Neiges Etoilées 2014 – Chatel Haute Savoie

Neiges Etoilées is a bi-annual gastronomic food festival held in Châtel, one of the ski resorts of the Portes du Soleil in the Haute Savoie. This festival includes many culinary events but the main attraction is the Concours des chefs – a culinary competition where chefs can show off their specific talents, culinary skills and originality. This challenge all takes place under the watchful eyes of some of the leading names in gastronomy. Ten chefs from various restaurants in the region were given 3 hours to prepare a two-course meal for 6 people using Carré de Porc – A loin of pork accompanied by 2 side dishes, one using a vegetable that is little known in the UK called cardon and is a winter vegetable, normally served at Christmas. The leaves resemble a thistle-like plant and it has long stems similar in looks to celery – this plant is a member of the Asteraceae and is a naturally occurring form of the same species as the artichoke and tastes similar to an artichoke. The other side dish had to incorporate diced pumpkin, a béchamel sauce and Tomme de Savoie cheese in a pastry case.  For dessert the chefs were briefed to prepare and present a vanilla panna cotta, served with a blueberry coulis and a madeleine.

Concours des Chefs at Neiges Etoilées
Concours des Chefs at Neiges Etoilées

The chairman of the Jury for this 4th event was the 3 Michelin starred chef, Gilles Goujon of Restaurant L’Auberge du Vieux Puits – Fontjoncouse in Languedoc-Roussillon.  The judges included (Technical Director) Claude Legras the 2 Michelin starred chef and owner of Le Floris in Anières, Switzerland, Christian Têtedoie the Michelin-starred chef of Restaurant Têtedoie in Lyon Jacqueline Mercorelli, fondly known as Mercotte, from La Cuisine de Mercotte the name of her well-known patisserie blog. Mercotte is featured daily on Bleu Savoie. They were joined by culinary journalists and TV presenters from The Rhone Alps region, including Serge Coste from Le Faucigny, Odile Mattei of Goutez-Voir on France 3 and Alexis Olivier of TV8 Mont Blanc.

Among the other culinary events taking place over the four days were many cookery demonstrations and classes by the various local chefs and some of the judges, cooking classes for children, wine tastings of Swiss wines by Alexandre Truffer of Vinum, a breakfast served on the slopes in Super Châtel all culminating in a big gastronomic dinner gala on the Friday evening.

Fabrice Bonnot's Cooking Class
Fabrice Bonnot’s Cooking Class
Mercotte's cooking demonstration
Mercotte’s cooking demonstration – Biscuit de Savoie and Macarons

This was a great event typifying the importance of cuisine in France and highlighting the quality of culinary expertise in our Rhone Alps region. Local radio and TV stations including France Bleu, TV8 and tf1 were broadcasting daily alongside journalists from the daily regional newspapers.  I thoroughly enjoyed attending this event, the camaraderie and informality of it and rubbing shoulders with some of France’s culinary elite! The event was organised by Chatel Tourisme.

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All photos ©Copyright Caro Blackwell

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