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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | November 2005 

Festival Gourmet Brunch Highlights
email this pageprint this pageemail usKathy Taylor - PVNN

Click HERE for the photo galleries
Puerto Vallarta - One of the most anticipated events of the Gourmet Festival is the Brunch at the Sheraton Buganvilias in Puerto Vallarta. Chef Francis Drillien of the Sheraton Cabo San Lucas, guest chef for this event, celebrated the sea with a minimalist brunch for 400 guests on Sunday.

It may have been minimalist but it wasn't simple. Uncontrived food, with a focus on fresh clean tastes was the order of the day. Why seafood? "Because we have such an abundance of fresh fish from the ocean both in Cabo San Lucas and here in Puerto Vallarta," said Chef Drillien, "it is a natural choice."

It is a catch-22 of the festival that the host and guest chefs will not have time or opportunity to sample all the creative works of each other. There are only two chefs who really have the opportunity to cook for the other chefs - the Festival Brunch Guest Chef, and the Gala Dinner Guest Chef. When asked if he was nervous about cooking for all the other chefs, Drillien said that last year he was, but this year he was more relaxed.

The other festival bookend event chef Michel Mustiere chatted with Francis Drillien. When asked if they talk about food, they winked and laughed, "No... never! Only golf."

Drillien returns to Cabo San Lucas on Monday, and Mustiere begins his preparations for Friday night's "Tropical Odyssey" Grand Gala Dinner. Both repeat how excited they are to be part of the festival.

In front of the sushi station where custom rice wraps were being rolled, Chef Drillien, joined by Sheraton Drillien Executive Chef Rafael Pena, greeted guests and fellow festival participants.

He did, however, keep a watchful eye on the progress of the brunch. At first glance he was stirring a custom risotto behind the international risotto bar…coriander, milanes, al negro de sepia, shrimp. . . choose a base and add the accompaniments, clams, artichokes, pulpo, peas, pancetta.

Next he was supervising the innovative fishing hot pot... platters of thin strips of beef and chicken, and prawns split lengthwise, each hooked to a line on a pole. Smiling guests laughed as they dipped these into the hot broth, and then an array of simple sauces. "It's not very practical, but it's fun," said Drillien as he untangled a guest's line.

Instead of tubs full of ice, thick tubs made of ice offered an abundance of shellfish. . . raw oysters, jumbo prawns, and butter clams, under the curled tail of a 3-foot sea horse ice sculpture. Outside, a chain saw buzzed as the ice artiste gave an ice sculpting demonstration.

In keeping with Sheraton tradition, a 10 piece mariachi band trumpeted and strummed its way through the diners and mounted a platform next to the Herradura tequila bar outside, where they played against the backdrop of Banderas Bay.

Back indoors, in a precise display of elegant simplicity, tiny dishes held jewels of tiny tapas: salmon minicarpaccio, tripe aguachile, sole tartare with chipotle, shrimp mini-cocktails and gallega style octopus.

"Is there more glazed duck?" asked a guest. "Of course" he responded, and immediately it appeared in a chafer alongside the other hot items, like the popular herb-crusted lamb chops. At a carving station, tenderloin was sliced to order.

And what would a brunch be without a dessert buffet? In keeping with the minimalist theme, Chef Drillien offered simple tastes - chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, as well as miniature pastries adorned with kiwi and raspberries and blackberries. Guests were effusive with their compliments.

"I've eaten my way around the world, and this is the finest gourmet brunch that I've ever been to!" exclaimed Dr. Phil Readerman of Puerto Vallarta and Philadelphia, offering his ample countenance by way of credentials.

Local resident Bill Semeyn, owner of Casa Anita, and his wife Annette brought a table of 15 guests to the event. "I've never missed one of the festival brunches," he said, "and this is the best ever. Outstanding!"

Read all the event stories and view the photo galleries of the Festival Gourmet International 2005, from the Jungle themed kick off at the Mayan Palace to the Tropical Odyssey Closing Gala at the Sheraton. Just follow the links below.

Tropical Odyssey - An Exotic End to Festival 2005
Kathy Taylor

For an evening to be truly memorable, it takes a combination of ambiance, music, wine, food, and often, company. The Tropical Odyssey Gala that was the closing event of the Eleventh Annual International Festival Gourmet Vallarta had all of these elements.more »»»

The ABC's of Gourmet
Kathy Taylor

What many consider to be the "heart and soul" of the Festival Gourmet takes place in the days between the opening and closing parties, and during the daylight hours before the coveted Chef's Tables. The cooking classes offered by the Festival Gourmet are a great way to learn new skills and rub shoulders with like-minded gourmands.more »»»

The Chef's Table Masterpiece of Cocina de Autor
Kathy Taylor

Imagine this... you've invited two of the world's finest chefs into your home, as well as a sommelier, a maitre d' and staff, and a jazz duo. The linens are crisp, the glasses gleam in the candlelight, and soothing water cascades down the rock wall in your outside atrium as you watch Chefs Blouet and Tapia create a masterpiece.more »»»

To Know Wine is to Understand Life
Denise Derameé

It has been said that "to know wine is to understand life," and thanks to the wine tasting events taking place at the Sheraton Buganvilias during this year's Festival Gourmet Expo Forum, you don't have to be a wine connoisseur to explore the wonderful world of wine.more »»»

Bianco - The Best of Both Worlds
Erich Haubrich

Just a month after their gala opening, Bianco's Chef's Table event, as part of the Festival Gourmet, was a huge success. Guest Chef Bernard Guillas from La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, and the Bianco staff created a one-of-a-kind 6 course meal in their unique fusion style, bringing together European cuisine and traditional Mexican ingredients.more »»»

The Flavours of Contemporary Chile
Kathy Taylor

In the leafy aerie that is the top terrace of Chef Thierry Blouet's Cocina de Autor, his guest chef Oscar Tapia gave us a little gift yesterday, an amuse-bouche, which not only pleased but teased in anticipation for the chef's table dinner they will offer this Tuesday.more »»»

Hot Opener for the Gourmet Festival International
Kathy Taylor

Fire. It is fitting that this most primitive and basic of cooking methods was the theme of the opening festivities of the Festival Gourmet International at the magnificent Mayan Palace in Nuevo Vallarta.more »»»

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