Simon Soar, CEO of the Jersey Hospitality Association, reflects on last week’s inaugural Zest Festival for Travel Eye CI.
“After what can only be described as a superb weekend, I just find myself recovering now and able to look back over what we achieved.
Zest kicked off on Thursday with an incredible range of masterclasses supplied by world class bar guru Myles Cunliffe. We went through a multitude of skills and concepts and finished the day with a cocktail competition with more contestants than Jersey has ever seen in such a competition. The standards were incredibly high and really reflected the level of local bartending.
Friday saw us kicking off the day with one of Team GB’s butchers. A team that has come forth in the world, no small feat! Simon Taylor did not disappoint and passed on an incredible array of knowledge thanks to the support of Easenmyne.
We followed up with Liquid PR’s chef Director David Colcombe who produced two fantastic dishes made with local produce and really emanated his passion and drive for the industry.
Next saw Dany Lancaster of Suma’s do a fish display, and even utilised his own made gin, Sippin.
Our final guest chef was Hugues Boutin from the University of Bulgaria, brought over by GR8 recruitment, who wowed the crowd with a dessert that included a cauliflower and white chocolate mousse.
We finished the day with a wine and cheese pairing supported by Dunells that utilised some unusual wines when it comes to traditional concepts of cheese pairing, then a Ready, Steady, Cook! With two teams battling it out on stage. Tony Moretta from Digital Jersey came on with Chef Justin Saunders, and our own JHA president, Jeremy Swetenham, with Chef Joe Baker. The competition was extremely high and the atmosphere electric.
Saturday brought a load of local talent together with a health kick from Mike Canas and Justin Saunders, a pasta masterclass with Peter Brewer, an artisanal bread class with Matthew Gordon and all finished off with a foraged feast by Kazz of Wild Adventures and Andrew Baird from Longueville Manor.
The whole festival kept coming back to several key points, emphasised on pretty much every session without any thought into making it a theme.
While it was clear that our industry has an incredible skillset and drive for passion, the one thing we need to keep a close focus on is that whether food or drink, they aren’t purely down to the product.
Every chef and bartender stated that their favourite food or drink is both environmental and experiential. The total package is what creates these great experiences and a lasting memory.
For me, if this was the only thing learned from the festival, I could consider the whole thing a huge success, the fact that this was just part of it really drives home the importance of such an event in our annual diaries.”