Cocktail competition at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Bruno Le Gac reveals what happened at this year’s Bar and Cocktail competition.

Bartender making cocktails at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2012

Bartender at 2012 Cocktail competition

This year’s Bar and Cocktail competition has taken a new step, and I was delighted to witness how much interest it has generated amongst our guests.

The event started with a classical approach to bartending, and ended in music with Mauritius’ living legend of flairing, Joao.

The jury panel was composed of the European chefs, who left the stoves in the kitchens for a couple of hours to sample the creations made out of Gabriel Boudier’s liquors.

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!

A-Z of our Constance culinary spirit

Bruno Le Gac, our Corporate Executive Chef, reveals his A-Z of the Constance culinary spirit.

Fresh lobster at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina
Fresh lobster at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

A: Artists

Our pastry chefs are artists. Passionate about their job, they invest a lot of time in searching for inspiration, developing their skills and techniques. They regularly participate in competitions and regularly bring back medals to their resort. In Constance Lémuria Resort of Praslin, everyone knows Chef Seedheeyan (he welcomes you on the buffet in the morning). Next time you go there, ask him to show you his pictures… and look at his smile.

In Mauritius, our chefs are already working on the next ‘fête du pain’, featuring art pieces made entirely of bread dough. I can’t wait to see what our bakers will create.

B: Bernardaud

Fantastic ‘porcelaine deLimoges’. Bernardaud is always creating new innovative lines, reinventing the shapes and design of the perfect plate, bowl or cup. Chefs normally get their inspiration from a product. Sometimes, the starting point is a plate and the question the chef asks himself is ‘what am I going to create on this beautiful plate?’. I see Bernardaud as true partners of our creativity.

C: Curry

Mauritius is a land of curry, and so are the Seychelles and Maldives. They are all very varied, and every chef, every house, every family probably has a different recipe.

At Constance Belle Mare Plage, we grind the spices ourselves using a traditional method. We crush the ingredient on a slab of lava stone, using a roll also made of stone (the baba cari). It’s definitely worth trying – the texture is so much better.

Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit

D: Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit may not be the tastiest fruit but have you ever seen anything more beautiful? The purple ones are a natural work of art. Inspired by a trip to Mexico, I like to splash its delicate flesh with a bit of lime juice, and sprinkle it with salt. It’s so refreshing.

E: Executive chef

Executive chef is a very difficult – but fantastic – job. An executive chef is not only a good chef. He must be a complete manager, and master of many different talents, skills and techniques. The executive chef is the boss of the kitchens and with teams of more than 100 people in some of our resorts, he must also be a great inspiring leader.

This March during the Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau, all our executive chefs will be in Mauritius for a week of fun, exchange, sharing and learning from each other. They will propose an amazing 14 hands dinner at Deer Hunter restaurant that is not to be missed.

F: Fish

At our island resorts, our guests naturally expect plenty of great quality fish. We take a lot of care in choosing our products, and there is a wide variety of fish dishes available in all our resorts. Look for fresh yellowfin tuna tartar at Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives, baked whole bourgeois fish in Creole spices at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles, home-cured sailfish marinated with olive oil and served with crispy fresh palmtree at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

G: Giraffe

Any idea what a ‘giraffe’ is?

It’s a common name in kitchens for a very large mixer, used to blend large quantities of soup, liquid etc… It takes its name from the shape of its rod, long and curved like the neck of a giraffe. At Constance Hotels Experience, we do not use giraffes. We prefer to prepare smaller quantities at a time, keep it fresh and blended with smaller yet more versatile hand mixers.

H: Hobart, Tasmania

I am very proud to announce that our culinary team at Constance Belle Mare Plage will be representing Mauritius in the great final of the Black Box competition organized by MLA (meat and livestock Australia) in Hobart at the end of May 2012.

They have qualified during the national final, and will have the honour to compete against more than 20 national teams from all over the world.

I: International

Our team is very international. I’ve lost count of how many nationalities are working in our kitchens, bars and restaurants. Here are just a few I can remember: Mauritian, Seychellois, Maldivian, Malagasi, French, New Zealander, Australian,  German, South African, Moroccan, Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Burmese, Chinese, Kenyan, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, Nepalese…

Jing restaurant, Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives
Jing restaurant

J: Jing

Jing is our ‘Asian chic’ fine dining restaurant at Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives. At Jing, you can also dine on high chairs that face the kitchen, which allows you to follow all the action in the show kitchen. The chef can design a bespoke menu that is prepared in front of you. One thing that cannot be missed: chef Glen Cooper’s chocolate fondant with Thai green curry ice cream. It’s unique.

K: Kids are welcome

Once in a while I enjoy spending a weekend or holiday at a nice resort with the family. It’s amazing to say but sadly I don’t feel that my kids are always welcome. They are not particularly loud or obnoxious, but one can tell from the attitude of the staff that they are dreaming of a planet with no children. Sounds familiar?

