Christopher Barber shares the moment the winner of Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is announced

The pinnacle of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is the prize giving ceremony.

David Johansen and Ankur Daru

David Johansen and Ankur Daru

After a glorious sunny day, the rain returns just as the ceremony is to begin. Mauritians always have a Plan B, and without any fuss we move indoors into the main bar. There is tension, but this feels like a genuine celebration of the week’s culinary highs and the new friendships made.

It is not all about the chefs – winners are announced for cocktail, wine matching and table setting categories.

However cuisine is king for this week, and the winners are announced.

David Johansen and Ankur Daru take this year’s crown, and it is a well deserved success.

In my opinion, there may have been better individual dishes than those created by our winners. However, David and Ankur showed us something which captured the spirit of the festival. Theirs was a true collaboration - the Nordic and Indian influences both prevailed creating an admirable and equal fusion.

This was not just a European master presiding over his Island apprentice, and their obvious bond made a heart warming and quite obviously special relationship.

The evening was celebrated with yet another highlight - a 3* dinner created by the wonderful Patrick Bertron.

Dancing and partying rounded off a truly magnificent day.

Read more about the winners of Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Christopher Barber on competition day at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

The day of the competition is filled with tension and drama.

Dominique Loiseau, Jean Jacques Vallet, Gert Puchtler and European chefs at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

European chefs, Constance team and Dominique Loiseau

The European chefs have given the final briefing and words of encouragement to their Island partners, now it is down to them. We members of the Jury, ourselves a ‘Creole’ of nationalities, gather in expectation.

Whilst it is a competition, there is an overriding sense of camaraderie. the dishes leaving the kitchen are met with roars of approval from the European chefs, friends, family and supporters gathered at the kitchen door.

It is apparent that it is not the best chef or even the best dish which will win. Rather it is the best team which will shine through - those who have embraced the spirit of sharing knowledge and friendship.

This year’s dishes are difficult to separate, they are all of the highest standard.

The Jury have some tough decisions, and the debate rages for longer than ever before in their post degustation debrief. Cuisine is subjective, and even the jury members from the same country are divided on opinion. It is the most fascinating exchange of culinary wisdom.

Finally, a clear winner and runners up are established. The Jury are at one with the decision and are content that they have made the right choices. Only then are the identity of the teams revealed to the Jury… and they have to keep a secret until the prize giving on Saturday evening.

I do believe the best team won!

Want to know who has won?

Watch this space for the announcement of the winner…

In the meantime, check our Culinary section for all the events at the festival this week or visit the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau website.

Competition day at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

It’s Thursday and the big day has arrived at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Our island cooks go head-to-head as they create their fabulous dishes to impress the judges.

Fabrice Biasiolo and Ravish Mukri, Day 1 Trials

Fabrice Biasiolo and Ravish Mukri

The final countdown

Here, Christopher Barber shares his insights from yesterday as the mercury starts to rise in the kitchens.

The jury meet in the presidential villa of Constance Belle Mare Plage. There are new members this year so the final briefing is essential. The scoring system and judging criteria isn’t complicated but could be interpreted differently, so as a Jury we need to be at one.

As I write, the European chefs will have completed their final brief and the island chefs will be on their own. The tension will be high. I hope the Islanders can leave anxiety to their European partners, and that they can relax and do themselves justice.

The jury meets at 11.30. I will have a walk on the beach to clear my mind, and a very light breakfast – I have my eating to do today!

Patrick Bittner and Nuwan Hettiarachchi Day 1 Trials at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Patrick Bittner and Nuwan Hettiarachchi

Inside the world of our judges, European chefs and island cooks

We’ve published some interviews on our blog but there are lots more on our special website for the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Our judges, chefs and cooks reveal what drives them professionally, their favourite food, what creativity means to them and much much more.

