The Brasserie's 20th Anniversary Dinner
The Brasserie is one of Cayman's most influential restaurants in the farm-to-table scene and they recently celebrated their 20th anniversary this June. Owners King & Lisa Flowers, Consultant Chef Dean Max and Chef de Cuisine Artemio Lopez of The Brasserie didn't hold back for this momentous occasion by flying in some of their former chef de cuisines to create an unforgettable evening. This culinary event brought back Chef Thomas Tennant, currently the executive chef at Fi'lia by Michael Schwartz at the SLS Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas; Chef Joe Mizzoni, who has opened the award-winning Stubborn Seed in Miami, FL with longtime friend and Top Chef winner, Chef Jeremy Ford; Chef Brad Phillips, who is currently the chef de cuisine of Avocado Grill in Palm Beach Gardens, FL; and Chef Greg Vassos, a partner and executive chef of Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, NJ. We can't forget about Chef Niven Patel and Chef Pushkar Marathe who are executive chefs and partners of the award-winning Ghee Indian Kitchen locations in Miami, FL. Unfortunately Niven was unable to attend at the last minute, but luckily his partner Pushkar was there to save the day.
The evening began with canapés and cocktails at the newest addition to the Cricket Square empire, Caboose. This event was the perfect opportunity for guests to explore this casual outdoor smokehouse and mingle with one another. On arrival, guests beelined to the bar to grab a glass of Szigeti sparkling wine, a Bilimbi cocktail or both (in my case). A freshly popped bottle of bubbly is my go-to when I know it's a celebration, but I was also intrigued by the ingredients of the cocktail they were serving. The Bilimbi cocktail consisted of Ilegal Joven mezcal, local bilimbi shrub, lemon juice and soda water. The bilimbi skewer had a tart flavour on its own, but when mixed with a shrub (i.e. drinking vinegar) it actually rounded out the acidity and created quite a refreshing cocktail.
Six canapés were passed around as guests mingled and sipped on their welcome drinks. Chef Artemio created a citrusy Rainbow Runner Ceviche, a creamy Pumpkin Toksel and a smoked Brisket Molote. Chef Thomas Tennant served a crispy Land Crab Arancini with pepper jelly, Seared Wahoo with green mango salad and a hot vinegar Beef Tartare on breadfruit tostones.
The night officially began when Consultant Chef Dean Max took to the mic to welcome everyone, introduce the chefs and congratulate the owners, King & Lisa Flowers. The chefs each had a chance to welcome guests, but more importantly describe their dish for the upcoming five course meal with wine pairings. After a few minutes of mouthwatering descriptions we were finally given the greenlight to head inside so our epicurean adventure could begin.
Once our glasses were filled with a 2014 Petit Bernat Blanc from Oller del Mas, the first course by Chef Pushkar Marathe arrived. With an award-winning Indian restaurant in Miami it was no surprise that he served a variety of Indian dishes with Caribbean flare. His first two dishes included the Scotch Bonnet Pepper and Cheese Naan served with a gooseberry chutney, followed by a Breadfruit and Sweet Potato Chaat dressed with yogurt, tamarind and mint. His third dish took on a more interactive approach as guests poured an earthy green juice inside of a Pani Puri filled with roasted garden beets. We all heeded Chef Pushkar's warning to take it all in one bite, otherwise we were at risk of ruining our outfits.
A 2015 Macon-Milly-Lamartine from Les Heritiers due Comte LAFON was poured as the second course wine pairing. Chef Joe served a perfectly roasted local snapper and combined it with slow stewed tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers with crispy potatoes. Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of snapper because most people undercook the skin, but I am proud to say that Chef Joe ensured it was perfectly crisp (just look at that photo!)
A 2012 Chimera Pinot Noir from Capiaux accompanied our third course from Chef Greg. His succulent Niman Ranch Pork Belly was paired with Suriname cherries, apples, flowers and burnt honey. A visually impressive dish that also melted in your mouth with each bite. I definitely had an Oliver Twist moment in thinking "please sir, can I have some more?!" Sadly, no more food was provided, but a few of us at the table did get another glass of that delicious pinot noir.
The fourth course created by Chef Brad consisted of a tender Sousvide Beef Tenderloin and Braised Beef Short Ribs (yes, all on one plate!) His sides for this dish included a sweet potato puree, carrots, local callaloo and a flavourful seasoning pepper jus. The wine pairing was a 2014 Benchmark Shiraz from Burge Wines, and like every other course it paired perfectly.
The fifth and final course came from the talented Brasserie pastry chefs and was paired with a dessert wine, specifically a 2016 Late Harvest Torrontes by Susana Balbo. A combination of chocolate and fruit, the Valrhona Chocolate Royale consisted of a chocolate mousse with a passionfruit cremeaux and a side of coconut sorbet.
After an evening of being wined and dined by some incredibly talented chefs, it is clear that the former chef de cuisines of The Brasserie have continued to thrive in the culinary world. Note that I have already added all of their restaurants to my epicurean bucket list and will start planning trips in the coming years. In regards to the owners, chefs, cooks and service staff of The Brasserie, they are deserve a massive pat on the back for accomplishing 20 years in this cutthroat industry. Cheers!