Winners of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014

The 9th Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius has seen the finest Michelin-star chefs from Germany, Sweden, England, Switzerland and France team up with Constance island chefs in a competition that puts their skills to the test and challenges them beyond their normal capabilities.

FCBL winners: Masashi Ijichi & Dammika Sarath of Constance Halaveli, Maldives

FCBL winners: Masashi Ijichi & Dammika Sarath of Constance Halaveli, Maldives

The winners

1st Prize:

Michelin Star Chef Masachi Ijichi from La Cachette restaurant in Valence, France and Dammika Sarath from Constance Halaveli Maldives, have won the 9th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

The competition which took place at Constance Belle Mare Plage from the 29 March to 6 April has also seen the crowning achievement of:

2nd Prize:

Jacob Holmstrom from Gastrologik restaurant Stockholm, Sweden, 1 Michelin star and Sandy Sokalingum from Constance Lémuria Seychelles.

3rd Prize:

Tim Allen from Launceston Place London, UK , 1 Michelin star and Yogessen Ramen from Constance Ephélia Seychelles.

The other teams in the competition were:

Masashi & Dammika's winning main dish: Spices and orange marinated Duckling breast

Masashi & Dammika’s winning main dish: Spices and orange marinated Duckling breast

  • Jens Rittmeyer from Budersand Hotel Golf & Spa, Sylt, Restaurant Kai 3, Hornum, Germany, 1 Michelin star and Dinushan Patabadage, Constance Moofushi Maldives
  • Mirto Marchesi from La Table d’Adrien restaurant, Le Chalet d’Adrien, Verbier, Switzerland, 1 Michelin star and Emmanuel Fortuno from Constance Belle Mare Plage Mauritius
  • Nicolas Masse from Les sources de Caudalie, La Grand’ Vigne restaurant, Bordeaux-Martillac, France, 1 Michelin star and Sasha Dinnoo from Constance Le Prince Maurice Mauritius.

The winning dishes

Starter:

Cold white coco beans soup, carrot mousse and marinated vegetables.

Main course:

Spices and orange marinated Duckling breast, onions stuffed with giblets, fruits chutney and sweet potato cromesquis.

Cocktail competition

Cocktail competition winner: Ashvin Purrun from Constance Belle Mare Plage

Cocktail competition winner: Ashvin Purrun from Constance Belle Mare Plage

Ashvin Purrun from Constance Belle Mare Plage is the winner of the Cocktail Competition held on 31 March at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

This year, three barmen from Constance Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice took part in the competition. The liquors used were from Chamarel Rhum. The jury were Laurence and Joachim Louis representatives of Jack Daniels and Crème Chambord.

Wine competition

Cheryline Coulon from Constance Le Prince Maurice is the winner of the Wine Competition held on 31 March. The competition consists of finding the best wines to accompany the dinner which was served by Chef Eyvind Hellstrom. In competition were three Mauritian sommeliers who presented their selection of wines in front of four jury members.

Service & Art de la table competition

Benito Bellehumeur from Constance Belle Mare Plage is the winner of the Service & Art de la table Competition held on Tuesday 2 April at the Blue Penny Restaurant, Constance Belle Mare Plage. He presented the most beautifully prepared table and the best service.

Dominique Loiseau, Mercotte and Isabelle Mobihan made up the jury.

Wine competition winner: Cheryline Coulon from Constance Le Prince Maurice

Wine competition winner: Cheryline Coulon from Constance Le Prince Maurice

Café Gourmand competition

Pastry Chef Camel El Sherifi from Constance Le Prince Maurice is the winner of a new Competition the “Café Gourmand” that was added this year to the event and organised in collaboration with our partner Nespresso. Participants were the Executive and Pastry Chefs of Constance Hotels and Resorts and were asked to create four pastries to best accompany a Nespresso coffee.

Find out more

 

Who will win the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014?

Yesterday’s finals in the 9th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau did not by any means signify the end of this extraordinary and unique event at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

Gastrologik's Jacob Holmstrom advises teammate Sandy Sokalingum

Gastrologik’s Jacob Holmstrom advises teammate Sandy Sokalingum

Lots of things are still happening, and the result of the competition is still a well-guarded secret. Everybody – except for the jury members, who deliberated yesterday afternoon – have to wait until Saturday evening to know the names of the winning team.

The 12 chefs involved in the competition haven’t had a lot of time to spend on the beautiful beach at Constance Belle Mare Plage or golfing on Constance’s two championship courses. The chefs are still in the kitchen cooking – preparing tonight’s Six Star Dinner at the Deer Hunter restaurant. This lavish event, where each Michelin star chef prepares one course, is offered to journalists and special invited guests and represents one of the gastronomical highlights of this incredible week of culinary cooking.

