New restaurant celebrates a life well lived

If Michelin stars were awarded merely for imaginative concepts, then the new restaurant, Ms. Piper's Kitchen + Garden, would already have three stars beside its name.

Like many strokes of imagination, Ms. Piper's concept is built on a story. Since it is located on Piper Way off West Bay Road, the story is about Ms. Piper, an extraordinary and well-travelled woman who arrived later in life on Grand Cayman in the 1970s. She settled in a small beach cottage — in the same location as the new restaurant that now bears her name — and decorated it with keepsakes she gathered on her travels around the world.

Over the years, Seven Mile Beach developed around her, but Ms. Piper's cottage remained distinct from the modern architecture, maintaining a charm and design aesthetic that reflected her own sense of style.

As she aged gracefully and travelled less often and shorter distances, Ms. Piper dug out the recipes she had collected on the journeys of her youth and began to prepare the eclectic mix of dishes and cocktails she had discovered on the many journeys of her youth so that she could relive the wonders of world flavours and share them with her Caymanian friends. After she perfected each dish or cocktail using the ingredient she could procure locally, she transcribed and attached the final recipes into a recipe scrapbook. On the cover of that scrapbook, she wrote the title: "Live a Little."

The menu at Ms. Piper's Kitchen + Garden is based on the recipes found in that book and some of Ms. Piper's keepsakes decorate the interior with an effortless feminine energy ... or so the story goes.

Ms. Piper's Executive Chef Damian Manfre says the restaurant is a culinary celebration of the fictional character's life, and a celebration of imagination embodied in a restaurant.

"Her kitchen was a testament to a life richly lived, and Ms. Piper's Kitchen + Garden restaurant is a celebration of the rich cultural diversity we enjoy here on Grand Cayman," he says. "Ms. Piper was a bohemian; a stylish vagabond who remained young at heart her whole life and the restaurant embodies her 'live a little' spirit."

Setting

The restaurant is located in a garden setting, with al fresco seating spread out in different directions, including some in the screened-in living area that afford a view of the show kitchen.

The mood is different depending on the time of day. In the mornings, it projects a sense of health and mindfulness with healthy food and beverage options. The passage leading from the garden connects to the Caribbean Sea, inviting a walk on the beach.

In the afternoons, Ms. Piper's can be a playful hub or setting for relaxation. It's a place to quietly lounge by the pool while reading a book, or for family and friends to hang out or enjoy a fun activity like a pottery or macrame class.

The evenings are for socialising while experiencing the sense of dining in a tropical garden. Small groups can gather in the landscaped dining nooks created to allow for an intimate, home-like feel.

Food

The menu theme is inspired by Ms. Piper’s travels, during which she enjoyed meeting people around the world who invited her into their own homes to experience authentic dishes from the region.

During the daytime, Ms. Piper's Garden menu will feature snack-style foods. Those items will then be incorporated into a wider menu that offers different size options to allow for individual orders or sharing among guests.

Some of the regional dishes include the Italy-influenced Branzino with Potato Scales — baked striped sea bass topped with thinly sliced potatoes; Buñuelos de Espinaca — spinach fritters — from Argentina; and Veal Schnitzel — the famous Austrian dish that features thinly sliced veal that is breaded and fried.

In the spirit of sisterhood, Ms. Piper's, where possible, will collaborate with female local food entrepreneurs to source ingredients for its dishes.

Cocktails

The signature cocktail menu is inspired by iconic women from around the world who, like Ms. Piper herself, lived — or in some cases still live — life on their own terms.

The "Purple Smirk" is inspired by author Alice Walker, a staunch defender of human rights; "Nin's Diaries" is inspired by writer Anaïs Nin; and "Grapefruit 64" is inspired by Yoko Ono's 1964 book, "Grapefruit."

"We see Ms. Piper's Kitchen + Garden as a celebration of life," says Manfre. "Ms. Piper is a fictional character, but the spirit of her life well lived resonates with most people and we believe it will resonate with our guests as well."

Ms Piper's is open daily from 11 a.m. until midnight.

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This article appears in print in the September 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Alan Markoff.

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