Luxury Jersey Hotels chairman Patrick Burke tells Emily Moore why there is extra excitement around this year’s gourmet celebration
FROM foraging for sea vegetables and meeting producers on an exclusive chef’s tour of the markets to sampling the culinary delights of Michel Roux Jr and dining in the dark, it is fair to say that the breadth of experiences on offer as part of this year’s Taste Jersey festival is more diverse than ever before.
Indeed, as the Luxury Jersey Hotels celebration of the Island’s agriculture, fishing and hospitality traditions returns, Islanders and visitors have an opportunity to discover the ‘intrinsic quality that the Island has to offer’ in ways that have never previously been available.
‘We are all tremendously excited about this year’s Taste Jersey festival, which is going to be bigger and better than ever,’ said LJH chairman and owner of The Atlantic Hotel Patrick Burke.
‘From the oysters and lobsters to our fresh produce and dairy offer, we have an extraordinary breadth of exceptional ingredients. Not only that but we also have some exceptional chefs in the Island, many of whom are working in LJH properties. Bringing all of this together means that we have a really exciting proposition to shout about both locally and away from the Island.’
While many residents will be familiar with the origins of the festival, which sees LJH chefs curate a selection of menus showcasing the finest local ingredients, the experiential element added to this year’s event extends Taste Jersey’s appeal and, in the words of Mr Burke, ‘creates a story which captures attention beyond the Island.’
‘Having such an exciting offer right at the beginning of the season gives people another reason to consider choosing Jersey for a holiday,’ he explained. ‘With the support of Visit Jersey, the strategy is very much to grow the festival year on year and extend it into an experiential opportunity, with so many elements that it becomes an attraction in its own right.
‘Much as people might travel to the Island specifically to watch a Jersey Reds match or to see the Jersey Legends golf tour, we want Taste Jersey to become an initiative which influences the flow of visitors to the Island during the shoulder months at a time when hotels need more business.’
Launching this year’s festival is Eat Jersey at The Atlantic, a four-day gourmet extravaganza featuring a line-up of internationally acclaimed chefs including headliner Michel Roux Jr, who will be joining the hotel’s executive head chef, Will Holland, to serve a six-course tasting menu in Ocean Restaurant on 24 March.
Following quickly on from Eat Jersey is Taste Jersey’s signature Meet the Chefs event, which, for the fist time this year, is open to members of the public.
Taking place at Grand Jersey Hotel & Spa on 30 March, this celebratory evening fives attendees the opportunity to meet the chefs from each hotel and enjoy a selection of canapés crafted by them.
‘This event really encapsulates everything that Taste Jersey represents because the festival is very much about collaboration between many of the Island’s leading establishments,’ said Mr Burke.
‘We are all aware of the tremendous talent among these top chefs but to have the opportunity to meet them in person is quite special. Not only is this wonderful for the guests attending but it is also a great experience for the chefs, as it gives them the opportunity to talk about what they do and to answer questions about the ingredients and their dishes.’
And with so much fresh produce becoming available over the next few weeks, Mr Burke says that the timing of the festival could not be better from a culinary perspective.
‘Taste Jersey comes at the perfect time to celebrate the fabulous produce available in the Island,’ he said. ‘It also marks a time of great positivity within the industry, as we look forward to the season that lies ahead,
‘As we develop Taste Jersey further, not only can it support the LJH member properties and shine a light on the upmarket hotels within the Island, but its benefits can be felt across the visitor economy. If we can stimulate more business in the shoulder months, then other restaurants, retailers and attractions will also become more productive.’
Indeed, as the festival grows and the ethos of collaboration develops further, Mr Burke says that he could envisage future Taste Jersey events extending beyond the LJH properties.
‘In many ways, this year’s festival feels like the first one again because Covid was so debilitating for all of us and it would have been very easy to have lost Taste Jersey as everyone had so many other things to focus on,’ he said. ‘As we came out of Covid and asked whether we wanted to relaunch the festival, the resounding answer was yes.
‘Not only has that decision created extra excitement around this year’s event but it has elicited from all of us a commitment to do it better and that means being more professional, planning further ahead so that we can communicate the details more widely, particularly to people away from the Island, and creating these additional experiences.
‘As with all things, Taste Jersey has to evolve and, while it takes time, effort and money to achieve this growth, I could imagine the festival extending beyond the LJH properties and potentially involving more restaurants and business partners.’
Key to promoting the festival has been the launch of the new LJH website, which includes a section dedicated to Taste Jersey.
‘The website is critical for LJH and we have had tremendous support from local agency Webreality who have built it for us,’ said Mr Burke. ‘There is a simplicity and freshness about the new website, which is very impressive and really captures everything the Island has to offer, particularly at the top end of the market.
‘It also supports our message that not only does the Island have an impressive number of high-end hotels but that each of these hotels have restaurants, and many of the best chefs in the Island are to be found in those properties.
‘Taste Jersey is a fantastic way to highlight this offer to both visitors and Islanders whose support is so important to the industry, particularly in the winter and shoulder months.’