Hurry up, November. That’s when the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa will open on famed Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman as Kimpton’s inaugural venture beyond U.S. borders. As if a gorgeous new Caribbean destination weren’t enough, prepare your palate for a globally inspired gastronomic getaway.
Kimpton veteran Massimo De Francesca jumps into the flourishing Grand Cayman restaurant scene as Executive Chef for the resort’s three signature dining spots. Yes, three. All will be fabulous in their own unique ways under Chef Massimo’s leadership and love of fresh, uncomplicated ingredients.
Here’s the culinary rundown at Seafire:
- Ave: The bounty of Grand Cayman’s fields and waters meets light and fresh coastal Mediterranean cuisine here at the dining epicenter of the resort.
- Avecita: Tucked within Ave, a 12-seat chef’s bar treats guests to a custom experiential dinner with a focus on Spanish tapas-inspired dishes.
- Coccoloba: If you were any closer to the ocean, you’d be a fish. This open-air, on-the-beach restaurant is a mash-up of island fare inspired by coastal Mexico.
- Plus, two pool bars with handcrafted cocktails and a pantry featuring portable edibles.
Meet the Chef
Chef Massimo comes to Grand Cayman from Saltrock Southwest Kitchen at Kimpton’s Amara Resort and Spa in Sedona, AZ. He was classically trained at the Culinary Arts (Italian) Program at George Brown College in Toronto, including a stint on Italy’s Adriatic Coast with Michelin-starred chef Vincenzo Cammerucci. Since moving to the island in February and spending time in Grand Cayman’s most popular kitchens, Chef Massimo has become familiar with the local multicultural restaurant scene and is stoked to put his own stamp on it.
NYC Gets the First Taste
Recently, Chef Massimo had the honor of previewing his Seafire menu with an intimate group of lucky foodies in New York City. As a member of a team of Kimpton chefs invited to cook at the prestigious and charitable James Beard House in Greenwich Village, Chef Massimo prepared a subtropical feast highlighting his Caribbean-meets-Mediterranean theme that, very soon, we can all enjoy in Grand Cayman. Each member of the Kimpton chef team—representing Area 31, The Social Club, Brandon’s and Cobalt, all in Florida—created one or more special dishes for the event. Chef Massimo’s main dish featured smoked wahoo crudo with pickled escovitch vegetables, giardiniera, paprika agrodulce, key lime crema and pimento ash. (We’ve included a version of the recipe for you to try at home, below.)
Let the Anticipation Begin
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is the first new build on Grand Cayman in more than a decade, capturing the attention of the entire island. As we look forward to unobstructed water views from nearly all of the 266 guestrooms and suites, two oceanfront swimming pools, lush botanical gardens and warm “Caymankind” spirit, November can’t get here soon enough.
Wahoo Crudo with Pickled Escovitch Vegetables, Smoked Paprika Agrodulce and Key Lime Crema
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as an appetizer
For the wahoo:
- 1 lb. fresh wahoo loin, cleaned (or substitute salmon, snapper, tuna or large scallops)
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 lime
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pickled vegetables:
1 small carrot
1 celery stalk
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup cauliflower, chopped into large pieces
3 cups water
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
For the paprika agrodulce:
1/2 cup pepper jelly, or similar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
For the lime crema:
1/4 cup sour cream
zest and juice of 1 key lime (or substitute a regular lime)
3 tbsp chilled water
1 tbsp kosher salt
To prepare the wahoo:
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, sugar, dried spices, and lime and lemon zests. Mix well.
- Cut the wahoo into 2 or 3 long strips. Lightly coat with the vegetable oil, and evenly rub with the spice mix.
- Allow the fish to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, then pat dry with a towel.
- In a heavy-duty flat searing pan, add oil and place on top of a high-heat burner.
- Once the oil begins to smoke, use tongs to gently place the wahoo in the pan. Quickly roll it, searing it no more than 5 seconds on each side. Use caution as the oil will be very hot!
- Remove the fish from the pan and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, so that it becomes easier to slice.
To make the pickled vegetables:
- Peel the carrot and de-string the celery stalk. Seed the bell pepper
- Thinly slice the vegetables, then finely dice. (Alternately, use a food processor to chop the vegetables into small pieces.) Place in a heatproof, non-metal bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepot, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the vegetables. Place in the refrigerator to cool.
To make the paprika agrodulce:
- In a small saucepan, add all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by 1/3, then quickly strain through a fine mesh strainer.
- Set aside and let cool.
To make the lime crema:
- In a small bowl, add all the ingredients and mix until smooth.
To assemble the wahoo crudo:
- With a sharp knife, thinly slice the chilled wahoo.
- On an individual plate or serving platter, spread a layer of key lime sauce.
- Strain the pickled vegetables from their liquid.
- Layer slices of wahoo around the plate. Top with the pickled vegetables, and drizzle with the paprika agro dulce sauce.
- Serve accompanied by freshly sliced avocados, tortilla chips, hot sauce and salad. Enjoy!