[VIDEO] Cayman Cookout Countdown: Taming the Lion of the Sea!

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!

Image-2The 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.

MGFD_GCM_Cayman Cookout menu_FinalWe’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.

[UPDATED] Hot Potatoes: Grand Cayman Farmer Hamlin Stephenson’s Sweets on Saturday’s Genuine Manresa Menu for Cayman Cookout


Local sweet potato from Hamlin’s Farm, baked with meringue/salt 40 mins at 375 F in our Doyon convection oven.

Update: Farmer Hamlin sent us some new photos of what’s growing on his farm!  Check them out here.  Also, Cayman Airways has offered a special discount for folks flying in for our February event extravaganza: Slow Food Day! Click here for the code and get booking!

Woot woot! Here in Miami we are getting really excited to head down to Grand Cayman on Thursday for the annual Cayman Cookout, a food festival hosted by the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Food & Wine magazine and chef Eric Ripert featuring world renowned chefs, winemakers and more.  Our main event is Saturday night when Michael welcomes guest chef David Kinch of Manresa on Central California’s wild coast for a memorable dinner that draws inspiration from his restaurant’s home in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains to bring to life Grand Cayman’s seasonal bounty!

Well what bounty do we speak of?  For one, sweet potatoes, an island staple that chef Thomas Tennant has sourced from one of our favorite farmers, Hamilin Stephenson. We rang him this morning to get some information on the variety he grows.

“But, the thing is I can’t tell you what kind they are!” Hamlin explained.  “In 2003 I bought some sweet potatoes from the supermarket and put one of them in the grow pot outside to see if I could get some plants off of it, and that’s how started.”

Hamlin with his sweet potatoes (and yummy seasoning peppers) at Grand Cayman’s weekly Saturday farmers market at The Grounds.

He’s been planting this kind every year since, and right now has about 5,000 plants  – or holes – working. Some are ready for harvest, some will be ready in a week or so, and so on… It’s a year-round season.  A gift that keeps on giving, which will be enjoyed by our guests in Saturday’s second course of Wahoo with soft and crispy greens, local sweet potato and passion fruit.

“I only had one potato left, and Chef Kinch instructed me on how he would like it done and for me to test it out with this potato,” Thomas shared. “I was happy with the result and so was David. The potato was perfectly cooked after 40 mins in the oven and seasoned well. It will be sliced into discs as a base for the fish.”

Please find our final menu with wine pairings here, and hope you will be joining us in paradise on Saturday! Tickets are still available at this link. Just scroll down to Ultimate Dinner Party and choose “Genuine Manresa at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.”

Let the Countdown to Caymadness Begin: Genuine Manresa Preview, Disgorging in the Ocean with Hugh & Oh So Much More

Abracadabra! The sun has set on 2012 (thanks to Ella Schwartz for the beautiful time lapse from this past weekend…)  As you can see, the first of the new year turns our attention to Grand Cayman.  During January and February our home away from home in the Caribbean plays host to myriad culinary events where celebrity chefs and their willing victims come from far and wide to the island for delicious food and a generous helping of antics on the side. None other than the best kind of Caymadness ensues.  Just look at the track record of exquisitely tasty and equally as memorable events.  Dinner at Michael’s Genuine in Camana Bay with Michel Nischan?  A coup, but oh so much more with a flash of bling.  Bloomfield in the house? Why, yes please, and we’ll wash down her Lamb Scottadito with a Disarrono on the rocks.  It’s time to spin the roulette wheel once again, and we can’t wait.  Just another day in paradise, we say…  Be apart of it all, as it all goes down.  Take your pick here:

Eric_MoviaParty Like It’s 2011  Disgorge bottles of bubbly in the ocean? Suuuuure, Larkee’s done it in a bucket, so why the heck not.  We’re bringing back an old favorite Movia 2004 aged on its lees in honor of a new one: Hugh Acheson.  Join us for Slow Food Day’s first Farm-to-Beach event on February 2 and watch Eric work his magic, a festive opener to an even more festive meal on the sand.  Hugh’s family-style menu is a love letter to Grand Cayman’s farmers and their product in season, doled out with care and purpose — a genuine southern brand all his own. Get tickets here and Hugh’s just-finalized menu, here.  And don’t forget to wear your sandals…

header cookout 2013Cali, Cayman-Style with David Kinch  Michael welcomes guest chef David Kinch of Manresa on Central California’s wild coast for a memorable dinner that draws inspiration from his restaurant’s home in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains to bring to life Grand Cayman’s seasonal bounty. So far there is talk of arpege farm eggs, malabar spinach, okra, whelks, purslane, mizuna, passion fruit, and more.  The menu is going to be ready any moment now… We can’t wait.  You shouldn’t either!  Get tickets here for Genuine Manresa and more, as Jose Andres, Sherry Yard, Anthony Bourdain, and more descend on the island for an unforgettable 2013 Cayman Cookout weekend.

IMG_5126Get On Your Brunch Munch  Visitors to Cayman Cookout this year can finally get on their MGFD Sunday brunch munch, just like Ella Schwartz did this past weekend (see delicious chocolate cream-filled donut to the left!)  Launched in November, Sundays at the town center of Camana Bay are more genuinely delicious… and our beloved brunch finally has the waterfront view it deserves! Beginning November, our new all-new a la carte menu is available from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. offering a variety of small plates perfect for sharing and enjoying Sundays as they should be.  Check the menu out here.

2012’s Genuine Superlatives: Let’s Begin with Most Popular Post


Grand Cayman chef de cuisine Thomas Tennant cutting fish while chefs April Bloomfield and Peter Cho tend to matters of preserved lemons.

It’s never an exact science how some things have the it factor and others fall flat, but we can tell you that the proof can usually be found in the people.  Ladies & Gentlemen, at this time for both reflection as well as anticipation of the new year ahead, we wish to present you with some of the highlights of our 2012 here on The Genuine Kitchen, and the individuals that came together to make it such a good one. The Genuine Bloomfield dinner held on Saturday, January 14 collided four special examples in a 99.9% planned and .1% winged stellar event: Michael Schwartz, April Bloomfield, Eric Larkee, and a guest named Ottavia Bourdain. The result? Incredible food and a cocktail named the Italian Mule. It all went down right this way…   Ahead for 2013? Bloomfield and Cho return to camp genuine, this time in Miami to cook at Harry’s (tickets live on January 2,) and we welcome a new guest chef into the Grand Cayman kitchen, David Kinch, for Genuine Manresa (Cayman Cookout tickets on-sale now – scroll down to the “Ultimate Dinner Party” section.)

It’s Cayman Cookout Time! Shooting Genuine Cayman Today…

Shooting Michael's new show, Genuine Cayman, this morning in Camana Bay.

As we’ve shared here before, Genuine Cayman was greenlit late last year with support from Cayman Islands Department of Toursim and Camana Bay, the mixed use town center in which MGFD Grand Cayman is located.  We’re shooting our second and third episodes (after last summer’s pilot with farmer Patrick Panton) with our producer Emma Gladstone while on-island this week for the Cayman Cookout, the kickoff of Culinary Month. Continue reading