Preparing for the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival 2012

Preparations are well under way already for the 7th Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival, due to take place in March next year.

Gala evening 2011

Gala evening 2011

Bruno Le Gac, our Corporate Executive Chef, gives us an insight into the organisation behind what’s become the most prestigious culinary event in the Indian Ocean.

On the last day of the Festival Culinaire, we’ve already started thinking ahead to next year’s event…

The festival has been extremely successful since it began in 2005. Every year, we work harder than ever to make the next edition even more memorable than the last.

What’s new for 2012?

In 2012, guests will be more involved in the competition, so they really feel the excitement of the competing teams. They’ll feel the anticipation and suspense ‘live’, like on the competitive cookery shows on TV.

Planning next year’s festival

At the end of each festival, we have a debrief with the organisation team to discuss which parts of the program to keep, what needs to be adjusted and what innovations we should introduce to the next festival. From this discussion, we begin to write the programme of events.

The internal organisation in the hotel is a huge task. Chef Dominique Grel and his team have become experts at this. But it’s always a lot of work and requires great dedication.

Choosing who takes part

Then we have to think about who’s going to take part.

The judges and the winners 2011

The judges and the winners 2011

The European chefs

It’s a difficult alchemy to pull off because the professionals that we invite need to connect and share something special together. It’s all about harmony.

Being a food-lover, I like to describe the sense of competition as being akin to chilli. A touch of it is nice to bring a bit of zing, but too much is overpowering and counter-productive…

There’s now a large family of chefs all over Europe who have become friends through the event, and who meet up regularly.

The judges

The choice of the jury members is also extremely important. They must be well respected professionals who can all get along well, even if they have different backgrounds and ideas about what makes a great dish.

The island chefs

Last but not least, we need to select the candidates from our hotels. For the first time this year, we’ll have participants from 6 of our resorts. The process has already begun.

  • First step is a questionnaire.
  • Second is a practical task where the chefs have to create two classical recipes ‘from the book’. No innovation required – it’s all about technical ability and precision.
  • Third and last step is a competition with two recipes to make. The ‘basket’ of ingredients is the same for all chefs, and they are free to prepare anything they want out of it. We want to see technique of course, but mainly we’re looking for talent, creativity, taste and elegance.

The winners earn the right to represent their hotel, their colleagues and their country during the final event that takes place in Mauritius in March.

Let the show begin!

Find out more

Don’t miss our article about the spirit of the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival.

And if you want to know more about the event, get in touch with us. You can get in contact with us via Twitter, post photos to Facebook or use the comments section below.

The spirit of the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival

The European chef and the island cook sharing their passion

The European chef and the island cook sharing their passion

Bruno Le Gac, our corporate chef and a key mastermind behind the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival,  gives an insight into the history behind the remarkable event, now entering its 7th year.

The Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival takes place in March, and is a major event for everyone at Constance Hotels Experience.

It started 6 years ago with an idea – to honour the legacy of the great chef Bernard Loiseau, and propose something that he would be proud of.

The spirit of the festival

When we first had the idea, we didn’t know what or how we would do it… but we knew that we wanted to create something true, sincere, with spirit. Not just a business event, but a festival with soul.

The European chefs coaching the island cooks for the competition

The European chefs coaching the island cooks for the competition

We wanted it to be an event that would showcase our passion for food and the human values that we cherish.

As I always say, several brains work better than one and the result of this great team work has progressively turned into reality.

The concept for a festival in which we could share our passion and knowledge was born.

Mrs Dominique Loiseau immediately gave us all her support and allowed us to name the event after her late husband.

Chef Patrick Bertron, Loiseau’s protége, has been sensational since day one.

Michelin star chefs join cooks from the Indian Ocean

We wanted to put the spotlight on the people that we never see. The way the festival works is that we put together 6 Michelin star rated European chefs with 6 young cooks from our kitchens.

European chef and island cook prepare for competition day

Feel the tension in the kitchen, competition day is near...

During the festival, they train together for 3 days to create 2 dishes of their own making. Then on the day of the competition, the European chefs are not allowed in the kitchen. In the spirit of Loiseau’s legacy, it’s about sharing, it’s about training and it’s about transmission.

We showcase the best of the produce and culinary wonders of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean. One of the basic rules of the competition is to use local produce and spices as much as possible. I believe that after 6 years we have pretty much seen everything that you could possibly make with fresh heart of palmtree!

What we’ve achieved so far

To date, we’ve managed to create a high profile event that exudes warmth and humanity. Those who were present at the first festival immediately felt that something very special had happened during the week. And the spirit keeps on building up every year…

We wanted this to be an elegant event that represents the image of our hotels. Our partners responded with equal enthusiasm – it’s not every day of the week that you get to drink magnums of Amour de DeutzChampagne…

The festival in 2012

I am extremely proud of Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival, and so are all of the great people who have participated, who shared their time, hard work and passion.

The 2012 edition will be even more intense and fascinating… watch this space for more news of next year’s unmissable festival.

Spotlight on the culinary spirit at Constance

Le Barachois floating restaurant at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Le Barachois floating restaurant

Our corporate chef, Bruno Le Gac, gives us the history behind our famous ‘culinary spirit’.

The concept of the culinary spirit was born at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius when the resort was created a few years ago.

What is the culinary spirit?

The idea of the culinary spirit centres around:

  • The careful choice of the best produce.
  • The enhancement of this produce by a precise cooking method and the balanced use of spices.

