Top-Tier Chefs Take Over 12th Annual Cayman Cookout
International chefs celebrate Caribbean cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.
A deliciously unique food and wine festival, the Cayman Cookout is again taking place on the idyllic Seven Mile Beach at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. With more than 74 scheduled events beginning January 15 and ending January 20, attendees will enjoy everything from an early-morning yoga and Krug champagne session to a lionfish-culling diving excursion with chef José Andrés. On the first night, guests can journey back through time at the Pappy Van Winkle Dinner, a family-crafted vintage whiskey tasting with a selection of dishes prepared by Thomas Seifried, chef de cuisine at the hotel’s signature Blue by Eric Ripert.
Oyster and caviar with crème fraîche mousse and sea buckthorn. / Rebecca Davidson Photography
An extravagant daytime detour allows a handful of visitors to experience a GoldenEye Getaway in Jamaica. Craggy Range winery owner Terry Peabody will fly everyone on his private jet to visit Ian Fleming’s famous GoldenEye villa in Oracabessa. The escape will feature lunch by Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert, paired with New Zealand’s Craggy Range wines. Another highlight of the weekend is Andrés’ face-off with Ripert, pitting Spanish paella against Southern France’s most popular fish stew, bouillabaisse.
Ripert started the festival 11 years ago, bringing together culinary professionals and amateurs to celebrate the lifestyle of the Cayman Islands. He never thought it would take off like it has. “We invited chefs from all over the world with the idea of promoting the island as a culinary destination to an exclusive group of people who care about quality and having fun with their chef idols, who are there to intimately partake in activities with them,” he says. “Classes, dinners, galas and fun gatherings like a barefoot barbecue on the beach motivated people to come.”
Alice in Wonderland dessert. / Rebecca Davidson Photography
Andrés has never missed the festival, co-promoting the Cayman Cookout every winter. This year sees the addition of first-timers Clare Smyth—a Northern Irish chef who is the only woman to run a Michelin three-star restaurant in the U.K.—and French native Laëtitia Rouabah, executive chef at Alain Ducasse’s Benoit in New York City. “It’s not always the case that we get to cook and play in such a privileged setting,” says Rouabah, who will prepare light renditions of her cuisine. Meanwhile, Smyth will be showcasing artisanal creations with an emphasis on sustainability, such as a signature Isle of Mull scallop tartare with sea vegetable consommé.
Fourth-timer Daniel Boulud will demonstrate a preparation of moqueca, the Brazilian fish stew that he defines as “the quintessential Brazilian-Caribbean tropical dish evoking an island vacation.” Making her third appearance, San Francisco’s Dominique Crenn is looking forward to getting together with friends during what will be her first long trip after being diagnosed with breast cancer last year. “My food is about seafood and nature, and I will use everything that is found on the island,” says Crenn, who calls the Cayman Cookout a celebration of the comraderies that bring people together.