Tickets are on sale for the 2017 Cayman Cookout, created by Chef Eric Ripert January 12-15, 2017 at the Ritz Carlton on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman Island. This intimate culinary weekend will bring together Chef Ripert and special guests Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, Emeril Lagasse, Christina Tosi, Terrance Brennan, Daniel Humm, Tim Love and Roland Passot, along with famed mixologists Charles Joly and Bob Peters.
This past January, during MLK weekend, I attended the Cayman Cookout with my three girlfriends for our annual “Girls Vacation”. We have gone on girls vacation each year since 2002, and it was one of the best ones to date. We spent 5 days in paradise, surrounded by the best chefs in the world. Literally!!! We had an all access pass to Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Ludo Lefebvre, Jose Andres, Hubert Keller, food, wine and rum punch for the week.
The Cookout started on a Thursday, but since we were flying in from different parts of the country, we decided to take the day and relax, explore the island, get acquainted with our resort and reunite with each other. We all flew in around the same time, rented a car and got the party started!
About this time last year, we started planning for this trip and we decided as a group on the events that we wanted to attend during the cookout. We narrowed them down by the obvious. Anthony Bourdain, buffet style food tastings (because we have no shame) and we threw a wine tasting in there. We ended up choosing “Around the World with Anthony Bourdain” for that Friday, and “Sailing the Silverado” which was a wine tasting on a catamaran later that evening. We had Saturday to ourselves and got tickets the the “Palm Party” where Chef Hubert Keller was the DJ and we ended the weekend Sunday at the “Bon Vivant Cook -off Brunch”.
We left our resort super early to drive over to the Ritz Carlton and check in for the cookout and get all of our event tickets and event swag. There is a comfortable hospitality room setup for cookout guests to hang out in with several sofas available, water, rum punch is flowing and plug ins are close by to charge up your cell phone. This is also the place where you check in and volunteers are there to answer all of your questions. When you check in, you receive your bag, a year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine and unlimited samples of rum cake during the whole weekend. Yes! As long as the hospitality room is open, help yourself to rum cake. The Ritz Carlton also offers a free wifi code to cookout guests for the weekend as well so that we can snap, post and share.
We are all checked in, off to see the man that we came for, Anthony Bourdain!!!
This session is set up outside on the back lawn like a food festival and it showcased up and coming chefs from the island. There was plenty of covered seating available and it was a gorgeous day. Bourdain casually strolled in with a cookout attendee on time and headed right to the first booth. Each booth served food that was local to the island and it was anything from conch to wild boar. Anthony Bourdain took his time to taste each dish and give his opinion. He was the most gracious host! He took time and answered questions from the guest who were there at the end and he took pictures with us as he moved from each booth along the way. We even had a surprise appearance from his good buddy Eric Ripert during the session. The food was amazing and plentiful and there was never a line to stand in to get an item. No one ran out of food and the rum punch was served all the way until the very end.
Around the world with Anthony Bourdain was amazing! We are stuffed and a little tired and we have our wine tasting event coming up this evening. Luckily the hospitality suite is available for us to relax in and there is space available for us to freshen up and change our clothes. One thing that you may not know about me is that I have a major school girl crush on Chef Ludo Lefebvre. I love Ludo’s accent, his tattoo’s, he’s cute, I could go on. We are all relaxing in the hospitality suite and guess who walks in… Ludo! I freak out, he freaks out, I ask his wife to take our picture and my day has been made all over again.
Later that afternoon right before sunset, we were bused to Lalique Point Dock and we boarded a catamaran for the Sailing with Silverado event. Silverado Vineyards is located in the heart of Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley. This region is known to produce some of the most stunning Cabernet Sauvignon’s in California and in the World. We were greeted with bites of Ceviche, wine and at the end of the sail, we were served a 2001 limited edition Silverado made only in the best vintages. It was a highly rare batch, only 300 cases were made per Mr. Russel Weis, President of Silverado Vineyards, who joined us on the sail.
Saturday morning we enjoyed the sunrise over the beach from our balcony, we laid out, enjoyed the infinity pool, the swim up bar and happy hour. We drove into town and had the best dinner at Osetra Bay Grand Cayman. The meal and service were outstanding. After dinner, we headed to the Ritz Carlton for the “Palm Party” hosted by Chef Hubert Keller. The whole weekend has been very laid back. All of the Chef’s have been very approachable and friendly. No one has been pretentious and there has not been a need for anyone to walk around with security. The party had a cool house music vibe. Chef Keller went from behind the DJ booth to the dance floor enjoying himself with all of us. Lionel Richie even made an appearance in the hotel lobby. We danced the night away!
Sunday is here and we have our final event for the weekend, the Bon Vivant Cook Off- Brunch! Endless Moët & Chandon Champagne and extravagant brunch selections. Grand Cayman’s most ambitious amateur Chefs duel in a live cook-off in The Cayman Islands Ballroom at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The amateur Chef finalists face-off during Sunday brunch and the winner is determined by celebrity Chef judges Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés. Seating is assigned by table number but the line to get in is still really long, so get there early. This is the most overwhelming event of the weekend food-wise. Each chef, amateur and professional, cooks at this event and there is every type of food station available that you can think of. Everything is served in a full portion size, everything is gourmet, you will want to try everything at least once, and the Moet flows the whole time. Come with an empty stomach! The host judges are up mingling with us during the brunch as well, so if you have not taken that selfie, here is your chance. Me and my girlfriends are major foodies, Top Chef fanatics and Anthony Bourdain groupies, so this festival was the perfect storm for us. Tickets to each event will sell out so purchase them now if you can. Here is the link : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cayman-cookout-2017-tickets-27393446536
In my post next Monday, I will discuss traveling abroad with my in-laws. I will be doing it for the first time in January! Have you traveled abroad with your in- laws? It will be my first time and their first time crossing the Atlantic. Lets talk about it!
Until next time. #LiveLoveTravel