Spatulas at the ready

Local amateur chefs have been spending more time in the kitchen lately as they shape up for the annual Cayman Cook-Off.

“The Cook-Off is a highlight event for the Cayman Cookout because it features local talent in an international spotlight. It reaffirms that Cayman is truly the culinary capital of the Caribbean and that culinary talent is brimming on the island. The Cook-Off is a platform that encourages local culinarians to dust off their pots and pans and live their dream,” says Nancy Harrison, marketing coordinator for The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.

Entries for the event are open and prospective contestants need to submit an entree recipe for four, along with a photo of the prepared dish. The recipe should include at least come local or Caribbean ingredients. Only locally resident amateur chefs need apply though. Entries close on 1 November, and a panel of local chefs and restaurateurs will select the eight contestants who will take part in the preliminary rounds on 17 and 18 November. The semi-finals will take place on 2 December and 9 December, with the two finalists showcasing their skill to a panel of international chefs during the Cayman Cookout Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch on 16 January 2011.

Last year’s panel included internationally renowned chefs like Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, David Chang and Jose Andres. More over 300 guests attended the event, where Jolene Nelson walked away with the honours after beating out a stiff challenge from Charlie Brown.

The reward for sweating it out in the kitchen is well worth it, as the winner will receive a trip for two to the FOOD & WINE Best New Chef Event in New York City with airfare provided by Cayman Airways, hotel provided by The Ritz‐Carlton, and lunch at Le Bernardin.

The event forms part of the annual Cayman Cookout, which will form part of Culinary Week and take place from 13 to 16 January 2011. Among the events featured will be Eric Ripert / National Trust Picnic at Starfish Point, a Sunday Night Gala Dinner hosted by Food & Wine’s Dana Cowan featuring a course from each of the celebrity chefs, and the Jacques Scott Wine Auction/Dinner with proceeds going to the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund.

Entry forms for the Cayman Cook-Off are available from Bon Vivant in Governor’s Square or on the dms website.   WH