March 20 2013
Omnivore Paris 2013 is over. Three days of hard and fast food.
The programme of Sweet, Savoury and Artisanal this year, over the three days at the Maison de la Mutualité, was exceptional.
The innovative twist for this year was the Omnivorous Party at Wanderlust on Monday night, which saw over 2000 people pass through the door and the "Fucking Dinners" (excuse my language!) which left those who attended with the most gigantic food-coma-hangover.
As for me today, well, my overexcited tastebuds are making up for the lack of willing in the soles of my feet.
The highlight for me of this year's Festival was Ivan Berezutsky's 45 minutes in the show kitchen.
As is already fairly obvious if you know what's been simmering on the Burnt Cream HQ hob, Russian cuisine is something that fascinates and inspires me. Having spent a bit of time living in Russia and being frustrated by how hard it is to find what I consider fairly basic ingredients in Paris, I make my own kvas, kefir and buckwheat kasha.
At Omnivore 2011, I attended the presentation of Russian chef, Ivan Shishkin, but who, coming in the wake of the technically-stunning Rasmus Kofoed, was unfortunately nothing but a disappointment. When Sébastien Demorand asked him why he did something in a certain way or why he used a particular technique, he was unable to reply.
Ivan Berezutsky however, is part of the new generation of Russian chefs. He's just 26 years old but he has accrued a highly impressive list of achievements. An internship at El Bulli, Head Chef at the Grand Cru (St Petersburg) and putting an end to the recent Danish domination by winning "A Taste of Spain" in 2011.
At this year's Omnivore, he showed us three dishes that he serves at the Grand Cru.
The first was delicate composition, served on a stunning, illuminated domed plate which caused a simultaneous intake of breath from the crowd. (photo to come soon.)
The second dish, served in a large shell, was the leg of a wild river rat ("ragondin" in French.) Like Ivan Shishkin two years before him, he used a blow-torch to create a smoked effect, but unlike said former haphazard Russian chef, we never had to fear for the safety of the show kitchen!
However, what really rendered me completely speechless was the dessert. Using 13 different types of milk product (the Russian are rather fond of them and the translator had a rather hard time having to find the French equivalent for each one!) he recreated a picturesque winter landscape. Such creativity that it was absolutely earth-shakingly mind-blowing. (The photo on the rolling banner just doesn't do it justice.)
I then had the luck to briefly meet Ivan and his team shortly after. I choked rather as my Russian language abilities let me down (what is the word for 'wild river rat' in Russian?!) but it was great to meet the man himself, even if I did come across as a bumbling idiot. Until next year, Omnivore!!