A world of flavours under one roof.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Having been to the previous edition of the much-anticipated World Gourmet Festival, an annual delight for gourmands the world over, I had high expectations for the festival’s 23rd edition, which promised to be bigger and better than ever. Hosted by Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, one of the more exclusive properties in the heart of the city, the media sneak peek of the extravaganza that will be held on 19-24 September did not disappoint.
This year, the star-studded lineup of chefs have gathered in the Big Mango all the way from Spain, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Bahrain, and of course, from our own host country Thailand. With a total of 17 Michelin stars between the 12 of them, prestigious accolades from around the world, and expertise in cutting-edge culinary techniques, they’ve promised to whisk guests away on a journey to explore new gastronomic frontiers.
The confirmed lineup of chefs, all culinary experts in their field and many world-renowned for their achievements and accolades, includes:
- Thomas Bühner: Chef Patron, Germany (3 Michelin stars)
- Jordi Artal: Cinc Sentits in Barcelona, Spain (2 Michelin stars)
- Kiko Moya Redrado: Restaurant L’Escaleta in Alicante, Spain (2 Michelin stars)
- Toshiharu Sunayama: Les Tonnelles in Kanazawa, Japan (2 Michelin stars)
- Jimmy Lim: JL Studio in Taichung City, Taiwan (2 Michelin stars)
- Daniele Lippi: Acquolina in Rome, Italy (2 Michelin stars)
- Enrico Marmo: Balzi Rossi in Ventimiglia, Italy (1 Michelin star)
- Theodor Falser: Johannesstube in Nova Levante, Italy (1 Michelin star)
- Barry Quek: Whey, Hong Kong (1 Michelin star)
- Arne Riehn: IGNIV in Bangkok, Thailand (1 Michelin star)
- Tala Bashmi: Fusions by Tala in Manama, Bahrain (Middle East & North Africa’s Best Female Chef Award 2022)
- Phol Tantasathien: celebrity chef, Thailand
After a brief meet-and-greet during which we had the honour of meeting many of these world-renowned figures, we were ushered into the luxe interiors of Guilty, the hotel’s Peruvian restaurant that offers elevated Latin American dishes with Nikkei influences, to sample a tasting menu curated by some of the Festival’s chefs.
The first course was Lèche de Tigre, a wholly refreshing speciality of Guilty and created by Chef Carlos Rodriguez, which had the right mix of acid and spice to whet our appetites. Comprised of Yellow Fin Tuna Ceviche “Toda La Vida”, Hamachi Tuna, and Yellow Tiger Milk, the dish was served with corn chips for texture and was a delightful start to what was sure to be a scrumptious meal.
Chef Tala Bashmi, hailing from Bahrain and of Fusions by Tala fame, introduced the second course. Having won the Best Female Chef in MENA (Middle East North African) award, the young chef enthralled us all with her passion and her story of growing up on an island paradise, which was where her love of seafood came from. Her sous-vide, blowtorched Hokkaido scallops were served with Bahraini Mulberry, Wagyu Vinaigrette, and Cauliflower Puree, bringing flavours of her heritage into the toothsome dish.
Chef Jordi Artal, the 2-Michelin starred chef of Cinc Sentits, took the stage next, citing the importance of inspiration in creating culinary masterpieces that touch one’s hearts as well as one’s palate. He waxed eloquent on the encouragement from his own mother and grandmother, important women in his life who helped him create the modern Spanish cuisine that he’s so famous for today. His Wagyu beef tenderloin is a homage to his grandmother who lived to the ripe of old age of 101, and was an instant hit with guests when we tucked in. Tender and cooked to perfection, the meat rested on a bed of tomatoes and onions with rocket green sauce, a special recipe from Chef Jordi’s grandmother, a surprising but flavourful addition that offset the richness of the Wagyu.
Finally, we were treated to dessert by Chef Anupong Nualchawee, one of the hotel’s own pastry chefs, who served a dish that was a treat for both our eyes and palate, the Banana Latina. Comprised of a caramelised banana heart and served with coconut ice cream, the dish mixed sweetness and creaminess in perfect quantities, and was a delightful peek into the culinary expertise that guests can expect at the Festival next month.