WORLD GOURMET FESTIVAL 2013
Constantly depicting the dynamic evolution of worldwide gastronomy since 2009, the World Gourmet Festival is into its 14th year with more culinary excitement than ever before.
Over the past decade, the annually held, week-long festival has grown in prominence to feature extraordinary selections of some of the best chefs, winemakers and food experts from across the globe. All have gathered together under one roof in Bangkok to showcase their outstanding cuisine and expertise.
The 2013 affair, which takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok from Sept 2-8, promises to excite keen epicureans with an astounding line-up of kitchen virtuosos, wine masters and mixologists from seven countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
With the idea to introduce new diversity, as well as to glorify the time-honoured, the hotel's F&B director Reto Moser said that all 10 culinary genres featured this year are very special.
It's the first time the event presents a master chef from Portugal. From L'AND vineyard restaurant in the picturesque town of Alentejo, Miguel Laffan is part of the vanguard of chefs creating a new wave in Portuguese gastronomy. His Mediterranean cuisine is inspired by Luso-Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, resulting in fare that is rich with fresh flavours accomplished through a very proactive culinary approach.
Continuing to observe the popularity of modern Spanish cuisine, this year the festival brings in superstar chef Paco Perez of two-Michelin star Mirror Restaurant in Barcelona and two-Michelin star Mirama in Llance.
During his training years, Perez worked with Michel Guerard, the father of French Nouvelle Cuisine and holder of three Michelin stars, as well as Ferran Adria, the father of modern Spanish cuisine at the legendary three-Michelin star elBulli restaurant. Perez's cuisine, therefore, is an exhibition of cutting-edge creativity.
Chef Markus Arnold of MA Pop-Up Restaurants in Bern, Switzerland, offers also a fresh new vibe to the festival. Recently awarded Achiever of the Year by Gault Millau, this 31-year-old chef is very product-driven, believing in selecting only the purest ingredients and preparing them with passion.
"This is the first time he's going to be out of Switzerland. Yet his cuisine is very cosmopolitan with lots of influence from France, Italy and Spain," Moser said.
It's also the first time the event features a Belgian chef. Though he owns and runs the one-Michelin-star Het Gebaar restaurant in Antwerp, Roger van Damme is one of the most experienced and innovative patissiers in the world. He was recognised as Chef of the Year by Gault Millau and is regarded as the godfather of molecular pastry.
"Chef Roger's dessert dinner is one of the festival's most highlighted events. Four to five courses of spectacular desserts will be beautifully paired with great wine and become a meal in itself. But you won't be walking out of it thinking you had too much sugar. The menu is very well balanced and the evening is going to be fun, interactive and also intimate. Something new for Thai epicureans to experience," Moser said.
To honour the Asia's best, there will be a dinner prepared by Chef Hirohisa Koyama of Aoyagi restaurant in Japan. It's the first time this 60-year-old, who has inspired so many Michelin-star Japanese chefs, to come to Thailand to present his much-respected fare using traditional techniques and the finest seasonal ingredients to deliver classic dishes that please both the palate and the eye.
Joining from Four Seasons Hotel Firenze in Florence, Italy, is Chef Vito Mollica of Il Palagio restaurant.
Mollica is a staunch advocate of Italian food, spending his career seeking to preserve the culinary ecology of his home nation by supporting small producers, old-style markets and local varieties.
He bases his kitchen philosophy on "knowing the man behind the produce", personally scouring the markets and Tuscan countryside for independent producers who share his passion for quality.
His approach also culminates in his desire to ensure each guest feels at home in his restaurant. His restaurant in Prague is the first Czech dining establishment to get a Michelin star.
"Another source of excitement is David Rathgeber's cuisine," Moser said.
Coming from Restaurant L'Assiette in Paris, the young chef has already had a rich and exciting career, having completed stints at prestigious restaurants such as the Michelin two-star Amphycles in Paris, the Michelin two-star Ritz in Paris, the Michelin two-star Les Trois Marches in Versailles, and 12 years in the kitchens of legendary chef Alain Ducasse, including the Michelin three-star Plaza Athenee, Aux Lyonnais, and Benoit in Paris, where he earned his first Michelin star, as well as at Benoit in New York and Tokyo.
At his own L'Assiette, Rathgeber continues what he commenced when working with Ducasse. Yet the presentation of his food is not at all fine dining but very simple, bistro-like fare. Rathgeber's cuisine will be paired with wine selected by Tokyo-based Master of Wine Ned Goodwin, who was born in London and raised in Sydney.
"Ned Goodwin is one of the only four Masters of Wine in Asia. He's focusing on the Old World wine.Through a wine master class, he will show you top wines from the top three wine regions of France _ Bordeux, Burgundy and Loire Valley, and also top value alternatives out of the New World that offer very similar experience at a very different budget."
There will also be a wine dinner conducted by Chef Jereme Bonnet of Restaurant Daniel in Paris, and winemaker Pascal Jolivet of Domaine Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre, France.
In addition to the highlighted chef dinners, the lobby will, as usual, play host to cooking demonstrations by the participating chefs complemented by the much-loved World Gourmet Festival lunch with cuisine from around the globe.
"The cooking demonstration is very good way for the guests to get a glimpse of what the World Gourmet Festival is all about without having to spend the whole evening.
"You can come to the interactive lunch buffet and sample a variety of cuisine by different chefs, who will explain and show you techniques step by step. You'll get to try bite-size samples of their dishes. It's a very comfortable lunch paired with very beautiful wines.
"This year we have also come up a very nice way for guests to finish off the evening, offering the chance for the people to casually mingle and talk after the dinner," said Moser.
From 8pm to midnight, Monday to Thursday, the hotel lobby will be turned into a wine gallery lulled with live jazz. While on Friday, Aqua bar will become, for the first time, a part of the festival presenting a selection of top whisky and whisky-based cocktails by professional mixologist and whisky specialists with tasty bites and DJ music to dance along with.
Just like all previous years, part of the ticket sales and money raised from auctions will go to HRH Princess Soamsawali's "Save A Child's Life From Aids Project" under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society. And last year was the most successful year of the event with a little over a million baht donated to charity.
The 14th World Gourmet Festival runs from Sept 2 to Sept 8. For reservations, call the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok on 02-126-8886.
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About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter