Editorial for January 13: Culinary scene, opportunity

 Over the past several years, thanks largely to the Cayman Cookout event and the establishment of a number of great new restaurants by well-known chefs, the Cayman Islands had catapulted itself to the top culinary destination in the Caribbean. There are many cities even in the United States that don’t boast the same concentration of great restaurants that Grand Cayman offers.

Any doubts about Cayman’s rise in the culinary world should be erased by looking at the line-up for this weekend’s Cayman Cookout, which features a number of celebrity chefs and legendary winemakers. When combined with Cayman’s tropical setting – made even more attractive by a harsh winter in the US and Europe – it’s no wonder this year’s event is drawing more visitors than ever. The culinary arts have become increasingly popular all over the world, partially because of the proliferation of cooking shows on television. With the rise in popularity comes opportunity, here in the Cayman Islands as well. It is therefore good to see some young Caymanians taking advantage of the Ministry of Tourism’s Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme to learn the culinary arts and doing well.

The lack of Caymanians in the local hospitality industry is a complaint voiced often from visitors who are seeking to experience the Cayman Islands. Many Caymanians have steered away from the hospitality industry in the past because of a cultural stigma that associates it with servitude. This is unfortunate, but appears to be gradually changing as more young people see the opportunities the industry offers. It is true that a career in the culinary industry can be hard work with long hours, especially when someone is first starting out, but it can pay well and offer very real opportunities for advancement. Good managers, servers and chefs can also usually find work just about anywhere in the world, as amply evidenced by the multicultural make-up of Cayman’s restaurant workers.

In addition, a career in the culinary arts can be rewarding in other ways. Cooking is a form of artistic expression and creating something that brings others pleasure can be very satisfying, which is perhaps why most chefs absolutely love what they do for a living.