Bangkok welcomes chefs, winemakers, and food experts from around the globe at Four Seasons Bangkok’s “World Gourmet Festival”
By Jan Mick
Excitement is building around the “14th World Gourmet Festival (WGF),” to be held at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok Sept. 2-8 this year. Already confirmed are leading chefs and influential winemakers, and as the festival approaches the list is set to grow, according to the organizers.
Since its inception, the WGF has grown in prominence to feature an extraordinary line-up of some of the best chefs, winemakers, and food experts from across the globe, all gathered together under one roof for a week-long celebration of outstanding cuisine and superb wines. Here are some who has confirmed participation as of this writing:
Chef Markus Arnold, Restaurant 'Meridiano', Bern, Switzerland
When it comes to great gastronomy, award-winning Chef de Cuisine Markus Arnold is in a class of his own. At the age of 31, he is already one of Switzerland’s most eminent chefs. He places greatest importance on creating the most authentic aromas – by selecting only the purest products and top quality ingredients, prepared to perfection with passion. It’s a fine food philosophy that has already earned him 17 Gault-Millau points and a well-merited Michelin Star. In 2012 the prestigious Gault-Millau gourmet guide named him “Achiever of the Year” in German-language Switzerland. From the finest fish and most select meats to succulent side dishes and market-fresh vegetables (whenever possible from the Bern region) the choice is vast and varied. Says Chef Markus: “We strive for seduction of the senses by creating sophisticated simplicity.”
Jérôme Bonnet, Restaurant Daniel, Paris, France
Jérôme Bonnet’s cuisine focuses on the very best products available, and every day he sets out to discover new farmers from whom he can source the finest new ingredients. Working with local experts, he is able to create a simple yet sophisticated cuisine that focuses on traditional recipes, but with a twist that make them very much his own. Born and raised in Languedoc, Roussillon, Bonnet has been influenced by highly respected chefs such as Paul Bocuse, the Pourcel Brothers and Bernard Loiseau. The cuisine he creates at Restaurant Daniel, a member of Relais & Châteaux, is true to the origins of its ingredients, respecting the original flavours of the products and the seasons. Bonnet’s cuisine at the 14th WGF will be paired with wines from Pascal Jolivet.
Roger van Damme, Het Gebaar, Antwerp, Belgium
Ever since he was a child, Roger van Damme has been fascinated by baking, and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a patissier himself. His great grandfather was a baker, and the young Roger often went to help him in his village bakery. After finishing cooking school in Bruges, he accomplished his dream and started to work for Huize van Wely, one of the most famous dessert makers in Holland. A few years later, van Damme moved with his wife Cindy to Antwerp, where he opened the first version of Het Gebaar: a tea room. Later on, they moved their business to the beautiful historical botanical gardens of Antwerp, and opened today’s Het Gebaar, where together with their team they create desserts that surprise and delight with exquisite flavors and scents. Award-winning Chef Roger is one of the most experienced and innovative Belgian patissiers in the world.
Hirohisa Koyama, Aoyagi, Tokyo, Japan
Recognized in Japan as being one of the greatest chefs of his time, Hirohisa Koyama manages Aoyagi restaurants in Tokushima and Tokyo, and also teaches cookery at the prestigious Heisei Culinary School, which he opened in the mid-1990s. He is a regular in the Japanese media, and has also penned a book about his cuisine, Aji no Kaze, translated as “Windborne Flavors.” Koyama’s philosophy is simple – to combine the traditional and the modern to create a cuisine that his guests will love. His cuisine uses traditional techniques to deliver “Modern Classic” dishes that please both the palate and the eye, featuring only the finest ingredients in season, and always ensuring that the original flavors shine through.
Miguel Laffan, L'AND, Alentejo, Portugal
Miguel Laffan is part of the generation of chefs creating a new wave in Portuguese gastronomy. Chef Laffan’s Mediterranean cuisine is also inspired by Luso-Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, resulting in a cuisine that is rich yet full of fresh flavors, reminiscent of the culinary experiences from distant lands. Chef Laffan has a very proactive culinary approach. He believes that perfection is achieved through detailed research and sheer determination. For him, the freshness of the food is as important as the freshness of the mind, and he aims to deliver this philosophy through his cuisine. This philosophy is also the secret to his success. Chef Laffan’s journey so far has taken him through some of Europe’s greatest kitchens, including the Michelin three-star Fortaleza do Guincho in Cascais, Portugal, Le Jardin des Ramparts in Beaune, France, and Le Clous de la Violette in Aix-en-Provence, France.
Vito Mollica, Il Palagio, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, Florence, Italy
Vito Mollica is a staunch advocate of Italian food. Inspired as a young boy by the local specialties prepared by his mother, he has spent 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. “The main value of any dish is the quality of the ingredients,” he explains. “If they have been produced with care, it comes through in the taste. Then the more simply you cook the ingredients, the more you will allow the flavor to come through.” Despite his more than 20 years of senior kitchen experience, Mollica regularly travels to train at some of the world’s finest Michelin-star restaurants, constantly broadening his knowledge and seeking inspiration from new people and places.
Paco Perez, The Mirror Restaurant, Barcelona, Spain
Chef Paco Pérez’s culinary passion awoke at a very tender age. At only 12 years old he began working at his family-owned tapas bar, learning traditional cuisine. From that moment on, he balanced his traditional studies with his vocation, working during the summer holidays in different restaurants until he became fully immersed in the world of gastronomy. During his apprenticeship and training he undertook three “stages” in France with the renowned Michel Guèrard, considered to be one of the fathers of Nouvelle Cuisine and a holder of 3 Michelin Stars. On returning to Catalonia he identified very much with the creativity expressed by Ferrán Adrià at the Bulli, with whom he did several “stages.” Upon marrying Montse Serra, they set about creating the Miramar gastronomic restaurant together in the town of Llancà. They transformed the traditional restaurant it was then to the avant-garde gastronomic experience it is today, recognized by the Michelin Guide with a 2-star rating.
David Rathgeber, Restaurant L'Assiette, Paris, France
Although still only 35 years old, Chef David Rathgeber 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 Michelin three-star Plaza Athénée, Aux Lyonnais, and Benoit in Paris, where he earned his first Michelin star, as well as at Benoit in New York and Tokyo. Through Ducasse he met “Lulu,” previous chef and owner of L’Assiette, who was thinking about embarking on a well-deserved retirement. David fell in love with this 50-cover restaurant, and made the decision to take the helm in September 2008, along with his sous chef Emmanuel who had been assisting him for the past six years. At L’Assiette, Chef Rathgeber aims to continue what he commenced when working with Ducasse. Originally from Auvergne, he loves to play with new interpretations of classic recipes, taking care that they don’t lose their original essence, and creating new “Rathgeber versions” of dishes such as pot au feu, pieds paquet, and chou farci.
Also confirmed to participate in WGF are: Master of Wine, Ned Goodwin, who will be conducting a wine master class, and winemaker Pascal Jolivet will be hosting a wine tasting session.
Once again this year, the WGF supports HRH Princess Soamsawali’s Save A Child’s Life from AIDS Project under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society. Bt600.00 from the price of every WGF dinner ticket, as well as proceeds from the World Gourmet live auction, will be donated to this charity.
Guests can also look forward to unique wine pairings at the dinners of Chef Jérôme Bonnet and Chef David Rathgeber. In addition, the lobby will play host to cooking demonstrations by the participating chefs in the Gaggenau show kitchen, as well as the much-loved WGF lunch and Sunday Brunch with cuisine from around the world. The latest updates and more information, check out www.worldgourmetfestivalbangkok.com as well as Facebook Twitter and Instagram.