Food writer, Christopher Barber, was on the ground for the 10th anniversary of The Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau (FCBL) last week where he also saw the climax of the competition. See the hashtag #Constanceculinary for how the whole event unfolded.
It is with great reluctance that I use the phrase ‘winners’, as all taking part in FCBL win, but nevertheless, huge congratulations to William Frachot and Amit Chandel, who along with their Island commis Bisham Jumangalsing deservedly took first prize.
With the European chefs this year being two star, the atmosphere was a little different; perhaps as these chefs have achieved so much, winning was not so important? William Frachot was surprised and delighted – despite battling tonsillitis – and visibly proud. He said: “of course I am delighted to win, but this is for my team.”
A steady hand
I think the win was a surprise to the many on-looking ‘experts’ and to William himself. Throughout the festival he was calm, assured, and always taking in part in the fun – with an unassuming charm he had written off his chances, indicating that he felt others had a stronger chance. This was the spirit of the festival; despite the fame and ego, each and every one of the Island and European chefs took part with a smile on their face, and they will leave with the experience of a lifetime.
The podium was truly pan European, with France, Germany and UK being represented – this a wonderful tribute to the festival and the jury, who unwittingly produced the fairest of results (they have no idea of the origin of the plates that they judge until the ‘reveal’, post tasting).
A lifelong collaboration
The real importance though of this festival is the effect it has on the lives of the European and Island chefs. “When asked, I said yes right away, I would not contemplate any other type of competition,” said William. “I just don’t need that pressure, but this is about sharing and learning, I have learnt from my Island chef and my commis, and I have shared my thoughts and ideas with them – we have all learnt and grown. When it came to the 12 star dinner, we were one team, all sharing knowledge and working together.”
I caught up with Michael Caines, on his way to the chefs end of tour boat trip (a legendary event on the festival calendar, but no reporting allowed!!). He said: “This has been way beyond my expectations, I was happy to come 3rd, but for Aviraj and Ravi (his team), I wanted to win, so I guess I am a bit disappointed as they worked so hard and were amazing. I can’t believe the week has gone in a flash, it has been hard work, but I have loved it.”
The highest level
It is difficult to describe the amazing bonds that the teams have formed in such a short space of time; they have worked, played and achieved at the highest level, crafting Michelin standard dishes from ingredients they had just been introduced to.
Dominique Loiseau agreed that the standard this year was incredible. He said: “It was noticeable, the standard was even higher than previous years, perhaps with 2 stars they have nothing to prove, so are more open to collaboration and the exchange of ideas.”
This has been a genuine sharing of knowledge, and whilst the Europeans have the culinary accolades, here can be no doubting that the Constance spirit of passion, communication and friendship has been passed back in return, and this is an invaluable gift.
See how this year’s event unfolded on our storify timeline.
Get the inside track by following Christopher Barber on Twitter.
Follow all the news from this year’s Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau.
- 10 years of sharing at the Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau
- Michael Caines and Patrick Bertron: a unique friendship
- FCBL: A huge culinary and collaborative success
- FCBL: Michelin and island chefs join forces.