Taste of Cayman

With over 5000 people attending the 30th anniversary of Taste of Cayman the organisers made sure to pull out all of the stops. Guests were able to enjoy an array of food and drink vendors, on-stage demonstrations and competitions, a firework display, live entertainment and so much more.

As an epicurean the most important aspect of the evening for me was trying as many of Cayman's best restaurants as I could. As soon as the gates opened I had already narrowed down which restaurants I would be heading to first before the lines got too long. With more than 35 vendors to choose from this was a difficult task. There were so many great dishes, but my favourite foods of the night included Cayman Cabana's coconut ceviche and oxtail nachos, The Brasserie's pulled pork sliders, Island Taste's Cayman style beef and seafood rundown, The Beach House's Keema Pav (lamb slider) and Fidel Murphy's pigs in a blanket. My taste buds were clearly on point as the judges agreed with some of my choices by awarding The Brasserie "Best Food" and Island Taste "Best Local Dish". Note that The Beach House at The Westin was another winner and was dubbed "Cayman's Favourite Restaurant" after getting the most votes from festivalgoers.

To take a break from the eating and drinking guests would head to the Demo Stage to watch and learn; cheering on kids as they cooked with Chef Maureen Cubbon to hearing who won the heavy cake competition. The Seven Fathom's Rum Challenge brought a good following to the stage as top mixologists competed to make a winning cocktail using the local Seven Fathom's rum. The Westin was clearly on a winning streak because their mixologist, Ensor Yusseff, won the competition and became "Taste of Cayman Mixologist of the Year 2018".

To see the other side of Taste of Cayman guests could opt for the VIP ticket option. The perks included priority parking, a private gated area, a welcome drink and canapes and an experience room voucher. This is always a great option when guests want to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the crowd. The secured area had Anchor and Den serving up chicken carbonada and grilled sourdough, but the real perks were access to air-conditioned bathrooms and an air-conditioned tent with a private cash bar and DJ. The outdoor terrace also provided comfortable seating and a view of the main stage where the final live entertainment would take place.

As the night wound down the tribute bands kicked off and festivalgoers moved towards the main stage to watch performances by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Journey and Prince. I was especially excited when Journey came on stage because singing along to "Don't Stop Believing" literally perfected the night.

Who would have thought that what started out as a humble chili cook-off would have grown to become Cayman's largest food festival. Happy 30 years Taste of Cayman!