Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Taste of Cayman celebrates 30 years

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie
The audience captivated as the night sky lit up with fireworks.
Talia McMillan (left) and Kate Young having a grand time enjoying the music of the local band- The Lionfish.
Kyle Aldrich was 'too cool for school' in his props of oversized glasses and an inflatable saxaphone.
Robyn Seleta (kneeling in front) and his friends having a great night as they pose for our camera at Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival.
Jacqui Stanton (left) and Roy Jones, brought the Mexican fiesta with tacos and tequila.
Suzy Soto, one of the founders of Taste of Cayman with past president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, Ken Hydes.
Lilly Lanevin (left) and Natalie Bolland enjoy tasty plates of Andiamo's pumpkin risotto and pork.
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It all started in the 1980s, when a few friends from a small number of restaurants within the Cayman Islands Restaurant Association, hosted a 'chilli cook off' in a field with less than 100 persons in attendance. This was the birth of the Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival, which had very few tents and most of the dishes were being prepared in the back of a truck. At the core of the festival was the friendly competitiveness of Caymanians and the desire to provide an avenue for entertainment and an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Fast forward 30 years later, with over 35 competing restaurants and more than 5,000 persons in attendance on Saturday, January 27, at Camana Bay, Taste of Cayman has not only managed to become a major event for the Islands, but one of the largest food festivals in the entire Caribbean.

 

'BIGGER, BETTER'

 

"Taste of Cayman is getting bigger and better each year, and we proud of the growth of the festival and want everybody to come and experience it. Each year, we have something different - from restaurants to drinks - and we are improving with our live entertainment," said Julie Allan, chairman of Taste of Cayman, and general manager of Rackam's Waterfront Bar and Grill, located in Georgetown.

At Taste of Cayman, persons were able to eat, drink and party to their heart's content while witnessing culinary demonstrations, mixology competitions, a heavy cake cook off, with live entertainment and exquisite cocktails. Despite the long lines, the vendors' offerings were definitely worth the wait as they all provided an out-of-this-world culinary experience.

The biggest hit was Mexican Restaurant 'Bandido', which had what seemed like a never-ending line as persons joined the queue to enjoy a street-style toasted corn on the cob dipped in a signature Bandido sauce and dusted with pieces of tortilla chips.

Persons were seen lounging on the grass enjoying the Caymanian breeze with large mounds of food as toddlers got their faces painted while others darted from one tent to the next. Vendors shouted with glee with every vote received as they made their way closer to being crowned the best restaurant in the Cayman Islands.

As the day transitioned to night, the ambience of the festival shifted as persons moved from the food court to the main stage. Everyone was ready to let loose and party with their favourite local bands The Lionfish, and 7 Miles Long. Gasps were heard as fireworks decorated the night sky, which caused lovers to embrace and children to look in wonder at the multicoloured explosions.

Yet, that was not the end. The night went into high gear as the tribute acts for Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Journey, and Prince took over the stage. The audience could be seen mouthing the words of the renditions.

In 30 years, Taste of Cayman has exploded into a family friendly event that attracts foodies from around the globe. The festival gives persons a complete immersion in Caymanian culture through the experience of different flavours in food and entertainment.

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com