FCBL is in its 10th year, and without doubt has made a huge impact on all involved.
What an experience for the Constance hotel kitchens – each year 6 Michelin starred chefs work and collaborate with Island chefs, so over the years that is 54 one star chefs and now 6 two star chefs. If you consider that a chef in the Constance kitchen has had access to 60 Michelin starred chefs, it is impossible to imagine how anyone could get greater experience.
Not one of the chefs taking part this year sees FCBL as a competition, all unanimously see it as an exchange of ideas and learning. To be fair, most hadn’t even realised that there was a competition element in advance, as like most guys at the top of their game, they don’t get a chance to absorb the information until the last minute; in their case, on the plane.
Sanjeev Matabudul was the island chef winner of the inaugural FCBL, and now is Executive Chef of La Kaze restaurant at Constance Belle Mare Plage. He told me: “Being part of this has changed my life, I am more confident personally, as well as professionally, I have met so many people and made lifelong friendships.” Four of the Island chef winners remain in the Constance Group today, which is pretty impressive with the transient nature of chefs in top class kitchens.
A personal journey
There are two European former winners taking part: Serge Vieira and William Frachot. Both chefs are hugely likeable characters and are leading the ‘banter’ in the kitchen on the first day of their culinary trials. Serge is a former winner of the Bocuse d’Or, he told me: “Mauritius is now my second home, and if I didn’t come for FCBL, I would be here on holiday. The impact of FCBL is personal, teaching me how to share ideas and to learn from people I wouldn’t normally get the chance to engage with”.
William echoed the thoughts of Serge: “When asked back, I said yes right away, I am not a competition or festival chef, but this is different. I don’t need the stress of culinary competing, but to come here and share ideas with local chefs, plus see what other 2 star chefs are doing, is a great pleasure”.
The fusion of ideas
Bastian Loiseau, son of the late Bernard, summed up the spirit of tis festival brilliantly: “This event could not take place anywhere, the connection between Mauritius and France with language and culture is unique, but importantly, the European chefs leave with an insight into a different way of working, communicating and learning.”
Like Bernard Loiseau himself, The Festival has made a difference to the lives of all involved. Great friendships have been made between high-flying European chefs and island based commis and more senior chefs. It is difficult to quantify the impact of FCBL on the world of cooking, but without doubt, it has been life changing to all participants, and the culinary scene is richer for friendships born in Mauritius. The exchange of knowledge, ideas, recipes and techniques here is unique.
This 10th year looks already to be a vintage crop, and the smiles, the laughter, the banter and the friendships already formed will further endorse the legacy of Bernard Loiseau and reinforce the importance of sharing, friendship and life changing personal development.
The European chefs are already stars, but their influence has helped to build a whole generation of Island chefs, inspired, trained and ready to bring culinary joy to thousands of lucky guests. This is a massive, and somewhat philanthropic contribution to the culinary world that we all should relish.
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