Cayman Cookout: Stylish epicurean weekend approaches

Mark your calendars and save the date for what promises to be a spectacular weekend of fine food, winning wines and barefoot elegance served up at Cayman Cookout from Jan. 14 to 17. 

Building on the strengths of previous years, the 2016 cookout promises a winning mix of signature and new events and is being hosted by The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, in partnership with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and Food & Wine magazine.  

If previous years are anything to go by, then the four-day food and wine fest, with events staged in many locations, will be a thoroughly sophisticated, yet relaxed affair. As well as quickly having become a firm favorite with local gourmands, who enjoy the varied ambience, the range of events and the high quality drinks and fare, Cayman Cookout is continuing to garner rave reviews and overseas visitors regularly plan their vacation around the quality culinary event.  

An impressive lineup of world-renowned chefs, wine experts and spirits blenders will be featured during Cayman Cookout. As well as beachside demonstrations, elegant luncheons, tours, dinners, reserve wine tastings and meet-and-mingle activities, the event will feature sailing excursions and a chance for attendees to stretch their legs on the green. 

Visiting chefs 

Cayman Cookout will, as always, be hosted by celebrity chefs and friends Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés. As well as the noted trio, the event will also be graced by a brace of internationally known chefs. Among the 2016 line-up are Tom Colicchio, Dean Fearing, Florian Bellanger, Cindy Hutson, Ludo Lefebvre, Dean Max, Hubert Keller and Michael Mina. Famed mixologist Charles Joly and Krug winery will also be hosting key events, all helping to keep Cayman’s reputation as a premier culinary destination alive.  

The partnership with Food & Wine magazine is a real coup for the already popular event as the publication has a reputation for creating unique experiences that harness the talent and passion for great food and wine with singular destinations. 

According to the magazine’s senior vice president and publisher, Christian Grdovic: “The Cayman Cookout is a standout event and we look forward to being endlessly entertained by the magnificent lineup of Eric Ripert and friends blended with the stunning Cayman Islands as our backdrop.”  

As usual, the event – which this year celebrates its ninth anniversary – will stage a variety of more established and newer events including: 

The Barefoot BBQ 

Dine under the stars with chefs Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés at the Royal Palms for one of Cayman Cookout’s signature events. They, along with Cindy Hutson, Dean Max and several other chefs, will prepare a sumptuous and upmarket BBQ bonanza, with grills sizzling on the beach as the waves break. Enjoy the feel of sand underfoot and sample the choicest cuts and dishes as the chefs plate up and chat at the beachfront stations. With plenty of seating and a well-stocked open bar with special cocktails, this event is sure to be a winner 

The Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch & Cook-Off 

This event staged in The Ritz-Carlton Ballroom will feature endless Moët Chandon Champagne, accompanying an extravagant choice of brunch offerings. Meanwhile, on the stage, Grand Cayman’s most talented amateur chefs will compete in a live cook-off. The finalists will face-off during the brunch and the winner will be decided by celebrity chef judges Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés. 

The Wine Fair and Auction 

The wine fair and auction is a signature event. This celebration of wine and wine making showcases an unparalleled collection of wines and superb food selections from international and resident chefs of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. As well as featuring a host of culinary, wine and travel experiences, the proceeds of the evening’s auctions will go to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Culinary Arts Scholarship and the Cayman Islands Heart Foundation. 

New to Cookout 

The Sound of Krug 

This reserve tasting event will introduce a selection of Krug wines, including some of the rarest champagnes in production, paired with music to enhance the experience.  

Krug on the Green 

Mix a little sport with a reserve tasting and you have Krug on the Green. Spend the early evening on the ninth hole of Blue Tip, The Ritz-Carlton’s Greg Norman-designed golf course, with a glass of Krug Champagne. Putt for prizes and take in the views while savoring some of the best champagne France has to offer. 

Rum and Robusto 

An exciting and stylish addition to Cayman Cookout’s roster of events, Rum and Robusto will be a truly unforgettable afternoon with a distinctly Cuban flavor. As well as serving up the chance to enjoy a complimentary cigar (a cigar roller will be on hand to personally make cigars on request), attendees can also sip refreshing rum cocktails, eat sumptuous tapas-style fare and enjoy live Cuban music poolside at The Ritz-Carlton’s Harbour Club. The signature event’s Cuban inspiration helps create this new and exciting addition to the Cayman Cookout lineup at a price point that will be hard to beat for such a rare experience.  

Sailing with Silverado Vineyards and Grand Old House 

Taste the exceptional wines of Silverado Vineyards in Napa Valley’s famous Stags Leap District with Silverado’s General Manager Russ Weis, while sailing the beautiful Cayman waters on a catamaran with bites provided by the chef of Grand Old House, one of Cayman’s most established restaurants. 

The Rundown with Anthony Bourdain 

Chef, author and raconteur Anthony Bourdain tastes and talks local flavors with Cayman’s best known chefs and restaurateurs, with special participation from local artisans at The Ritz-Carlton in what promises to be a fun and informative lunch event.  

Celebrity chef bios 

Eric Ripert 

The top ranked chef, restaurant/wine bar entrepreneur, food writer and TV host discovered his passion for food early in life, attending culinary school at 17 years old. 

Keen to make his mark in the profession of his choice, Ripert then left for Paris to cook at the world famous La Tour D’Argent and then worked at the three-Michelin starred Jamin. He has lived in the U.S. since 1989. 

Since his time at Le Bernardin, the restaurant has earned a four-star rating in the New York Times five consecutive times – a record, to date. Ripert partnered with The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman to open Blue restaurant, and is a Lion d’honneur recipient – France’s highest honor. He is also part-owner of Aldo Sohm Wine Bar. 

Anthony Bourdain 

World-renowned chef, executive chef of Manhattan’s Brasserie Les Halles, food writer and TV presenter, Anthony Bourdain is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. The larger-than-life New Yorker started his food industry career as a dishwasher, working his way up through the ranks to line cook, sous chef to executive chef.  

José Andrés 

Spanish-American Chef José Andrés was recognized by Time magazine on the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world. Known internationally as a culinary innovator and food activist, the restaurateur and food author owns restaurants across the U.S. and is founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit which aims to feed and empower vulnerable communities worldwide facing humanitarian crises. 

For a full listing of Cayman Cookout happenings and ticket prices, visit

Champagne is always flowing at the Cayman Cookout.


From left, chef Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés get an early start on the festivities as they follow a carnival girl to the beach.


Chef José Andrés’s event ‘Ole José’ always sells out early.


Chef José Andrés entertains the audience with one of his chefs, Ryan Collins, assisting.


There’s nothing like food cooked in the great outdoors.


Guests always enjoy a personal experience at the Cookout events.


The Beach Bash, held at Rum Point, is a very popular Signature Event.


Chefs Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain are old friends.


Culinary delights await all ticket holders.


Sushi, anyone?


From left, Cody Bush and Anthony Lawson competed against Kellie McGee and Ryan McGee in the 2015 Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch Cook-off. Bush and Lawson emerged victorious.


A whole lot of chefs participate in Cayman Cookout every year. – Photos: Stephen Clarke


Chef Bernard Guillas, with Karina Langevin, is an expert at multi-tasking.