Heard it through the grapevine…

Head Sommelier Cedric Jacob is extremely passionate about all wines and is eager to share his knowledge with our guests.

Cedric Jacob

Cedric Jacob

When speaking to Cedric his enthusiasm and love for wine is evident and he always welcomes guests to come visit the cellars at Constance Halaveli.

Below he shares a bit about his background and where his passion for wine began.

Where in France are you from?
I was born inParis. My dad got the opportunity to move to Aix-En-Provence, South of France for his job and we all followed him. My little village where we moved to, Ventabren, is in the middle of the appellation Cotes d’Aix-En-Provence famous for its Rosé. As you can guess, you can find more Rosé wine on every table than simple still water. My dad used to say ‘water is for flowers’ but my mum does drink a lot of water!

When did your interest in wine begin?
My interest in wine began when I started in the hospitality industry at the age of 15 where I discovered there was a soul to every different wine, each a different product, something sometimes that is hard to put into words.

I have always been interested in the mysterious things of life and wine was part of this. My lecturer, a passionate man who could speak for hours and hours about this topic, helped me to develop my knowledge and I started to learn about it seriously aged 18.

Some people might say that 15 years is very young but I think that we need to start early to understand the idea of taste and sensation when tasting a product. This goes for food, music, art etc… My dad understood this concept of life and used to give us, my 2 brothers and myself, a tiny glass of wine every Sunday to smell and try to recognise aromas. Then we’d add water in to taste it. That was the beginning of what I call a ‘love story’.

Sommelier team at Constance Halaveli

Sathir, Sampath and Cedric

Why did you become a sommelier?
First of all, I became sommelier for the simple reason that wine was a passion. I love reading about it, finding out what is happening in the world of wine, watching documentaries. Also wine was becoming a huge trend at the time that I started, and people were willing to understand more and more about what they were drinking. It’s not only about drinking nowadays – people want to discover new horizons, understand the importance of Terroir, grape variety, human touch on the final wine that they are drinking and so on. Being a sommelier is all about experiencing and sharing. This idea of conviviality and becoming a sommelier was the best choice I ever made.

What challenges do you face currently being a sommelier in the Maldives?
The main challenge is the difference of climate that definitely changes your perception while tasting. Your smell as well as your taste is affected by the humidity and heat. The same wine tastes totally difference in Europe compared with the Maldives. Our goal is to find a new way of serving wine so our guests fully enjoy the wine that they order, for example, serving slightly chilled red wine.

Another challenge is offering the best price for our customers, considering the heavy import duty on alcohol as the Maldives is a Muslim country.

Cedric Jacob and guests

Cedric and guests at Jahaz

With these challenges how do you foresee them affecting the wine industry in the Maldives?
The main impact regarding government restriction is that wine is getting more and more expensive in this country, especially since the government plans to further increase the duty. However, as a sommelier, we always believe that the price doesn’t always rhyme with quality. Our goal as professionals is to find more small producers from different countries who are driven by their passion to produce great wines. Many young wine makers inFranceand elsewhere are becoming more and more famous for this, and those are the wines we are trying to import. Once again our aim is to satisfy the needs and wants of our guests. 

What is your favourite wine and why?
That is the trickiest question for a sommelier and one that people often ask me because I like everything as long as it is good – white, red, rosé, dessert, Champagne…However since I arrived in the Maldives I have to say that I have a preference for white Sauvignon Blanc for their freshness and their minerality and red Pinot Noir for the easiness and fruit…New Zealand is a region that I particularly appreciate for that even though we do produce amazing Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir in France.

What would be your perfect evening?
A perfect evening is a couple of friends, each bringing a good bottle that they want to make others discover, me in the kitchen (I love to cook, in fact I wanted to be chef before sommelier) and spending the evening enjoying, sharing and having fun with friends… that’s my idea of conviviality.

Do you have any special tips that you would like to share?

Just like a magician, I would say I can’t.

Next time you’re at Halaveli don’t forget to ask our Sommelier team to take you on a tour of our superb wine cellars.

Christopher Barber and team celebrate end of culinary festival

With bags almost packed in the knowledge of a job well done, the team behind the successful 7th edition of Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau head out to sea on a luxury catamaran to have some well earned fun.

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

Constance Belle Mare Plage

Here, Christopher Barber shares the day with us.

What sadness, the last day in paradise.

Yesterday was the final organised event - a catamaran trip along the coast, lunch on board washed down with copious amounts to drink.

Executive chef Dominique Grel is as comfortable looking after guests as he is in the kitchen. He is the ultimate professional, looking after everyone whilst having a great time himself. He epitomises everything that is wonderful about Constance Hotels and the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau - having fun, making friends and looking after people. He is ably assisted by Vincent and Guillaume from Belle Mare Plage, they exude friendship and charm, making sure that the chefs have an appropriate send off.

Star of the day is Angela Hartnett’s boyfriend Neil Borthwick. He sings, dances, swims and drinks, bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

Bruno Le Gac and team with Patrick Bittner

Bruno Le Gac and team with Patrick Bittner

The Constance team have once again shown us that gastronomy alone is not enough - great food and hospitality is also about people and personality. Through the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau, they have shown the world that they have this in abundance.

