Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok to host 7th Annual World Gourmet Festival 10-17 September 2006

Travel News Asia Thursday, 3 August 2006

The Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok is gearing up to host the 7th Annual World Gourmet Festival which will be held between 10-17 September 2006.

Since its inception seven years ago, the World Gourmet Festival has grown in prominence to feature an extraordinary line up of some of the world’s best chefs. Several food festivals are hosted throughout the world, however, the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok is one of the few hotels to bring award winning Master Chefs under one roof for a week long celebration of outstanding food, superb wines and to share tips and information on how to create award-winning cuisine.

Participating chefs this year are:

• Yoshii Ryuichi, Yoshii, Sydney (Japanese)
• Geoff Lindsay, Pearl at the Peak , Hong Kong, Pearl Restaurant and Bar, Melbourne (Modern Australian)
• Michael Mina, Michael Mina Bellagio and Seablue and NobHill at MGM Grand, all Las Vegas (Steak and contemporary Californian cuisine)
• Sarah Schafer, Frisson, San Francisco (Californian)
• Emily Luchetti, Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco (Pastry)
• Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, New York
• Peter Gordon, The Providores, London (New Zealand)
• Hal Fatema, La Mansouria Restaurant, Paris (Moroccan) 
• William Ledeuil , Ze Kitchen Galerie, Paris (Modern French)
• Ruth Van Waerebeek-Gonzalez, Concha y Toro – (Chilean)
• Marco Talamini, La Torre di Spilimbergo – Spilimbergo (Italian)
• Vincent Bourdin, Valrhona Chocolates (Pastry)
• Robert Joseph Jr., Good Wine Guide 
• Pitak Srichan, Chief Instructor, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Cooking School (Thai)
• Nicolas Schneller, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok
• Philippe Agnese, Executive Pastry Chef – Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok
• Satoshi Sawada, Shintaro Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok

Chef Backgrounds

Yoshii Ryuichi, Yoshii, Sydney: Yoshii Ryuichi was born in 1962, in Nagasaki, a suburban town near Fukuoka. Having a father as a Japanese chef, Yoshii learned the basic knowledge of Japanese cuuisine at a young age. He started his career in Ginza, Tokyo, as an apprentice for three years and afterward, he went back to Kyushu province and worked in Fukuoka – Nakasu for six years as an executive chef.

Following his arrival in Australia Yoshii opened his first Yoshii restaurant in Pyrmont in 1997. During this time while working as an executive chef and part owner, Yoshii earned his reputation as a genius in the fine art of sushi making. In July 2002, Yoshii and business partner Mr. Sakurada decided to established a new revolutionary Yoshii restaurant on the Rocks.

The concept was to invent a contemporary Japanese Cuisine that is appetizing for the diverse population of multi-cultural Sydney. Wine played a major role in creating the Yoshii menu. The idea was to assemble the perfect food formula by using Australian’s fresh ingredients to compliment a selection of premium wines.

The Yoshii restaurant menu is served in Japanese “Kaiseki” style. Kaiseki was a small stone that is heated up to warm the stomach in the cold winters of Japan. This old Japanese style is replicated in the restaurant by the serving of several dishes in small portions. Each dish is uniquely different and like the small stone it will gradually warm up your stomach and fulfill your appetite. Yoshii restaurant keeps its menu innovative and versatile taking advantage of seasonal food ingredients and inventing new dishes to keep its customers on the edge of exciting new tastes.

Yoshii loves to experiment with new ingredients in his cuisine, which may seem bizarre or avant-garde, surprising the palate of adventurous food lovers and bringing them to a newer level of stimulation and a wider perspective of contemporary Japanese cuisine.

With the collaboration of modern cosmopolitan and traditional Japanese style fusion cooking, Yoshii has mastered the three main elements in cuisine; the visual, the scent and the flavor. Each individual dish is uniquely displayed with stunning tableware, demonstrating distinct balance of captivating colours and textures, which compliment the flavours, presenting the most attractive temptation onto the dining table.

