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, Chef Middle East raised the culinary bar to a whole new level, launching and hosting a one-of-a-kind pastry competition “Easter Art Quest 2021” in collaboration with Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown, the neighbourhood of creative contrasts, and the iconic Valrhona chocolate brand from France. A perfect match between art and pastry that aspired to inspire some of the most talented chefs in UAE.
The competition finale was held at the unique Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown on the 23rd of March 2021 and live streamed on the distributors’ social media platforms. Fifteen chefs from some of the top hotels and restaurants in the UAE took part in this exclusive Easter-themed challenge and were judged, from afar, by a jury of internationally renowned guests of honour including:
Yann Brys, M.O.F. awarded (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), and the creator of the Tourbillon Technique. Brys said: “I was delighted to participate in judging these stunning chocolate pieces during Easter Art Quest 2021 organized by Chef Middle East. I was able to explore beautiful creations of chocolate sculptures with each having a special association and a unique interpretation”.
Nina Métayer, two-time French Pastry Chef of the Year. Métayer commented: “I am extremely happy seeing all the showpieces and discovering the beautiful, colourful and meticulously crafted creations that show a high level of technicality and imagination.”
François Daubinet, Executive Pastry Chef at FAUCHON. Daubinet added: “Congratulations to all the chefs who participated in the Easter Art Quest 2021, well done for their commitment, energy and passion that they invested in this creative process and the craft of the 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 mesmerizing art pieces to life. The participating chefs showed distinctive artistic interpretation and creative process, which made it very hard to decide on three winning pieces amongst fifteen eclectic creations. I believe such initiative is essential to highlight Pastry chefs’ talent by showcasing their extraordinary skills and creativity. Such innovative project connects hospitality industry professionals, but also attracts neophytes, and brings awareness on a facet that they might not know about Pastry Chefs.” Said Lesuisse.
“The Easter Art Quest showcased great talents of the UAE – from a jury point of view, I can say the participants demonstrated interesting techniques, some outstanding pieces in terms of harmony of colors, level of creativity, finishing and overall aesthetics. Given our collaboration with Hotel Indigo, the platform of arts, we obviously looked at the interpretation of the art pieces without forgetting the Easter theme’s aspect. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part of this journey and appreciated the overall level from the participants.” Added Noel.
The participants have 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 have been personally selected based on their skills and experience, and it was inspiring to have the best talents in UAE participating in this competition.
Pooja Bhatt, Pastry & Bakery Category Manager at Chef Middle East said: “The Easter Art Quest was an initiative aiming to showcase the talent of our customers in the UAE. We believe it is our responsibility as a distributor to gather and federate our community of Chefs but also to bring light on their exceptional skills. The success of this first edition greatly encouraged us to carry on with this initiative and keep involving the world’s most recognized Chefs such as Yann Brys. We are proud of the response and trust all participants placed in us and we very much intend to repeat the same for the next season.”
Inspired by a portrait from the 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 commented: “The name of my creation is Real Women of Dubai, inspired by the piece of art at Hotel Indigo, reflecting the multi-cultural nature of the people 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 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 elected the winner Christophe Devoille, Executive Pastry Chef at Royal Atlantis Spa & Resort for his piece “Le Poulpe Et L’Oeuf. Devoille commented: “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 exhibit it.
The competition was fierce, and it was noteworthy how close the scores were. A Wild Card prize was well-deserved by 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. The book will be published in collaboration with Flavel Monteiro, award winning author and WG magazine publisher.
Chef Middle East’s commitment and mission to inspire culinary craftsmanship remains a top priority and is planning to launch more professional industry competitions and events designed to provide a platform to gain pertinent and valuable experiences, and highlight the region’s best talents who deserve recognition for their craft and passion.
Chefs & 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 Joel 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 – Hermes
- 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