Giant gingerbread house at Constance Halaveli

Christmas preparations are well under way at Constance Halaveli, and this year we’ve got a gigantic treat in store.

Gingerbread house at Constance Halaveli

Gingerbread house at Constance Halaveli

Our carpenters have taken on the enormous task of building the dream gingerbread house for our Culinary Team.

The shell of the house has been carefully crafted to provide a solid base for the weight of the specially made gingerbread. 

Watch this space

Every week we’ll provide a progress report on how the gingerbread house is shaping up before the big unveiling at Christmas. 

Don’t miss the other photos on our Constance Facebook page.

Send us photos of your gingerbread creations

Have you ever made a gingerbread house? Don’t be shy because we’d love to see photos of your creations. You can post your photos to the Constance Facebook page.

Interview with Bruno Le Gac, Corporate Executive Chef at Constance Hotels

Bruno Le Gac is our Corporate Executive Chef at Constance Hotels Experience.

Bruno Le Gac

Bruno Le Gac

Bruno’s passion for his work stems from a great love of food, and his career has taken him around the globe.

1.    Why did you decide to become a chef?

Like many people, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I was a teenager. But I knew I wanted to be independent, earn my own money and enjoy freedom. I also loved to eat and go to restaurants with my parents.

One summer, I spent a month in a restaurant to earn a bit of cash. I was cleaning dishes, peeling vegetables, all that nice stuff…

One day during service time, the kitchen brigade was in such a rush that the chef called me. He put a kitchen hat on my head, tied an apron around my waist and showed me how to place the garnish on the plates.

Strangely enough, at the end of this particular day I knew what I wanted to do in life. I guess I was love struck by the job. I dropped conventional studies and started an apprenticeship. And I’ve never regretted my decision.

2. How did your career get going in the early days?

I started travelling at quite a young age, and I was only 20 when I got my first job abroad, in California. I chose not to come back to France, and instead decided to discover different countries and cultures.

3. What 5 things have influenced your success?

Delicious fresh food at Constance Hotels Experience

Delicious fresh food at Constance Hotels

A combination of factors have been key to the development of my career.

1. I’m lucky to have a fantastic wife. She’s always been very supportive, patient and she has also been able to put me back on track when needed.

2. Lots of work and dedication. A true passion for the job.

3. Self motivation. It’s important to wake up every morning and strive to do better than the day before.

4. I believe I’ve made the right career choices at the right time. One has to provoke his destiny and not wait for things to happen.

5. I’ve been lucky to meet and work with incredible people, who gave me their trust and support.

My current job is completely different from what I was doing before. But I love it even more – it opens so many doors. I’m having a blast!

4. What qualities do you think an aspiring chef needs to make it in the business?

Chefs working in a Constance Hotels kitchen

Chefs hard at work at Constance

 I’d say self motivation and a willingness to work hard, as well as a genuine passion for what you’re doing.

When I started you needed to get ready the first couple of years to wake up very early in the morning, work long hours, do more cleaning than cooking, cut your fingers, burn your arms, stink when you get back home and never say no to your chef.

Work, learn, remember, apply. Think fast, act fast. Then you’ll know if you’re made for the job or not.

Once all of these things are no longer a problem to you, you’ll start really enjoying what your job is and you’ll be on the right track.

After that, it’s all about finding your own style and ways of doing things.

Fortunately things are now very different and the working conditions in the kitchen are getting better and better. It will always remain a fascinating but fairly hard job.

5. How do you see food trends developing in the luxury hotel market?  

There’s a move to create more healthy options on the menu, more ‘custom made’ menus, lighter portions, luxury snacking for lunch. And more than ever: lighter, purer plates made out of quality products. High class modern pastry is also a big draw right now.

We’re going to see even more personality in the food. So called ‘hotel food’ is disappearing and this is good news. And there’ll be even more symbiosis between food, service and wine. Guests are looking for a global experience.

The mix of clientele is also changing. We need to anticipate and propose things that will surprise and delight our European guests but also Asian and Middle Eastern to name two.

6. What and where was the best meal you’ve ever had?

If I say ‘my Mum’s food’ it will sound very conventional! Let me think… I don’t have one best meal that stands out. Instead, I like to remember dozens of great food experiences that vary with the context, the place, the people I was with.

Here’s a window on some of the best food experiences I’ve had:

  • A ‘vuelve la vida’ seafood cocktail in Mercado 28 in Cancun, Mexico.
  • A salad of fresh heart of palmtree in Constance Belle Mare Plage,Mauritius.
  • A splendid and surprising langoustine and raw wagyu beef in a delicate broth at Relais Bernard Loiseau this summer.
  • A perfect spaghetti al pesto at La Merenda, a small restaurant in Nice.
  • A giant chili crab in a street food shack inSingapore.
  • A plate of freshly picked organic tomatoes from my mother-in-law’s garden, with lots of olive oil from Baux de Provence and sprinkled with salt flower.
  • A tray of Oysters in Cancale,Brittany.
  • And so many many more…

 My memory is full of incredible food souvenirs. I think you got it by now… I love food!

Favourite recipes from Constance
Want to create some of our chefs’ amazing dishes yourself at home? Every Friday, we post some of the most amazing, delicious and popular recipes online. You’ll find them in our culinary section.

Recipe: Black lentil soup with smoked pork belly and grilled scallops

Warm yourself up with this delicious lentil soup from the kitchens of the luxury 5* Le Prince Maurice.

