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.

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