Several of Hollywood’s most famous faces are to travel to the Algarve next week for the ‘6th International Food Festival - Tribute to Claudia’, at the exclusive Vila Joya resort.
Festival Director Gebhard Schachermayer verified reports that several high-profile names would be at the event, such as Emmy Award-winning actor Michael Imperioli (‘The Sopranos’), Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actor Matthew Modine (‘The Dark Knight Rises’), and Tony-nominated actor-comedian Mario Cantone (‘Sex and the City’).
“That is absolutely true and we are waiting for the confirmation of an Oscar winner and other celebrities including well-known European [names]”, Mr. Schachermayer told The Portugal News.
It has emerged that singer Sheryl Crow will also be at the event, while other celebrities, including four-time Emmy nominee Ricky Paull Goldin (‘All My Children’), Adrian Grenier (‘Entourage’) and Gretta Monahan (‘The Rachael Ray Show’), are confirmed too.
From 12 - 22 January 2012, thirty-three national and international Michelin-star chefs, including Hans Välimäki, Alain Passard, Laurent Gras and Massimo Bottura, will be creating and serving the finest haut cuisine.
The nine-day yearly event takes place at the five-star Vila Joya resort in Praia da Galé (Albufeira) which boasts the only two-Michelin-star restaurant in Portugal, run by acclaimed chef Dieter Koschina. This year, for the first time, after its run at Vila Joya the festival will also travel to the Alentejo and Lisbon. Several other new aspects have been introduced this year, among them the opportunity to dine at the ‘Chef’s Table’, situated in the kitchen and limited to four seats per night.
“We always tried to bring the atmosphere of the kitchen into the restaurant, so our guests understand and see what is going on in the kitchen. But the guests never hear the emotions or feel the pressure or stress that the chefs have. The kitchen table will give all that”, Mr. Schachermayer explains, adding: “It is a table for a maximum of four people, right in the heart of Vila Joya; Chef Koschina’s Kitchen.”
Silver, Gold and Platinum passes
are another new introduction.
Prices range from €350 for a single dinner to more than €8,900 for a Platinum Pass, which includes ten nights accommodation at Vila Joya, VIP pass to all afternoon, dinner and after-dinner events during the festival, spa treatments, a meet-and-greet with the chefs and celebrities, round-trip business class flights from New York to Lisbon, and round-trip airport transfers with a chauffeur driven limousine.
Despite the eyebrow-raising price tags Mr. Schachermayer says sales to the festival are going well.
“In general the sales increased”, he said, revealing that three evenings had already sold out before Christmas.
“We do recognise that the economic situation is not the easiest but after five years the festival reached completely new markets and a very different dimension. The festival is better known, we get more recognition and as a result we have a higher demand on tickets”, he explained.
Mr. Schachermayer believes there is still a demand for exceptional cuisine despite the industry being what he describes as a “quick changing branch.”
“Years ago Spanish chefs were the most wanted, now everyone talks about Scandinavia. People follow sensations and there is always space, interest and demand for exceptional cuisine.”
Whether or not this demand will continue in future or whether it will dry up has yet to be seen, he says.
Tribute to Claudia is held in homage of Vila Joya founder Claudia Jung. It has taken place every year since 2006 on the anniversary of her death, in 1997.
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