One week from today, Thomas Tennant’s fins will be parting the crystalline waters of Grand Cayman island with spear in hand. As the shirt he appropriately wore to work today indicates, our The Genuine Hospitality Group special ops chef is a natural born killer of lionfish. Not only is Thomas a certified SCUBA diver, he’s a licensed lionfish hunter, culling this invasive species from the marine ecosystems they threaten, one Big Gulp at a time. As we like to say, eat them to beat them!
The 2014 Cayman Cookout descends on our second home in the Caribbean next week from Thursday, January 16 to Sunday, January 19 with Michael, Eric, Mr. Special Ops and I representing Miami headquarters on-island. Presented the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and FOOD & WINE magazine, this annual culinary extravaganza will bring some of the best known and most respected chefs in the world to the island for myriad events.
For our part, the town of Camana Bay will transform into an Ultimate Dinner Party on Saturday, January 18. During the Thursday dive, fellow diving chef José Andrés will experience a lionfish hunt for the first time since his original SCUBA certification in the Cayman Islands during the 2012 festival.
We’re banking on these two bringing back a haul, as Saturday depends on it! The evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a special cocktail hour presentation “Taming the Lionfish,” which will celebrate the success of the divers, fishermen, scientists and chefs who have banded together to protect Cayman’s reefs from these ravenous invaders. José and Michael will accompany Thomas as he demonstrates a recipe like the lionfish ceviche shared with Miss Cayman Islands in the PSA above, after which guests can elect dine at one of Camana Bay’s participating signature restaurants each collaborating with a Cayman Cookout headline chef on a dinner menu. José will be our special guest at Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink; Quebec’s “wild chef” Martin Picard will appear at Abacus; Daniel Boulud will bring French flair to Mizu; and Rick Bayless will unite with Cindy Hutson at Ortanique. Our dinner as you may have guessed will feature the lionfish catch and many other house specialties done fresh, simple and pure. Tickets are $299 for it all, available here through the Cayman Cookout website.