A journey through the stars
Looking back on nine days of food and wine heaven at Vila Vita Parc’s Fine Wines & Food Fair
Vila Vita Parc is known today, by food and wine lovers around the world, as a destination of excellence. The huge choice of restaurants, including the two-star Michelin Ocean, and an award-winning wine cellar ensure that guests and visitors at any time are in for a treat. But every two years, Vila Vita stages a truly world-class event – the Fine Wines & Food Fair.
This year, from May 5 to 13, some of the greatest chefs and wine producers from Portugal and around the world converged on Vila Vita Parc for the fourth edition of the event.
It all started on Sunday, May 5 up in the Alentejo at the Vila Vita outpost Herdade dos Grous, the farm and country estate resort famous for its wines and high-quality meats. The guest chef was Ljubomir Stanisic, a Portuguese-Yugoslav chef and TV celebrity here in Portugal, who joined forces with Herdade dos Grous head chef Rui Prado to cook up a truly outstanding BBQ on the shores of the lake.
During the week that followed, each night from Monday to Friday saw Vila Vita’s Ocean or Atlântico restaurants host dinners for between 30 and 80 guests.
Monday saw three-star Michelin chef Jan Hartwig from Germany at Ocean followed Tuesday by the all-star night when Ocean’s two-star chef Hans Neuner cooked alongside starred chefs from Germany, Portugal and The Netherlands. The next three nights saw more star-studded dinners at Ocean, building up to the grandest night of all, the spectacular Kitchen Party on Saturday night.
This unique event sees the whole of Vila Vita Parc’s Clubhouse building, which houses four restaurants, taken over as a single venue. There were 17 guest chefs, either with pop-up cooking stations on the terraces or in the kitchens. Elsewhere, there were wine and food producers offering tastings as guests mingled between the kitchens and the restaurants accompanied by live music performances.
The event has become one of the most important social gatherings of the Algarve, as the resort itself nicely sums it up: Good vibes. Good food. Good People.
There may have been a few sore heads the next day, but many of the guests were on the beach Sunday afternoon for a chilled lunch at Vila Vita’s Praia Dourada in Armação de Pêra with Portuguese celebrity chef Chakall and a reggae band down on the sand. Finally, on Monday night, the event finished in great style with a small and very exclusive dinner at the hands of the Swiss culinary master, three-star Michelin chef Andreas Caminada.
These nine days have raised the bar yet again. Congratulations from the Algarve Resident to all the team at Vila Vita Parc, who this week will hopefully be getting at least a little well-earned rest.
By PATRICK STUART