Sunday, January 18, 2015

On the road again: Cayman Cookout, Grand Cayman, day 4

Today's first event was also the final one for many attendees:  the Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch.  Easily the most attended event of the weekend, it filled to overflowing the largest ballroom here.

Click an image to see a larger version.

The event combines a buffet brunch with a cooking competition.  Two teams of two local chefs compete for a set of prizes by producing in one hour a full plate of food for a panel of judges.  Three of the judges were the main celebrity chefs here:  Ripert, Andres, and Bourdain.  The fourth, whose name I did not get, is the head chef for the Ritz-Carlton chain.

The brunch works by having guests visit two long rows of food tables to sample the tasty treats from around 20 stations, each the work of a team of skilled chefs.  It's hard to capture the scale of the thing with my phone's camera, but this shot of just one of the two very long hallways of food tables should give you a sense of it. 

The food was uniformly quite good, better than what you'd typically eat, though rarely extraordinary.  The cooking competition is fun, but the key lesson of each year--the simpler dish wins--seems lost from year to year.

Next up was the penultimate event of the show, the Artisan Market.  A gathering of vendors in tents around a large pool, this one has gotten a bit worse each year.  Four or five chefs, mostly local, presented savory dishes, and one station offered two sweets, so you could make a meal of it if you were so inclined.  With little else non-alcoholic on offer, however, and with the gala finale dinner only a few hours away, I bought nothing and sampled only a single bite of one sweet.

The Cayman Cookout closes each year with an incredibly pricey but quite wonderful dinner in Blue, Eric Ripert's restaurant in the hotel.  With the name "Seven To Savor: An Evening with Eric Ripert & the Chefs of the Cayman Cookout," the meal sets itself a high bar, but each year that I've come here, it has cleared that bar easily.  Because I'm on holiday, and because I have no real plans for tomorrow, I'm going to save the photos and recap of that dinner for then.  Suffice for the moment to say that the dinner was spectacular and a lovely conclusion to the Cayman Cookout.

Tomorrow, I hope to manage to fit the report on this meal into my schedule of sleeping and splashing in the ocean and generally doing nothing.

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