Ripert, Ricard and Pétanque

It is only in its second year, but playing pétanque with the chefs is hands-down one of my favourite Cayman Cookout events. It's great seeing the chefs out of the kitchen and spending time with their friends and fans in a casual fun setting. For those of you who don't know, pétanque is a French game where players place both feet in a small circle on a hard dirt/gravel court. The goal is for players to roll or toss steel balls towards a small wooden ball called the cochonnet. Each player tries to get their balls as close as possible to the cochonnet in order to gain points for their team. Similar games to pétanque that you may have heard of include Italian bocce ball and English lawn bowls.

ChefDominiqueCrenn_ GettingReady

Chef José Andrés peering over Chef Rainer Zinngrebe's shoulder as he makes a toss

Engraved pétanque balls were given to the chefs at this year's event

Chef Thomas Tennant makes a toss as teammate Chef José Andrés watches

Deciding who goes first.  L to R: Chef Bernard Guillas, Chef Philippe Haddad, Benjamin Bragard and Chef Frederic Morineau

French bites including Grilled Nicoise Tuna Crostinis and Marguez Sausage Sandwiches were out for spectators to enjoy

It gets pretty competitive and you'll see entire teams run over after a toss if more than one ball is near the cochonnet.  If a debate ensues on whose ball is closest, then a judge is called over to measure it officially.  The judge's decision is final once he declares the team that is nearest, and the game continues on.

Watching the smack talk between the chefs was particularly entertaining.  Especially Chef José Andrés who continued to call Chef Eric Ripert, "Eric Ripper" and asserted all weekend that "the French are taking over".  Interesting statement when he was in fact playing his heart out to win this French game. 

Chef José Andrés going for it

A win for Chef Eric Ripert's team taking him into the finals

In the end, Anthony Bourdain and Chef Eric Ripert's teams made it to the finals and these didn't start until 45 minutes after the event was supposed to finish.  The Gala Dinner would have to wait as it was clear nobody was leaving until we had a champion.  As darkness crept in the judges asked spectators to light up the court with their cell phones.  It was a close competition with some aggressive moves taking place, and in a surprise turn of events our Cayman Cookout host and Frenchman, Eric Ripert, was defeated by the American, Anthony Bourdain.  We'll just have to wait until Cayman Cookout 2019 to see if the French can reclaim the title.