Nothing brings a community together like food. Cayman’s brilliant mix of nationalities means we enjoy a huge variety of cuisines. In fact, if you ate a new cuisine every day, it would take you months to get through them all. And whilst we enjoy a number of festivals and gatherings throughout the year, there are two standout events that really bring all these wonderful cuisines together and celebrate the best of Cayman’s food and drink — both of which should not be missed if you are a foodie fan.
A True Taste of the Islands
One popular foodie festival is Taste of Cayman, an absolute stalwart of the foodie scene and a community event sponsored by Cayman Airways. Scheduled to take place on April 4 this year, it’s a much-anticipated and much-loved family-oriented event that just seems to add more to its agenda every year, with musical and cultural events enriching the event, making it a heady blend of cuisines, wine and song.
Julie Allan, chair of the Taste of Cayman Committee and member of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) Executive Committee, gave some background to Taste of Cayman:
“For the past 32 years, the Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival has celebrated all there is to offer about island life in the Cayman Islands. Starting life as a chili cook-off competition in a field in the late 1980s, Taste of Cayman has blossomed into becoming the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s largest annual fundraiser to date,” Allan explained. “Taste of Cayman provides the wonderful opportunity for some of Cayman’s best and upcoming restaurants to showcase their tasty dishes and delicious cocktails to promote the prominent food culture that the Cayman Islands has to offer.”
Allan said that with 2019’s festival bringing together more than 35 local restaurants and bars and more than 6,000 attendees (that’s around a tenth of Cayman’s population!), the organisers were excited to make Taste of Cayman 2020 bigger and better than ever before at the Camana Bay Festival Green.
Cookout is a Star-Studded Event
Cayman Cookout has been wowing event-goers for more than 10 years now. Held predominantly at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Cayman Cookout is hosted by the resort’s top chef, Eric Ripert, who runs their signature Blue by Eric Ripert restaurant, Cayman’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant. Held this year from January 15–20, this is a truly special event like no other because it’s one of the few events where guests can literally mingle with the stars. Chef Ripert’s incredible reputation as one of the world’s most talented chefs means he attracts internationally renowned chefs and wine and beverage specialists to Cayman, especially for Cookout. The original “three amigos” to lead the event were Chef Ripert, Chef José Andrés and the late Anthony Bourdain. New faces have since been added to the star-studded lineup and generally included popular U.S. chefs Emeril Lagasse and Andrew Zimmern. The United Kingdom’s Michelin-starred Chef Clare Smyth will also be appearing in 2020.
Big Boost for Cayman
Both festivals mean a great deal to the hospitality industry in Cayman, as the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa’s Executive Chef Sandy Tuason explained:
“I have always found Taste of Cayman and Cayman Cookout to be incredibly enriching and inspirational,” he confirmed. “I strongly believe that partaking in events like these can only benefit your career in the long run, and therefore, I always encourage my chefs and cooks to experience the annual Taste of Cayman and Cayman Cookout events.”
Chef Tuason said that not only did they love supporting Grand Cayman’s tourism by participating in these highly attended events; they were also thrilled to cheer on their fellow talented Grand Cayman chefs as they collectively showed the world how the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean did fine cuisine.
“In both 2018 and 2019, our Beach House at the Westin Grand Cayman was voted ‘Favourite Restaurant’ in the People’s Choice Awards at Taste of Cayman. We cannot wait to see what this year holds,” Chef Tuason said.
Lee Parry, director of food and beverage at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, is also a big supporter of Cayman’s food festivals. “With more than 120 nationalities represented on our beautiful island, Cayman inevitably has a diverse culinary offering. There is a mixture of gastronomic influences stemming from all around the world, resulting in an evolving and thriving foodie scene,” he said. “We love participating in events like the Cayman Cookout and Taste of Cayman because part of our passion is in raising awareness of what our restaurants have to offer. These events provide an amazing opportunity to elevate the profile of Cayman as a culinary destination not only in the Caribbean but also worldwide.”
Author: Stephanie Peacock