The 12th annual Cayman Cookout kicks off on Thursday and, for the first time since the signature culinary event began, international chef Eric Ripert will not be in attendance.

Organisers confirmed Ripert, who usually hosts the event, will miss it this year. The Cayman Cookout features top global chefs, including José Andrés, Emeril Lagasse, Andrew Zimmern and Niki Nakayama, among others.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, Chef Eric Ripert will unfortunately no longer be able to join us this week. Chef Ripert is deeply disappointed to miss out on all the fun and we all look forward to his triumphant return next year,” Marc Langevin, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, told the Cayman Compass.

Chef Emeril Lagasse will be among international chefs headlining this year’s Cayman Cookout.

While Ripert will be missing the action, Langevin said, “The incredible and world-renowned guest chefs he has assembled for the 12th annual Cayman Cookout will be pitching in on his behalf and ensuring that all of the weekend’s events take place as planned.”

The Cookout events begin Thursday at 8am with ‘Yoga and Krug’, a beverage-tasting event at the Ritz-Carlton Haven cabanas, which will be followed by lionfish culling with Chef José Andrés and 1981 Brewing Company.

Langevin said some of the signature events sold out almost immediately, and a few of the lunches and dinners by the headlining chefs have also sold out.

“However, there is still availability to attend some of the local favourites. These include ‘Andrew Zimmern Explores the Flavours of Cayman’, which is a wonderful outdoor lunch in our Great Lawn, featuring Cayman’s favourite restaurants and chefs; Bon Vivant Cook-Off Competition Brunch on Sunday, this year featuring two local professional chefs competing and hosted by the TODAY Show’s Al Roker; and ‘Rum and Robusto’ on Sunday, to name a few,” he said.

Chef José Andrés makes one of his spectacular entrances at last year’s Cayman Cookout. He will feature again at this year’s event which is going on this week. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Langevin said the Cookout continues to evolve and, although it has grown in the number of events – more than 70 this weekend – he said organisers try to keep its essence which revolves around the intimacy of the events.

“We have added a lot more events around beverage and mixology, which include some unique reserve tastings. We also have more events off-site which highlight beautiful sites of our islands, like the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Cayman Brac. Of course, the wonderful line-up of our talented chefs and beverage experts are always a highlight and are ready to welcome guests with incredible events,” he added.

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