Cook-off series final offers a brunch extraordinaire

Kids’ brunch will thrill the little ones

On Grand Cayman, there is brunch and then there is The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman brunch. However, on Sunday 20, January, The Ritz-Carlton will one-up itself with the Bon Vivant Taittinger Champagne Brunch and Cook-Off Brunch. 

This event, which takes place in the ballroom and serves as the backdrop for the delicious conclusion of the 2012/13 Bon Vivant Cook-off Series, offers the excellence of every other Ritz-Carlton brunch – including free-flowing Taittinger Champagne – but also a lot more. 

The “more” part starts with the food, said Frederic Morineau, executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. 

“At this year’s Cook-off brunch, guests have the opportunity to not only dine on items created by the chefs of The Ritz-Carlton, but also upon some signature dishes courtesy of local favourites such as Osetra Bay, Cracked Conch, Calypso Grill, Food for Thought, Dine by Design and more,” he said.  

Some of the dishes being prepared by the guest chefs include a trio of pork dishes including pork loin with local figs, spring onions and Madeira Sauce by chef Joseph Waters of Osetra Bay. Chef Gilbert Cavallero of the Cracked Conch will prepare lightly-spiced lamb loin and shank with creamed parsnips and lemon grass, pomegranate and seasoning pepper jus; and the Cayman Culinary Society duo of chefs Vidyadhara Shetty and Keith Griffin will serve grilled beef tenderloin with quail eggs and truffle Béarnaise sauce.  

In addition to the guest chefs, several high-quality American food purveyors will offer their products at the brunch. 

“We are thrilled to have three very talented and renowned food craftsmen showcase their products,” Mr. Morineau said. “Herb Eckhouse from La Quercia will showcase his American Prosciutto; Bob Reese, owner of Vermont Butter & Creamery, will tempt with his delicious Vermont cheese selection; and Rod Mitchell, owner of Browne Trading and supplier of products to Le Bernardin restaurant, will offer his American Sturgeon caviar.” 

Peter Tischmann, food and beverage director of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, said the Bon Vivant Champagne Cook-Off Brunch was one of the most anticipated Cayman Cookout events for locals, with residents making up about 70 per cent of the event’s attendees. 

“Match great food with exciting entertainment and it truly makes for an enjoyable afternoon,” he said. “It is great to see everyone come out and support the two local cheftestants, and have the opportunity to get up close with some of the star chefs.”  

 

Cook-off 

While guests enjoy their delicious cornucopia of food and sip on Champagne, they will watch the final of the 2012/13 Bon Vivant Cook-off Series as Maureen “Big Flava” Cubbon takes on Marty Tammemagi for the title of Cayman’s top amateur chef and a prize package that includes a trip to New York and lunch at celebrity Chef Eric Ripert’s iconic Manhattan restaurant, Le Bernardin. 

Bon Vivant’s Cynthia Hew said she was thrilled with the success of this year’s Cook-off competition so far and that she’s looking forward to Sunday’s final.  

“It’s been wonderful to see the number of people who come out and show just how creative they can be in the kitchen,” she said. “Some of the dishes are so original and the push for the use of local ingredients has certainly elevated the competition to a whole new level. Cheftestants are very thoughtful in their selection of local produce and even more so with their protein choices. I think many people who attend even as supporters are surprised to see what all is available here in Cayman.” Mrs. Hew will be hand to co-host the event once again with the help of a celebrity chef. 

“Cynthia will be teamed with Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame,” said Nancy Harrison, marketing coordinator of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. “We expect this to be an entertaining pair. Spike will surely be able to speak to the pressure the competing cheftestants are under given the amount of times he’s been in the cooking competition hot seat himself.”  

Adding to the pressure of the cheftestants, but also to the star appeal of the event will be a trio of celebrity judges, including Mr. Ripert and his well-known friends Chef José Andrés and television personality/author Anthony Bourdain. Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor will round out the panel of Cook-off judges. 

 

Fun for children 

There is no need for parents attending the brunch to arrange for a baby sitter; a child-friendly brunch runs simultaneously from noon to 3pm out on the Ambassadors Lawn. 

In addition to their being food for children, the Ambassadors in the Kitchen Kids Brunch features interactive culinary activities and demonstrations coordinated by The Ritz-Carlton’s Ambassadors of the Environment staff and its director Kirstyn Warner. 

“We will have several different stations where kids can partake in a variety of things from making hand-cranked apple delight and hand squeezed limeade, to cracking coconuts and making coconut treats, doing smell and taste experiments, creating their own virgin cocktail and making a recycled craft,” Ms Warner said.  

The Kids Brunch will have some visiting talent as well, with Chef Bernard Guillas from La Jolla Tennis Club in San Diego, who will conduct a personal cooking demonstration for children. The kids will also have plenty to choose from to eat. 

“There will be tons of delicious food to eat and much fun to be had by all,” Ms Warner said. 

 

Artisan Market 

The adult fun that afternoon doesn’t need to stop when the brunch ends. From 3 to 5pm, guests can amble down to the North Sound Poll area, where more than 20 local and overseas purveyors of just about anything culinary will be displaying their products and giving sample. Many of the visiting celebrity chefs who attended Cayman Cookout will be on hand to sign books. 

“We have seen over the past years that the Cook-Off Brunch celebration continues into the Artisan Market,” Ms Harrison said. “This event is really the Cayman Cookout finale for many guests. It’s an opportunity to get your books signed by the headlining chefs, enjoy some cocktails courtesy of event sponsors, and visit local artisans and event vendors. Live music makes for an energetic event.” 

Some of the local sponsors that will be on hand include Grand Old House and Brasserie restaurants; Drink Fresh Juice; most of Cayman’s beer, wines and spirits distributors and producers; A.L. Thompson’s; Cayman Sea Salt; and Progressive Distributors, which will be providing tastes of some of its Certified Angus Beef products. Overseas vendors with displays will include Gourmet Foods International and Patron tequila. 

Ms Harrison said the Artisan Market has increased in popularity every year since its inception. 

“At only US$35 per ticket, it allows everyone to partake in Cayman Cookout festivities.” 

Maureen Cubbon

Ms Cubbon

Marty Tammemagi

Mr. Tammemagi
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