The Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival celebrated 30 years, with record numbers of guests attending one of the island’s biggest food and drink events at Camana Bay’s Festival Green this past Saturday, January 27th.
Over 5,000 people attended the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s (CITA’s) largest annual fundraiser. Guests sampled food and drink from over 35 food and drink booths, as well as enjoyed live entertainment, chef demonstrations, competitions and exclusive culinary experiences.
“2018’s Taste of Cayman Food & Drink Festival was truly special for us,” Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, Executive Director of CITA said. “The festival has grown significantly over the years, from humble beginnings as a chili cook-off in a field, to one of Cayman’s largest events with thousands of attendees. This milestone saw many of the island’s best restaurants and bars and both local and international talent come together for one night.”
Festival goers voted for their favourite vendor to win the coveted title of Cayman’s Favourite Restaurant, 2018. The award was won by The Beach House at The Westin, who served up a Keema Pav; minced spiced lamb on a toasted soft bun, with red onion, cilantro, tomato, green chili and mint chutney.
“Thank you to everyone for choosing us as the winner of Cayman’s Favourite Restaurant at this year’s Taste of Cayman. I would like to thank my team who made a huge effort,” said The Beach House Chef, Guarav Kumar.
“We chose a Keema Pav, which are lamb sliders, however, we wanted to give a local influence to the dish. Our pastry chef said he could make coconut buns to serve the lamb in. He used cassava flour and coconut butter, resulting in incredible buns. The aroma was spreading all around and people were just coming to us.”
“We’re delighted for The Beach House on winning Cayman’s Favourite Restaurant 2018,” Ms. Dixon-Ebanks said. “With so many new and returning vendors, it’s a tough competition, so we’d like to congratulate them on winning the people’s choice award.”
The award of Best Food was presented to The Brasserie for their chipotle BBQ beef and pork sliders, served with garden green papaya slaw, with Best Drink going to Jacques Scott for their ‘You Say Goodbye, I Say Aloe’ cocktail, made with Tanqueray No. TEN, green tea-infused sherry and aloe soda.
Island Taste won Best Local Dish for their ‘Seafood Rundown Medley’ and Tortuga took home the award for Best Dessert for their coconut rum cake, served with chocolate pastry crème and pineapple. Best Booth went to Cimboco and Chicken Chicken for their Caymanian style booth, complete with palm trees, coconuts and flags.
One of the founders of Taste of Cayman, Suzy Soto, cut the 30th anniversary cake, provided by The Cake Studio and was joined by many who have been a part of Taste of Cayman over the years, including Theresa Leacock-Broderick, President of CITA, Ken Hydes, Immediate Past President of CITA, Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, Executive Director of CITA, Julie Allan, CITA Restaurant and Bar Director and Taste of Cayman Committee Chair and Harry Lalli, Taste of Cayman Committee Member, who were accompanied by Deputy Governor Hon. Franz Manderson and Miss Cayman Islands Annika Connolly.
The evening was filled with entertainment, including performances by local band Seven Miles Long and The Lionfish, as well as live sets from international tribute acts Stevie Wonder, Journey, Michael Jackson and Prince, all complemented by a fireworks show.
VIP guests were treated to Grey Goose Le Fizz cocktails, canapés from Bacaro and catering by Anchor & Den at the air-conditioned Save the Date VIP Area, as well as a private bar and a live DJ throughout the night.
The All Things Cayman Area saw plenty of action throughout the evening, including the annual Heavy Cake competition, Seven Fathoms Rum Challenge and Amateur Chef Cook-offs. Jodiann Jackson won the Heavy Cake competition, with Andrea Laguna and Marie Rivers coming in second and third place respectfully. “I enjoy baking heavy cake because it reminds me of my late grandmother, Josephine Pearson, who use to bake all the time,” said winner, Ms Jackson. “I also love keeping the Caymanian heritage and tradition alive.”
The Seven Fathoms Rum Challenge saw international competitors take on local bartenders, with winning contestants from preliminary international rounds in London, New York, Miami and Chicago competing alongside Cayman’s best bartenders. Ensor Yusseff of The Westin came out on top with his ‘Fragi Pani’ cocktail, made with Seven Fathoms Rum, pumpkin cordial, apricot and hazelnut liquor and Angostura bitters, winning him the title of Taste of Cayman Mixologist of the Year 2018.
The Amateur Chef Cook-off was won by Miss World Cayman Islands, Kristin Amaya accompanied by chef Jolene Nelson, beating local journalist Ben Meade who was paired with Maureen Cubbon.
Taste of Cayman 2018 is proudly sponsored by Camana Bay, AI Rentals, Save the Date, Hurley’s Media, Tower, Digicel, Flava, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Yello, Home Gas, Island Heritage, Cayman Airways, Britcay, Periwinkle and Hew’s Cleaning Services, among others.