This year I was fortunate to attend the Cayman Cookout 2020 at The Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman. The event was held from January 16-19, 2020. I attended as a guest of Fortessa Tableware Solutions. I have a highlight saved on my IG page under “Cayman Cookout” for you to relive this enchanting experience with me all over again if you’d like HERE!
The Cayman Cookout is where the world’s most talented chefs, culinary influencers and wine and spirit experts gather for what they call the annual “Cayman Cookout”. The event was hosted by acclaimed chef Eric Ripert.
From the moment of checking into the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, I was in heaven. Every member of the staff were so attentive and helpful. Yes, it is a luxury hotel and you are expecting to be in good hands. However, they surpassed my expectations and went above and beyond each and every day.
Each day there are several events to attend, several is putting it mildly. There was at least one event going on from sun up to sun down. The schedule of intimate events and celebrations allowed for unprecedented access and interaction with some of the world’s most famous and beloved chefs, as well as unforgettable meals. Meals that were so delicately and creatively placed on Fortessa Tableware.
Our first event was a Mexican Lunch with Agave – Tequila Ocho and Ilegal Mezcal. We were served a meal from Chef Xavier Salomon, the Executive Chef from Montage Los Cabos. Due to my pregnancy I was not able to take part in the tequila sipping, however everyone did seem to enjoy their Ilegal Mezcal and Tequila Ocho cocktails provided by Agave Grill.
Next event was the Rockstars of Beverage with Dennis Tamse, Lauren Mote, Julie Reiner, Charles Joly and Kaitlyn Stewart. For a unique beverage tasting at the Bon Vivant Beach Pavilion.
Picture this: the world’s best bartenders walk onto Seven Mile Beach for a boozy afternoon. An afternoon of fun banter, cocktails and light bites. Hosted by Lauren Mote, co-proprietor of Bittered Sling and Diageo Global Cocktailian, doing Q & A with special guests, Dennis Tamse, Global Relationships Director at the Nolet Distillery (Ketel One vodka); world-renowned mixologist, bar owner and consultant, Julie Reiner; Co-Founder and Head Bartender of Crafthouse Cocktails, Charles Joly; and Kaitlyn Stewart, World Class global winner 2017. This even was sponsored by Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray No. TEN and Bittered Sling.
On Friday, we attended the Andrew Zimmern Explores the Flavours of Cayman presented by Best Dressed Chicken for lunch on The Great Lawn.
Chef Andrew Zimmern took us on his culinary voyage around the world. Chef AZ is a world-renowned chef, bestselling author and multiple Emmy-winning television personality. He is known for sharing the bizarre side of international and local flavors and was here with Cayman’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs. The beverage offerings included Santa Margherita wine, signature cocktails featuring Russian Standard Vodka, and Cayman’s very own Cayman Islands brewery beers.
There were a ton of vegetarian and vegan options for me to explore which I loved. I had to pass up on the delicious looking drinks, but indulged plate after plate of the bites to eat.
After this event we were able to sneak in some pool time. I was not going to miss out on the opportunity to sun the bump and indulge in some poolside food as well.
Last event for this day was the Barefoot BBQ at Royal Palms presented by Certified Angus Beef, Moët & Chandon and Barilla.
This event was a fun backyard BBQ under the stars on Seven Mile Beach where shorts were worn and trousers were rolled up. We dined under the stars as Chefs Eric Ripert, José Andrés, Andrew Zimmern and other local and internationally acclaimed chefs harmonized sizzling grills on the beach with the breaking waves in true barefoot elegance. There was more hand-crafted cocktails than I could count, live music with a DJ was going, all well into the evening. This event was presented by Certified Angus Beef and Chandon California sparkling wines, featuring Beam Global Bourbons, Flor de Caña Rum, Terrazas wines and 1981 Brewing Company.
I discovered a room that I labeled the “cheese board room”. They had everything you could ever want or image on a cheese board laid out across the entire room. It was all so delicious. There was also a spread of desserts that I will admit, I spent some intimate time with.
