The 19th Festival Gourmet International turns Mexico’s sophisticated coastal resorts Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit into an epicurean epicenter November 14 – 23, 2013. It’s a festival not-to-be-missed by foodies, Mexico aficionados and simply sybaritic travelers seeking to experience the good life in a tropical coastal paradise.
More than 30 Guest Master Chefs from around the world share their secrets and sauces, their talents and techniques with festival attendees. The personal, cultural and culinary synergy, mentoring and teamwork that take place with the equally accomplished Local Star Chefs of the region are inspiring and at times magical.
Over the course of 10 days, guests can attend such events as Gourmet Safaris -- also known as Progressive Dinners -- where each of four courses is served at a different top restaurant; Chef’s Table & Winemaker Nights with fabulous pairings of food and wine; and two all-day Gourmet Cooking Demonstrations. Master Chef Thierry Blouet leads the first, Roland Menetrey and Heinz Reize the second.
It was Blouet, chef owner of Café des Artistes, and Reize, chef owner of Coco Tropical, who came up with the idea for the festival 19 years ago: to showcase Puerto Vallarta to the world as a culinary mecca. They’ve never looked back.
In fact, their original concept – to present the festival in six top hotels and six independent restaurants, each with an invited guest chef -- continues today. But now, with more than 30 participating restaurants, chefs worldwide vie for invitations. This year’s lineup includes Guest Chefs from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, along with 16 from Mexico. Their bios and photos and culinary themes can be read on the festival website.
Defined by the legendary Sierra Madre mountain range and a pristine Pacific coastline, the Riviera Nayarit begins just 10 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta International Airport in the gateway resort of Nuevo Vallarta - Flamingos. From there it stretches 192 miles to the bordering state of Sinaloa. Named for the state of Nayarit, the region draws visitors to its mix of traditional fishing villages, hippie chic towns, luxe resort living in Punta Mita, and colonial history and birding in San Blas.
Tepic, capital of the state of Nayarit, joined the festival in 2010, presenting an urban alternative to the resort ambience 2+ hours to the south. Restaurants like Emiliano Comida y Vino, set in a beautiful 18th century mansion with courtyard dining and a wine cellar, highlight Tepic’s historic core. Chocoholics and historians take note of two enticing Tepic events scheduled for Saturday, November 16: a lecture on “Chocolate, Legacy of Mexico to the World” by Ana Rita Garcia-Lascurain, director of “Mucho Mundo Chocolate,” the first Chocolate Museum in Mexico, followed by a Chocolate and Wine Tasting.
Whether pursuing serious study with world-renowned chefs in a kitchen classroom setting or sharing some steps with them on a dance floor under the stars at the always-fabulous opening extravaganza, savvy travelers plan their annual Mexico getaway around the Festival Gourmet International. There are few more sensual settings in which to hobnob by the sea with one’s favorite foodie heroes.
Next post: Chef Patricia Quintana, Mexico’s Cultural Ambassador and a memorable meal at last year’s festival
The exclusive St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is offering its XIX International Gourmet FestivalPuerto Vallarta - Riviera Nayarit Weekend Package. Valid for stays November 22-24, 2013, the package includes two nights of accommodations in a deluxe room, St. Regis’ signature Butler Service, and daily breakfast. It opens with an exclusive tasting dinner and wine pairing prepared by local chef Thierry Blouet at Café des Artistes del Mar and includes more gala events plus participation in the 1st The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort Golf Cup or a personalized 60 minute massage in the Spa of the St Regis Puta Mita Resort.