A Michelin-Starred Weekend at the Aruba Marriott.
For 3 nights, the Aruba Marriott delighted palates during two sold-out events by the hand of François Geurds and local top chefs.
Once the Aruba Marriott published the events' flyers on social media, the response was quick: All seats were sold out within a few days, and with good reason: Two Michelin stars Chef François Geurds is coming to Aruba after 4 years!
In 2019, the Michelin-starred chef impressed everybody with a dinner hosted by Divi Resorts, which left people talking about it for years to come! For those who attended: I am sure you haven't forgotten about that celeriac dish. If you're curious: Here is the review of that event that I wrote for Destination Magazine.
The Aruba Marriott knew that local foodies were going to be quick to snatch tickets and made sure to organize a whole weekend of events, 3 nights divided into two dining experiences: The François Geurds dinner at Atardi and the "Aruban Classics Revisited" both massive successes.
François Geurds Dinner at Atardi.
6 PM on Friday and the deck of Atardi served as the welcome frame to the local foodies and bon vivants, looking incredible in their casual beachy attire. Champagne flutes were the official greeting during that warm afternoon, all conversations were around how excited they all were to be there!
Atardi, the restaurant at the beach of Aruba Marriott never looked better! The Perfect Team Event Planners did such a beautiful job in making the beach look extra special for the night. The Palette was warm to match the sunset that within the hour would have everybody amazed. It was truly a moment.
More and more Taittinger Champagne had us refreshed while we wait for the event to unfold. Serghio Jansen playing the guitar was the perfect background for the evening.
Moments after we were presented with the Amuse from the chef. The first savory macaron I ever had. The crispy chicken skin was the higher note here.
We were only moments away from the first dish to hit the table: KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower). This one set the tone for the rest of the night. We were in for a trip with sweet and savory contrasts and notes of spices from all over the world. Devoured in two bites, we were ready for the next one.
Sommelier Andrew Ruiz from Pepia Est. was in charge of the wine pours. Knowledgeable and kind explained to us every detail and note the wines we had thorough the night. Everybody at the table had their favorite. My personal favorite was the Châteu Paul Mas ‘Parcelle Beluguete’ Blanc.
The Sopi Oester was served and it was nothing like anyone could expect. Two dishes, one with a creamy soup and the other with an Oyster-shaped gelatin that once mixed, unleashed the full potential of the dish and brought it to a perfect balance. There was even a piece of white chocolate involved.
Chef François was not gonna stop the show there. The Ceviche Bacalao, The Funchi with bluefin tuna, and the Carni Stoba with A5 grade Wagyu and "angel hair" beef were exceptional as well as the wines that harmonized the tasting experience. I am just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.
And then it was dessert time. Even though all dishes were stellar, I actually believe the dessert stole the show and closed the night with a bang.
The Bolo Preto has a special significance to our beloved island of Aruba. It is the traditional wedding cake, where dried fruits and liquor are the kick. Chef FG made this so incredibly delicious that for a moment nobody spoke. It was like a beam of light had hit us, it was crazy.
Rarely do I see dessert plates licked clean at a dining experience.
And there we were, farewelled by Chef Geurds with a wax-sealed letter where he wrote:
"Aruba has my profound respect as my mother was born on the island and has shared many of her roots and recipes that I still use today."
At the end of the dining experience, we were encouraged to mingle at the Cigar Lounge, next to the bar where conversations kept going and champagne kept flowing until late into the night.
Night Two: Aruban Classics Revisited.
As I mentioned, it was not over for the weekend. For the rest of the weekend on Saturday and Sunday nights, Chef François and some of the most illustrious chefs of Aruba joined forces like the Avengers to bring to the public a journey through the most iconic dishes that are traditional to our culinary culture, reimagining them and presenting them in the most creative ways.
The Lobby, the social hub for excellence of the resort was transformed into a huge dining area, keeping the warm wood tones and clean lines, again, beautifully executed by the Prefect Team Event Planners, led by Rosetty Eleonora.
