YCYW Cayman Islands Finalists Compete in the Grand Cayman Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch Cook-Off at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman

The two Young Chef and two Young Waiter YCYW Cayman Islands 2022 finalists competed in the Cayman Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch Cook-Off, which took place at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman in front of 500 guests on Sunday, 15 January, 2023 in The Cayman Islands Royal Ballroom.

The Cook-Off competitors were Brittney Bodden from Tomfoodery Kitchen (YCYW Cayman Islands Chef 1st Place), Kristofer Mason from The Brassier (YCYW Cayman Islands Chef 2nd Place), Laurent Bodden from Grand Old House (YCYW Cayman Islands Waiter 1st Place) and Jerome Tutor from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman (YCYW Cayman Islands Waiter 2nd Place).

The competition was attended by a number of local dignitaries, including The Honourable Mr. Franz Manderson, Cert. Hon, JP, The Honourable Mr. Kenneth Bryan, Minister of Tourism and Transport, The Honourable Joey Hew, Minister of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure and Ms. Rosa Harris, Cert. Hon. Director of Tourism.

The ceremony kicked off with a champagne reception for guests, who were then invited to indulge in a selection of luxury food stations. Meanwhile, the Young Chef prepared a dish and the Young Waiters designed a cocktail to be judged by a panel of celebrity chefs and hospitality figures, including Emeril Lagasse, Andrew Zimmern, Charles Joly, Éric Ripert and Managing Director of Young Chef Young Waiter Sean Valentine.

The spectacular champagne brunch kicked off with co-hosts Cynthia Hew and Blake Rogers from The Morning Show greeting guests and beginning introductions. Robert Walton MBE, YCYW Chairman, then took to the stage to introduce the Cook-Off contestants.

The young waiters and chefs competed for an enviable grand prize that included the opportunity to Shadow in the Kitchen of Blue by Eric Ripert Restaurant for 2 days and shadow with the Silver Palm mixologist. The judges struggled to find a clear winning team, so the competition was declared a draw.

Cayman Cook-Off Judges

The celebrity judges for the Cayman Cook-Off competition included:

Emeril Lagasse

Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 8 restaurants, including four in New Orleans and most recently, his first restaurant at sea, Emeril’s Bistro 1396 with Carnival Cruise Line. 

As a national TV personality, he has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network and was a food correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” 

Most notably, Amazon launched an original series featuring Lagasse called Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse. The series received five daytime Emmy nominations and won Outstanding Culinary Program.  The series was also a James Beard semifinalist in the category Outstanding Personality of Host. Lagasse is the bestselling author of 19 cookbooks, the latest titled Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen.

In 2002, Lagasse established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills. To date, the Foundation has distributed over $18 million in grants benefitting children’s charities in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. In 2013, Lagasse was named the Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation for his dedicated efforts to further the culinary arts in America, as well as his philanthropic work supporting children’s educational programs through his Foundation.

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern is an Emmy-winning and four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and social justice advocate. As the creator, executive producer and host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods franchise, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food and Emmy-winning The Zimmern List, he has devoted his life to exploring and promoting cultural acceptance, tolerance and understanding through food.

In 2020, Andrew returned to television with his MSNBC series What’s Eating America, and in 2021, he premiered Family Dinner on Chip & Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network. In 2022, Andrew Zimmern’s Wild Game Kitchen premiered on the Outdoor Channel. All three shows were created by Intuitive Content, the full-service television and digital production company that Andrew heads as both founder and CEO. In 2021, Intuitive Content was named one of the top 100 production companies in the world by Realscreen.

Andrew is also the founder and CEO of Passport Hospitality, a restaurant and food service development company. He is passionate about his philanthropic endeavors and sits on the board of directors of several organizations and is also a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, fighting to save restaurants affected by Covid-19. 

Charles Joly

Charles Joly is a global bartending champion, James Beard Award winning beverage designer, content contributor, speaker and philanthropic enthusiast. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, he has helped to usher in the modern age of the cocktail, while showcasing his talents at premier world events such as the Oscars, Emmys, Grammy’s, Kentucky Derby and beverage leadership summits including Tales of the Cocktail, Diageo World Class and Berlin Bar Convent.

As first ever American to achieve a win at World Class sponsored by Diageo, Charles is dedicated to cultivating and educating today’s bartenders and dedicates his time globally to participate in spirited competitions. With culinary roots planted deeply as former beverage director at the famed Aviary in Chicago, Charles’ talents earned him “Top 10 Most Influential Bartenders” by Bon Appetite. 

Éric Ripert

Eric Ripert is the chef and co-owner of the acclaimed New York restaurant Le Bernardin. Born in Antibes, France, Ripert moved to Andorra, a small country just over the Spanish border as a young child. His family instilled their own passion for food in the young Ripert, and at the age of 15 he left home to attend culinary school in Perpignan. At 17, he moved to Paris and cooked at the legendary La Tour D’Argent before taking a position at the Michelin three-starred Jamin. After fulfilling his military service, Ripert returned to Jamin under Joel Robuchon to serve as chef poissonier.

In 1989, Ripert seized the opportunity to work under Jean-Louis Palladin as sous-chef at Jean Louis at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Ripert moved to New York in 1991, working briefly as David Bouley’s sous-chef before Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze recruited him as chef for Le Bernardin. Ripert has since firmly established himself as one of New York’s—and the world’s—great chefs. In September 2014, Ripert and Le Coze opened Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, named for their acclaimed wine director Aldo Sohm. That same month, the two expanded Le Bernardin’s private dining offerings with Le Bernardin Privé, a dynamic space above Aldo Sohm Wine Bar that can accommodate a range of events. Ripert is the Vice Chairman of the board of City Harvest, working to bring together New York’s top chefs and restaurateurs to raise funds and increase the quality and quantity of food donations to New York’s neediest. When not in the kitchen, Ripert enjoys good scotch and peace and quiet.