At Constance Hotels Experience we love kids – and they love us too. Our program ‘mini chefs’ features a tour of the kitchen full of fun and discoveries, kiddy cooking lessons and so much more. Running on the beach is allowed and so is having fun.

L: Lychees

In Mauritius, during the season of lychees (the best ones are in December/January) you can see large piles of them for sale along the side of the road. Lychees are picked ripe from the tree, and they literally explode with juice and flavour when you crack the skin open. It’s an experience not to be missed, a delicious gift of the gods and they are so good, they don’t need anything else.

Staff at Constance Le Prince Maurice

First class service at Constance hotels

M: Men

Men… and women. At Constance Hotels Experience we believe that our most precious capital is the men and women working together towards the ultimate guests’ experience. Some of our staff have been in the company for more than 25 years. At Constance Belle Mare Plage, Maitre D’ Christian Poché has seen 3 generations of fans of our hotels. We are now serving the grandchildren who will for sure come in a few years with their own children.

In our resorts, our guests are not a room number, they are part of the family.

N: Network

Chef’s World is a very small world. At Constance Hotels Experience we entertain a very close network with some of the best professionals in the world. Many are friends, some are guests. Most of them are both.

It’s great to be so remote from the real world and remain connected at the same time. The internet is the best friend of an island chef, and so is the professional press. But nothing compares to a few days of holiday touring the best restaurants of Singapore, seeing the freshest products in the summer markets ofFrance, sampling the latest creations of our favourite producers.

At the present moment, Chef Michael Scioli from Constance Le Prince Maurice is following the famous Omnivore culinary festival in Paris, while our head sommelier Jerome Fauré is touring the best vineyards of Burgundy. We never stop.

O: Octopus

In the Seychelles, we like to prepare octopus in a fresh salad with thinly sliced onions, strips of tomato, preserved lemon, grated ginger, chunks of cucumber, chopped coriander and flat parsley, and of course a touch of chilli. Lemon juice, a dash of extra virgin olive oil (preferably the ‘robust’ from Dandaragan Estate in Australia) and lots of pleasure. A chilled Seybrew (Seychellois local beer) and the breathtaking views of Port Launay marine park just in front. This could be my own definition of paradise…

P: Patrick Bertron

Patrick Bertron has been working with the great Bernard Loiseau for more than 20 years, and he took over the kitchen when his master disappeared. He has now developed his own cuisine, still respecting the bases taught by the famous chef, and is now the sole holder of his three Michelin stars. Every year, during Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau, he shares his knowledge, wisdom and talent with us.

We share many values as well as mutual respect. Constance Hotels Experience is very proud to know Patrick Bertron and to have built such a strong relationship together.

Sashimi at Constance Hotels Experience

Luxury food with the finest attention to detail

Q: Quality

Quality is an obsession for us. This is a word we pronounce several times a day. In the kitchen, it all starts with quality produce. The rest follows naturally.

R: Ribs

In our restaurant Adam & Eve at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles, we like to prepare delicious pork spare ribs, heavily basted in our secret marinade, and served with grilled fresh pineapple from the hills of Mahé. Spare ribs should of course be eaten with your hands. The restaurant is very casual, sand flooring, tropical music… the perfect place to indulge.

S: Salvino

Chef Salvino Crivellari is a fantastic chef and a great friend. He is what we call a ‘freelance’ chef, and one of the best specialists I know of the classical, traditional Italian food. He helps us every year in our different units to perform training and share his talents and fabulous taste with us.

Our Italian guests regularly come to us with a smile and say: ‘I know this food was prepared by an Italian chef’. Thank you Salvino for being part of the Constance family.

T: Tequila

At Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives, we are crazy about tequila. The idea most people have about tequila is very different from the extraordinary range and variety of flavours, aromatic complexity and richness that can be found in the best tequilas. Just drop by the main bar at Halaveli and let our bartender surprise you.

U: U’luwka vodka

This famous extra super premium vodka is available in all our bars at Constance Halaveli Resort. You can also order a smaller bottle through our In Villa Dining service, and enjoy your favourite drink in your villa, while watching the sun go down.

V: Vanilla

Every time I go to Madagascar, I always make sure that I stop at Nosy Bé market to buy fresh vanilla. There are plenty of people selling this fantastic product there but there is only one lady who always has the best quality available. It’s such a pleasure to pick up a fat, utterly fragrant and extra glossy bunch of fresh vanilla beans and smell it, touch it, feel it. Each bunch weights 1 kilo. It’s a privilege that few people get the chance to enjoy.

W: Wow

One of my favourite words, it says so much in just 3 letters. When our chefs find the perfect recipe and I try the dish for the first time, I always feel emotion. When I am ‘wowed’ I always make sure that every member of the team knows about it. A chef, a cook, a sommelier, a waiter’s utmost pleasure is to see the guest surprised and delighted. It’s the best reward you can get in this job.

