Foodies delight at Cayman Cookout 2011

| 25/01/2011

(CNS): Cayman Cookout 2011 brought a string of well known favourite TV chefs to Cayman last week for a long weekend of celebration in the art of wining and dining. International chefs Charlie Trotter, Rachel Allen, José Andrés, Anthony Bourdain and Susur Lee joined forces with celebrity chefs a little more known to Cayman – Eric Ripert who has his own Blue by Eric Ripert restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton and Dean Max, consultant chef to The Brasserie.Although a pull for overseas visitors, the events also drew a fair number of local food lovers as well, keen to take part in a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with their favourite chefs. (Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)

The first event to kick start the weekend was a charity wine auction held by Jacques Scott at The Ritz-Carlton’s Seven restaurant, raising around US$65,000 split equally between two charities – the Blue Iguana Recovery Fund and a Ritz-Carlton scholarship to a first class culinary school in the United States.

Irish Chef Rachel Allen proved that her Gaelic charm was natural and not just made for TV as she wowed her audience on Seven Mile Beach for the first of three days of cookery presentations. Attendees that evening to the Surf and Sandcastles kickoff celebrations saw all the celebrity chefs kick their shoes off, roll up their sleeves and take part in a mass display of their cooking prowess while admiring the superlative sandcastle decorations that abounded.

Wine lovers were also treated to sessions with the experts, Ray Isle and Anthony Giglio, as well as talks with the winemakers themselves, including Heidi Peterson Barrett, who is credited with making the most expensive wine in the world – Screaming Eagle – which once sold at a charity auction for US$500,000 for just one bottle.

Although held predominantly at The Ritz-Carlton, the event drew in many top notch restaurants on the island, with lunches and wine dinners on the Friday and Saturday at Bon Vivant, Grand Old House, Luca, Abacus, The Brasserie, Michael’s Genuine and Ortanique, spreading the economic benefit of the event further than merely the hosts.

The weekend culminated on Sunday with a brunch at The Ritz-Carlton’s ballroom that attracted hundreds of mainly locals to watch Fraser Hughes and Tessa Gall battle it out in the finale cook off.

Although both amateur chefs pleased the judges with their cooking skills (and ultimately tied for first place, winning a trip to New York) they both might want to hone their lobster-killing skills, as the judges (Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Susur Lee, José Andrés and the Governor Duncan Taylor – see photo below) watched on with their faces in their hands as the lobsters for their dishes were inexpertly slaughtered. Enough to put you off lobster for life.

The finale gala dinner was the highlight of the weekend, with celebrity chefs again pulling out all the stops to provide a first class dinner at Eric Ripert’s Blue restaurant. Attendees will no doubt be hitting the gym hard in anticipation of Cayman Cookout 2012.

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  1. Carmen says:

    Good for you, Tessa! It shows that you are a woman of many talents. Congratulations!