Seven chefs from five countries with a common passion for using locally sourced ingredients are joining this year’s much-anticipated World Gourmet Festival
by Laurence Civil
The hotel’s name may have changed from Four Seasons to Anantara but its culinary heritage has seamlessly transitioned, as it hosts the 16th Annual World Gourmet Festival, Sept. 7-13. This promises to be a week of unashamed gastronomic indulgence that brings together some of the best chefs, winemakers, and food experts from around the world. Seven chefs from five countries with a common passion for using locally-sourced ingredients are joining the annual event.
Chef Francesc Rovira, Fonda Xesc, Gombrèn, Girona, Spain
A traditional Catalan cuisine specialist, Chef Francesc learnt the art of cooking from his mother working at the family-owned village inn, La Fonda. After finishing high school he enrolled at the Escola d’Hosteleria de Barcelona. The legendary Santi Santamaria, the first Catalan to be awarded three Michelin stars, guided his career. He returned to La Fonda to introduce new dishes while the kitchen was run by his mother. He and his sister finally took over and elevated the kitchen inn into an acclaimed restaurant, and it was awarded 1- Michelin star in 2009. Chef Francesc likes to use local ingredients, such as mushrooms, which are vital ingredients in Catalan cooking and mushrooms are arguably his signature ingredient.
Chef Hirofumi Imamura, Kazuo Okada Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Born in Japan, Chef Hirofumi dreamt of being a chef since he was just four-years-old. He learned his fundamental cooking skills in his hometown of Fukujima before journeying to New York, where he excelled as a sushi chef and sake sommellier. He moved from New York to Las Vegas to join a Japanese restaurant in a five-star hotel, which became the most talked about Japanese eatery in town, and from there, he moved to Macau before heading the 1-Michelin starred Kazuo Okada Restaurant in Kowloon, Hong Kong. He searches the globe for the perfect seasonings to make his dishes unique. He uses different dishware for appropriate seasonal presentation, and believes that every dish should stimulate the senses, including that of smell, touch (texture), and sound.
Chef Patrick Raingeard, Cap Estel, Èze-Bord-De-Mer, French Riviera, France
Chef Patrick discovered his love of cooking watching his grandmother prepare sautéed potatoes, curious how she scorched but never burnt the foaming butter. He worked with Alain Passard of the 3-Michelin starred L’Asperge, and Jacques Maximim at the 2-Michelin starred Ledoyen and The Elysee Lenotre, which gave him confidence and motivation, resulting in his own Michelin star at the Zebra Square Restaurant in Monaco. He has an instinctive contemporary style and he is a man of the soil and a staunch advocate of using seasonal local produce. He and his team at the Cap Estel are proud that they use vegetables from their very own garden.
Chef Francesc Gimeno Manduley, Bohemic Bistro, Barcelona, Spain
Chef Francesc Gimeno Manduley transmits emotion, passion, and sincerity with his cooking. At the end of 2006 he opened a tapas bar, which progressively became a restaurant where there was an overflow of creativity drawing on the various styles and inspirations from the different renowned establishments he had worked in. Developing the tapas food-style theme, Chef Francesc plays with the concept of miniature presentation of numerous dinner dishes to choose from starting with a pasta-based appetizer before completing the meal with a dessert.
Chef Pierre Crépaud, LeCrans Hotel & Spa, Crans-Montana, Switzerland
A self-declared simple cook, Chef Pierre is a staunch supporter of local farmers, selecting the best vegetables and regional produce as the foundation for his recipes. He then plays with taste, color, and texture combinations to create intense flavors and a theatrical presentation. His childhood was spent in the mountains of Drone with his great uncle growing vegetables and he loved the idea of eating home-grown produce. Although he trained professionally to be a chef, his true desire wasn’t just to work with food but rather to transform basic ingredients into a finished product.
Chef Sean Connolly, Sean’s Kitchen, Adelaide, Australia
Chef Sean Connolly, one of Australia and New Zealand’s most well respected chefs, is a true visionary with a wealth of experience and uncompromising drive. His grandmother installed in him the values of generosity, imagination, and respect for excellent produce. He recently opened his first restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia – aptly named Sean’s Kitchen. It is a New York-inspired brasserie, where the focus is on showcasing outstanding local produce. It won Best New Restaurant in the City Awards within a year of opening.
Chef Jean-François Bérard, Hostellerie Bérard & Spa, La Cadière d’Azur, Provence, France
His first culinary exposure was at his parents’ boutique hotel, Hostellerie Bérard and Spa, located on a hilltop village La Cadière d’Azur in magical Provence. This was enhanced by working with some of the best chefs in the world, which included the legendary Roger Verger at the 3-Michelin star restaurant: Moulin de Mougin. His father Chef René Bérard – himself a master chef – trained him in the art of cooking using only the finest ingredients sourced from their garden and the locality. Working side by side in the kitchen, this father and son team earned their Michelin star.