Sean Valentine

Sean has spent over forty years in the hospitality industry. He studied a degree in hospitality at Leeds University and qualified as a chef, before working for global foodservice business Sodexo, primarily in their events and venues division for eight years as a board director heading up their UK sales and marketing. 

He has been involved in sales and operations at major sporting events including Formula One, Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta, RHS flower shows and many other iconic annual calendar events. Over the last twenty years, Sean has been a true serial entrepreneur developing several hospitality businesses including a fine dining restaurant and wedding venue, corporate hospitality at major events, fine dining for corporate clients and a food tech home delivery concept in London. 

He is a fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, holds the Freedom of the City of London and was awarded the Foodservice Management lifetime achievement award in recognition of his commitment to the industry through ACE (Association of Catering Excellence) for the past twelve years. As an ambassador for Hospitality Action and Managing Director of World Young Chef Young Waiter, Sean has been successful in promoting the next generation of young professionals entering the hospitality sector, which he continues to this day.

Cayman Cook-Off Competitors: YCYW Cayman Island 2022 Finalists

Brittney Bodden – Tomfoodery Kitchen – YCYW Cayman Islands Chef 1st Place 

Born and Raised in the Cayman Islands. Both her Parents cooked every night, and it was always something different; Her house is full of cookbooks from various countries and cuisines. She started helping her parents in the kitchen when she was 3 years old by standing on a chair with a plastic knife cutting veggies for salads. At 7 years, she cooked her first meal on a gas stove, and she entered and won her first cook off at 10 years old. Since she entered and won just about every local competition on island. She competed in the Taste of the Caribbean Competition in Miami twice and The Junior Duelling challenge in Barbados twice as well. Brittney loves the fire and adrenaline she gets from competitive cooking, but her passion really lies in private catering or personal cheffing. 

Being able to establish a relationship with the people who she is cooking for is probably her favourite part. She is thrilled to be a part of young chef young waiter for several reasons, one of them being the networking opportunities and being able to meet everyone involved. Being able to travel and represent Cayman Islands instils a new level of pride in her each time. In the future she sees herself traveling and gaining knowledge, techniques, and flavours from around the world, so that she can come back home and share her skill and talent with her country. She would like to open a consultancy and become “Caymans John Taffer”; wants to offer cooking classes as well as open a private chef/catering business.

Laurent Bodden, Grand Old House – YCYW Cayman Islands Waiter 1st Place 

Laurent Bodden, a young hospitality professional and current Restaurant Manager of The Grand Old House; worked and studied in hospitality since 2014. He was a part of Cayman Islands first group of School of Hospitality graduates where he came out as top student. During this time, he was exposed to many areas of the hospitality industry, but it was the restaurant and events sector that caught his attention. Worked and Intern with household names in the Cayman Islands such as The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Old House, The Wharf and Tillies. All exposing to different styles of service and different branding. In 2019 Laurent stopped working for a brief time after enrolment at Johnson and Wales University in Miami, Florida. After completing in 2021 he returned to the restaurant that set his foundation for this industry which is The Grand Old House. With the competition he hopes to lead as an example to young Caymanian professionals coming up and show them what a wonderful industry hospitality is. 

In the future he hopes to start his own sport academy for troubled teens in the Cayman Islands. He believes that family is very important and trouble at home can cause trouble in society. A sports Academy would give the trouble teens a sport to focus on while teaching them the trade of Hospitality. This is combining sport and education something he feels can use improving on here in the Cayman Islands.

Kristofer Mason, The Brassier – YCYW Cayman Islands Chef 2nd Place

Kristofer is a chef at the Brasserie, signature pioneer of the farm-to table movement in Grand Cayman; awarded second place for his beef roulade main dish at the World Young Chef Young Waiter Competition in 2022. 

He studied hospitality at the University College of Cayman Islands and currently studying for his associate’s degree.  Being passionate with hospitality and cooking, he completed several programs in the hospitality / culinary industry, including work experience programs with the Cayman National Youth Culinary at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.  

His love for the use of fresh and uncomplicated ingredients and meticulous detail in plate presentation was met at the Blue by Eric Ripert Restaurant, where he worked alongside the Restaurant Chef studying kitchen techniques throughout his internship.  

Kristofer participated at several culinary competitions

Jerome Tutor, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – YCYW Cayman Islands Waiter 2nd Place 

Jerome Tutor has worked in the hospitality industry for 8 years. He is a food and beverage server for The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, brand that embodies the finest luxury service and his mission is to provide genuine care and exceptional products and services. With a passion for hospitality, Jerome ensures day-to-day personalized service to guests, contributing to achieving a 5-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide  

As part of The Ritz-Carlton brand, Jerome ensures to support the island’s community by volunteering in beach clean ups, Meals on Wheels, and other community services. He lives in Grand Cayman and enjoys coffee by the beach with his family and friends.

Cayman Cook-Off Grand Prize

The prize for the winning emptying chef and waiter team included:

About the YCYW Cayman Islands 2023 Competition

Coming back to take the global stage again, Young Chef Young Waiter Cayman Islands 2023 will launch and open for entries at the Cayman Cookout in January 2023 but will be changing the ages from 26 years or younger to 28 years or younger, expanding more opportunities for young professionals starting out in the hospitality industry.

19th January 2023

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