Cayman Cookout, has drawn to a close for another year but those who attended are still buzzing about chef Martin Picard‘s appearance at the 6th annual food and wine event held in Grand Cayman. We brought along a group of Canada’s top culinary journalists and the “Wild Chef” took us on a journey we won’t soon forget. Picard, of the famed Au Pied de Cochon in Montréal, was invited by Michelin-starred chef Eric Ripert to attend the star-studded event with culinary greats like Daniel Boulud, Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless, José Andrés, Jacques Torres, Daniel Humm, Anthony Bourdain and others for a weekend of food demonstrations, kitchen war stories and island excursions. The destination has quickly established itself as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean” and with the Cayman Cookout as its signature food event, it’s no wonder.
Picard’s memorable events at Cookout included a demo held on Seven Mile Beach where he served his famous Poutine au Foie Gras to an eager audience, laughing as the guests asked how best to burn off the calories in his rich but delicious dish. During his visit, he also teamed up with chefs Bastianich, Andrés, Bayless, Boulud, Humm, Torres and Ripert for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner held at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
With a culinary imagination that knows no bounds Picard also participated in an event billed as a “Dinner Party at Camana Bay“, the hip new urban centre of Grand Cayman. Starting off in the Veuve Clicquot lounge we then proceeded to Abacus restaurant for starters that included pork rinds, oysters with maple jelly and venison temaki. The inventive menu also included bone marrow and caviar, squid ink poutine, “duck in a can” (served hot to the table only to be opened and served atop truffled mash potatoes), maple glazed pig head, vanilla ice cream with maple taffy and a “pouding chômeur”, among other delicacies. We and the other guests also indulged in a palate cleanser of absinthe served with maple cotton candy which Picard pulled from the flossy machine, assisted by his sweet and smiling children.
Never one to shy away from the decadent and delicious, Picard’s dinner received rave reviews from all who attended, with one guest (hmmm…guess our Fathom Co staffers will go to great lengths for the shot, right @markfathomco?) even getting up close and personal with the pig head that was served family style to our table. Following dinner, Picard joined everyone on the patio for dessert and to show the eager and willing how to saber champagne with an axe (of course!). We envisioned him doing the same at his famous Cabane à Sucre outside Montréal.
Our final night at Cayman Cookout concluded with a return to the luxury Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman for a final glass of champagne (it was an night of excess, what’s a little more?) and to bid our media guests a safe journey home. The night was capped off in style with a surprise visit to our table by chef Daniel Boulud who was his ever charming self and begged us to take a “photo generale” with him (ok perhaps that last part is slightly exaggerating). Congratulations to all involved for another fabulous Cayman Cookout and merci chef Picard for making the trip so memorable. After such a decadent journey however, it’s time to get back to juicing and the gym while visions of the sugar shack dances in our heads…