Almost 5,000 people filled the Festival Green this past Saturday for a front-row seat to the island’s highly-anticipated return of Taste of Cayman Presented by Visit Cayman Islands.
This year’s event was a celebration of Cayman’s culinary scene, culture and youth through a showcase of local and international talent, bringing together an array of flavours, entertainment and experiences.
“This showcase of local and international talent is what Taste of Cayman is all about,” says Jay Ehrhart, Executive Director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. “It is a reflection of the diverse range of cultures in Cayman that blend with traditional, local favourites, making Cayman the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.”
As is tradition, Taste of Cayman is the place where restaurants and local food experts compete for a variety of awards.
Participating restaurants competed in four ‘Best of’ categories judged by a panel of experts.
BEST FOOD – Agave, Mexican Street Elote with Coconut Tempura
BEST LOCAL DISH – Murph’s Kitchen, Fish & Fritters
BEST DESSERT – Island Naturals, Local Cayman Mango Cheesecake
BEST DRINK – Monkey 47 Gin & Tonic
There was also a separate competition for Best Booth, based on the overall visual design, vibe and style of the participating vendor booths.
BEST BOOTH – Island Naturals
Taste attendees customarily vote for The People’s Choice, Best Restaurant. This year, they cast their votes via the Good Taste app.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE, Best Restaurant 2023 – Island Naturals
An exciting MIXOLOGY COMPETITION took place on the Bon Vivant Demo Stage.
1st Place – Leonardo Terenzio, The Westin Grand Cayman
2nd Place (tie) – Christina Ravdas from The Edgy Vedge, and Misha Lewicki from The Kimpton
The crowd-favourite Heavy Cake and Cayman Style Beef competitions took place in the All Things Cayman corner, where a record number of people entered their home-cooked and baked dishes for a chance to be recognised as the best community chefs. Amoung the judges was The Honorable Minister, Bernie Bush.
Cayman Beef Heavy Cake
1st Place – Dane White 1st Place – Anita Parsons
2nd Place – Rohan Marsall 2nd Place – Quincy Ebanks, Jr.
3rd Place (Tie) – Illeana Ebanks & Sheena Gale
During the six-hour festival, attendees sampled dozens of menu items from more than 25 local food and drink participants and had numerous opportunities to watch professional talent, both local and international, as well as amateur and rising stars showcase their skills – from chefs and mixologists to musicians, artists and dancers of all ages.
Cayman Young Chef 2022 winner Chef Brittney Bodden impressed the crowd with her personal demo in the Experience Room. She also worked alongside Food Network’s Emmy-Nominated Show ‘Sandwich King’ host, Chef Jeff Mauro during his demo.
Ms. Bodden was one of many homegrown talents featured in Taste of Cayman. Chef Jessica Moore, Taste This Life, and Mixologist Maya Grant, Fusion Mixology were both featured on the Bon Vivant Demo Stage and in the Experience Room.
The Honorable Minister Kenneth Bryan and former local TV personality Tammi Sulliman went head to head in the Amateur Cook-off on the Bon Vivant Demo Stage, and their results were judged by visiting international chef, Food Network Canada’s, Top Chef Canada, Season 10 winner, Chef Tre Sanderson.
Cayman’s young culinary talent also took part in Taste of Cayman.
A contingent of teachers and students from the UCCI School of Hospitality participated as volunteers. These students received hands-on, industry experience valuable to build and grow local talent for the future.
The National Youth Culinary Program, sponsored by Home Gas, had the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a crowd and panel of judges in a cook-off between two teams of youth chefs, one from Grand Cayman and one from Cayman Brac, who will be representing Cayman at an upcoming international BBQ competition in Memphis later this year.
The All Things Cayman corner, sponsored by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage, also featured numerous local artists and musicians. These included Red Bay Primary School Choir, the Cayman Youth Choir, Dreamchasers Cayman, Cayman Folk Singers, as well as representatives from Miss Universe Cayman, Miss World Cayman and Miss Teen Cayman.
On the Taste of Cayman main stage, Dan Ebanks, formerly known as Danny Loops, and Beniel Miller, both local Caymanian, and now internationally-recognized musicians joined local band, The Fabulous 68’s and the Materials Girls, a Canadian tribute band of pop music’s favourite divas – Cher, Madonna, Adele and Lady Gaga.
About Taste of Cayman
Taste of Cayman Food & Drink Festival is an annual initiative of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) which promotes the culinary excellence of the Cayman Islands food and drink sector. In 2023, Cayman’s largest and longest running food and drink festival celebrates 35 years since it first began with a small number of restaurants from the Cayman Islands Restaurant Association meeting in a field to compete in a Chili Cook-off. Today, the event has grown to attract thousands of festival goers to celebrate and experience the food and drink scene in the culinary capital of the Caribbean, and enjoy the music and party atmosphere that it has become known for.
Visit www.tasteofcayman.org to buy tickets, find out more about participating restaurants, music artists and discover unique experiences for 2023.
© Taste of Cayman, 2023. ‘Taste of Cayman’ is a registered trademark wholly owned and operated by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA).
Cayman Islands Tourism Association is a non-profit association which represents its membership of just over 250 tourism related private businesses in the Cayman Islands. The various sectors within the Tourism Association include: Hotels, Condo/Villas, Watersports, Restaurants, Transportation, Attractions, Cruise and Allied (all other businesses associated with our tourism product).
It was formed in March 2001 through an amalgamation of the Cayman Tourism Alliance and the Cayman Islands Hotel and Condominium Association. The association is wholly funded by membership subscriptions and fundraising. CITA actively promotes the continuing improvement and development of Cayman’s tourism Industry through the exchange of information, government relations, training and education, marketing, and events.
About Visit Cayman Islands / CIDOT
The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) was established in 1974 and falls under the mandate of the Ministry of Tourism and Transport. This Ministry organises and directs the activities for many departments all of which have similar goals; to protect the environment, support the economy, promote the islands as a premier destination for visitors and to support local businesses and business people.
CIDOT is the public sector agency charged with responsibility for short and medium term strategic planning and general destination management for the Cayman Islands’ tourism industry. To be successful, the Department must maintain a global perspective and a parallel local sensitivity in order to meet its broadest objectives as outlined in the National Tourism Management Policy (NTMP). The nature of the activities executed by the Department include research and policy development and implementation, international marketing and sales, industry training programmes, and the development of environmentally responsible programmes for the tourism industry. At all times, the Department seeks to advance the heritage, culture and values of the Cayman Islands and promote the advancement of sustainable tourism policies for the benefit of future generations.