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The food and wine festival craze has been searing hot in the U.S. for decades. More recently, many Caribbean islands have added food and beverage festivals to their menu, mixing in their own tropical flair with local foods and adult beverages (think rum instead of red wine). Cayman Cookout is now one of many food and beverage festivals on the Caribbean calendar every year. For anyone interested in food and drink (like us), they serve as a tasty reason to head to the islands for a flavorful vacation with fellow foodies.

Hosted by Chef Eric Ripert (long-known for Manhattan’s La Bernardin) and the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Cayman Cookout is an intimate and family-style festival, with most events taking place on or near the beach. His sold-out trip to Stingray City (see our video clip on YouTube) was just one of many food- and beverage-oriented events at this highly successful inaugural event.

Other possibilities included: a huge seafood-focused Welcome Party right on Seven Mile Beach; cooking demonstrations by Le Bernardin pastry chef Michael Laiskonis, Laurent Tourondel (BLT restaurants and more), and Latina lovely  Ingrid Hoffman (Food Network’s “Simply Delicioso” - see her demo on YouTube); two sessions of the locally-driven Cayman Cookout Tasting Pavilion; a rollicking Rum Point Cookout that featured Dean Fearing’s cooking; rum and wine tastings; A Cook’s Tour of local foods with bad boy chef Anthony Bourdain; a sumptuous Champagne Brunch and Chef Cook-off (“Iron Chef” comes to the Caribbean); and a seven-course Gala Dinner at Blue.

With celebrity chefs, spectacularly prepared cuisine, wine, beer, and specialty cocktails, all on the beaches of Grand Cayman, it’s destined to become an annual extravaganza in the Caribbean and on the calendars of foodies worldwide.