Cooking contest: the first winners of French Weeks Miami [fr]
- e-Toile: Hello Martine Lessault, you are the president of the culinary institution Gastronomicon. Before presenting the competition you have organized for French Weeks Miami 2017, could tell us about the school itself?
Ms. Lessault: Gastronomicon is a « Boutique School » specializing in the teaching of French cuisine and pastry-making at a Michelin start level. My academy was created 13 years ago in the south of France in Agde, close to Montpellier. Four years ago, an American from Coral Gables came to France to participate in a program for three months. We became friends and it was she who convinced me to open a second school in Miami.
We only offer intensive programs ranging from one week to three months as well as a one year program between both of our schools. In this program, students spend three months in Miami, three months in Agde and six months interning at a Michelin star restaurant in France.
Our philosophy is quality over quantity. We limit our class size to 12 students per class so as to personalize the course and meet the personal needs of each student. We work in a professional, yet friendly, environment because the goal is that the student will have fun while learning things both technically and artistically because creativity and aesthetics have become important parts of the realization of a dish or dessert.
- e-Toile: You have created a competition that took place during French Weeks Miami. Who was encouraged to participate?
Ms. Lessault: The competition was intended for cooking and pastry enthusiasts who do not work professionally in this field.
- e-Toile: Who were the members of the panel who decided the winners?
Ms. Lessault: Our panel of judges was comprised of highly qualified professionals and non-professionals:
Mr Gary Birnberg (President of the FACC )
Ms Karine Aumont (Vice Consul of France)
Mr Gregory Pugin (Chef at the restaurant "La Palme d’Or" au Biltmore)
Mr Sylvain Marrari (Pastry Chef Fisher Island)
Ms Dorothée Rubin (Treasurer and former-President of Dames d’Escoffier )
Ms Pamula Schlesinger (The American friend who convinced me to open a school in Miami)
Ms Aline Darmouni ( Exco US Atrium )
Ms Elise Delacre (Gourmet Enthusiast)
- e-Toile: Ms. Lessault, Mr. Catala, what advice did you provide to those who participated?
Mr. Catala: I advise participants to, before all else, enjoy themselves. The most important thing is that they have a marvelous time and some time to share with us their passion for gastronomy.
Ms. Lessault: Like Vincent, I advise participates to have fun, do what they love, and stay calm and in control because this type of competition is stressful, especially for amateurs who have never competed like this before.
- e-Toile: Vincent Catala, you are the head chef at Gastronomicon and you supervised the competition. How did you plan it?
Mr Catala: I supervised the competition as Chief instructor of Gastronomicom. I was assisted during the course of the contest by my students who allowed the competition to take place under good conditions. I approached this contest in exactly the same way as the famous contest titled “Championnat de France du Dessert à l’Assiette”, for which I have been the Ambassador for 5 years. This competition consists of 4 judges working, 8 judges tasting, and 1 president of the jury. The event took place exactly under the same conditions as a competition for professionals.
- e-Toile: What are the principal guidelines participants had to follow?
Mr. Catala: The participants had to respect the area, the rules of security, hygiene, and the rules of the competition. The main task at hand was to create, in 4 hours, a dessert with the theme “The Florida Sun”
- e-Toile: Who are the winners of your first cooking contest?
Among the 8 candidates who had been selected, the winners of the first challenge are Andrew TRAYNOR (1st place), Dominique SCHECK (2nd place) and Kirtis FISHER (3rd place).
In September 2018, we will open the 2nd contest; amateurs and gourmets can already train to be ready for this next challenge.
Vincent CATALA French Pastry & Kitchen Chef
International Consultant / French Ambassador of Plated Dessert