Just when we thought our waistlines would have a chance to recover from the festive season, along comes another gastronomic event to tempt us.
Saturday sees the return of Taste of Cayman, which celebrates the very best of local produce and culinary creativity. To sweeten the deal, 2018 marks 30 years of Taste of Cayman, meaning this foodie celebration is set to be bigger and better than ever.
The festival is held at the Festival Green in Camana Bay, for one day only. From cocktails to street food to ice cream, there is usually something to tickle everyone’s taste buds. Guests can expect to find more than 40 food and drink vendors – including Fidel Murphy’s, Vivo, Cayman Cabana and Jacques Scott – along with stages and VIP areas.
“We’re continuously adding to our long list of vendors, and the regularly updated line-up can be found on the Taste of Cayman website,” says Kirsty MacGeoch of Tower Marketing. “The list features traditional favorites, as well as some exciting newcomers. As always, we are aiming to highlight the truly diverse food and drink offerings available here in Cayman, the culinary capital of the Caribbean.”
The planned run of show begins with chef demos at 5:30 p.m., where some of Cayman’s best culinary talents cook up a storm in the state-of-the-art kitchen. Then it is time for the Bon Vivant Amateur Chef Cook Off and heavy cake contest, with cash prizes up for grabs and the finalists’ cakes available for tasting (race you there!).
As the evening continues, talented bartenders go head-to-head in the live mixology contest, before a firework display lights up the skies and an impressive lineup of international tribute acts and Caymanian musicians keeps the crowd entertained.
This year, audience members can dance to the sounds of tributes to Prince, Michael Jackson, Journey and Stevie Wonder. Come for the food and stay for the concert!
For those who have budding junior chefs in tow, the Kids’ Zone lets little ones get up to their elbows in cookery fun with activities such as seed-to-plate demonstrations, movie screenings and face painting. Another popular fixture introduced at last year’s festival was the Experience Room, and this will once again deliver an immersive feast for all the senses.
The organizers also promise some special surprises on the night to celebrate this milestone year. “2018’s Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival will be extra special as we celebrate our 30th year. We are excited to be able to continue to showcase Cayman’s culture and culinary traditions,” says MacGeoch.
Given the scale of the event today – the largest fundraiser for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association – it is hard to imagine its humble beginnings in the late ‘80s.
“A group of restaurants from the Cayman Islands Restaurant Association used to meet in a field for a chili cook-off,” reflects Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, executive director of CITA. “Over the past 30 years, the festival has grown to host over 5,000 attendees, hotly contested competitions and over 18,000 portions of food.”
Ticket holders can cast their vote for the coveted Cayman’s Favorite Restaurant prize – the only people’s choice award of the evening – while a score of other awards including Best Booth, Best Food and Best Drink are decided by secret judges. A raffle will raise funds for local charity Meals on Wheels, and for some memorable images of the event, guests can strike a pose in the photo booth, complete with oversized food-themed props and a professional photographer.
Want to get even more involved in the festival for its 30th anniversary year? Sign up in advance to be one of the many “hands on deck” in the run-up to Taste of Cayman, as well as assisting on the day. Volunteers are welcomed for a variety of roles, from selling tickets to building stalls to operating the photo booth. Besides the feel-good factor of directly contributing to the festival’s success, volunteers gain free entry, 12 food tickets and access to a special after-party.
Taste of Cayman 2018 is a must for all the island’s foodies and no doubt this year’s offerings will be more delectable than ever.
Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the gate for adults; $20 for children ages 5-13; and $150 for VIP. VIP tickets include: express entry, 25 food and drink tickets, priority parking, experience room vouchers, welcome drink and canapes and access to the air-conditioned VIP hospitality tent. For more information, visit www.tasteofcayman.org.