Geoff Lindsay, Pearl at the Peak – Hong Kong (opening in August), Pearl Restaurant and Bar Melbourne: Pearl’s multi-awarded chef and co-owner, Geoff Lindsay, grew up in Warrnambool, a coastal town on the south-west coast of Victoria, in a family that regarded good food as an everyday pleasure. He did his four-year apprenticeship at a family-run restaurant in Warrnambool before travelling to Melbourne. He worked at the legendary Stephanie’s, in Hawthorn, for four years before becoming head chef there and during that time assisted Stephanie Alexander during trips to San Francisco, New York, Sydney, London, and Los Angeles. In 1993, he left Stephanie’s to team up with Andrew Blake and Grant Van Every at Blake’s restaurant at Southgate, and the three sought to find a new restaurant to showcase Geoff’s food. He had become attuned to the ingredients and cooking of south-east Asia and beyond. “I’m a fifth generation Aussie boy who is seduced by ginger, chilli and palm sugar, Turkish delight, pomegranate, and chocolate,” he explains. Stella opened in 1994 to rave reviews in national and international media, and was awarded Best New Restaurant by The Age Good Food Guide and by American Express Restaurant Awards. The success took Geoff to Master Classes in Melbourne and Brisbane, to the Home Beautiful Kitchen and Cooking Show, to Sydney, Hong Kong and New York. In Hong Kong, he took over the kitchen at Oscar’s restaurant as part of the 1997 Hong Kong Food Festival. In September that year, he was invited to cook dinner for the James Beard Foundation in New York – it was a sell out. His first book, Chow Down was released that year.

In 1998, Geoff opened a café/restaurant/catering venue at the Museum of Modern Art at Heide, where a lighter and more accessible brand of his food featured at Stella at Heide. That year, he was guest chef in New Zealand and in Queensland, and he wrote a monthly column in The Weekend Australian. The following year, he gave classes in Hobart and at Pipers Brook in Tasmania, and again in Auckland. His second book, TENPLATES, a collaboration with artist David Band, was released in 1999. In 1999, he sold Stella. The following year, he sold Stella at Heide. Geoff accepted a contract to work in Hong Kong for three months as a consultant to Hong Kong’s largest food and restaurant company, with a staff of 12,000. He was also guest chef at Hong Kong’s landmark Mezz restaurant.

In 2001, Pearl opened. Geoff’s business partner is Andrew Gunn, and the partnership grew out of their existing friendship. The restaurant and bar are the expression of Geoff’s ongoing and always deepening commitment to food and wine, to hospitality, to art and design. The acclaim for Pearl included the Best New Restaurant award in the 2002 edition of The Age Good Food Guide. In August 2004, The Age Good Food Guide named Geoff Chef of the Year 2005. Guide editor Sally Lewis said, “Lindsay knocks your socks off at Pearl with his proudly modern Australian food and a menu that is always evolving.”

Michael Mina, Managing Chef/Owner, Michael Mina Bellagio Las Vegas, Seablue – MGM Grand Las Vegas, Nobhill – MGM Grand: Named Bon Appetit Chef of the Year 2005, San Francisco Magazine Chef of the Year 2005, as well as Restaurateur of the Year 2005 by the International Food and Beverage Forum, acclaimed chef Michael Mina continues to dazzle the culinary world with bold dining concepts that have contributed to San Francisco’s reputation as a world-class epicurean destination. He has also been an integral part of the making of the now esteemed Las Vegas dining scene.

The opening of his eponymous signature restaurant, MICHAEL MINA, in July 2004, marked the newest phase and ultimate expression in the career of the James Beard Award-winning chef. The restaurant is located in the legendary Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, the city where Mina first established his culinary reputation over 12 years ago.

Mina’s culinary and business vision led to the founding of his own company, Mina Group, with partner Andre Agassi, in 2002. Under the auspices of Mina Group, he has opened four concept restaurants: MICHAEL MINA in San Francisco, ARCADIA in San Jose, STONEHILL TAVERN in Dana Point and SEABLUE at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mina also remains Managing Chef of MICHAEL MINA Bellagio (formerly Aqua Bellagio) and NOBHILL at MGM Grand, both in Las Vegas, and plans are underway for a new SEABLUE at Borgata in Atlantic City in 2006.

