Fri | Jun 22, 2018

An extraordinary culinary experience

Published:Thursday | June 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera
Red snapper with beurre blanc sauce and Mexican white mole.
Beef terrine with banana gnoki and pineapple gel.
Grandma turkey cream, egg flower with black truffle and it's crispy skin.
Mario Gonzalez, executive chef of Iberostar.
Mango ravioli, salmon tarter, tamarind reduction and Himalaya salt.


Scottish salmon by Rainforest Seafoods, Italian, French and Napa wines by Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) and an award-winning chef were the winning ingredients at the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall's Chef on Tour culinary experience last Saturday.

With a career that spans London, Madrid, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the United States, corporate chef, Mario Gonzalez, who heads the chain's hotels in America, was in the island for another instalment of the now very popular event.

Originally from Badajoz, Spain, Gonzalez received his gastronomy title in his country of origin and has since defined his style as globalised, taking a little of each country he has worked in, without losing his foundation.

Last Saturday night, the 36-year-old who has won too many cooking competitions to mention, paired mango ravioli, salmon tartar, tamarind reduction and Himalayan salt with Banfi 'La Pettegola' Vermentino, an introduction to the five-course journey that food aficionados took with him.

Creatively bringing the blend of flavours into the meal, Gonzalez captured attention, ensuring that the mango did not overpower the salmon, which was the queen of the dish. This was no ordinary seafood, and it was evident.

Paired magnificently with this was the fresh, crisp La Pettegola, whose well-balanced acidity and clean finish was perfect with the first course.

La Pettegola was followed by a lighter, more reserved Antinori 'Franciacorta' Blanc de Blanc, whose role was to be as unassuming as possible while the flavours burst with joy in your mouth from the Grandma turkey cream soup, enriched with egg flower, black truffle and its crispy skin.

The range of textures in this meal was brought to life with Half Moon's Giorgia Rusconi exclaiming, "Pairing is fun, we just experienced savoury and sweet, an explosion of flavours in the mouth. That's what is amazing about this meal."

"Montego Bay is on the cusp of being tagged the culinary destination of the Caribbean. There is nowhere else you can find these types of dinners," said Rhys Campbell.




Paired with the final of three white wines, the snapper was accompanied by a 2015 Louis Latour 'Saint Veran', revealing a delicious nose of white fruits and vanilla.

With two courses to go, and the start to red and powerful Rutherford 'Napa' Cabernet Sauvignon, Gonzalez pulled for a beef terrine with banana gnocchi and pineapple gel. The beef melted in the mouth and was a safe bet paired with the rich, dark wine, which also had essence of chocolate.

A dry wine adorned with beautiful notes of strawberry Mouton Cadet was served with the ultimate dessert, chocolate textures with rum, olive oil and black olives.

Did Mario Gonzalez outdo himself and those he came after? It is great that the Chef on Tour series is not a competition, as each culinary chief brings his or her own creativity to the taste buds.