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…

Interview: Jacques Decoret

Award winning-chef, Jacques Decoret, is one of our Michelin star chefs competing at this week’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2012.

Jacques Decoret

Jacques Decoret

Maison Decoret, Vichy, France

  • Meilleur Ouvrier de France

What is your principal trait of character?
Thoughtful and tenacious.

What is your greatest quality?
Enthusiastic and particular.

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

What is your biggest weakness?
Shy and something of a loner.

What is your favourite tipple?
Vichy-Fraise.

What is your favourite dish – and your least favourite? Why?
I like everything because I’m quite greedy, especially when it comes to pastries.

What has been your best experience professionally?
The building up with my wife of our own restaurant and all the preparation and commitment involved in obtaining the title of One of the best Ouvrier de France in 1996, and of course all the wonderful establishments we’ve worked in.

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
My wife and colleagues, who’ve stayed with me for years, as well as all the suppliers, growers and breeders for their great produce.

What, for you, is happiness?
Daily life: to be able to get up in the morning, walk, speak, love and be loved.

What is your most important personal possession?
My fingers, my hands, a book of recipes and my knives.

With what talent would you like to have been gifted?
I would have liked to have the gift of healing/magnetic healing so as to be able to relieve people who are suffering.

If you had not done this profession, what else would you have liked to do professionally?
Sculptor in wood, working in the art field.

What does the word ‘creativity’ mean to you?
A place, a journey, a product, a memory, a moment in life.

What do you think best translates the wish to pass things on?
It’s feeling a sense of responsibility for the staff you take on – apprentices and trainees – as if they’re your own children, so that they can progress professionally.

How do you get away from it all?
It’s eating food you’ve not previously tasted, finding fresh horizons.

What inspiration do you get from Mauritius?
The sun, the beaches, Mauritian men and women, their produce, travelling around and the change of scenery.

What do you do when you need to recharge your batteries?
Doing odd jobs around the house, gardening and just being on my own.

What’s the best compliment someone can pay you?
You’re a trailblazer!

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
Each cuisine has its own identity, regions, country, but I would certainly be inclined to single out what is called French cuisine, which has attained a global dimension. But there are some remarkable dishes in China, India and Japan. However, it’s the quality of produce and savoir-faire above all that determine the success of a dish.

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.

Interview: Claus Meyer

Renowned chef and restaurateur, Claus Meyer is one of our judges at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Claus Meyer

Claus Meyer

  • Founder of the new Nordic cuisine and architect of the manifesto.
  • Co-founder of the restaurant Noma in Denmark, Michelin which was voted World’s best restaurant in 2010.
  • Hosted his own TV-series on cooking ‘Meyers Koekken’ on national Danish TV (DR1) from 1991 to 1998.

What is your principal trait of character?
Enterprising and honest.

What is your greatest quality?
Empathy – I treat everyone as an equal and I talk with everyone.

What are the qualities you look for most in other people?
Generosity and integrity.

What is your favourite tipple?
German Riesling.

What has been your best experience professionally?
Creating the Noma restaurant and conceptualising Scandinavian nouvelle cuisine, as well as realising the joint project.

Who are the most important people to you in your professional life?
My wife and four children.

What, for you, is happiness?
To be in a position where you can follow your heart. To have the capacity to surprise your most demanding followers. To be passionate about what you are doing. To have a family that you love more than anything in this world.

How do you get away from it all?
I take off to the countryside with my family, or on my own in our house in the woods deep in the heart of Sweden, or in our summer home by the sea in Denmark.

Which type of cuisine is currently the best in the world in your opinion?
I could obviously say new Scandinavian cuisine but I don’t really accept the validity of the question. Cuisine is not a matter of ethnic origin!

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!