At the start of his career, Mina was presented with an opportunity of a lifetime with then Executive Chef of the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles, George Morrone. The two were asked to develop a concept and create a menu for an upscale seafood restaurant in San Francisco – the city Mina had dreamed of calling home one day.

Aqua opened to rave reviews and national acclaim in 1991. Mina served as Aqua’s executive chef from 1993 to 2002, where he was awarded Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1997 and Best California Chef in 2002 by the James Beard Foundation.

Born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Mina has had a love affair with the kitchen, creating memorable dining experiences for guests from a very early age. Mina’s epicurean journey began in 1987 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. During those 18 months of formal schooling, he spent his weekends sharpening his natural talents with hands-on experience in Charlie Palmer’s kitchen at the upscale Aureole in New York City.

Mina has been featured in such national media as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Food Arts, Cigar Aficionado, Newsweek, TIME, Robb Report, Travel & Leisure, Wine Spectator, and others and the Food Network's "After Midnight," Fine Living Network’s “Opening Soon,” Pat O’Brien’s “The Insider,” the CBS Early Show, the NBC Today Show and Fox's syndicated "Good Day Live." He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times, cooked for First Lady Laura Bush, and has been a guest speaker at C.I.A. in Hyde Park and at other culinary institutes in California. 

Sarah Schafer, Executive Chef, Frisson, San Francisco: Sarah Schafer wasn’t going to be a chef, she was going to go to military school. Growing up in South Boston as the only daughter of a Vietnam veteran father and older sister to two younger brothers, it was Sarah’s admiration for her parents that made her determined to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. But it was not meant to be. Sarah had quietly developed a love for cooking, first while working in a bakery making wedding cakes at the age of fourteen, and, later in a café near her home.

Sarah attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she honed the French technique that would become part of her signature style. After graduating, she moved to California to work in Napa Valley before returning to Boston to work for Ken Oringer (Silks, Clio) at Tosca. In 1998, Sarah first went to work for the iconic Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern, then Kerry Heffernan at Eleven Madison. Sarah was promoted to sous chef within six months, at the age of twenty-four. She left Gramercy Tavern with her mentor Nick Oltarsh in 2000 to become the executive sous chef for Danny Meyer’s new venture, Eleven Madison, under Executive Chef Kerry Heffernan.

Ready for a change, Sarah returned to California in 2004 to become Daniel Patterson’s chef de cuisine at Frisson before taking the helm as executive chef in 2005. Sarah describes her menu as imaginative, but approachable.

When she’s not in the kitchen, Sarah can be found piloting a 2 seater Cessna airplane.

Emily Luchetti, Executive Pastry Chef at Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco: Emily is recognized around the country for her award-winning sweet creations. After graduating from Denison University in 1979 with a BA in Sociology she moved to New York City and got a job through The New York Times classified section with the title “No Typing Required”. That job in a Wall Street executive dining room revealed how she could get paid for doing what she loved best- cooking. From there she went on to The New York Restaurant School and worked in various New York establishments (including David Leiderman’s Manhattan Market and The Silver Palate) building her resume and culinary skills. A year cooking in France in 1982 allowed her to continue her food education.

In 1984 Emily joined the opening team of Stars Restaurant in San Francisco. She started as a line cook and worked her way up to lunch chef. Finally, her true passion for making desserts could not be ignored and in 1987 she became the pastry chef at Stars and remained there until July 1995. During that time Emily was also the co-owner with Jeremiah Tower of StarBake, a retail bakery. In 1997 she joined co-owners, Chef Mark Franz (who also worked with her at Stars) and Pat Kuleto, as Executive Pastry Chef at Farallon Restaurant.

In addition to her ongoing restaurant work, Emily has written four cookbooks, Stars Desserts (HarperCollins 1991), Four Star Desserts (HarperCollins 1995), A Passion for Desserts (Chronicle Books, 2003), and A Passion for Ice Cream (Chronicle Books 2006). She contributed to The Revised Joy of Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 1997) and created the dessert recipes for The Farallon Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2000).