Since it had been a late night, I ordered breakfast to my room in the morning. I am still dreaming returning for these chocolate chip pancakes. All flatware shown is Fortessa Tableware.
My Saturday morning event was Challenging the Perception of Fine Dining with Clare Smyth presented by Fortessa and Garnier-Thiebaut at Blue by Eric Ripert.
The Final Table’s very own judge, Clare Smyth, took to the kitchen where her influence is derived from the beauty and subtleness of nature itself. Using sustainable fresh ingredients to capture palates, Chef Clare Smyth has been recognized by the Queen of England and distinguished into the British Empire as the only female two Michelin Star Chef in the United Kingdom. She was also named Female Chef of the Year by The World’s 50 Best, join Chef Clare for a perfectly-paired wine lunch.
Later that evening was the event- It’s All About Truffle dinner by Chef Thomas Seifried presented by Sabatino Tartufi and Gourmet Foods International also hosted at Blue by Eric Ripert.
Here we were able to savor the exquisite taste of one of nature’s most delectable delicacies with an evening dedicated to truffles as Executive Chef of Blue By Eric Ripert, Thomas Seifried taking us through a six-course truffle dinner. During this gastronomic event, we explored and discovered the many ways we can associate truffles in our culinary journey.
The last event of the evening was the Rosé it Out presented by Moët & Chandon and The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card at the Harbor Club Pool.
The Harbour Club pool was transformed into a sophisticated and whimsical oasis with enchanting pops of pink and blushing shades of Rosé. The after party featured a DJ under the stars while you sip on Moët & Chandon and a selection of handcrafted Belvedere vodka cocktails. With glamour and mystique galore, the night was only getting started!
Sunday morning started with my favorite event, Master Bites with Chef Rainer in the AUDI Beach Pavilion.
Chef Rainer Zinngrebe, Vice President and Corporate Chef at Marriott International Luxury Brands, has traveled globally over the past two decades in his capacity of Master Chef. Struck by the similarities of food and eating habits across borders, cultures and cuisines, he decided to share his discoveries in his book Small Bites Big Taste, which contains over 80 recipes of exciting, contemporary dishes that are not only easy to prepare, but also fun to share with family and friends. Chef Rainer will demonstrated a selection of these amazing creations at Cayman Cookout.
After this event, we had one last sneak away for a moment poolside again before the next event.
The next event was Rum and Robusto over at the Harbour Club Pool. This event showcased the pinnacle of the Caribbean with an exhilarating rum tasting. From locally produced to world renowned, the event allowed you to indulge your senses as you enjoy cigars from Cayman Cigars Company and coffee with live Son Cubano at the Harbour Club. Everyone (but me) sipped on cocktails inspired by the island’s vibrant colors and flavors. Everyone was able to toast to the good life in Cayman! I was able to find a delicious non alcoholic drink to sip on while I wandered through the event.
The event was hosted by the Global Rum ambassador Ian Burrell. It took you on a tour of some of the best rums in the world, such as Wray & Nephew, Ron Abuelo, Flor De Caña, Diplomatico, Bacardi, Seven Fathoms, Tortuga and Ron Zacapa.
The last event for the cookout was The Grand Gala presented by Fortessa and Garnier-Thiebaut, hosted at Blue by Eric Ripert.
This dining experience concluded the lively celebration of food and beverage with an elegant and delightful plated dinner at Blue by Eric Ripert. Hosted by Andrew Zimmern while Eric Ripert, Dominique Crenn, Daniel Boulud, Pano I. Karatassos, Normand Laprise, Niki Nakayama, Clare Smyth, Thomas Raquel and Thomas Seifried come together to prepare an enchanting dinner that was the highlight the Cayman Cookout experience. Course after course, culinary delights surprised and mesmerized us as they were paired to perfection with wine from world-class producers.
The next day was our day to say goodbye to this dreamy and bucket list perfection of a trip. I was so sad to leave, but also ready to get home to my babies. Thank you to Fortessa and Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman for hosting us. I hope to be back next year, minus a baby bump and ready to sip some of those delicious cocktails.
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