Imagine two of the greatest chefs in the world, say Eric Ripert and José Andrés, strolling along the beach smoking cigars. Then imagine them swimming beside celebrity chef Kirsten Kish, as Kwame Onwuachi sails past on a catamaran, the glistening Caribbean Sea as the backdrop.
Now, imagine you’re there, too.
Eric Ripert plays a game of pétanque with guests
A dish from the Bon Vivant Chef Competition Brunch that turns the spotlight on local chefs
This is what happens at Cayman Cookout, a star chef-filled festival that takes place at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman every January. The event just celebrated its 15th anniversary last month, marking a major milestone for the food event that has, ostensibly, come to live in a league of its own. The Cayman Cookout has a reputation for being an intimate, immersive affair in the blossoming world of food festivals.
The Ritz-Carlton hosts most of the events at the hotel, and guests can buy a ticket to a single activity, or stay onsite and inhale every last morsel of the programming. Either way, if you hang out on Seven Mile Beach over the days of the event, you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with your favorite chefs with your toes in the sand. This is what sets the festival apart from, say, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, which requires a pass to attend any of its events, or the New York City Food & Wine Festival, which sees about 50,000 people forming long lines at demos and tastings spread throughout the city. Cayman Cookout, on the other hand, is a close-knit happening held in a contained space—albeit with some extravagant excursions across the islands.
Lionfish caught on the deep-sea fishing trip with Emeril Lagasse and José Andrés.
José Andrés getting ready for a dive
I had heard tales of Cayman Cookout for years—first, because it was led by an impressive chef, Eric Ripert, instead of a brand. A fellow journalist had also shared stories of swimming among stingrays with food-world stars, and another foodie friend said it was the only food festival she’d been to where the quality of the cooking matched what she’d had at the chefs’ restaurants. All that in mind, I finally made the point to travel for the event this year, to learn that the rumors are, in fact, true.
“Cayman Cookout’s 15th anniversary was proof that this event has no rival,” said Michael Kennedy, founder and owner of the Vin Fraiche Wine Group, with wineries in Napa, Tuscany, and Bordeaux. “Where else can you sit down to an intimate lunch with the world's best chefs while overlooking the bright blue ocean and sipping the world’s best wines? I love walking down the hallway and running into Emeril, and actually chatting, or going sailing with other winemakers. You really feel part of something
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Palm Beach has been known as a playground of the rich since industrialist Henry Flagler famously built a railroad and luxury hotels to lure his friends to visit via private railway car. The area still boasts mansions, mega-yachts and major resorts. And the warm climate of the Palm Beaches (the 39 Florida cities, towns and villages that comprise Palm Beach County) make possible a wide variety of outdoor activities.
Last year, my parents took their first-ever group tour to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. You know, those tours where you share a coach bus with 30 strangers for a week, stop at popular tourist draws, stay in pre-arranged hotels, and go on guided city walks with bright orange audio boxes that might as well be “look at me, I’m a tourist” placards. I tried to dissuade them, offering to plan their entire Eurotrip myself, but they ultimately opted for the tour’s convenience and relative all-inclusiveness. Now they’re absolutely hooked, with two more tours under their belt this year.
Drifting off the west coast of Greece (and Albania), Corfu is one of the seven Ionian Islands. Nereids and deities, fishermen and warriors, heroes and sea monsters from this region have inspired myths that still enchant Greek island-hopping travelers. Modern-day Corfu (Kérkyra) is just as beguiling for its craggy coastline and jaw-dropping beaches while the Venetian-built capital adds a surprising twist. Plan your next Greek odyssey to one of these idyllic Corfu Airbnbs on the beach or up on the cliffs.
Who wouldn’t be seduced by the selection of fine wines and cheeses, and other sensory delights served aboard Le Bougainville, the 430-foot-long mega-yacht that the luxury travel company, Abercrombie and Kent, charters for their 10-day Greek islands cruise?
This year more folks are prioritizing travel and newfangled experiences. We’re inspired by beloved television shows à la Emily in Paris to reexamine cities we’ve previously visited. Scoring tickets to see our favorite musical artists, like Taylor Swift, fortuitously opens up the prospect of flying to a different country. A rising wellness and longevity movement encourages travelers to seek alcohol-free vacations. Slower and more intentional travel—quality over quantity—is important and sustainability and eco-minded experiences are at the forefront.
Palm Beach Cannes, an iconic destination on the French Riviera since the 1920s, is set to reopen during the Cannes Film Festival after undergoing a four-year renovation. The new launch will feature the first-ever waterfront saltwater pool on the Riviera, offering magnificent views of the Bay of Cannes. Additionally, there will be a fitness center, wellness area, luxury boutiques, and a large ballroom.
Forget Paris in spring: Rome is both warmer and cooler in the first few months of the year. The locals are in their winter black rollneck jumpers, accessorised with equally noir-ish sunglasses. With an average of 17C by March, it’s warm enough to sit outside cafés and bars, but not hot enough to fall foul of the “no shorts” rule enforced in Rome’s oldest churches.
I’ve enjoyed a lovely four- to five-day circular trip using ferries and bikes. We took the Brittany Ferries overnight sailing from Portsmouth-St Malo, then cycled along La Véloscénie [signposted cycle route] passing Mont Saint-Michel. At Domfront we took La Vélo Francette to Ouistreham and then the ferry back to Portsmouth. At least three-quarters of the ride is off road along former railway track cycle paths that are well maintained. Plenty of accommodation is available. With the exception of a hilly few miles around Flers, it’s all very easy and with the prevailing wind. The final 40 miles from the impressive Viaduc de Clécy is all downhill, passing Pegasus Bridge.Keith Perry
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