Since the debut of her first book in 1991, Emily has taught desert making across the country and in Australia. Fundamental to her passion for baking is the belief that desserts increase the social experiences and interactions of friends and family as they linger around the table eating great desserts. Emily takes the mystery out of baking as she makes the process fun and non-intimidating. Emily has been featured in many magazines, on numerous news programs and The Food Network’s Sugar Rush, The Ultimate Kitchen, Sweet Dreams, Cookin’ Live with Sara Moulton, and Sara’s Secrets. Emily was chairwoman of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs from 1994-1999. In 2004 Emily joined California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Tokyo to promote California food and agriculture. She is presently a trustee of The James Beard Foundation.

Emily has received numerous awards and nominations for her work, among others 1994 Chocolatier Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs, 1998 San Francisco Focus Magazine Pastry Chef of the Year, 2003 Food Arts Magazine Silver Spoon Award and 2004 James Beard Foundation Pastry Chef of the Year.

Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, New York: Being part of the World Gourmet Festival from its beginning Michael joins us again for a record 7th time. 

Michael established what is the major Foie Gras producer in the world today. By 1998, Hudson Valley Foie Gras distributed its moulard duck products through a network of 75 domestic distributors extending throughout the United States, and beyond to Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Venezuela. Hudson Valley Foie Gras has received the 1993 Gold Merit Award from Chefs in America and the 1996 Award for Excellence from The James Beard Foundation. In 1996, Hudson Valley received the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and the 1998 Award of Excellence from the American Tasting Institute. In May 1996, Michael received the first Olive Branch Award from the Jewish National Fund for humanitarian and professional achievements. He was honored with the 1997 Angel Award from The James Beard Foundation for dedication, contribution and foresight and in 1998 Michael received the American Master Taster Award from the American Tasting Institute. Both Michael and Izzy Yanay were inducted into the James Beard Foundation 2001 Who's Who of Food and Beverage. 

Peter Gordon, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, The Providores, London: Peter was born in the New Zealand coastal town of Wanganui. He moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1981 and cooked there for 5 years before travelling through Asia for a year. Eventually returning to New Zealand, he set up the kitchen at the legendary Sugar Club restaurant and ran it for 2 ½ years before heading to London in 1989. He cooked in various restaurants before heading the kitchens at Mayfair’s Green Street Private Members Club (1993-95), The Sugar Club Notting Hill (1995-98) and The Sugar Club Soho. Peter left The Sugar Club Soho in November 1999 to begin various solo projects, culminating with the opening of The Providores and Tapa Room in 2001.

A well-respected chef in Britain, New Zealand and abroad, Peter’s food style, loosely called Fusion, was initially inspired by his year of travel throughout South East Asia. His continued exploration of areas famed for their exotic cuisines continues to fuel his interest in rare and unusual ingredients.

Peter is the author of four best selling cookbooks, The Sugar Club Cookbook, Cook at Home with Peter Gordon, A World In My Kitchen, and Salads – the new main course, as well as being a contributing author of two releases in 2005 The Cook’s Book and The Accidental Foodie. In October this year his new book dedicated to vegetables will be released. His books have been translated and published in the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Spain, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.

He is a well known personality on British television, featuring in both Nigel Slater’s and Jamie Oliver’s series on Channel 4, The Carlton Food Network and the BBC. He has appeared on the Discovery Channel (where he filmed a show in 2005 on the food of the Guangdong Region for Planet Food, as well as a programme on Serendipity in 1999) and the American Food Network’s series My Country, My Kitchen. He also fronted an  hour long special for Television New Zealand - Peter Gordon’s Pacific Harvest which looked at New Zealand’s culinary evolution and development.

In April 2005 he opened a restaurant, dine by Peter Gordon, in Auckland, New Zealand in the gorgeous Five Star SKYCITY Grand Hotel. He now travels to New Zealand 4 times a year to implement seasonal menu changes. He also consults to Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Lamb, Foods from Spain, London’s Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the fantastic changa and muzedechanga restaurants in Istanbul and PUBLIC restaurant in New York.

