True to its world-class gastronomic tradition, the island of St. Barth recently wrapped up a long and colorful weekend of culinary delights. Not only did the fifth annual St. Barth Gourmet Festival — held November 1—4 — live up to its beloved stature in the international gourmet community, it marked the reopening of some of the island’s most revered restaurants and hotels one year after Hurricane Irma took its toll.
Much like in years past, several of St. Barth’s luxury hotels partnered with France’s leading culinary talents to develop a series of special multi-course menus. This year, three of the island’s most prestigious restaurants, Bonito, Nikki Beach, and Tamarin, joined the roster to bring a unique mix of flavors to the event.
While the iconic Le Guanahani is still undergoing its rebuilding journey for late 2019, the hotel team was honored to experience the spectacle first-hand.
“It was an excellent event,” says Martein van Wagenberg, Managing Director of Le Guanahani. “From the impressive chef lineup to the friendly, festive atmosphere, there was a great sense of energy amongst the chefs and guests alike. The St. Barth Gourmet Festival has always been a major island event, but this year was special as the festival marked a new season for St. Barth in its return back to a must-visit, world-class destination.”
This year’s festival kicked off with an opening ceremony at Hotel Christopher, which hosted six participating chefs, representatives from the island’s participating hotels and restaurants, and members of La Collectivité, including the president Bruno Magras.
Amongst the highlights of the ceremony were speeches from festival organizers and various guests of honor, including one from Pierre Augé, owner and chef of La Maison de Petit Pierre restaurant in Béziers. Speaking on behalf of his fellow guest chefs, Augé expressed his gratitude towards the island locals, commending their tireless efforts and warm spirits following Hurricane Irma.
After all guests were interviewed and thanked for their participation, the opening ceremony continued with a photoshoot and three-hour cocktail party complete with small bites prepared by chefs from the host restaurants.
During the festival, each of the six guest chefs partnered with the executive chefs of their respective establishments to create and serve one-of-a-kind, multi-course tasting menus inspired by the spirit of the island, including:
- Nicolas Sale, Patron Chef of Hôtel Ritz Paris, 2 Michelin stars at La Table de l’Espadon and 1 Michelin star at Les Jardins de l’Espadon, paired with Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa
- Virginie Basselot, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2015, Chef of Hotel Negresco in Nice, paired with Hotel Christopher
- Edouard Loubet, Chef of La Bastide de Capelongue in Provence, 2 Michelin stars, paired with Le Toiny
- Cédric Béchade, Chef of L’Auberge Basque, 1 Michelin star, paired with Tamarin
- Serge Labrosse, Chef of La Chaumière in Genève, paired with Bonito
- Pierre Augé, Top Chef 2014, Chef of La Maison de Petit Pierre in Béziers, paired with Nikki Beach
“While many of these chefs are considered celebrities in their own right, working in some of the best kitchens in the world, it’s amazing to watch them come to St. Barth and do what they love in a relaxed yet professional environment,” explains Sabine Masseglia, Director of Sales & Marketing of Le Guanahani. “The chefs are very approachable and friendly, interacting with guests and residents. It’s fun for everyone.”
Guests also enjoyed various auxiliary events as part of the festival, like the Café Waiters’ Race, the youth-focused Concours des Petits Toques St Barth cake competition, and a steady soundtrack by French DJ Bob Sinclar — who performed for the reopening celebration of Le Barthélemy on Wednesday night and stayed on the island to spin jubilant tunes all weekend.
With another successful year in the books, the St. Barth Gourmet Festival continues to enhance the reputation of St. Barth through the love of fine cuisine.
“It’s a reflection of the island in general: quality, casual, chic, and entertaining at the same time,” says van Wagenberg. “Le Guanahani looks forward to participating in the festival’s sixth run in November 2019.”
All photos courtesy of Michael Gramm