Yesterday’s finals are still on everybody’s minds, however, and speculations on the winning team are heard everywhere throughout the resort. Everyone seems to have turned into an experienced food critic overnight. At lunch at the pool side restaurant Indigo, our friendly waiter tells us that he believes that the British chef Tim Allen and his Mauritian partner Yogessen Ramen will win, but the sommelier disagrees: ‘I think that the team of Nicolas Masse from France and Sasha Dinnoo had the most beautiful dishes of the all,’ he says, adding that Jens Rittmeyer from Germany and his Sri Lankan team mate Dinushan Patabadage stand an outside chance to end on top of the podium Saturday evening.

I’m keeping my thoughts to myself for now. At any rate, except for the members of the jury, none of us has tasted the dishes – only seen them as presented yesterday afternoon. And as taste counts double in the four criteria used by the jury (looks, smell, colour…, creativity & originality…, proper use of imposed products…, taste) anybody’s guess is as good as mine.

With some free time on my hands, I played a round of golf at the Links course this morning, situated 10 minutes from the hotel by shuttle bus. The course was in great shape and turned out to be much more forgiving than the other Constance course, the Legend, which has water everywhere and is much tighter than the Links.

Article by Peter Bojesen of Luxury Aficionados.

Find out more

 

These guys are good… Cook off day at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Thursday 3 April – it’s the BIG day for the six Island chefs taking part in the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

Constance Lémuria's Sandy Sokalingum with Gastrologik's, Jacob Holmstrom

Constance Lémuria’s Sandy Sokalingum with Gastrologik’s, Jacob Holmstrom

Luxury Aficionados journalist Peter Bojesen reports on the action from Mauritius.

Today is the day when the result of three days of intensive preparations will be put to the test. Preparations have been made in close cooperation with their Michelin-star European partner chefs – but today the Constance Island chefs are on their own, except for a commis-chef giving a helping hand. Each chef has four hours to prepare eight identical starters and main course to be judged by the jury.

8:30am: The Island chefs enter the kitchen after having a last, encouraging pep-talk with their European mentors at the Blue Penny Café The young local chefs seem tense and their smiles are somewhat strained. The next four hours may be crucial for their careers, and the importance of the situation weighs heavily on their shoulders. Mauritian chef Sandy Sokalingum, who will return to the Seychelles on Sunday where he works as chef de partie at the Seahorse restaurant at Constance Lémuria, leaves the Blue Penny with the words: ‘I feel well prepared to meet the challenge – but I must admit that I didn’t sleep much last night…’

12:30pm: The six members of the jury have taken their assigned seats in the Blue Penny Café. Members of the press and many hotel guests have arrived in the restaurant together with the six star chefs. Now these guys look nervous – having spent the previous hours speculating on how their Island partner is doing. We all (except the jury) gather in a miniscule ante-room close to the kitchen, where the action by the chefs can be followed on a TV monitor. In a few minutes the first of the starters will appear on its way to the jury.

Taste test: Judges Juan Amador Perez & Mrs Dominique Loiseau

Taste test: Judges Juan Amador Perez & Mrs Dominique Loiseau

A warning is called out, and six plates pass in a rush in front of our eyes. It is Sandy’s creation and his Swedish partner, Jacob Holmstrom looks rather pleased: ‘It looks close enough to what we wanted to achieve,’ he says before tasting the starter prepared for him. ‘The same goes for the taste – not 100% perfect, but close enough.’

Ten minutes later the next starter arrives. It is the work of Yogessen Ramen – the local partner of British chef Tim Allen, who also has a smile on his face. On so it continues. Every 10 minutes a new creation passes by, made by the partners of the Swiss, Japanese, German and French chefs respectively. First the starters – then the procedure is repeated with the main course, which has Berberie duckling as the main ingredient.

Every dish is welcomed by loud cheering and applause by all the people in the room. The noise and the heat seem to increase as the hours pass, which most likely is due to the endless flow of Deutz champagne. Tim Allen, star chef of the Launceston Place Restaurant in London sums it up: ‘There has been a fantastic ambiance since the beginning of the Festival, but today beats everything I have experienced. Great to see how all the chefs applaud each other’s creations in spite of us being competitors. I really think that lasting friendships have been made during the past few days, and that may very well be more important than winning.’

I am sure that Tim’s words sound like sweet music in the ears of the organisers.

Find out more

 

The heat is on… Day 3 at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Wednesday 2 April – the final day to get everything ready before tomorrow’s finals at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014.

Peter Bojesen gives the day’s highlights from Mauritius.

