(CMR) 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 flavors, 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 favorites, 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. The winners were:
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-favorite 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 recognized as the best community chefs. Among the judges was The Honorable Minister Bernie Bush.
Cayman Beef Heavy Cake
1st Place – Dan White 1st Place – Anita Parsons
2nd Place – Rohan Marshall 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 favorite divas – Cher, Madonna, Adele, and Lady Gaga.