Michael Scioli, the brilliant chef at Le Prince Maurice, wanted to give a personal and contemporary interpretation of these founding principles.

Le Barachois

Table at Le Barachois, Constance Le Prince Maurice

Table at Le Barachois, Constance Le Prince Maurice

He’s developed a menu at Le Barachois, our famous floating restaurant, where the dishes are created around the association of one central produce and one spice.

Here are just a few dishes on the menu to get your tastebuds excited:

  • Sarawak black pepper and Indian Ocean Albacore tuna, in a tartar with passion fruit and coconut milk starts the dinner with a note of freshness, elegance and a burst of flavours.
  • Fresh turmeric and tek-tek local cockles in a cocotte, a marinière broth with chorizo associates surf and turf in a very balanced way.
  • Sichuan and local grouper, sautéed and flavoured with Mirin, sesame oil and fresh soy sprouts is sharp and goes straight to the point.
  • Tamarind and grilled Royal gambas, a warm salad of capsicum and crispy beans plays with tangy notes and reflects these more vegetal of the garnish.

The dishes are served in a beautiful set of staub grey enamel cast ironware.

Why not try cooking some of our fabulous recipes at home. Every Friday we post a new recipe for you to try – see our culinary section for some great ideas.

How to: buy and cook beef

We’re launching a new series of ‘how to’ guides so we can share our best culinary tips with you all.

Bruno Le Gac

Bruno Le Gac

If there’s anything you want to know to make your cooking more enjoyable, send us your comments and ideas.

You can contact us via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below.

This week, our Corporate Chef Bruno Le Gac shares his expertise on what to look for when you’re buying beef. He’s also got plenty of tips on how to cook the meat you’ve chosen.

Find a good butcher

Before going to your butcher to buy beef there are a few basic questions to ask yourself:

  • How do I want to cook the meat?
  • How much do I want to spend?
  • How much time do I have?

What you want to prepare will determine the cut you need to buy. The most important thing to me is to find the right butcher. Meat in general is a very specific produce, and you need to trust the person who is selling it to you.

Roast beef

Roast beef

A good butcher knows where his meat is coming from, how long it has been resting in the cold room, what he should serve you according to the circumstances and the answers to your three questions listed above.

Summer BBQ

Looking for something to serve at a summer BBQ with friends? Go for a nice, thick prime rib. Nicely marbled with thin layers of white fat and aged to perfection. Important: once cooked, the meat has to rest for at least 10 minutes before being sliced and served.

Children helping cook in the kitchen

Children love helping to cook

Cooking for the kids

Preparing a quick lunch with the kids at home? Flank steak is a great option. Thin and easy to prepare – use a cast iron grill-pan - it’s a delicious and juicy cut. Great with sliced shallots just sautéed in butter and sprinkled with freshly ground pepper.

Romantic dinner for two

Planning a romantic dinner with a nice bottle of Bordeaux? A thick cut of a good quality tenderloin is your best bet. Real meat lovers will prefer rib-eye, a slightly less tender but more tasty cut, although arguably less romantic). It doesn’t come cheap but it’s pleasure guaranteed.

Portion sizes – 180g per portion is nice. 200g is for big appetites. 250g is for rugby players…

Prime category red meat is always best served medium rare. If you prefer your tenderloin well done, I would recommend you open it ‘butterfly’ style for a quicker cooking time.

Le Creuset casserole pot

Le Creuset casserole pot

Family gathering

Got a family gathering to cook for? A nicely roasted sirloin, sliced in the dining room with a beautiful professional knife is an elegant dish that will please everyone. It cooks ‘by itself’ which gives you time to take care of your guests.

For a less costly option, but not less pleasurable, go for gelatinous cuts such as cheeks or even shortribs.

They are at their best when braised in the oven in a rich sauce with red wine, baby onions and mushrooms. It takes time to make, and it’s more of a winter dish, but the reward is worth it. Serve it with your homemade mashed potato, and sprinkle with fresh thinly chopped chives.

More recipes…

Want to create some more of our chefs’ amazing dishes yourself at home? Every Friday, we post some of the most amazing, delicious and popular recipes in our culinary section.

Beach picnic at Anse Georgette, Seychelles

Our corporate chef Bruno Le Gac regularly shares some of the great culinary experiences on offer at our Constance hotels.

This week the spotlight is on the luxury beach picnic in the Seychelles.

Anse Georgette beach at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Anse Georgette beach at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

The beach of Anse Georgette is located at Constance Lémuria Resort on Praslin in the Seychelles.

Regarded as one of the world’s top 10 beaches, Anse Georgette has been left untouched and in pristine condition.

No bar. No restaurant. No beach cabana. No loungers.

The beach is just a few minutes walk or quick golf cart ride from the main reception at Constance Lémuria, through mango and sea-coconut trees, and other tropical plants.

Fresh beach picnic at Anse Georgette, Seychelles

Fresh beach picnic at Anse Georgette, Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

If want to enjoy a full day on this glorious beach, try our beach picnic experience. Delivered straight to where you’re sitting, the picnic comes in a fabulous basket and includes delicious snacks such as:

  • open sandwich with home-smoked big game fish
  • Creole style chicken kebabs
  • grilled Seychellois vegetables tossed with coriander pesto and al-dente pasta
  • local seasonal fruits.

It’s an experience not to be missed.