X: Xocoatl

The ancient name for chocolate in the Aztec language. We are absolute fans of chocolate. With Easter coming soon, it’s a great occasion for our pastry chefs to showcase their talent and creativity. At Blue Penny Café, with their coffee, guests are presented a chocolate menu featuring the best creations by Chef Thierry. The chocolates are presented in a lovely lacquered box, just like jewels.

Y: Yes

At Constance Hotels Experience, we don’t like to say no to the special requests of our guests. A specific diet? Allergic to one or more ingredient? You don’t like the garnish and want something else? You are craving something that is not on our menus? Our chefs will meet you personally and find the solution. Holidays should be a pleasure so just relax, and we take care of the rest.

Z: Zébu

In Madagascar, zébus are all over the place. At Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar, Chef Claude Raherivelo likes to prepare its delicious flesh in 2 different ways – raw in a carpaccio, just sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs and marinated oil, and grilled in mignons to be served with a compote of onions with mustard and voatsiperifery pepper.

PCB Creation – the secret friend of pastry chefs

Bruno Le Gac, Corporate Executive Chef at Constance Hotels Experience, reveals an insider’s tip for decorating desserts and pastries.

PCB Creation pastry and dessert decoration

PCB Creation pastry and dessert decoration

The world of pastry has been completely revolutionised these last years. One aspect is the evolution of small operating equipment, moulds and so on.

Design kicked in long ago in this job, and the creativity of pastry chefs has never been so intense. Basically everything is possible nowadays and the combinations of shapes, design, colours and finish are amazing.

One brand I love is PCB Creation. Each time we receive their catalogue, it feels like we are children looking through the latest Playmobil Christmas catalogue.

Below are a few examples of some of the crazier designs they propose. The creativity of the PCB Creations designers has no limit.

It’s fantastic for us to be able to count on this kind of thing to help our pastry chefs enhance the decoration of their desserts.

PCB Creation designs

Angel design by PCB Creation

 

PCB Creation design for desserts

Amazing creations from PCB

 

Top 9 food trends for 2012

In the first of our Trends 2012 articles, our corporate chef Bruno Le Gac gives us an insight into what he believes will be the biggest food trends this year.

Bruno Le Gac

Bruno Le Gac

My big 3 predictions   

1. ‘New’ Chinese and Indian cuisine

Many young Chinese and Indian chefs will appear and experiment with the traditional ways of cooking and presenting their dishes.

New great chefs from Asia will start exporting their talents abroad and open restaurants across the globe under their name.

2. Tea food

 

Food associated with tea, food and tea pairing dinners should become more fashionable.

Guests are getting savvier about tea, and quality products and ranges have become more readily available. Tea sommeliers will become a reality very soon.

3. The Maitre D’

The concept of the Maitre D’ will come back, but with new codes and a modern approach. Service jobs will come back into the spotlight, and we’ll see new ways of doing things, more service competitions and even TV shows on service.

Celebrity Maitre D’s will become more famous, and will lead the way to attract younger people to learn. In other words what’s happened in the kitchen will now begin to happen in the dining room.

What the industry predicts will be big news in 2012

4. Homemade pasta and noodles

Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai…. 2012 will be the ‘year of noodles’

5. Insects

Insects are a great source of protein. They form part of the culinary tradition of many countries (Thailand, China, Mexico…). They could be a good alternative to meat and some say it would help release the pressure on our planet.

Some famous chefs such as celebrity Milan chef Carlo Cracco have already explored using insects on their menus.

Watch this space – for my part, I don’t think we’re quite ready for this yet.

6. Pure food

Food as natural as possible, with no artificial ingredients. We’ll see more ‘back to roots’ options prepared with very good quality products.

And general consumer trends, that continue to grow

Fresh produce

Fresh produce

7. Green, local and organic food

It’s been big for several years and I suspect the trend will continue to grow. Consumers are fed up with bad quality products and want to come back to the real thing. Home grown vegetable gardens will become even bigger, especially in cities.

8. Quality snacks, take away food, light bites

People have less time to eat, and want to enjoy easy food for lunch. Easy but still good and healthy. This is also true in hotels and resorts and I think we’ll see more and more casual outlets in hotels selling quality, light and tasty snacks.

9. Conviviality and human contact

Tired of watching bad news on TV? Family style dishes, portions to share, long tables and casual barbecues will become more popular.

People want contact and authenticity. Culinary classes, ‘do-it yourself’ sessions and more interaction on hotel buffets.

And now over to you…

Do you think insects will be gracing our plates in 2012?

Has organic food had its day?

We want to know what you think. You can post your comments on the blog below, to our Constance Facebook page or tweet @constancehotels.com

Regional and sustainable food at Constance – interview with Bruno Le Gac

We’re committed to working with local producers across the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar.

Bruno Le Gac in Madagascar
Bruno Le Gac in Madagascar

Find out how Constance Hotels supports regional food production and sustainable tourism in the second part of an interview with Bruno Le Gac on the website visitmauritius.com.au.