Foodies prepare for Cayman Cookout

January is Cayman Culinary Month and one of the highlights is the Cayman Cookout, a weekend of culinary events featuring world-renowned chefs, restaurateurs and spirit blenders. Hosted by celebrity chef Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, the event is now in its fourth year and caters to lovers of fine foods and wine who wish to mingle with some of the very best experts the culinary world has to offer.

Highlights of this year’s event include the Barefoot BBQ at Tiki Beach featuring culinary icons Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and James Beard, Outstanding Chef of 2011 winner Jose Andres, the Ultimate Dinner Party at Camana Bay, the Gala Dinner and the Bon Vivant Cookoff, which will name Cayman’s top amateur chef.

Hungry like the wolf

The Cookout kicks off on Thursday, 12 January, with the Tour de France charity wine dinner, presented by Jacques Scott. On Friday, 13 January, foodies will be able to enjoy a variety of tastings, demonstrations and lunch options before concluding with the Barefoot BBQ at Tiki Beach.

On Saturday, attendees can look forward to a choice of talks by culinary experts, demonstrations, lunches and wine tastings and a choice of two dinners.

Bon Vivant, Camana Bay, will be hosting A Journey to Chateau de Saran. The evening will aim to recreate an intimate dinner at the Moet family castle, Chateau de Saran, in the heart of France’s Champagne region. Chef Pascal Tinguad, Maitre Cuisinier de France and Chef de Cuisine for Dom Perignon at the Domaine Moet and Chandon will prepare both classic and unorthodox dishes inspired and paired with wines from the legendary estate.

Alternatively, attendees can opt to attend the Ultimate Dinner Party, also at Camana Bay. The dinner kicks off with a book signing with Anthony Bourdain and Micheal Schwartz, followed by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and then dinner at a choice of restaurants.

The Cookout wraps up on Sunday with a series of events. The day starts with the Bon Vivant Sunday Champagne Brunch and Cayman Cook-off, followed by the Artisan Market and Book Signing round the resort’s North Sound pool. If you still have room, the event concludes with the Cayman Cookout Gala Dinner at Blue by Eric Ripert.

Local talent this year includes Ambuyah Ebanks. A former Miss Cayman and employee of the Ritz-Carlton, Ambuyah has a growing cocktail consulting business in New York. She will partner with, Jose Andres, on some island-inspired cocktails. In addition, some of the Island’s young culinary talent will be represented as well. Imani Abdul-Jabbar and Chelsea Pierson, who won the government Sizzling Summer Culinary Camp competition in July, will serve as sous chefs for the Bon Vivant Cayman Cookout Cookoff.

Wet wet wet

Melissa Ladley, communications director at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, said the motivating factor behind the Cayman Cookout was simply to celebrate the burgeoning culinary scene on the Island.

“A group of people from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, were at Calico Jack’s with Eric Ripert soon after the hotel opened and hatched the idea to create a world-class food festival that was also truly Caribbean with all the main events taking place outdoors on the beach and near the water,” she said. “Eric would secure the top talent, and we’d make this a family friendly event that had broader appeal than traditional epicurean events. We approached the Department of Tourism, which had hosted the successful Cayman Classic event with FOOD & WINE Magazine to join forces.

“What makes Cookout special is that attendees can have one-on-one chats with the visiting talent who attend the weekend events as guests, in addition to their own demonstrations and meals.”

She added: “Any island can claim it’s a culinary destination. However, Cayman has a legitimate claim to the title of the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean. We have dozens of great restaurants on island including Eric Ripert’s own, one of the most acclaimed in the Caribbean. If you look at the annual Wine Spectator awards, most Caribbean islands have maybe one or two restaurants at most that earn awards; Cayman has 11. Cayman Cookout amplifies Cayman’s positioning as a culinary destination, putting the Island on an international stage.”

For tickets and event details, visit www.caymanislands.ky/cookout

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