News from our hotel partners

Feeding Ladies and Gentlemen with ceremony

Like most of the world, the Cayman Islands tourism industry has come to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotel sector of that industry has been hard hit in terms of the number of employees who no longer have work as a result of local and international airport closures.

Dart, as the hotel owner, funded a voluntary package that included flights for those who were able to leave the island. However, several hundred Ritz-Carlton employees remained and were subsequently subjected to stay-at-home orders.

General Manager Marc Langevin thought of a way to support his “Ladies and Gentlemen” —how the Ritz-Carlton refers to its employees all over the globe — through the stressful period: a daily pick-up meal service available for all employees on Grand Cayman who wanted to sign up for them.

“The meal pick-up service has been a wonderful way to continue to support our Ladies and Gentlemen during these uncertain times and provide some relief to food costs at home, as well as providing healthy options for them to enjoy,” says Langevin.

Every Friday, the culinary team shares a menu created for the following week with all staff members, and provides a link to sign-up for the meal pick-ups. The creative and diverse menu is a collaboration between the hotel’s banquet chefs and its restaurant chefs. 

Members of staff at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman greeted employees coming to pick up meals at Easter with a special holiday ceremony.

The 300 employees who have signed up for the meals drive to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s porte-cochère near the main entrance, where they first present their employee identification and meal cards at one station. At the second station, employees choose one of two menu options available for the day. And finally, at the third station, there’s a happy little ceremony, delivered with the friendliness, precision and attention to detail that would be expected from a hotel brand that is world-famous for its high service level.

One of the resort’s senior leaders — which include Langevin, Hotel Manager Hermes Cuello and many others — deliver hot boxes to employees. They also provide a special treat for the day, which could be anything from a pastry dessert, fresh fruit, a gallon of milk or even flowers.

There’s music playing throughout the process and the delivery team smiles and dances as they provide employees with their meals.

 “At the core of our Ritz-Carlton values, is providing genuine care for all,” Langevin says. “This is a great way to carry out our company’s motto: ‘We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen’.”

The employees very much appreciate the support and often express their gratitude for the meals, Langevin says, adding that the meal deliveries are gratifying for the management as well.

“We love seeing everyone at the drive-through every day and having that brief connection, even if it is at a distance and for a quick moment,” he says. “We have been able to stay connected as The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman family that we are.”

Community support

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman employees aren’t the only people who get to experience the meal delivery ceremony. As part of the resort’s “Community Footprints” programme, The Ritz-Carlton kitchen also provides 20 to 30 meals for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, which are picked up at the same place near the main entrance to the hotel. In addition, The Ritz-Carlton continues to support Meals on Wheels of the Cayman Islands — which is also part of its annual Community Footprints programme — by providing 120 meals per month.

“One of the things we’ve been reminded of during this crisis is how important it is to support our community and to be more united than ever as a society,” says Langevin. He’s happy The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman can continue to support its Community Footprints charities at a time when that support is most needed.

Langevin said he has “been in awe” of the solidarity he’s seen in the Cayman community since the COVID-19 crisis began.

“We are grateful that we are able to contribute to that,” he says. “We will continue to do so for as long as we can.”

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Article photo: In the kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, where they prepare daily meals for more than 300 employees, are, from left, Chefs Mario Uxa and Thomas Seifried of Blue by Eric Ripert; Chef Marcello Piacentini of Banquets; and Chef Kunal Sharma of Andiamo.

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Raising the bar: Crafting cocktails at home

Written by: Jim Wrigley

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, our ability to access restaurants and bars is closing down, and the entire planet is being encouraged to stay at home.

Restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and bars fulfil some fundamental human needs, often the very least of which is providing food and drink. They are also social hubs, creative spaces, debate parlours, business deal backdrops, outlets for music or dancing, places for celebrations, commiserations or romantic assignations.

Social distancing, isolation and quarantines may have removed the easy ability to gather in person and laugh over a bowl of warming goodness, or cheer to the sound of a cork popping or glasses clinking; however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy good food or delicious drinks. 

For too many people, a home “cocktail” is made by opening a can or bottle of some additive-laden sugary concoction that professes to contain “spirits” in a neon green liquid straight out of a Stephen King movie. This is the beverage equivalent of the microwave TV dinner.