The room feel was fun and lively. With every event I attend, I notice that the diners keep getting younger. I am glad to see younger generations becoming interested in these experiences!
If you live on the island you know it is important to mix it up, adding new and different things to do on our calendars. As well for the tourists, Aruba is becoming a strong contender as a culinary destination. Most of the posts I see on the tourism forums about Aruba are related to dining, which is why we keep seeing these kinds of events on the rise and why the overall interest is so high.
It was time to make my rounds, say hi to friends and people on the scene, and get my menu/punch card. Champagne flowing like rivers.
The idea was for you to make your own journey through the different dishes that each chef prepared at their stations. No rules, you create your own path to discovery.
Chef Teddy Bouroncle: Pisca Tempera.
No doubt it will be a BANGER. Beer battered grouper, pickled calamari, lime & ají Amarillo warm sauce, sour sop gel, pickled onions, crowned with flowers and micro greens. The skill that Chef Teddy has to elevate the dishes to their highest level is impressive. Elegant and delicate, the lime kick came thru at the end of the bite so sneakily.
Ever de Peña: Keshi Yena.
Probably the most raved amongst the diners, especially for the significance that this dish has: Keshi Yena IS one of the most beloved Aruban dishes. By seeing the picture you would not think that it was gonna be so true to its original flavor. A truly mind-f*ck. Gouda cheese bed, shredded stewed chicken and cashews, with a gouda cheese fluffed cream, topped with these streaks of pickled mustard (Picalilly), bay leaves, and parsley powder. 10/10
Sebastián Cechet: Carni Stoba.
Chef Cechet surely knew how to elevate the hell out of this premium Angus cut. The subtle acidity of the pickled carrot helped cut all the richness of the beef. The sheet of carrot and ginger on top made it look like a sculptural piece.
Andrés Dávila: Local Mushroom Ayaca.
Chef Andrés' fearless interpretation of the local Christmas dish for excellence, the Ayaca was very successful. Deconstructed to its every element but instead of using the traditional pork, poultry, and beef, Chef Andrés cooked with Pink Oyster mushrooms from Farmacure Fungi, the local mushroom farm that has made its way into every respectable dining establishment on the island. Was an Ayaca if it is not wrapped and tied would you say? I encountered the flavors and It was stunning to look at.
Chef François Geurds: Sopi di Maishi.
The comfort that a good hearty soup can bring is well known by Chef François Geurds. His interpretation of the Corn Soup checked all the boxes we can expect from a chef of his level. In the center, a chicken medallion of dough called Fars, stabbed with a crispy piece of chicken skin, the black branch you see is a cracker made with squid ink. Next to it, a white toast with corn gel and pickled onion, an illusion of the real corn kernels.
Urvin Croes: Quesillo and Bolo Preto.
Chef Urvin said: "I am gonna create a dessert so thoughtfully insane that you're all gonna lose control when you try it". A bed of homemade Ponche Crema with Papiamento rum and vanilla bean, pumpkin flan, chopped mango, homemade Bolo Preto ice cream, and pieces of sweet bread or "Pan dushi" as we call it here. After service I saw people getting ice cream in cups, myself included went for a shot of that special Ponche Crema. What a triumph!
It is worth mentioning that there was a special cocktail menu available and what would be a visit to The Lobby without having an Hibiscus Margarita? my personal favorite.
These events and Chef François's visit was not just an opportunity for indulgence. Top students from EPI here in Aruba had the chance to work with the chef during his stay here and furthermore, two internships in the Netherlands with him at his restaurant, all expenses paid were awarded to two lucky students. The chance to intern at a Michelin-star restaurant is an opportunity most cooks don't even encounter in a lifetime. Talk about impacting lives.
To the Marketing and Management teams at Marriott Aruba, thank you for the opportunity to document and be part of this. The F&B team, of course, huge congratulations for this successful set of events.
Make sure you follow Aruba Marriott Resort on Facebook if you want to stay up to date with the events that might be coming in the future and you don't want to miss out on.
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