Eat, Drink, Love - The 23rd Annual Puerto Vallarta International Food Festival

Barbara Barton Sloane - Yonkers Tribune
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July 29, 2017

Gastronomy Chefs at the most recent Puerto Vallarta Gourmet International Festival. Photo courtesy of Sloane Travel Photography and the Puerto Vallarta Food Festival.

Emerging from a cool plunge in the deep blue sea of Bandaras Bay, I settled back in a little motorboat which gently rocked side to side as it glided towards densely forested cliffs and an intensely blue grotto.  The sun was high overhead, its warmth lulling me into a dream-like state of sheer bliss. Bobbing in the bay, I reveled in the fact that I was incommunicado, far away from shore, unavailable, unreachable and suspended in an azure dream.

Bandaras Bay, on the west coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world, framed by the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range and with 40 miles of pristine coastline.  This city, while being home to a popular tourist destination (thank you Taylor and Burton), a plethora of cultural festivals and a thriving art scene, accomplishes the seeming impossible – it retains the character and traditions of the small fishing village it once was.

W.C. Fields famously said: “I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” Me too! Always ready to join in on food fun, I came to Puerto Vallarta to experience their renowned gourmet festival – and this year the 23rd  festival takes place from November 10-19. It’s a ten day whirlwind of cocktail and after-parties, cheese, wine and tequila tastings, cooking classes, concerts, conferences, chefs’ gala dinners and ends with awards ceremonies for the Chef’s Hall of Fame. The festival is the brainchild of Thierry Blouet, chef of the city’s famed restaurant Café des Artistes, Heinz Reize of Coco Tropical and Silvan Muller of Nestle. As the culinary scene here is superior to almost anywhere else in Mexico, their thought was to promote this city’s vibrant restaurants on a world stage and to enrich the profile of its gastronomic scene locally and abroad. Today, the festival attracts the top names in global gastronomy, as well as some of the world’s most promising rising stars.

The first Gourmet Festival took place in 1995 with the participation of six hotels and six independent restaurants. The original format remains unchanged; each one of the participant restaurants invites a celebrity in the culinary scene. In the last twenty three years, changes have been seen in the growth and expansion of nearby Riviera Nayarit and Tepic and over twenty 5-star hotels and restaurants will be participating this year. This haute cuisine culture exchange has been advantageous to everyone – to the local chefs, to the guest master chefs, and to Puerto Vallarta visitors – a truly win-win happening.

Read the rest at Yonkers Tribune.

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