive for restaurants. Taste visitors will get a number of food tickets for tastings with the purchase of their ticket, but if people want to eat all night they can purchase food tickets for more food.

‘At least it gives a way for the restaurants to be able to regain back some of their costs,’ said Mrs Christian.

Tami Corday, Director of Meetings and Special Events, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, confirmed that star chef Eric Ripert will continue to be the host of the Cayman Cookout and back by popular demand is travel-show host and chef Anthony Bourdain.

Also, Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine and judge for TV show Top Chef will be mistress of ceremonies for the weekend.

Speaking about the methodology behind choosing chef talent, Ms McLean said they look at the cities Cayman Airways and other carriers that service Cayman fly to.

The Cookout kick-off event will be a day earlier this year, on Thursday evening 14 January at the Ritz-Carlton on the beach.

Next January’s event will also see some additional culinary lunches and dinners with demos and many of these will be outdoor events.

Sommeliers are currently being lined up for the event and there will be more focus on cocktails and spirits also.

The Department of Tourism will again host a cultural experience, such as a bush tea party, at an appropriate site.

‘We’re looking forward to really highlighting the destination in all of the culinary components,’ said Ms Corday.

The weekend will again culminate with the Chef cook-off brunch on Sunday and there will be some pre-weekend cook-offs to determine the competitors for that.

Ms Corday said, ‘I would say one of the most repeated pieces of feedback we received from the international visitors was that this was so much more unique than any other similar food and wine event because of the exclusivity, because of the closeness that they were able to appreciate with the talent.’

The rest of the line up will be released shortly and updates are available on www.caymanislands.ky/cookout

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