Michael's Genuine wins favorite restaurant award

The Westin’s Beach House restaurant takes best food award at Taste of Cayman

Attendees of the Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival on Saturday chose Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink as Cayman’s favorite restaurant for the third consecutive year. 

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the organizer of Taste of Cayman, announced the winners in a press release issued Tuesday. 

In addition to entertainment, cooking demonstrations, two cocktail competitions and an amateur chef cook-off, Taste of Cayman featured food samples provided by more than 30 local restaurants. Festival attendees were given wooden tokens with which to vote on their favorite restaurant at the event.  

Michael’s Genuine served three dishes – pan-seared lionfish with local ackee, slow roasted local goat with local calabaza and long bean salad, and warm doughnuts with local passion fruit curd – and narrowly won the top honor over Grand Cayman Marriott’s Anchor and Den restaurant, which served small portions of its Braised Short Rib Gnocchi. 

Jackie Sayet, brand director for The Genuine Hospitality Group, said that every year Michael’s just tries to show guests “what genuine food and drink mean to us.”  

“We are deeply humbled to receive this award for the third year and thankful that the Caymanian community has again given us the opportunity to recognize the hard work of our team in the restaurant,” she said. “That never gets old.” 

In addition to the favorite restaurant competition, the Taste of Cayman also featured a Best of Competition, in which five anonymous people – two of whom were winners of a Z-99 radio station contest – chose the best restaurants in particular categories.  

Winning the competition in the Best Food category was the Westin’s Beach House restaurant, which served soy-and-sake-braised lamb neck with coconut steam bun and Caribbean kimchi. 

Island Naturals Cafe’s strawberry vegan cheesecake took the award for best dessert, with Michael’s Genuine coming in a close second with its warm doughnuts.  

For the second consecutive year, the best drink award went to the Rum Point Club for its Mudslide cocktail, narrowly edging Cayman Spirit Company’s Nor’wester cocktail  

As it did last year, Breezes by the Bay/Cimboco/Chicken! Chicken won the award for best booth. 

Other competitions 

The Cayman Rum Challenge, sponsored by Seven Fathoms Rum, featured 10 local bartenders using at least one Cayman Spirits Company product. After a preliminary round reduced the field to three finalists, the bartenders were asked to mix a cocktail using a mystery ingredient, which was revealed to be coconut.  

The Royal Palm’s Lachlan Morris won the competition with a cocktail he called Sevendipity, with Barolo Lounge’s Valerie Balignasay coming in second with her Spice Banana Boat cocktail. Karma’s Steve Bingham, who was the only bartender to stray from rum as his cocktail base in the preliminary round by using Gun Bay vodka in making his Chimamire Caesar, came in third place. 

After the mixology competition, there was a flair bartending contest, won by Jono Firstbrook of Billy Bones and O Bar. 

There was also an amateur chef cook-off featuring the past two winners of the Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch Cook-Off, Gina Connolly and her sous-chef Phil Cassingham going against Anthony Lawson and Cody Bush, who call themselves the Smokin’ Bros. As they did just three weeks earlier at the Cayman Cookout, the Smokin’ Bros took home the top prize with an Asian-flavored trigger fish and parrot fish ceviche served in a local cucumber boat. 

Renda Cornwall earned first place – and a $300 prize – in the heavy cake competition, followed by Phenicia Bodden-Fraser in second place, and last year’s winner, Ingrid Bodden, in third place. 

The Taste of Cayman is the largest annual fundraiser for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, an independent, not-for-profit organization that represents more than 250 members in various sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry. Executive Director Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks said the organization was thrilled with they way the event turned out this year. 

“From our sponsors and vendors to the bands, the volunteers and of course our patrons, a good time was had by everyone,” she said.  


The Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink team in front of their booth at the 2015 Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival.