Next month, Cancun is launching its international food and wine festival. The Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival runs March 15-18 with some of the world’s top chefs preparing Mexico’s gastronomical offerings. There will also be a special tribute to world-renowned Spanish chef, Ferran Adria.
The event will include over 30 chefs from Mexico, Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Chile who will host a slew of events over the 4-day span. Festival founder David Amar has wined and dined at over 100 countries and he wanted to create an opportunity for Mexico to showcase its culinary talents.
“Because I’m Canadian and it’s really cold in Canada, I used to come down to Mexico once a year when there was nothing but one Club Med on this whole strip,” Amar says. “And I would come back every year and see the evolution, and the last five years I saw an evolution that I didn’t like. I felt that this place, even more than Riviera Maya, needs some large, ambitious international type of event to attract a different level of clientele.”
The theme for this year’s festival is: ‘Taste of the New World.’
“I’ve discovered a renaissance in culinary talent,” says Amar. “It’s a rediscovery of old methods and natural ingredients. I’m inviting people to rediscover the continent.”
The festival’s dinner series begins with North and South American chefs’ teaming up for a grand welcome, open for groups. Upon entering the event, attendees will receive passports that will guide them through the seven countries and chef stations, starting with Canada and ending in Latin America with Brazil and Argentina. The event takes place at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa.
“Imagine a place where the whole continent is cooking for you in one event, says Amar. “You can never get that—not in New York or Madrid. The idea is to get the best culinary talents from the whole continent and celebrate their diversity. All the chefs will be challenged with preparing their best dishes but they must use Mexican ingredients.”
Another dinner will honor Ferran Adria. Here, six Mexican chefs who’ve studied Adria’s advances in molecular cuisine will prepare dishes using the same techniques.
“I told them it has to be the best meal this country’s ever had, and they accepted the challenge,” says Amar. “I brought them here two weeks ago to do a full rehearsal of their 8-course dinner, along with my top sommeliers. It’s going to be an incredible event.”
Other festival events include a dinearound, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, cooking competitions and a gourmet tasting village. Amar says ticket prices are about half the price of other food and wine festivals, so that locals too, can enjoy the events and presentations.
Some big name chefs present at the festival include: Normand Laprise and Elyse Lambert from Canada, Jacques Pepin and Ingrid Hoffman representing the U.S., Mara Salles from Brazil, Martin Molteni from Argentina, Bruno Oteiza from Spain, and Mexico’s very own Jose Ramon Castillo and Benito Molina.