Saturday morning’s activities began early, with bright sun and clear skies awaiting. I tagged along as nearly forty Cookout visitors clamored aboard a beautiful catamaran for a demo and water excursion with Chef Eric Ripert. The destination? Grand Cayman’s Stingray City, a shallow sandbar home to docile, visitor-friendly stingrays happy to swim and soar past the nearly 6000 visitors who anchor nearby each day.
After a brief mingle on board as the boat made its way out to sea, brave souls ventured into the sky blue water to meet and swim with local stingrays measuring up to six feet long. On the return trek, the chef took his place at the bar and makeshift prep area to demonstrate a tasty tuna tartare, with Le Bernardin staff at hand to assist.
Ripert offered a number of suggestions, from holding your knife to choosing a fresh, sustainable tuna steak.
In the evening, guests, chefs, and media congregated at local beach bar Calico Jack’s for Bourdain’s Beach BBQ, hosted by chefs Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. In addition to food, drink, and dessert stations scattered around the beach area, a fifteen foot by fifteen foot grilling space sat squarely in the middle of the gathering, with hanger steak sizzling on the barbecue and a team of chefs prepping, cooking, slicing, and serving the meat to hungry guests. Much to my surprise, when I arrived, even Chef David Chang was busy behind the grill.
Chef Anthony Bourdain found a spot at the cutting board, slicing and dicing as avid fans snapped photos while chatting him up. Despite his cantankerous reputation, Bourdain, sporting a Hawaiian shirt, was happy to oblige. Chef Jose Andres later joined in the barbecue fun.
**As a guest of the Cayman Island Tourism Board, I gratefully appreciate the opportunity to cover this spectacular event.