KAABOO culinary lineup announced

Music and comedy acts at the KAABOO Cayman festival have been getting the most attention but, among other things, the event is also about food.

On Thursday, organizers announced the lineup for the Palate stage, where celebrity chefs will give talks and demonstrations. Several high-profile international chefs will share the stage with those from some of Cayman’s top restaurants.

Both Michael Mina and Richard Blais – who appeared at KAABOO Del Mar, near San Diego, California, in September – are scheduled for the inaugural Cayman event.

Mr. Blais is probably best known for his appearances in “Top Chef,” where he won the program’s all-star competition and has served as a judge. Based in San Diego, he is the owner of Juniper & Ivy and The Crack Shack.

Mr. Mina is founder of the Mina Group restaurants, which includes both Bourbon Steak and Stripsteak in Miami.

Other top, off-island chefs include New Orleans-based chef Nina Compton, winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef South, South Florida chefs Michelle Bernstein and Thomas Tennant (formerly of Grand Cayman), and La Jolla, California’s Josef Felts.

In addition, local Cayman chefs Cody Bush and Anthony Lawson of Smokin Bros BBQ, private chef Dylan Benoit, and Maureen Cubbon of BestLife Culinary are also slated to give presentations.

Messrs. Bush and Lawson recently took home the Best Amateur Chef award from the Cayman Cookout, judged by top chefs including Eric Ripert and the late Anthony Bourdain.

Joining that lineup are a list of restaurants, including Guy Harvey’s Bar Crudo, Catch, Agua, the Wharf, Grand Old House, the Brasserie, Agave, Gelato & Co. and caterer Capt. Ceviche.

Cristiano Vincentini, an owner of Catch and Agua, said the festival is another chance to show off Cayman’s culinary offerings.

“Having all these celebrity chefs coming down and having culinary [aspect] highlighted, it will help Cayman in its reputation as the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” Mr. Vincentini said. He said he believes the local restaurants and businesses will benefit from the additional influx of visitors during the event.

“I think it will be big for all the communities on the island,” he said. “We’ve seen already, some phone calls from people with magazines, websites and travel agents. There’s already a big momentum.”

KAABOO Cayman takes place Feb. 15-16.