Ginger root

Ginger adds extra warmth to the soup

Serves 4
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Soaking time for the lentils: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 250g cleaned scallops (without roes)
  • 15g butter

For the soup:

  • 200g black lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 50g boucane (smoked pork belly)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 5cl crème fraîche
  • salt and pepper

1. Soak the black lentils for 2 hours.
2. Peel and chop the onion and garlic separately. Grate the carrot. Finely dice the celery and carrot.
3. Cut the boucane in two pieces. Fry the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger and boucane in hot olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the drained black lentils, thyme, parsley and curry leaves. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 hour on low heat.
4. Remove the boucane, blend and sieve the soup. Add the crème fraîche and correct seasoning.
5. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Grill them for 2 minutes on each side.
6. Using a hand blender, blend the soup with the butter. Serve hot with the scallops.

Choosing wine from the menu

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a total newbie to the world of wine, our Head Sommelier at Constance, Jérome Faure, is here to share his expert knowledge with you.

Jerome Faure
Jerome Faure

This week, Jérome takes a look at the difference between conventional and organic wines.

Conventional versus organic wine

A conventional wine is a wine produced from grapes grown using farming methods which include the use of chemical products.

Organic wine is made from grapes certified by a recognised body such as Ecocert, as organically farmed – AB (Agriculture Biologique) in the French system.

How wine is given organic certification

AB certification requires, above all, respect for a set of guidelines aimed at banning the use of all chemical products, such as pesticides, fungicides and fertilizer. At present there are no guidelines for how the wine itself is treated.

Gaining AB certification involves wine growers subjecting themselves to lengthy administrative procedures, which is why some growers are not interested in obtaining it. But at the same time, these growers may use few or no chemical products in their vineyards. So it’s possible to come across a wine without an AB label that is nonetheless made from organically grown grapes…

Choices, choices… which wine is best?

Red wine in glass
How to choose wine

You’ll find good wines among both conventional and organic types.

To oppose organic to conventional wine is simply to oppose certified to non-certified ones. As we’ve already said, many winegrowers are organic but uncertified, and others, even if not organic are very sparing in their use of chemicals.

Some go even further by working in accordance with biodynamics (the natural rhythms of cosmic forces), whether they’re certified or not.

If you’re dining in a restaurant, the best way to decide is to rely on the selections of a good sommelier.

The Constance Group takes great care in its choice of wines, and at Constance Ephelia in the Seychelles the wine list indicates which wines are certified organic or biodynamic.

Tell us what you think

Do you prefer organic over conventinal wine? Tell us what you think. You can get in contact with us via Twitter, Facebook or use the comments section below.

Recipe: how to make coconut milk

Coconut tree in Seychelles

Coconut tree in Seychelles

Today Chef Rufus Elizabeth of Seselwa restaurant at Constance Ephélia Resort explains how to make coconut milk the traditional way.

Coconuts are poetically called ‘suspended water’. They’re used in many different culinary preparations in the Seychelles – the most famous one is probably the kari koko, or curry with coconut milk.

1. To make fresh coconut milk, you need to use a dry coconut. First remove the husk by splitting it on a sharp rock. If you buy it in a supermarket, it will come without the husk.

Splitting coconut husk on a sharp rock

Split the coconut husk on a sharp rock

2. Then, break open the nut. This can be a dangerous operation if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Seychellois do it with a machete… but please don’t try this at home!

Instead, I’d recommend using a pastry roller or a metal pipe. The trick is to place the nut in your hand the right way. It will easily break open if you hit it right in the middle, against the sense of the fibers.

3. Hold the nut tightly in the palm of your left hand, hide your fingers, and hit it with the pastry roll. If it doesn’t break the first time, try again.

4. Place a glass or bowl under to collect the coconut water.

5. Once the nut is open:

  • Sieve the coconut water and use it to prepare a delicious drink. It’s perfect pure and ice cold. Seychellois have it for breakfast to give them strength for the day.
  • You can also mix it with white rum and prepare a delicious punch.

6. Remove the pulp from the shell: one easy way is to use an oyster knife. Protect your fingers as the blade can easily rip against the inside of the shell.

Scrape the pulp out of the coconut

Scrape the pulp out of the coconut

Try to keep at least one side of the coconut shell intact. Seychellois use it a measuring unit and call it the kafoul.

7. Rinse the pieces of pulp. You can choose to keep the brown skin around it or remove it with a knife. Grate the pulp. Seychellois use a traditional grater (a piece of sharp metal on a wooden plank). At home, a blender is probably your best bet.

8. Place the grated pulp in a bowl. Add a bit of fresh water and let it soak for 5 minutes.

9. Place the preparation in a clean cloth. Wrap the cloth around the pulp and press with your hands on top of a bowl. The coconut milk will be extracted slowly.

Sieve milk through the husk

Sieve milk through the husk

To do this, Seychellois use a piece of natural coconut husk. They call it tamis coco.

10. Keep the coconut milk in the fridge until you need it. Keep the dry grated pulp to prepare pastries such as a delicious coconut tart, or a coconut jam.

11. If you want a thicker milk, or coconut cream, allow the milk to rest for 2 to 3 hours. The liquid will progressively split and the coconut cream will stay at the top. Use a ladle to gently collect it from the top.

It may be easier to open a can of coconut milk but what a pleasure to make your own!

 

Constance Belle Mare Plage celebrates Divali 2011

Guests and staff enjoyed a beautiful evening at Constance Belle Mare Plage on Tuesday 25 October, to celebrate Divali, the festival of lights.

Special dishes and decorations

Special dishes and decorations

Our chefs prepared special dishes for the evening, with traditional table decorations created from coloured rice.

Celebrations took place at Indigo and Citronelle restaurants.

The name Divali comes from the word Deepavali, which means ‘row of lamps’.

Divali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.

Don’t miss more lovely photos of Divali at Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice on our Constance Facebook page.