Eating my way through paradise…at the International Gourmet Festival in Puerto Vallarta (Part 1)

By on November 25, 2014

 If you can imagine bliss that comes in the form of tantalizing and exquisite dishes that make you ooze and crave for more…all in the backdrop of paradise, then Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is the destination that should definitely be on your radar to visit and experience.
I had the privilege of covering many events during the 20th Anniversary celebration of the International Gourmet Festival held every year in November in Eden’s surroundings, the beautiful landscape of Puerto Vallarta. This ten day culinary excursion brings both national and international chefs to Puerto Vallarta to share their expertise with the talented chefs from some of the finest restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and around Banderas Bay. The Gourmet festival transformed Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Tepic into a Mecca for all gourmet enthusiasts to enjoy and partake in.

Knowing that my epicurean adventure was waiting for me, I first had to leave my freshly snowed Canadian home to jet set to the warm climate of Puerto Vallarta. Leaving the cold air that was once nipping at me was not by any means a hard thing to do, I welcomed the hot tropical air that was waiting for me in seventh heaven. By seventh heaven, I am referring to the beautiful accommodations that I was treated too. Casa Tres Vidas (the house of three lives) is an enclave of three stunning beachfront villas located in the heart of Mexico’s Pacific Riviera, located mere minutes south of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Casa Tres Vidas treated me like royalty; from their luxurious accommodations with views of the ocean that only dreams can think of and imagine….to my favorite: a personal chef that would start your day on the right foot with refreshing and hearty breakfasts all cooked-to-order.
The splendid view from outside
Casa Tres Vidas
Relaxing oasis right outside my room,
the sunsets were breathtaking!
Chef Eduardo making my favorite: eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict: great fuel for the busy days ahead 
 The Gourmet Festival started the ten day festivities with a bang! The Westin Hotel and Spa Resort hosted the Gourmet Village Grand Opening for hundreds of wine and food lovers alike. The outdoor venue was the perfect way for many food lovers to meet their favorite local and international chef(s) as they cooked up some of their delectable signature dishes in the very humid temperatures that Puerto Vallarta was having that evening. The soirée was one of hot proportions – food, weather and guests were all muy caliente!
Anticipating the nights festivities at the Gourmet Village
Grand Opening at the Westin Hotel & Spa Resort
The flow of people kept coming to the Grand Opening.
Amazing vibe!
Guest Chef Sebastian Renner Hamdan
with his signature dish: Salt cured bass
Salt cured bass, avocado, basil, Serrano pepper &
passion fruit vinaigrette
More food, more cooking and more heat, especially from
those grills stationed almost everywhere.
All part of the experience!
It wouldn’t be Mexico without Tequila being present.
Patron Tequila was a main sponsor for the festival
Need I say anything here?!
Ham like no other: simply melted in your mouth!
Oysters on my trip were a hit. Be it here at the
festival or on the beach.


Guest Chef Carlos Gaytan
(1st Mexican chef to get a Michelin Star)
with his signature dish: Braised Pork Belly
Braised pork belly with sweet yellow potato purée,
mole from Teloloapan, fried artichokes and coconut
The evening was not only about the food, but it was also an opportunity to welcome and give thanks to both guests chefs and participating local chefs for being part of this food festival. The ‘Three Musketeers’ as they are known, who created and joined forces to come up with this unique foodie experience; Chef Roland Menetrey, Chef Thierry Blouet and Chef Heinz Reize were all on stage to give out the evenings awards. It was great to see such mentors having pride in their very successful event!
Chef Roland Menetrey, Chef Thierry Blouet and
Chef Heinz Reize (left to right)

History on the International Gourmet Festival 

“Twenty years of avant-garde and evolution of local gastronomy. It was march of 1995 since the first meeting between Thierry Blouet and Heinz Reize, which led to the idea of promoting Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant and excellent restaurants on the world stage. The 10-day festival was meant to highlight Puerto Vallarta’s gastronomy on the local and international scene. It has exceeded those goals.

The original format has remained unchanged: each host restaurant collaborates with a guest chef, but the number of selected participants has grown to over 30 in the last few years, with noted international chefs lining up for an invitation to participate. Consider their benefits: cooking in some of the world’s best restaurants, in a tropical paradise, for an enthusiastic and educated clientele!

The incorporation in 2000 of Chef Roland Menetrey as an associate, and the extension of the event to the Riviera Nayarit and Tepic, allowed the festival even more intense to boost fine dining. Today the festival is billed as the best gastronomic event in the country and also one of the most important on the continent. To the extent that the Gourmet Festival has gained in maturity, featuring several of the most renowned chefs in the world, the festival also introduced to several of the most promising stars of the national cuisine.

The festival’s reputation has allowed Epicurean widen Mexico and extend the impeccable credentials of the restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, the Riviera Nayarit and Tepic. But most important of all, it has provided an opportunity to honor you with the best gourmet experiences the world has to offer.”

What an incredible start for this culinary festival. The people, the food and the entire ambiance of this gastronomic affair was simply stellar and I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store for me!
My Gourmet Festival experiences were just beginning…stay tuned!

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