Hal Fatema, La Mansouria Restaurant, Paris: For over fifteen years, Fatema Hal has been sharing her passion for Moroccan cuisine in a tastefully appointed space in the trendy 11th arrondissement. Author of a beautifully illustrated book on Moroccan cooking, Hal teaches you the subtle differences between the couscouses of various regions showcasing the aromatic versions from Casablanca, Fes and Oujda, or the delicately flavored tagines such as lamb with eggplant and preserved lemons, and mourouzia, honey-glazed lamb seasoned with ras-el-hanout (a classic blend of spices used in Moroccan cooking).

Born in Morocco, Fatema Hal has a degree in Arab Literature and studied Ethnology at the prestigious École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. She has worked for UNESCO and the European Union, and she was a technical advisor to the Ministry of Women Rights in France.

She opened her restaurant “La Mansouria” in Paris in 1985, and has become the reference for tradition, hospitality and cookery culture. Hal has written two best selling cookbooks on Moroccan cuisine including the "Le Livre de Couscous", and "La Grande Livre de la Cuisine Marocaine" .She has also presented a cooking show on Cuisine TV in France, and has her own line of products selling at the prestigious Fauchon food shop in Paris.

On February 27 2004, she was on the winner list of “The best in the world, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2003, Cooking and drinking Words” in Barcelona

She was the organizer of the “Gastronomy Fez hosts festival of culinar art” in Morocco.

William Ledeuil, Ze Kitchen Galerie, Paris: William Ledeuil began studying at the Ecole Superior de la Cuisine Francaise under the guidance of Guy Savoy, where he made his name at the popular Les Bouquinistes (a Guy Savoy baby bistro) before opening this pared-down contemporary bistro in 2001.

William offers a truly casual, easy to love approach to modern Paris dining. In his clean, ultramodern and agreeably casual restaurant just off the Quai des Grands Augustins on the Left Bank, he and his small international group of young cooks turn out French-style food influenced by Greece, Spain, Japan, Italy and Morocco. The restaurant has a wacky, modern, low-budget minimalist look, decorated in bright colors, with a garagelike atmosphere that is atypically casual for France.

Ledeuil has been moving slowly in the Asian direction, but a recent trip to Thailand only reinforced his own feelings that what diners want more of today is lemon confit and black radish, Thai-curry and ginger-marinated guinea hen, even peanut ice cream with a pistachio sauce. And in the hands of a classically trained French chef, the fusion works, especially when someone like Ledeuil begins with a classic base, and applies the Asian accent to achieve more clear and specific flavors, as well as to lighten up contemporary fare.

His book “The Colours of Taste” (Les Couleurs du Gout: La Cuisine de William Ledeuil by William Ledeuil), is based upon ingredients encountered during his travels in Thailand, Japan and Vietnam; spices, herbs and roots hitherto unknown to him, which underline and bring out the hidden flavours in dishes.

Marco Talamini, La Torre di Spilimbergo – Spilimbergo: Marco Talamini was born in Cortina d’Ampezzo in July 1960. After he visited the hospitality school of Falcada in the Belluno Province, he started his professional career by gaining experiences in some of the finest kitchens in Italy and around Europe. In 1987, he opened his first restaurant, Ristorante Bacco Tabacco di Asolo, in the Treviso province, where he received his first prestigious Michelin Stars in 1996. After Marco Talamini started his new assignments as Kitchen Chef of the restaurant Cibernetico in Padova, a second Michelin Star followed in 1997.

Between 1997 and 1999, Marco Talmini sharpened his knowledge of Italy’s regional cuisines while working in different restaurants throughout the country, including six months in three of most prestigious restaurants of Sicily, six months in Toscana, three months in Umbria, six months in Lombardia and three months in Piedmonte.

