The UK may be going through a miserable time at the moment, with below-zero temperatures and a tanking economy, but one ray of sunshine from Cayman is adding a modicum of cheer.
Caymanas Rum Cakes are fast becoming a favourite of the British palate, courtesy of Jonathan McCulloch – also known as The Gourmet Rumelier – who makes them in Eastbourne, a small town on the south coast of England.
Mr. McCulloch grew up in the Caribbean and spent some of his formative years in his rustic family home – a wooden hut on Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. On moving to the UK, he tried without success to buy rum cake, so he dusted off his grandmother’s recipe and experimented with different blends of rum until he hit upon an authentic recipe. Things took off very quickly after that, he said.
“I only started production three years ago, when I finally convinced myself that I could create a really delicious, good value product that was even better than that which is currently available in the West Indies, and of course being made to order, mine are infinitely fresher and therefore tastier than a cake that is transported back from the Caribbean.
“Working from a family recipe means that my cakes are absolutely authentic. They form one of my earliest childhood memories of my mum – who was the family’s chief rum cake maker – and so evoke deep emotion within me. I have been amazed by our success – they started flying off the shelves – literally like hot cakes,” laughed Mr. McCulloch.
Don McDougall, regional manager for Europe at the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, said that even the name itself was good marketing for Cayman, plus the product itself was a good expression of Cayman identity.
“There’s not a lot of Cayman produce marketed and retailed over here to do some joint marketing with, particularly on the culinary side. We’ve been working very hard over the last year and a half to raise awareness of the dynamic culinary product Cayman has to offer.
“Jonathan’s got such a great product, very well-packaged to reflect the heritage of Cayman and his experiences growing up in Cayman where he cultivated the recipe. He is about to have national distribution through a large supermarket chain. He’s already agreed to insert a Cayman DVD as part of his packaging. The awareness that Cayman as a holiday destination is going to get by having a product like this on the shelves [is great] and gives us a promotional platform to get into distribution that we wouldn’t normally manage to do ourselves,” said Mr. McDougall.