Airlines & Airports
'Chef on Tour' Showcases IBEROSTAR’s Commitment to Culinary Excellence
Photo courtesy of IBEROSTAR
It takes a special company to pair the meal of a lifetime with a destination that is just as spectacular; IBEROSTAR has proven it is up to the task with it’s “Chef on Tour” program, and TravelPulse got to experience that once-in-a-lifetime combination at their Grand Hotel Rose Hall property in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
It wasn’t just a fantastic opportunity. It turned out to be an historic one as well.
Chef Fernando Perez Arellano presented what we were told was the first seven-course meal accompanied by wine pairing in Jamaican history. The meal brought out a wide range of honored guests that included not only the smattering of foreign media which included yours truly, but also the best in local island media as well as IBEROSTAR executives, members of the country’s Ministry of Tourism and even the British Ambassador to the island.
All this to-do, for a black egg?
Chef Fernando is a two Michelin Starred chef from Mallorca, Spain. His restaurant, Zaranda, is considered one of the best in the world by every conceivable metric, and he himself is considered a national treasure on par with any natural landscape or piece of historic architecture.
PHOTO: Chef Fernando Perez Arellano (Courtesy of IBEROSTAR)
Wait, go back…what’s this about a black egg?
Chef Fernando’s black egg is one of the most famous dishes in high-brow culinary circles around Spain—if not all of Europe. It’s a normal poached egg, dyed black with cuttlefish ink and served alongside cuttlefish roe and atop a white onion puree.
The best way to describe it to a traditional Americanized taste palette would be to think of the and egg and onion bagel sandwich, but everything is lighter, softer and more nuanced. It’s a taste combination everyone understands and all but few would enjoy, it’s just the most refined way of getting there, and it’s as fabulous as it is exotic.
The (in)famous black egg was the fourth course of the seven-course meal, and although it is the most renown throughout Europe, the best executed and most surprising course of the evening was a glazed veal tongue, which if no one had told you, could have stood in for the best BBQ brisket you’ve ever had. Seriously, I understand that some people are turned off to the less-used parts of animals, but Chef Fernando made this cut into something divine.
What is important to note, according to the chef himself, is that this wasn’t a two-Michelin Star meal. No, for that, Chef Fernando would’ve needed to be in his kitchen back in Mallorca and turning over a few dozen seatings rather than over 100. This was a banquet—thousands of miles from home no less— and it’s a different animal than serving Michelin Star-caliber food in a Michelin Starred restaurant.
Still, for what this was: It was a triumph both for the chef and especially for IBEROSTAR—not to mention the island of Jamaica.
Photo: The IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Rose Hall. (Courtesy of IBEROSTAR)
This is the reason Chef Fernando traveled up to 100,000 kilometers in 2015 on trips like this and is likely to exceed that total in 2016, both for IBEROSTAR and some of its competitors.
The difference between IBEROSTAR and the other kitchens that Chef Fernando travels to is clear, according to the chef. He noted what he called “quite a gap” between his experiences at IBEROSTAR and elsewhere, and said that in addition to cooking at all these different resorts, he also gets to stay and eat at the various locations. IBEROSTAR, he says, is best in class.
Why is that? The chef believes it has to do with IBEROSTAR’s commitment to training local talent, which he also believes is the best he has seen, and he compared the trust that he has in IBEROSTAR’s kitchen training by noting how he brought only a handful of help over from Europe whereas he would’ve brought a much larger team to a competing property.
That same mentality, the chef said, trickles down to day-to-day operations. Many properties, he explained, will spend a lot of money bringing chefs over from the fertile training grounds of Europe, but IBEROSTAR is committed to local hiring practices and in training those local chefs with the same standards as their European counterparts.
Chef Fernando called IBEROSTAR: “A company that bets on qualified staff,” and added, “You can see the difference.”
Is it any wonder, then, that one can see that exact same difference between IBEROSTAR’s normal culinary offerings and what one might expect—even at an all-inclusive resort of similar quality?
From buffets to a la carte options and morning until night, IBEROSTAR does food the right way, and while not every dinner will feature such choice wine pairings, be served with such expert timing or executed by one of the top chefs in the world, that difference matters. It is a difference one can see, and more importantly, that one can taste.
It’s why a once-in-a-lifetime experience like the “Chef on Tour” dinner is more than just an event. It’s a stamp of approval on a resort that is pleased to consistently feature some of the best food in the industry.
More by Michael Schottey
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