This is no ordinary cook out

Foodies set your calendars for the weekend of 16 to 19 January as The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman sets the scene for Cayman Cookout, billed as the Caribbean’s premier epicurean event. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.

Blue, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman’s legendary top rated restaurant has at its creator a legendary Chef, Eric Ripert, head of New York’s three Michelin starred La Bernadin restaurant. It is this charismatic chef who will be leading a parade of internationally renowned food and wine experts to guide guests through a weekend celebrating food, wine and the natural beauty of the Caribbean later on this month.
Dipping their toes into this type of culinary offering back in September 2007, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman brought ‘Rundown with Chef Eric Ripert’ to a fascinated audience that was keen to experience the wonderful workshops, events and dinners on hand. Building from that amazing experience, organisers have this year brought together a heart-stopping (well, it is if you are a food fanatic like this writer!) list of celebrity chefs to the table, each set to share their particular culinary expertise with guests of the event.
Beginning with registration at The Ritz-Carlton on Friday 16 December (a pre-requisite for all guests), a welcome party will take place that evening, where guests will be able to mix with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Ingrid Hoffman, Appleton MasterBlender Joy Spence, Laurent Tourondel as well as Blue’s own Chef Eric Ripert.
Best not to imbibe too heavily at the welcome party as the weekend’s roster of events kicks off the following morning at 9:00am with a coffee and pastry demonstration. The Ritz-Carlton’s dedicated pastry chefs will showcase their talent, highlighting their art of laminating dough to create croissants and other buttery delights.
That same morning Chef Eric Ripert will be donning his sailing cap along with his chef’s hat as he takes guests out on a cruise to Stingray City at 9:00 a.m. Chef Eric Ripert will be visiting his favourite place in Cayman, Stingray City. Guests will sail out to the North Sound on a majestic catamaran and swim with and feed the wild Southern Stingrays in just three feet of crystal clear water. During the trip, Chef Eric will share the simple joys of preparing a boat deck ceviche using the bounty of Cayman’s waters. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close to the great chef and perhaps pick his brains on the best way to sauté tilapia, or any other culinary questions you may have.  

At the same time the sommeliers of The Ritz-Carlton will be sharing their tremendous knowledge with guests in a special wine tasting experience.

Laurent Tourondel, the French-trained, sophisticated restaurateur and the visionary behind the BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) restaurant fame will then demonstrate how he has redefined bistro cooking as we know it. Chocolates, truffles and cordials then take place in the Silver Palm Lounge followed by a wine tasting with renowned wine expert Anthony Giglio and rum tasting with Appleton Master Blender Joy Spence.
While all this is taking place, guests can also enjoy the Cayman Cookout Tasting Pavilion on The Great Lawn, with the chance to sample wines, cocktails and gourmet delicacies.

That evening the ‘Father of Southwest cuisine’, Dean Fearing will be leading a Rum Point Cookout featuring a fabulous outdoors evening filled with great food, wine and music.

Guests coming back for more on Sunday 18 January will begin the day in style with a Smoothies and Juices experience, celebrating Cayman’s bounty of fruits at Bar Jack.

Cookery demonstrations then kick into gear at 10am with Ingrid Hoffman effervescent host of The Food Network’s Simply Delicioso.

A Sunday Champagne Brunch with a Celebrity Chef Cook-off takes place over lunchtime and will no doubt be a favourite with guests as they await to see what happens as two of the culinary worlds finest are given a mystery basket of ingredients and go head to head Iron Chef style.

One huge highlight of the entire weekend then follows: a cook’s tour of Cayman with Anthony Bourdain, the intrepid host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations. He will take guests on a sensory journey of the finest the Cayman Islands have to offer at Pedro St. James National Historic Site.

Wine Tasting with Ray Isle will take place that afternoon as will the continuation of the Cayman Cookout Tasting Pavilion. More wine tasting, this time with wine expert Joshua Wesson then follows.

A stunning culmination of the weekend’s activities takes place that evening, with the Cayman Cookout Chefs’ Gala Dinner held, where else, but at Blue by Eric Ripert.

Described as the “gastronomic highlight of a weekend, perhaps a lifetime” guests will enjoy a seven course dinner prepared by Chefs Ripert, fearing, Hoffmann, Laiskonis, Manrique, Richard and Tourondel, with wines ingeniously paired by Ray Isle, Anthony Giglio and Joshua Wesson.

On Monday 19 January guests can bid a fond farewell to new friends as The Ritz-Carlton hosts a farewell breakfast at Periwinkle, whereby guests can cap off a weekend of extraordinary food, wine and company with a lingering breakfast and a last opportunity for witty culinary banter and insider chat with the chefs. And no doubt a promise to book for next year’s event!

Cayman Free Press is delighted to be a sponsor of this major event.


Chef Eric Ripert in action at 2007’s Rundown with Chef Eric Ripert