February 22 2011
Yesterday, I went to the Omnivore Food Festival 2011, held in Deauville, on the north coast of France.
It's a very international 3 day event, celebrating food and all that goes with it. There are live demonstrations given by some of the world's leading chefs, a "village market" showing off some mouthwateringly delicious produce and of course, washed down with the obligatory alcoholic liquids!
I'm still not entirely sure what Omnivore actually *do* or how their business operates etc but as well as hosting the festival, it seems they also support new budding culinary talent. I watched a short presentation of three Lauréats awarded to start-up businesses and from their extensive list of partners, it seems there's more to Omnivore than meets the eye.
I'm going to blog about each individual event or aspect of the Festival individually, because otherwise this one would probably go down in internet history as the longest blogpost binary has ever seen!
If you want a more detailed overview of the event and you understand French, the link here will take you to the full programme for the three days. If you don't speak French, glean what you can from the link but I will cover most of what happened at the Festival in the forthcoming posts anyway.
What I particularly liked about the Festival was the convivial atmosphere between all participants. I was in the market when one of the chefs came out looking for blackberries, which I happened to be standing next to, and when he explained that he needed some to go with his dish of oysters that he was about to do on the live stage, the stall-holder just gave him a couple of punnets. That kind of thing was happening throughout the day.
What was also really nice was how, after their shows, the chefs were walking around amongst the rest of us. I had a Grey Goose Cosmopolitan standing next to, and later chatting to, the amazing Danish chef, Rasmus Kofoed. I was able to say a few words to the legendary Thierry Marx. I even knocked back a few wines with the very charismatic and utterly unforgettable Arnaud Daguin later on in the day. Really inspiring! These are people whose names I'd rarely heard of before, if at all, but they are so down-to-earth and not at all pretentious or image-conscious, unlike some of our TV personality chefs back in the UK, and they are so totally absorbed by flavours, colours and textures.
What did strike me as a little strange, was that there was only one female chef doing a live demonstration! There were plenty of women working behind the scenes in Omnivore and the occasional female sous-chef, but of the 30 live demonstrations, all but one were with male chefs. Why is that? It's surely not that we women can't handle the pressure of a professional kitchen, or don't have the required skills and techniques, nor the creativity. So why is there seemingly such gender inequality in the top kitchens?
Anyway, on that note, I will transfer the 200-odd photos from my camera and launch into the more detailed blog posts.