The Jury – Christopher Barber, Enrico Bernardo, Patrick Bertron, Serge Vieira, Dominique Loiseau, Claus Meyer

The European Chefs – Fabrine Biasolo, Patrick Bittner, Jacques Decoret, Dominique Gauthier, Angela Hartnett, David Johansen

The Island Cooks - Ankur Daru, Kamlesh Doorjean, Nuwan Hiettiarachchi, Ravish Mukri, Jayram Seenanum, Hildy Sinon

More great photos from the festival on Facebook

Visit our Constance Facebook page to see more photos from the festival.

Don’t miss these great French culinary blogs

  • Chef Simon – for recipes, videos, commentary and more
  • Cuisine Addict – packed full of delicious recipes and foodie commentary

Interview: Christopher Barber

Christopher Barber has over 30 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry, and has carried out nearly every role you can imagine.

Christopher Barber

Christopher Barber

Christopher is one our judges at this year’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

  • Previously Chef to HRH The Prince of Wales and food consultant

What is your principal trait of character?
Good humour.

What is your greatest quality?
Patience.

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

What is your biggest weakness?
Don’t know!!

What is your favourite tipple?
White wine (chardonnay).

What is your favourite dish – and your least favourite?
Anything cooked by someone else… because I appreciate the effort that goes into cooking.

I dislike ready meals, though I never eat them.

What has been your best experience professionally?
Being part of the Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau (really!).

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
All of my clients, whether they are high profile, or new to the business, I treat them all the same.

What, for you, is happiness?
Spending time with my family.

What is your most important personal possession?
I don’t value material goods…

With what talent would you like to have been gifted?
Humility.

If you had not done this profession, what else would you have liked to do professionally?
I would have loved to be involved in some way in sport… especially tennis.

What does the word ‘creativity’ mean to you?
Creativity is the most valuable commodity, it is often dismissed and not celebrated as it should be… without creation we have no joy in our lives. 

How do you get away from it all?
A place where my mind stops thinking about troubles and stress.

What inspiration do you get from Mauritius?
Beautiful place, beautiful people, wonderful friends and the best hospitality in the world.

What do you do when you need to recharge your batteries?
Go for a long run in the countryside where I live.

What’s the best compliment someone can pay you?
Being liked is the greatest and simplest compliment.

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
Sri Lankan - it is where my family is from, and has one of the world’s most underrated cuisines – fantastic fruit and vegetables, beautiful spices, wonderful fish. Presentation is not so important but flavour…

The Big Draw and a day at Port Louis Market by Christopher Barber

Christopher Barber, one of our judges on this year’s panel for the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau, gives us a run down of the action from day 2 (Monday). 

Chefs visit Port Louis market

Chefs visit Port Louis market

The festival has now begun in earnest.

Over breakfast in the Blue Penny Cafe, the draw of Island and European chefs is made, all seem happy with their partners… so far. Luckily, there would appear to be no language issues – the French speakers and English speakers drawn together.

A downpour accompanies the coach journey toPort Louis. We stop off to visit a school for children with learning difficulties, and drop off some delights from the Belle Mare Plage kitchen.

Next stop the Port Louis market, and the rain will not relent. It doesn’t dampen spirits, and now the chefs visibly move up a gear.

The array of colours, flavours and aromas of the market inspires them, you can see their imaginations and culinary juices flow. Just to watch is exhilarating as they caress the produce and absorb the ambience.

The European chefs seem to take lead, seeking counsel from their local experts at every step.

 

European chefs and island cooks outside Port Louis market

European chefs and island cooks outside Port Louis market

My past visits to the market remind me that no trip toPort Louis is complete without a customary dosa and a local milk drink. My persuasive powers managed to get a couple of the chefs to join in, though the gelatin infused cocktails were not quite as well loved as the dosa.

 On return, the chefs huddle together planning and devising their master creations.

On Tuesday they will start kitchen trials, bringing their creations to life… the excitement mounts.

Catch up with what’s happened so far at the festival