Norwegian TV-personality of the year Eyvind Hellstrøm in Mauritius

At last week’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius we caught up with Eyvind Hellstrøm, Norwegian TV-personality of the year in 2013, former 2 Michelin star chef, author of dozens of cook books and member of the Bocus d’Or jury since 1993. Interview by Peter Bojesen of Luxury Aficionados.

Eyvind Hellstrøm

Eyvind Hellstrøm

This is the second year in a row that Eyvind has sat on the jury of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. I ask him to compare this year’s performance of the chefs to that of 2013. ‘Difficult to say – but maybe the level was marginally higher this year, he answers. ‘Surprisingly, all the vegetarian starters looked almost identical this year, colourful and beautifully presented – almost as if the chefs had copied each other… Luckily, they did not taste the same,’ the charismatic 66-year old Norwegian adds with a smile.

Eyvind tells me that the jury was in agreement regarding the outcome of the competition. ‘One of the very interesting features about the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is the fact that the jury members come from different cultural backgrounds. A Chinese food critic, two 3-Michelin star chefs, one being Spanish but working in Germany, the other French, Mme Loiseau with her scientific background in microbiology and biochemistry apart from being the reference in French “art de vivre” – and myself, representing the Nordic cuisine. This means that our perspectives in regards to culinary matters often differ, leading to interesting and healthy discussions. When it comes to the actual voting, I see that the French often are somewhat tougher on the candidates than the rest of us, which may be due to the long standing tradition of a strict hierarchy in the kitchens of la Haute Cuisine Française.’

Once again, Eyvind Hellstrøm is impressed by the smooth running of the event. ‘Like last year, the organisation of the Festival – both professionally as well as socially – has been close to perfect,’ he says, ‘and the wonderful atmosphere between the 12 chefs is really quite unique. On a personal level, I have had the pleasure of meeting two new very interesting personalities on the jury, Juan Amador Perez from Spain and Bob Miao from China. So it is not only the chefs taking part in the actual competition who get to establish new, international friendships – it is certainly also an added benefit to the members of the jury.’

Following judging, Eyvind was heading back to Copenhagen for the filming of next season’s edition of Master Chef Norway. ‘Until the end of June, I have to be in Copenhagen every Monday and Thursday to shoot the TV-show, which will mean a lot of travelling back and forth from my home in Oslo,’ he says. But he must be doing something right, as Eyvind recently has been nominated Best Norwegian TV-presenter of the year – an award he won in 2012 as well as in 2013.

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Leading female sommelier wins at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Cheryline Coulon from Constance Le Prince Maurice won this year’s Wine Competition at the 9th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius.

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline tells her story of how she’s found her place as one of the rising sommelier stars in Mauritius.

I had the opportunity to start my career in France, in the largest palaces of the Cote d’Azur in Nice in 2006, including the Palais de la Méditerranée, Le Méridien and Sol Cala Di Ajaccio in Corsica.

In 2009 I got a big break when I had the opportunity to learn and share extensively with industry professionals in the champagne bar ‘L’Effervescence’ in the Old Town, Nice. From that moment my love and passion for wine has not stopped evolving.

On my return to Mauritius in 2010, I started working at Constance Belle Mare Plage and then moved onto Le Prince Maurice. Constance is a pioneer in this field, and attaches great importance to food and wine.

The Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. It’s a trying week both mentally and physically but it also offers unforgettable encounters with Star Chefs from around the world. Do not forget the wine and cuisine walking hand in hand. A good dish should be highlighted by wine and vice versa, this is what is known as the triad.

The festival is also an opportunity for us candidates to excel, to question, to see our limitations and to improve.

I am delighted to have won the title of Best Sommelier Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014 and to have had the honour to represent Constance Le Prince Maurice. I am now taking part in the competition of the Best Sommelier of Mauritius 2014.

In the words of David Biraud (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2004): “I have known many more defeats than victories, but the important thing is to get up and persevere.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mixologists from Constance praised as the best in Mauritius

Mixologists from Constance Hotels and Resorts set to work to impress the judges in the Chamarel Bar cocktail competiton at this year’s Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

Mixologists: Ashvin, Jimmy & Alexandre

Mixologists: Ashvin, Jimmy & Alexandre

The jury, composed of two members of Jack Daniels, commented on how gifted and surprising the three competitors were,  and stated that: ‘the overall level here in Constance Hotels and Resorts is higher than in the rest of Mauritius, the only thing they lack being self-confidence’. Another great night spent with Chamarel Rhums, for both the competitors and our guests.

Here are the cocktail recipes – let us know if you try them at home.

1st candidate : Jimmy and his Letchi Frizzes cocktail

  • Chamarel Premium white Rhum 4cl
  • Blackberry liquor 2cl
  • Mashed letchis 6cl
  • 3 pieces of ginger
  • 1 quarter of grapefruit
  • Sugar cane syrup 1 cl
  • Champagne for the finish
Sampling the flavour: The judge reviews each cocktail

Sampling the flavour: The judge reviews each cocktail

2nd candidate : Ashvin and his Chamarel Toasted Treacle cocktail

  • Chamarel Rhum V.S.O.P 6cl
  • A spoonful of brown sugar
  • Dash Angostura bitter 1cl
  • Fresh apple juice 2cl
  • Cointreau 2cl (flambée)
  • 2  orange peels

3rd candidate : Alexandre and his Candy Martini cocktail

  • 4 y .o Chamarel Farming Rhum V.S.O.P 4cl
  • Orange liquor 2cl
  • Orange juice 3cl
  • Homemade cinnamon syrup
  • Fresh lemon juice 5cl
  • Coriander
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cherry, 1 lemon slice and squash leaf for the finish

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