One week after the Taste of Cayman food and wine festival, residents and visitors will have an opportunity to get a taste of Cayman in a different way during the celebration of the second annual Slow Food Day on Saturday, 2 February.
Established in 2012 as a Culinary Month event, Slow Food Day is a collaboration between Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Slow Food South Sound and the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society. Although the Culinary Month marketing strategy was abandoned by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism in favour of promoting Cayman’s year-round burgeoning culinary scene, Slow Food Day was so successful last year that its organisers didn’t think twice about holding it again in 2013.
The concept of Slow Food Day is to not only celebrate Cayman’s local food ingredients, but also its farmers who grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, the farmers who raise livestock and poultry, the fisherman who catch fish and other seafood and the local chefs who creatively prepare those ingredients for the public.
The Slow Food Day activities occur in two segments: A morning session at the Market at the Grounds in Lower Valley and then a ‘farm-to-beach’ dinner, which this year will be held on the Camana Bay Beach next to the Royal Palms.
Michael Schwartz, owner/chef of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, is a big supporter of the Slow Food movement both here in Cayman and in Miami where his flagship restaurant is located. He said he was pleased to work with the local farmers and chef community on Slow Food Day.
“We’re happy to see our home away from home become a leading culinary destination in the Caribbean and to us that means not only having great restaurants on the island, but also that its chefs understand the importance of sourcing local,” he said.
Slow Food Day gets started at the Market at the Grounds in Lower Valley where, in addition to the regular Saturday morning farmers’ market that takes place, there will be special features at this admission-free event from 9am to 11am.
Six different local chefs/restaurants have been paired with 11 different farmers to create dishes made from ingredients grown, raised or caught here in the Cayman Islands. The chefs will give free tastes of these dishes to attendees of the event. Attendees will also have a chance to meet the chefs and farmers in a festive atmosphere that includes live music.
Attendees will have a chance to meet the chefs and farmers in a festive atmosphere that includes live music.
After an afternoon break, Slow Food Day activities resume at 5pm on Seven Mile Beach. Since the event will take place on the Camana Bay Beach this year instead of in Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink as it did last year, the event is being billed as a ‘farm-to-beach’ dinner, rather than a farm-to-table dinner.
The early start time is designed to allow guests to enjoy the Seven Mile Beach sunset along with a welcome passion fruit daiquiri.
Once again, a celebrity chef is coming to the Cayman Islands to create the menu with Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. This year, Canada-born Hugh Acheson will take the spotlight of guest chef. Acheson is well known for his television appearances as a competitor on Top Chef Masters and as a judge on Top Chef. He rose to culinary fame in Athens, Georgia, where his modern approach to Southern cuisine had earned him numerous accolades, including the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef Southeast and Best and Cookbook in American Cooking.
Chef Schwartz said he was excited to work with Chef Acheson on the event and to show him what Slow Food means on Grand Cayman.
“I’m sure he’s going to have a field day with the ingredients, both familiar and new to him,” he said.
This event won’t offer table service, but there will be stations set up with a large varieties of foods on a menu created by Chef Acheson. In addition to passed hors d’oeuvres and salad, there will be grilled whole snapper, open fire roasted goat and grilled chicken. There will also be a selection of Cayman-grown vegetables, including sweet potatoes with cane sugar and chili pepper glaze; tomato salad; sauteed mustard greens and butter-braised cabbage.
For dessert, guests will enjoy berry key lime meringue ‘pie in a jar’, as speciality at Michael’s Genuine.
Beverages will include Michael’s Genuine Home Brew ale and a selection of red, white and sparkling wines.
Tickets for the evening event, which cost US$110 inclusive of gratuities and beverages, can be purchased in advance through michaelsgenuine.com/grand-cayman/slow-food-day.
Slow Food is a non-profit organisation formed in Italy in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Today, Slow Food has more than 100,000 members in 1,500 convivia – local chapters – in 150 countries worldwide.
Grand Cayman’s convivium, Slow Food South Sound, was formed in 1996 by Martin Richter, then the general manager of Grand Old House. Now headed up by Alan Markoff, Slow Food South Sound currently has 125 members and holds 10-12 culinary-themed events at a variety of venues on Grand Cayman, with Slow Food Day now being one of its most important annual events.