Event chefs: Jacob Holmstrom & Masashi Ijichi

Event chefs: Jacob Holmstrom & Masashi Ijichi

A final without the star chefs present – only the Island chefs will be allowed in the kitchen at Constance Belle Mare Plage, each with an appointed commis chef at his side.

Today was the day when the finishing touches to the recipes are made, the dressing of the dishes approved, the recipes written.

I arrive in the kitchen in the morning and the tension is palpable at several of the stations. Some chefs seem to be more relaxed than others, however. One of those is Mirto Marchesi from Switzerland: ‘I’ve been very lucky with my Island partner, Emmanuel Fortuno, who normally works here at Constance Belle Mare Plage,’ he says. The two are sitting at a table with their starter dish in front of them, trying to compose a fitting name and to write the recipe required by the jury. The starter looks like a beautiful painting, where red, orange and green colours dominate. Hopefully, it tastes as good as it looks…

Chef Masachi Ijichi comes from Japan, and runs a one-star restaurant in the French city of Valence and speaks very little English. As his Island partner, Damika Sarath doesn’t speak French a translator is needed, but apparently it hasn’t affected the bonding between the two chefs. ‘Everything is going just fine,’ Masachi says with a big smile, ‘we have the same kind of philosophy regarding gourmet cooking, and I have learned quite a lot from my new friend, who normally works at Constance Halalevi in the Maldives.’

German chef Jens Rittmeyer also seems quite cool in spite of the heat in the kitchen. ‘I enjoy working with my partner Dinushan Patabadage who comes from Sri Lanka but works at Constance Moofushi in the Maldives. Our two dishes are well under way, and I am sure that Dinushan will perform well tomorrow,’ he says, while his partner is busy dressing the main course on a bone white Raynaud plate.

Leaving the kitchen, I enter the Blue Penny Café, which today hosts the Service and Arts de Table competition, which for several years has been a part of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Five tables have been beautifully laid, each occupied by two carefully chosen guests. Each table has been assigned a waiter, each of whom has won an internal competition in five of the hotels in the Constance group.

The guests are served a gourmet lunch by the five waiters in question under the watchful eye of three jury members, one of which being Mme. Dominique Loiseau. I watch several courses being expertly served, red and white wine properly presented and poured, coffee and tea offered. Everything seems to be perfectly in order, and I am quite sure that the jury will have a tough task deciding on the winner.

But just like the cooking- and sommelier competitions, we shall all have to be patient and wait until Saturday night to learn the names of the different winners of the ninth edition of the Bernard Loiseau Culinary competition.

Read more

 

Spices of Mauritius

See how Mauritian spices are prepared in the traditional way, using a stone slab and rolling pin.

Here’s a video from the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau taking place at Constance Belle Mare Plage this week.

Read more

 

Finally, it’s cooking time… Day 2 at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Bringing daily highlights from the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius, Peter Bojesen, luxury travel and food journalist, is at the heart of the action at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

In the kitchen - Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014

In the kitchen – Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014

After 24 hours of intense talks, the six teams taking part in the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau finally found themselves in front of the pianos in the kitchen of Constance Belle Mare Plage early Tuesday morning, 1 April 2014.

British star chef, Tim Allen has been raring to start cooking since he arrived in Mauritius, and I have the distinct feeling that the others have felt the same way, including the Island chefs. Cooking is their passion, and cooking is the reason why they all find themselves in this beautiful, sun drenched country in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Today is the day, when the strategies of yesterday laid out by each team shall be tested, implemented and tasted.

‘Are we on the right track? Do the two dishes live up to the credo of Bernard Losieau: “The taste, gentlemen, the taste”?

‘Is the recipe too complicated for the island chef to make all by himself on the final day? Can he/she create eight identical starters and 8 identical main dishes within the four hour time frame? Have all the compulsory items been properly used in the menu?’

These questions and many others have to be answered by no later than Wednesday afternoon.

Swedish chef Jacob Holmstrom tells me that he has had some rather heated discussions with his partner Sandy Sokalindum, who normally works at the luxurious Constance Lémuria in the Seychelles. Jacob likes to keep things simple (which is by no means easy to prepare – rather the contrary), while Sandy is used to a more elaborate cuisine.

And this is a perfect example of what the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is all about – sharing ideas between professional chefs with different cultural backgrounds and traditions. Jacob feels that the exchange with Emmanuel is healthy and mentally challenging, and he is convinced that it can only lead to a better end result. He and Sandy obviously hope that the six jury members agree when they convene on Thursday afternoon, 3 April.

The atmosphere in the kitchen is slowly starting to change. From a very relaxed start in the morning to a more tense and nervous mood as the hours pass by. The game is heating up, the race towards the top of the podium is on. And time is running out…

Here’s a glimpse of the action from Day 1 at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.