Unleash Your Inner Foodie at the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival

Here at CheapCaribbean.com, we like to think of ourselves as “The Beach Experts.” And one of the important characteristics of having this title is knowing what type of food & drinks you should try when you’re at the beach. This past weekend, we had the opportunity to attend the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival to stay true to this claim and we can safely say the inner foodie in us was definitely unleashed.

Over three days, we attended over 10 events all hosted at different resorts in Cancun & Riviera Maya, Mexico. The events ranged from presentations by world-renowned chefs as they shared their philosophy on food to social soirees where we tasted signature dishes paired with the perfect wine, all created by chefs and sommeliers from all over the world. We were truly honored to be a part of the action and here’s a quick highlight of some of our favorite moments:

Day 1: Star Chefs of the Americas Dinner and Culinary Journey – “Taste of The New World”

Hosted at Fiesta American Grand Coral Beach Cancun, Friday night kicked off the festival with a bang. Over 20 chefs from all over Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and many more prepared their signature dishes for us as we sipped on some of the best wines of the region and chatted with the guests of honor about all things foodie.

Cancun Wine & Food Festival - CheapCaribbean.com

We started off the night with a little sip of champagne and collected a passport to help guide us through the culinary journey.

One of our favorite dishes came from Chef Sumito Estévez, Director of the Culinary Institute of Tourism and the Caribbean. We enjoyed Seafood Cebiche with Squid Chicharrones (right) & Avocado and Cilantro Gazpacho with Rocas Bean (left). So delicious! And this was just the beginning of the evening.

Sumito Estevez Dish - Cancun Wine & Food Festival - CheapCaribbean.com

Prepared by Chef Sumito Estévez

After sipping on many different wines from all over the Americas, we found a favorite. Our personal preference came to us from the Valle de Guadalupe, which is one of the newer (but delicious) wine regions in Mexico. Called Mariatinto, it was named as an ode to Mexican women and founded by Master Sommelier, Humberto Falcón and restaurateur & chef, Guillermo González Beristaín. Along with the many other wines we tried this evening, Mariatinto is available for purchase at Vino From Mexico.

Mariatinto Wine - Cancun Wine & Food Festival - CheapCaribbean.com

“A lot of people know Mexico for the food, beer and tequila. Wine is up and coming in Mexico.” – Humberto Falcón
Tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment with Mexican red wines!

Day 2: Cooking Challenge featuring Chef Nelson Méndez vs. Chef Ricardo Zárate

Saturday, we attended our first of many cooking challenges. The festival’s world-renowned chefs were set to go head to head preparing dishes on the fly with only the ingredients provided.

Cooking Challenges - Cancun Wine & Food Fest 2014 - CheapCaribbean.com

Chef Nelson Méndez, Venezuelan chef with a long list of accolades and educations went head to head with Chef Ricardo Zárate, Peruvian chef with 2 award-winning restaurants in Los Angeles.

Cooking Challenges - Cancun Wine & Food Festival 2014 - CheapCaribbean.com

We listened as Chef Mendez talked about the importance of respecting your ingredients with Chef Zarate prepared a beautiful Peruvian fish dish.

Day 3: Gourmet Tasting Village

This was another one of our favorite days. All of Sunday was spent tasting dishes prepared by some of the top-rated resorts and chefs in Mexico, as well as washing it all down with many different Mexican wines & beers. We were in foodie heaven and these are just a few of our favorite eats from the Gourmet Tasting Village.

Secrets The Vine Festival Display - Cancun Wine & Food Festival 2014 - CheapCaribbean.com

Secrets The Vine, one of the festival hosts, had scrumptious cheeses, crackers and appetizers, as well as plenty of great Mexican wine that can be found in the resort's wine cellar.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya - Cancun Wine & Food Festival 2014 - CheapCaribbean.com

This tostada with fresh scallops and avocado cream from Grand Velas was AMAZING!

Boca Negra Beer - Cancun Wine & Food Festival 2014 - CheapCaribbean.com

Boca Negra Beer is a pioneer in the Mexican craft beer world. Not to mention, it's tasty!

Palace Resorts Food - Cancun Wine & Food Festival 2014 - CheapCaribbean.com

Prepared by Palace Resorts' Chefs, both this bacon mango scallop & pork nacho with avocado cream were our favorites by far of the day.

So as you can imagine, if these are just some of the highlights from the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival, then the weekend was beyond a blast and the perfect foodie experience. We've got so much to share with all of you and this is just the beginning. We'll be hosting our Foodie Faves Twitter Party on 3/25 from 1-2pm CST where we'll highlight more of our learnings, as well as talk about all things foodie. So if your mouth is watering (like ours) from our adventures, we suggest you tune in! We'll even have some foodie-inspired prizes up for grabs. Stay tuned - all the details are coming soon!

Brittany Innes is Manager of Social Media at CheapCaribbean.com. She's a travel junkie with a passion for trying new things and being spontaneous. 

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