Culinary festivals are a dime-a-dozen today, but there are three key reasons why the third edition of the St. Barth Gourmet Festival (Nov. 3-6) should be on your list.
First of all, it’s still under-the-radar—despite the top culinary talent participating—according to the hotel general managers I recently interviewed. It hasn’t been heavily promoted, so you’re getting in on the ground floor of an event that looks like a thoroughbred.
Second, it's not exactly a taste of St. Barth. It's a taste of France and St. Barth (a French overseas collectivity), as most of the participating restaurants invite a French chef to come as a headliner. In some restaurants, the chef takes over the kitchen; in others there's a collaboration. But the bottom line is this: during the festival, you have a chance to taste very sophisticated cooking from France without having to cross the pond.
The Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France, for instance, will have Arnaud Donckele—the youngest chef ever to get three Michelin stars—in the kitchen. He comes from the restaurant La Vague d'Or at Isle de France's sister property in St. Tropez, La Résidence de la Pinède. At Le Sereno, Alex Simone—who oversees two Michelin-star restaurants in London and created the Sereno menu—will be cooking alongside Jérôme Banctel, chef at the two-Michelin-star La Réserve. At the Hotel Christopher, in a dining room with a fabulous sunset view, Sylvestre Wahid—the toque at the two-star Sylvestre at the Hotel Thoumieux in Paris—will be setting the menu. The various restaurants also offer ancillary events such as wine tastings and cooking classes.
Finally—and this is not a small consideration—the Festival takes place during the shoulder season, so hotel rates are much lower (sometimes by 50%) than they are after December 15.
Here is a list of the participating restaurants and the guest chef at each one:
On the Rocks, Eden Rock Hotel: Chef Virginie Basselot
La Plage, Tom Beach Hotel: Chef Gilles Marchal
Case de l'Isle, Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France: Chef Arnaud Donckele
Aux Amis, Le Barthélemy: Chef Guy Martin
Taïno, the Hotel Christopher: Chef Sylvestre Wahid
Bartolomeo, Le Guanahani: Chef Fabien Lefebvre
Restaurant Le Sereno, Le Sereno: Chef Jérôme Banctel
Taïwana: Chef Christophe Saintagne
To reserve your seat at the table, we recommend booking through one of the participating hotels or restaurants. All additional events are open to the public (though reservations are still recommended), except for the invite-only opening night.