Behind the scenes photos of the final festival dinner

Visit our Constance Facebook page to see some wonderful photos of the Michelin* chefs and island cooks preparing the 6* dinner on the final night of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Top sommelier Enrico Bernardo inspires the Constance team

Enrico Bernardo, named Best Sommelier in the World in 2004, was on this year’s Jury for the 7th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Enrico Bernardo

Enrico Bernardo

While in Mauritius, Enrico took the opportunity to talk to our sommeliers about his work. A real inspiration to the team, he talked about his earlier career as a chef and how it led him to become a sommelier.

‘Anyone can become a sommelier. You have to want to learn -  above all about appellations, terroirs and the history of the country.’

This is a humble man who has passed his dream and passion for his work onto our sommeliers.

Enrico Bernardo’s rise to success as a world class sommelier

  • 1993 – Best Young Chef in Europe
  • 1995 – Prix Master de Port Italie
  • 1996 et 1997 – Best Sommelier in Lombardy
  • 1996 et 1997 – Best Sommelier in Italy
  • 1998 et 2000 – Second in Best Sommelier in Europe
  • 2002 – Best Sommelier in Europe
  • 2004 – Best Sommelier in the World

Menu: Easter Monday at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Guests staying at Constance Le Prince Maurice are in for a treat on Easter Monday when dining at the delightful L’Archipel.

L'Archipel

L'Archipel

First rate chef Michael Scioli has prepared a menu of Easter inspired delicacies and surprises. Each course is perfectly complemented with a specially selected champagne or wine.

Creamy egg with tarragon, wild mushroom mousse
Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic

Easter egg with foie gras and cocoa chocolate, tangy seasonal fruits and vegetables
Vin de Constance, Klein Constancia Constancia, 2006

Roasted stuffed Easter lamb leg, piperade and preserved potato, thyme juice
Saumur-Champigny, ‘Les Terres Chaudes’, Thierry Germain, 2008  

Dessert and Easter egg buffet
Poiré, ‘Granit’, Eric Bordelet

Day 3: Inside the kitchens at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Bruno Le Gac takes us into the kitchens on day 3 of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Prawn curry at Constance Hotels Experience

Luxury food at Constance

Pressure is gradually rising in the kitchen, and countdown has started as the chefs have to come up with 2 creations. Ambiance is great between all the candidates and we are starting to see some interesting things on the plates.

On Monday evening, guests at Constance Belle Mare Plage had the rare privilege to taste a menu prepared by the 6 executive chefs of our hotels in Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives.

It was an explosion of flavours and tastes. A fantastic atmosphere in the kitchen, lots of fun… and some pressure for our sous chef Vishnu who was doing the passé with 6 executive chefs sending the dishes to him.

We are already looking forward to next year’s festival!

Interview: the world of Angela Hartnett

The Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2012 is in full swing at Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius.

Angela Hartnett

Angela Hartnett

Award-winning chef Angela Hartnett is one our Michelin star chefs at this year’s festival.

  • *Michelin
  • Chef at Restaurant Murano, London, UK
  • Named Chef of the Year 2012 by The Good Food Guide.
  • In 2007, she was awarded an MBE for Services to the Hospitality Industry.
  • A protégé of Gordon Ramsay, made famous by her appearances on British TV.

What is your principal trait of character?
Being honest and straight forward.

What is your greatest quality?
Trying to see the positive in life and people.

What are the qualities you look for most in other people?
Kindness and generous nature.

What is your biggest weakness?
Procrastination.

What is your favourite tipple?
Wine and champagne.

What is your favourite dish – and your least favourite?
Roast chicken with lemon thyme and rosemary – it’s just delicious and actually takes a good chef to cook a chicken well.

Least favourite?
Any dish with coriander.

What has been your best experience professionally?
Cooking for chefs such as Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse.

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
My staff and my guests.

What, for you, is happiness?
Family and friends. A little dog called Alfie and a guy called Neil.

What is your most important personal possession?
Jewellery from my grandmother.

With what talent would you like to have been gifted?
To be able to write well such as authors like Jane Austin, JD Salinger, Scott Fitzgerald.

If you had not done this profession, what else would you have liked to do professionally and why?
I would love to have been a pathologist to solve crimes. I watch too many crime shows on TV.

What does the word creativity mean to you?
Passionate, original.

What do you think best translates the wish to pass things on?
Through inspiration working with others.

How do you get away from it all?
Go travelling. Eating out with friends.

What inspiration do you get from Mauritius?
Grace and charm and freshness and lightness in dishes with different flavours.

What do you do when you need to recharge your batteries?
Just sitting in front of the fire reading.

What is the best compliment someone can pay you?
That I treat others as I would like to be treated.

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
I think Spanish – it offers such a wide range of styles including tapas and traditional dishes.

For the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau, Angela has been teamed with Kamlesh Doorjean, our island cook from Constance Le Prince Maurice.