The team at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in the Ave and Coccoloba restaurants, not to mention all of the bartenders around the island and indeed the world, have spent their careers learning, practising and perfecting knowledge and skills to make guests amazing drinks with perfect service. Most of this is based on some relatively simple tips, tricks and rules or guidelines — a lot of which are easy to grasp and as easy to do at home as following a recipe in a cookbook.

You certainly don’t need fancy equipment or little apothecary bottles filled with pungent tinctures.

Simple things like a proper shake (very hard until very cold with lots of ice) and getting past that fear of egg white (when used fresh, it’s totally fine and brings fluffy frothiness with nary a hint of eggs) will help you easily astound yourself and the adults you might be living within this time of social distancing.

Here’s just one easy favourite that uses the Caribbean's most famous spirit, rum:

Mojito

  • A tall, 10-12-ounce glass, chilled in advance if possible
  • Cracked ice (Wrap ice cubes in a clean dish towel and hit gently with a serving spoon or rolling pin.)
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces light rum — Bacardi or Havana Club by preference
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice (Squeeze per drink for one or two, or prepare a bottle in advance if you're making more.)
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (Mix 1 part sugar with 1 part lukewarm water, then stir until dissolved.) 
  • Splash of soda
  • 1 mint sprig

Method:

  • Take the mint leaves and clap them firmly between your hands to release the oils and aromas.
  • Drop the leaves into a tall, 10-12-ounce glass, chilled in advance if possible. 
  • Add the rum, lime and sugar syrup.
  • Add the splash of soda and then nearly fill the glass with cracked ice. Churn lightly with a spoon until mixed, then fill with more ice. 
  • Slap the mint sprig on your hand and add with a straw, then sit back and enjoy.

 

Jim Wrigley is the beverage manager at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

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Treating Mom on Mother’s Day

It’s safe to say that this Mother’s Day on Grand Cayman will be much different than those in the past.

With an all-day “hard” COVID-19 curfew on Sunday, many mothers on Grand Cayman will not get to see their children. However, that doesn’t mean the children can’t shower their mothers with gifts and delectable things to eat.

Several of Dart’s tenants are offering some things that Mom can enjoy on Sunday or at her leisure when the shelter-in-place curfew ends on Grand Cayman.

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Fresh recipes for Spring

Now that spring officially arrives this month, it is a wonderful time to scan the produce aisles of your local market to find a bounty of colourful spring ingredients like fresh mint, chives, beans, peas, asparagus, carrots and beets.

You can use these delicious ingredients to accompany your choice of protein, or they can happily take the spotlight on your table as the main course.

Celebrate these bright, refreshing and enticing spring flavours with the following two recipes. 

Grilled Fava Beans with Minted Ricotta

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 12 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces of fresh chives
  • 1 pound whole fresh fava beans, washed
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

Light the BBQ grill on high and heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, granulated garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Using a whisk, mix everything until smooth.

Chop the mint, and then gently fold into the ricotta mixture.

Chop the chives and set aside.

Toss the whole fava beans with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. 

Char the beans on the grill for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. Cool. Open shell and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

On a serving platter, place the whipped ricotta mixture in the center of the plate and arrange the whole fava beans around it. Sprinkle with more olive oil and chives. Serves 3-5 people.

Spring Vegetable Soup

  • 8 ounces of fresh (or canned) artichokes, peeled, stemmed, choke removed and submerged in lemon water.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 6 ounces olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 6 celery sticks, cleaned and chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh (or canned) red-eyed beans
  • 4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cups  fresh (or frozen) shelled peas 
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and chopped
  • 1 gallon  vegetable broth or water
  • 2 ounces fresh parsley, washed and chopped
  • 2 ounces fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 ounces scallions, cleaned, chopped
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Method

Strain the artichokes then chop them and set aside.

In a medium pot, add garlic, olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, artichokes and the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for 5 additional minutes.

Add the vegetable broth or water.

Bring soup to boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer.

After 1 hour, add the chopped Swiss chard, peas and all the chopped herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Shut off heat and let soup stand for 10 more minutes.

Using a ladle, remove one third of the soup’s volume and add to a blender in stages.

Slowly blend soup until smooth and pour back into the original pot. This naturally thickens the soup while maintaining texture.

Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with salty crackers or toasted crispy sourdough croutons. Serves 5-8 people. 

 

Massimo De Francesca is the executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

 

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This article appears in print in the March 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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