Chef Middle East has hosted an Easter Art Quest 2021, where art and pastry came together, in collaboration with Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown and Valrhona.
Once again, the supplier has raised the culinary bar to a whole new level, launching and hosting a one-of-a-kind pastry competition – the Easter Art Quest 2021 – in collaboration with Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown, the neighbourhood’s hub of creative contrasts, and iconic French chocolate brand Valrhona. The event blended art and pastry-making, inspiring some of the most talented chefs in UAE.
The competition finale was held at the Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown on March 23, 2021 and streamed live on distributors’ social media platforms. Fifteen chefs from top hotels and restaurants in the UAE have taken part in this exclusive Easter-themed challenge and were judged remotely by a jury of internationally renowned guests of honour which included:
Yann Brys, M.O.F. (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), and the creator of the Tourbillon Technique: “I was delighted to participate in judging these stunning chocolate pieces during the Easter Art Quest 2021, organised by Chef Middle East. I was able to explore beautiful creations made into sculptures, each having a special association and unique interpretation.”
Nina Métayer, two-time French Pastry Chef of the Year:“I’m extremely happy to see all the showpieces and discover the beautiful, colourful and meticulously crafted creations, which reflect a high level of technicality and imagination.”
François Daubinet, executive pastry chef at FAUCHON: “Congratulations to all the chefs who participated in the Easter Art Quest 2021, and well done to them for their commitment, energy and passion, which they invested into this creative process and the craft of creating astonishing final pieces.”
The judging panel also comprised the wonderful duo, who were present at the event and accompanied the participants in their journey from the early days of the creative process, Astrid Lesuisse, art manager at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown and Glenn Noel, pastry chef instructor at Valrhona.
“This year’s Easter Art Quest brought mesmerising art pieces to life. Participating chefs demonstrated distinctive artistic interpretation and creative processes, which made it very hard to decide on three winning pieces from among fifteen eclectic creations. I believe that such an initiative is essential to highlight pastry chefs’ talents by showcasing their extraordinary skills and creativity. Such innovative projects, not connect hospitality industry professionals, but also attract neophytes, and bring awareness to to what may be unknown facet of pastry chefs’ skills,” says Lesuisse.
“The Easter Art Quest showcased the great talents of the UAE. From a jury’s point of view, I can say that participants demonstrated interesting techniques, and some outstanding pieces in terms of harmony of colours, level of creativity, finishing and overall aesthetics. Given our collaboration with Hotel Indigo, the platform of arts, we analysed the interpretation of the art pieces without forgetting the Easter theme aspect. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this journey and appreciated the overall level of dedication from the participants,” adds Noel.
Participants had been working on their creations for a whole month before the final reveal, starting with a site visit to Indigo Hotel Dubai Downtown, selecting their piece of art for inspiration and putting in extensive hours of work until the event.
The standard the finalists have set during this first Easter Art Quest 2021 was outstanding. Participants were personally selected based on their skills and experience, and it was inspiring to have the best talent in UAE participating in this competition, guests highlighted.
Pooja Bhatt, pastry & bakery category manager at Chef Middle East says: “The Easter Art Quest was an initiative aiming to showcase the talent of our customers in the UAE. We believe that it’s our responsibility as a distributor to, not only gather our community of chefs, but also spotlight their exceptional skills. The success of this first edition has greatly encouraged us to carry on with this initiative and keep involving the world’s most recognised chefs such as Yann Brys. We’re proud of the response and trust that all the participants placed in us and we very much intend to repeat the experience for next season.”
Inspired by a portrait by renowned Dubai-based photographer and visual artist Marta Lamovsek, Kapila Amaratunga, executive pastry chef at W Dubai – The Palm won the first prize for his magnificent piece of art “The Real Woman of Dubai”.
Amaratunga says: My creation was inspired by the piece of art at Hotel Indigo, reflecting the multi-cultural nature of the individuals working in Dubai and a fusion between modern and traditional Emirati culture. The main ingredients I used for my showpiece are the Valrhona Manjari and Ivory chocolates. Pastry is an art and it motivates me and keeps me in shape.”
The Shakespeare & Co. team, led by Pascal Dupuis, executive pastry chef, won the second place for their “Eggsquisite” creation, and the third place went to Christopher Lambert, executive pastry chef at InterContinental Dubai, Festival City for his “Jali Pysanky” piece.
The public also had a say in voting for their favourite showpiece during the event and selected the winner Christophe Devoille, executive pastry chef at Royal Atlantis Spa & Resort for his piece “Le Poulpe Et L’Oeuf”.
Devoille says: “For my creation, I was inspired by a beautiful frame from South Africa, representing a very large octopus covered in newspaper and holding shiny pearls. For the base, I used dark chocolate to make the black pillar to stick the huge “pearl egg”, made with Valrhona Ivory Chocolate. The octopus itself was made with dark chocolate. Pastry is an art, and like all forms of art, it is important to showcase it.”
The competition was fierce, and it was noteworthy how close the scores were. A Wild Card prize was awarded to Achala Weerasinghe, executive pastry chef at Nad El Sheba, for his creation “Ensemble Art”, a remarkable piece in the show.
Another highlight of the event was the announcement of publishing an Easter Art Quest 2021 Book showcasing all the beautiful creations crafted by the talented chefs, in collaboration with Flavel Monteiro, an award-winning author and publisher of WG Magazine.
Chef Middle East’s commitment and mission to inspire culinary craftsmanship remains a top priority, the company highlights, reiterating its plans to launch more professional industry competitions and events designed to create a platform for valuable experiences, and recognise the region’s best talent for their craft and passion.
Chefs and Creations:
• The Real Woman of Dubai led by Kapila Amaratunga, Executive Pastry Chef at W Dubai – The Palm
• Eggsquisite led by Pascal Dupuis, Executive Pastry Chef at Shakespeare & Co.
• Jali Pysanky by Christopher Lamber, Executive Pastry Chef at InterContinental Dubai Festival City
• Ensemble Art led by Achala Weerasinghe, Executive Pastry Chef at Nad El Sheba
• Le Poulpe Et L’Oeuf led by Christophe Devoille, Executive Pastry Chef at Royal Atlantis Spa & Resort
• Melody of Time by Abel Vieilleville, Cluster Pastry Chef at Address Sky View
• Arabic Jewellery Box by Laure Dumas, Head Pastry Chef at CÉ LA VI
• From Shells to Shelters led by Mario Fico, Head Chef at Zuma
• Tradivision led by Romain Castet, Executive Pastry Chef at Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk
• Mother Nature by Arnaud Daunac, Pastry Chef at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
• Osheq Al Nafs led by Xira Marcus Pastry Chef at Nikki Beach
• Hope led by Syarif Purawinata, Head Pastry Chef at Nammos Dubai
• Galaxy led by Khalil Bouabid, Pastry Chef at Ikram Café – Hermès
• The Hidden White Shell of Indigo led by Hugo Sipp, Executive Pastry Chef at Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi
• Alex Nubian Mud House led by Bernard Charles, Production Manager at Bateel