Since April 2000, Marco Talamini has been in charge as kitchen chef of the restaurant La Torre di Spilimbergo. Before this important step, he had gained valuable experiences at the restaurants Sadler and Peck in Milano. On top of these experiences, Marco Talamini holds the sommelier degree of the Italian Sommelier Association A.I.S. and has been an active member of the Veneto regional delegation to the prestigious “Jeune Restaurateurs d’Europe” association, between 1993 and 1997. Since 1996, he has also been a member of the EUROTEX association which groups the best chefs of the European community and since 2002, Marco Talamini teaches technical Kitchen classes as a docent at the IAL hospitality school in Aviano.

In August 2002 and 2003, Marco Talamini participated at the international cultural and gastronomical festival in Tiradentes in Brazil. In 2003, he contributed to the victory of the presticious Cooking cup Regata gastronomica in Venice, and he received the award for the second place at the cooking cup in La Rochelle, France.

Ruth Van Waerebeek-Gonzalez, International Chef, Concha y Toro - Chile: Ruth Van Waerebeek was born in 1959 in Ghent, Belgium, where she learned to cook at the side of her mother, grandmother and her great-grandmother. This wealth of home cooking knowledge would eventually lead Ruth on a marvelous journey around the world and to some of America's important culinary schools and positions.

In 1985, Ruth set out on what was to become the adventure of her life, sailing around the Atlantic Ocean on a small two-man sailing yacht. Stopping in Africa, South America and the Caribbean, Ruth continued to work in restaurants and exclusive resorts to enable her and her friend to continue their journey. In every place, she learned a great deal about culinary traditions, as well as enjoying some unique culinary experiences. She returned to Belgium, continuing to work as a chef in the trendy FLOR restaurant before moving on to a number of positions in the culinary world, including Head Chef and Manager of the kitchen in the Hotel Mount Nevis, in Nevis, West Indies; Executive Chef at the corporate headquarters of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, New York City; a full-time management and teaching position at Peter Kump's School of Culinary Arts in New York.

With the wealth of knowledge acquired regarding America’s cuisine and traditions on her trips, Ruth quickly became familiar with the new trend called the “New Latin Cuisine” that was born in United States and trumpeted by the chef Douglas Rodríguez (New York) and Guillermo Perron (Philadelphia). It was in this way that she began to use traditional French cooking techniques together with products from America, paving the way for the birth of unusual and exotic tastes. Eventually, Ruth would bring this new trend with her when she came to Chile. She married a Chilean and moved to Melipilla, a small town in Chile’s Central Valley, where she promptly started a small restaurant. In Chile, she discovered the extent to which the vitality of Chilean wines complemented the flavors issuing from her kitchen. “I found the perfect match for these flavors: the vibrant Concha y Toro wines possess a natural affinity with these new foods. What we have before us is the successful marriage of the products of this new land”. Since 2000, she is Concha y Toro’s official chef for the Company’s large events. Recently, Ruth opened her spacious adobe home, set in the  foothills of the Andean Mountains, as an exclusive guesthouse, the "Mapu Yampai", or "Land of Resplendence" in the language of the Mapuche Indians, Chile's native population.

Vincent Bourdin, Regional Pastry Consultant, South Asia Manager,Valrhona Chocolates: Following various experiences in well known hotels, restaurants and pastry shops in Europe, Vincent joined Valrhona in 92 at “ L’Ecole” (Valrhona school) as pastry consultant, before opening the Singapore Regional office for Asia Pacific in 96, In 1981 Vincent completed a traditional apprenticeship in a pastry shop in Antibes (Cote d’Azur) followed by a first position in the restaurant “Le Festival “in Cannes.

He left France to work in London at 3 Michelin starred restaurant “La Tante Claire” with Pierre Kaufmann, and at the Intercontinental Hotel with Peter Kromberg. Back in France, he settled down in Paris at the Meridien Hotel before joining the famous Pastry Chef Pierre Herme at Fauchon in Paris. A tea connoisseur, Vincent is also a founding member of the Tea Drinker Club in Paris.

