Taste of Cayman: Winners announced

This year’s Taste of Cayman’s winners have been announced with Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink scooping the coveted award for Cayman’s favorite restaurant for the second year in a row.  

The award is based on the number of tokens each restaurant received by Taste attendees.  

The popular restaurant served crispy lionfish sandwiches, kimichi and pork belly quesadillas, homemade snicker candy bars and popcorn ice cream at the annual food and wine festival held Saturday, Feb. 8 at Camana Bay’s Festival Green.  

“We are thrilled to have won Cayman’s favorite restaurant for the second year in a row,” Jessica Cohen, manager at Michael’s Genuine, said. “This award was all thanks to the thousands of people who stopped by our booth and tried the amazing food that our chefs put out this year.  

“We wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for our energetic staff that made everyone who stopped by feel special.” 

Each year, vendors vie for a host of awards at the popular festival, which also include the Best of Competition.  

The Best of Competition awards this year went to Periwinkle at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, who garnered the prize for Best Food. They served up smoked zucchini and burrata-filled ravioli with pickled tomato verge. The Best Dessert award went to Thai Orchid for their sticky toffee pudding, while the award for Best Drink went to the Rum Point Club’s Wreck Bar for its signature mudslide. Breezes by the Bay scooped the award for Best Booth.  

Mixology competition 

Sponsored by Seven Fathoms Rum, the Cayman Rum Challenge put local bartenders to the test. Ten contestants created a signature cocktail using at least one Cayman Spirits Company product in order to advance. Their concoctions were judged on name, balance, simplicity, taste, originality, presentation and performance.  

Five semifinalists were tasked with creating a second cocktail on the spot using chocolate, the “mystery ingredient” that was revealed at the start of the finals. The winners were Angel Robledo of Coconut Joe’s, Jernej Zavadlav of Mizu, and Leonardi Caraballo of Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort. 

A flair bartending competition followed the mixology contest, and the winners in that event were Lachlan Morris of Royal Palms, Jono Firstbrook of O Bar, and Angel Robledo of Coconut Joe’s. 

Lionfish Cook-Off 

The Lionfish Chef Cook-Off was a popular attraction in the All Things Cayman area as people crowded around to see the unique ways in which this predator and invasive species could be cooked and served. 

Two judges were chosen from the audience and chef Ron Hargrave from Tukka Restaurant and Steve Shienfield from Marketstreet Group emerged victorious in the competition.  

Heavy Cake Competition 

The heavy cake competition was contested by six bakers and judged by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Rosa Harris from the Department of Tourism and tourism ambassador Anitha Velusamy. Ingrid Bodden walked away with the first place title and $300, while Ellen Peguero’s sweet treat earned her a second place finish and $150. Tammy Seymour’s contribution won third place and a prize of $50.  

Patrons were able to sample the cakes after the judging concluded. 

“We cannot be more pleased with how the 26th annual Taste of Cayman Festival came off this year,” said Jane van der Bol, executive director of CITA. “From our sponsors and vendors to the bands, the volunteers and of course our patrons, a good time was enjoyed by everyone.  

“The event was truly a night of food, wine, entertainment and memories, and I would like to thank the entire Cayman community for its support of the island’s largest culinary event, and CITA’s biggest annual fund-raiser. Congratulations also to the winners of the Best Of Competition and the heavy cake, mixology and Chef Cook-Off competitions.” 

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Breezes by the Bay scooped the award for Best Booth at this year’s Taste of Cayman.

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The winners of the mixology competition were, from left, Jernej Zavadlav of Mizu, Angel Robledo of Coconut Joe’s, and Leonardi Caraballo of Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay