We recently returned from Cayman Cookout 2012
, an amazing 4-day food and wine festival held each year at the luxe Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
and hosted by none other than multi-Michelin starred chef, Eric Ripert
. The destination has fast become known as ‘the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’ and it’s no wonder – Cookout draws the finest: Anthony Bourdain
, Richard Blais
, Laurent Gras
, Francois Payard
and more – for a foodie extravaganza like no other. This year, Calgary chef, Paul Rogalski
of award-winning restaurant, Rouge
, was chosen to represent Canada at Cookout. We took some time to chat with him about his experience…
ON HOW HE HANDLED FOOD REQUIREMENTS… I did bring a couple of ‘secret’ ingredients with me, however the vast majority were sourced locally. Executive Chef Ron Jacobson was an outstanding host and did a fantastic job of sourcing my ingredients for my Abacus dinner held at Camana Bay. The same can be said for the Ritz-Carlton staff who were exceptionally helpful and professional.
Rogalski's souffle made beachside...in 85+ degree weather. Now that's talent.
ON WHAT ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND ERIC RIPERT ARE REALLY LIKE… On their own I can’t think about either one without smiling, as they are both equally fun, witty, brilliant and entertaining while in many ways seeming to be the polar opposites. Then you put them together and a shift in the karmic atmosphere occurs. I’m not really sure what the quantum physics behind it is, but I can tell you there is some high voltage electricity!
ON HOW HE WAS INVITED BY ERIC RIPERT… Eric personally invited me which is about the biggest honour a chef could receive. He visited Calgary last February and we had a chance to connect over dinner at Rouge. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to this fantastic event.
The media chat with the bare-footed chef before his beach demo
ON HOW HE BROUGHT A LITTLE BIT OF CALGARY TO CAYMAN… I couldn’t help but bring some of my grandmother’s cooking to Cayman! I guess her Ukrainian influence can be found in a lot of my food. My ‘Rocky Mountain Dinner’ at Abacus included a bowl of lobster borscht and an oxtail filled pierogi on the menu. For the Gala dinner at Eric Ripert’s restaurant, Blue, I prepared my take on Mulligatawny and created a Commonwealth meets Cayman influence.
We would post the lobster borscht but we ate it too fast! Our other fave? Seared sablefish, braised romaine, fennel fondue w/ an "interactive mushroom tea"
Serving up a little taste of Canada, Rogalski made Maple Syrup Snow Cones for dessert - Knob Creek Bourbon infused with maple syrup
ON ONCE LIVING IN GRAND CAYMAN… Grand Cayman’s food scene has come a long way since I lived there. There are so many options to choose from and I had nothing but excellent dining experiences at an array of restaurants. Besides all of the fantastic things one could say about the Cayman Islands, now you can add a thriving restaurant scene to the list.
Chef Rogalski on Seven Mile Beach