Valrhona was established in 1922, under the name of “Chocolaterie du Vivarais”, by pastrychef, Guironnet, from the Rhône Valley. From the very beginning, the philosophy was to use the very best products to create the very best chocolates. This formerly small family company now employs 350 people and produces 6,000 tonnes of chocolate every year. Valrhone is the Number One producer of bittersweet chocolate and its key activity is the production of couverture for the world’s greatest chefs and pastry chefs. Valrhona chocolates are an introduction to an exquisite pleasure that will seduce even the most discerning gourmands of chocolate. Selecting the finest cocoa beans right on the plantation, combining them with great care and manufacturing the traditional way are some of the steps indispensable for the making of a “GRAND CHOCOLAT”

Robert Joseph, Publishing Editor of Wine International Magazine: Robert Joseph, is one of the world’s most respected authorities on wine. He was described by Decanter magazine as one of the people who would have the greatest influence over the way we’d be drinking in the 21st Century. He was for 16 years wine correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph, and is co-founder & publishing editor of Wine International magazine.

His skill as a taster has been established at wine competitions across the globe, and at the International Wine Challenge, the world’s biggest competition, that he founded in 1984 and which was described by Jancis Robinson as «the Oscars of the Wine World». He now also chairs wine competitions in countries ranging from Australia and South Africa to China and Russia. His skills as a communicator have been appreciated by television and radio audiences in the UK and overseas in countries ranging from Canada to Vietnam; by consumers at events like the House & Garden, Vive la France and BBC Good Food. As an expert on the wine industry, he has addressed audiences of professionals in countries including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Portugal and Italy. He is also the multi-award-winning author of 27 books, including The Ultimate Encyclopaedia of Wine, Bordeaux, The Wines of the Americas and the annual Robert Joseph Good Wine Guide which in 2003 was named best Wine Guide in the World. He spends much of his year travelling, researching material, addressing conferences and tasting at national & international wine competitions. He is currently working on a book covering the history and future of the wine industry over the next quarter of a century.

Robert is also a Chevalier de Tastevin and a member of the Commanderie du Bontemps du Medoc et des Graves in Bordeaux.

Pitak Srichan, Chief Instructor, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Cooking School: Chef Pitak began his culinary career as a kitchen helper at Baan Suan Restaurant in Nakornpanom Province (NE Thailand). It was here that he discovered his passion for food and the desire to make a living in the culinary arts. He has worked as a Thai chef in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Germany, Malaysia and US before returning home to Thailand and joining the Cooking School team at Four Seasons Chiang Mai as an exceptionally gifted instructor.

Philippe Agnese, Excecutive Pastry Chef – Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok: Chef Philippe was appointed Executive Pastry at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok on 1st July 2006. He joined the hotel from the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore where he held the same position for the past 4 years. Originally from Laval in France, Chef Philippe started his culinary career with an apprenticeship at Au Bon Gourmet in Paris in conjunction with his studies at the University Chevron. Various positions as Pastry cook, Master Baker and Food business consultant saw him travel the world from France to California to Australia before becoming the Pastry Chef instructor at the Center Culinary Art in Manila, Philippines. He joined the Shangri-La Hotel in Mactan (Philippines) in 1999 and moved to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Osaka two years later. Chef Philippe collaborated on a number of book projects and was instrumental in promotional food events around the world.

The event is coordinated and overseen by Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok Executive Chef Nicolas Schneller and Shintaro Chef, Satoshi Sawada.

Each chef will host two evenings in one of the hotel’s restaurants; and a cooking demonstration either for lunch or dinner. Guests can catch them all at one time at the seven-course Gala dinner on Thursday, 14th September 2006.

The World Gourmet Gala Dinner promises to be a unique and memorable affair. A cocktail reception will take place from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm followed by a seven-course dinner and entertainment. A live auction will feature exciting travel prizes that showcase sister Four Seasons hotels around the globe.

Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok is supporting HRH Princess Soamsawali’s “Save a Child’s Life from AIDS Project” under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society which provides medicine for pregnant mothers who are afflicted with AIDS. A portion of all proceeds from the Gala dinner will be donated to this charity.

Tickets are available through Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok on +66 (0) 2 250 1000 or

See other recent news regarding: Bangkok, Four Seasons, World Gourmet Festival

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