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Club Med Wine and Food Festival 2010

Chef Erik Peters (right) introducing Chef Sue Torres (left)

“I thought I’d seen you before.” When Club Med Corporate Chef Erik Peters, overseer of Club Med chefs and their kitchens at all Club Med resorts throughout the Americas and Caribbean, recognizes you, you might travel too much. Or, more accurately, you’ve made too many trips to the buffet at the Club Med Wine and Food Festival.

The first American to become a Club Med Executive Chef, Chef Erik likely has always been a keen observer and student. He started his career by knocking on the door at Club Med Copper Mountain in Colorado, USA and presenting the shortest winning resumé of al time: “I like to cook, and I like to ski.” He got the job.

Chef Erik worked hard, trained under master pastry chefs and master bakers, studied at two of France’s most prestigious culinary schools, Bocuse and Lenôtre, traveled sixteen years worldwide and earned the right to have the kitchen staff at all eighty Club Med resorts in thirty countries throughout the world call him Chef.

Chef Erik graciously introduced not only the celebrity chefs, but his own Club Med chefs that made the Wine and Food Festival possible. Even though he deserves great credit for producing such a demanding event, Chef Erik happily deferred to the presenters and his Punta Cana kitchen chefs and staff.

Chef Erik’s best non-food moment- announcing the next Club Med Wine and Food festival for June 2011 in Punta Cana. He’ll see me once again.

-Jef Coale

Next: Chef Leonardo Diaz makes sixteen cuts.

Club Med Wine and Food Festival 2010

Chef Leonardo Diaz, Chef Bernard Guillas, Chef Alex

We’re in a shady spot on a warm, sunny tropical day, local rum in hand. Boats bob at their moorings on the placid sea. Palms sway. The ocean breeze cools my face and fills my nose with the aroma of caramelized onions, carrots, leeks, thyme, saffron and shrimp being prepared by two world class celebrity chefs. Wait, what?

It’s the 2010 Club Med Wine and Food Festival in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. On the oceanside deck, Chef Leonardo Diaz, with sorcerer in charge Chef Bernard Guillas, labors over a portable outdoor kitchen to make shrimp in saffron sauce, cashew crusted red snapper and yucca fritters, paired with Estancia Pinot Noir. Yes, red with seafood is permitted- we’ll explain later. Right now, it’s international fine dining and it’s all free, wine included.

This trip went on our calendar last October at the conclusion of the 2009 Wine and Food Festival. Chef Bernard, who acts as presenter, moderator, translator and master of ceremonies, announced that Club Med Corporate Chef Erik Peters would be putting the 2010 edition together in at Club Med Punta Cana in June. Club Med’s Wine and Food Festival is in its third year, and for this current edition over two dozen celebrity chefs, world class sommeliers, rum experts and chocolatiers enticed about 600 guests to convene in the Dominican Republic. The best part? World class eating and mingling. The shocking part? No extra charge. All is included with the usual Club Med package.Check out our gallery of Club Med Punta Cana photos here.

Beach at Club Med, Punta Cana

If you dare attend it all, you get a special cocktail at 11:15, celebrity chef demonstration dish, with paired wine, at 11:30, beach barbecue at 12:30, another chef demo at 3:00, wine or cheese or rum or cigar (¡Hola, Pepino!) tasting seminar at 6:00, evening cocktail at 7:00, chef demo dish and matched wine at 7:30. Then, suck it in and get dressed for dinner, because now you may attend a Signature Wine Pairing Dinner, that is, an amuse bouche and four courses, each with a special wine pairing, prepared by two renowned chefs. Plus, Club Med’s usual all inclusive food and drink throughout the day and into the wee hours of the morning.

Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe it. In fact, decadent is probably a bit misleading, because what you really get is luxury at an incredible discount. It would take months of your life, and jet set quantities of cash, to go to each city and experience each chef, cuisine and restaurant represented the the Club Med Wine and Food Festival. It is an incredible value, wine included.

-Jef Coale

Next: Club Med Corporate Chef Erik Peters explains himself.

Gallery: Club Med Punta Cana overview.

Shrimp Bisque

shrimp bisque

I created this recipe using a few techniques from Paula Deen and Anthony Bourdain. Sounds scary, right? Results -

A better shrimp bisque than you can find in any restaurant in this region. A bold claim I will not often make. The secret is in the stock and is much easier to make than you may think.

Best shrimp to use: Fresh, of course but,  UNCOOKED shrimp WITH Shells from your local Kroger will work.  The brand -  Key West, Premium Select, Large. You can find these  in the frozen seafood section.

Shrimp Stock

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped

4 – 5 cups water

twist of lemon peel

salt and pepper to taste

bay leaf

shells from peeled shrimp

1 cup of white wine ( Barefoot – Sauvignon Blanc)

Slowly bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Partially cover, and cook at medium heat for 25 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and puree in blender with steel blades.

Shrimp Bisque

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup small diced onion

1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)

1/2 teaspoon old bay seasoning

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1 cup half-and-half

4-5  cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (white if available)

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Chopped chives for garnishing

Using a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the onions. Saute until onions are a very light caramel color. Add garlic and heat for 1 minute. Add shrimp, 0ld bay seasoning and heat for one minute, stirring gently. Add chicken broth, and thyme. and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season with  kosher salt and pepper to taste.

In a clean large pot enough to hold stock, combine 4 tablespoons of butter with 4 tablespoons of flour to form a roux (use a wooden spoon).  Add half-and-half , then strained shrimp stock using whisk, until thick.

Combine the chicken broth mixture with the roux.  Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until shrimp are just cooked.