THE ART OF SABERING A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE 0 117

Have you ever given thought of opening a bottle with a sword that adds drama to an occasion? Well, in Mauritius, that has become a trend, or rather has a seriouspurpose in promoting the enjoyment of Champagne, the lifestyle of fine diningand as they call it ‘The art of Sabering’. The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or in Mauritius has made it more memorable recently, during an annual initiation night that was hosted on October 9 at the Château Labourdonnais, by Mr Ravin Untiah, Ambassador of the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or in Mauritius where the association shared insights on ‘Sabrage’, which is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a sword, mainly used in ceremonial occasions.

To begin with, The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or is devoted to promoting the act of Sabrage and the enjoyment of Cham- pagne. It can seem challenging when one is initially handed a sword and a chilled bottle of Champagne with the expectation that you will open the bottle with the blade of a sword. The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or was created in Senlis in France in 1986 by Jean Claude Jalloux the Grand Master, with the aim of sharing the expertise of opening a champagne bottle with a sword, a no- ble product that is celebrated around gourmet dinners. However, it should be noted that the actual tradition of Sabrage dates back to Napoleonic days (the Regency period here in Great Britain). Although the custom continued for some time in British Cavalry Regiments, it is now encouraged across the world by a society of like-minded Sabreurs – the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or.In the United Kingdom, it was first setup in 1999 by UK Ambassadeur Emeritus, Julian White. Jean Claude has helped in setting up this prestigious Confrerie in Mauritius since 1996. It’s been 22 years since its launch, and they are among the oldest and one of the first outside Europe.

Well, it can seem frightening when you are initially handed a ‘sabre’ (a Champagne tool: sword) and a chilled bottle of Cham- pagne with the expectation that you will open the bottle with the sword’s blade. Do not be discouraged! The technique goes like this: Take a chilled bottle of champagne, not ice cold but suitable for drinking. The ideal temperature is around 37°F or 3°C. Carefully remove the wire around the cork. Find one of the two seams along the side of the bottle. At the same time, you can remove the foil which will impede the sliding movement of the sabre. With your arm extended, hold the bottle firmly by placing the thumb inside the punt at the base. Make sure the neck is pointing up – around 30 degrees from horizontal. Calmly lay the sword flat along the seam of the bottle with the sharp edge ready to slide firmly against the glass annulus, or ring, at the top of the bottle. With a firm sweep, slide the sword along the seam to meet the ring at the top. Your firm sliding of the sword against this ring is aided by the internal pressure of the bottle, so that the cork flies dramatically away. This leaves a neat cut on the neck of the bottle and the champagne is ready to be enjoyed. Not as easy as we think, but all it needs is a firm wrist and you’ll be telling tales of how easy it really was! Furthermore, as one gets well versed and experienced with this art, there are different titles you can associate yourself to depending on the years of experience, such as, “Chevalier Sabreur”, “Officier Sabreur” and “Commandeur” which can become official after five years of being an Officier and by opening a Jeroboam (4 bottles/ 3 Liters).

Since its creation, the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or has acquired worldwide fame bringing together lovers and enthusiasts of Cham- pagne. In Mauritius, Mr Untiah together with the support of the Confrérie du Sabre d’or, have so far launched 12 champagne vaults which means that 10 percent of the resort and hotels here are already practicing the art of Sabrage. It should be high- lighted that this percentage is much more than the number of hotels recognized by La Confrerie in France. With the success and interest for this art, the association has recently opened a cellar in Madagascar and at the beginning of this year, at LUX Resort, Ile de La Reunion.

Having said that, as some might consider the art of Sabrage a theatrical alternative for the unknowingly clumsy twisting and explosion of the cork, or as some say, weapons and alcohol don’t mix; This French tradition is being given a new lease of life in Mauritius and is definitely being appreciated as a very spectacular way of celebrating Champagne!

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CULINARY EVENTS MEILLEUR OUVRIER MAURICE 0 96

The enchanting premises of Shandrani Beachcomber Resort & Spa served as the platform for the contest MOM ( Meilleur Ouvrier Mauricien) on Friday whereby Ajnisha Neeloo Ugnoo became the first woman to win the title of ‘ Meilleur Ouvrier’ in Mauritius in the ‘Gastronomy’ category. Renaud Azema and his team proceeded to the selection following the recommendations of the jury which for the occasion comprised of 4 members of the kitchen brigade of the most celebrated inn of Pont a Collognes by Paul Bocuse. 52 chefs took part in the contest which entailed 8 of them to come up with creativity, authenticity and cooking techniques in the menu that they proposed and that too under certain given constraints and conditions. The winner conquered the heart and the palate of the jury with her mastery over her art. She came up with the best starter and dessert and topped the qualification round for the theoretical test. She hereby won a month’s training at Bocuse, financed entirely by the MCB and ‘ la maison Paul Bocuse’. The other candidates were also awarded fairly for their participation. Upon receiving her medal from ‘Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’, Neeloo who received her training at Ecole Hoteliere and was under the internship of Chef Neezam Peeroo at the be- ginning of her career, was reminded of the new covenant that she needs to abide by for being the first ‘MOM’ : Excellence, Sharing of knowhow and adequate representation. The freshly awarded ambassador of MAURITIAN Cuisine now sets out on a new path of excellence which she will be required to live by throughout her career.

 

IN THE KITCHEN WITH CHEF NICOLAS VIENNE 0 120

“Moving to Mauritius was a decision first led by the island’s reputation for fascinating cuisine, but when I discovered the passion and warmth of the people, I knew there could be no better place for me.”

Four Seasons Tenure: Since 2015

First Four Seasons Assignment: Executive Chef, Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita

Employment History:

Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich, China; Sofitel So Bangkok, Thailand; Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, China Sofitel Bora Bora, French Polynesia Coral Palms Island Resort, New Caledonia; Fine Ca- tering and Event Company, Florida, USA; Café Moderne, Paris, France; Bal- thus Restaurant, Beirut, Lebanon; Sur Un arbre perche, Paris, France; Bistro Humbert, Boston, USA

Birthplace: Paris, France

Languages Spoken: French, English and Spanish

With a career that incorporates more than 14 years professional cooking and kitchen management experience across three continents, it is perhaps no wonder that keen traveller Chef Nicolas Vienne has found his home in the beautiful surroundings of the In- dian Ocean, on an island famous for its rich cultural diversity and welcoming nature. His role of Executive Chef at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita now extends his experience across a new, fourth continent.

Beginning in his native Paris, Chef Nicolas developed his skills under the guidance of multiple Michelin Star chefs, including Alain Ducasse and Eric Briffard at Four Seasons Hotel GeorgeV. His first international opportunitycame in 2001 when he accepted the position of executive chef for Bistro Humbert in Boston, USA – a stepping stone towards his global journey. Following Boston, Chef Nicolas held various international positions as executive chef, including locations such as the bustling city of Beirut in Lebanon, the sunshine state of Florida, USA and the paradise South Pacific islands ofNew Caledonia and Bora Bora. During a return to Paris in 2004, Chef Vienne was awarded a Michelin Star while head chef of Café Moderne.

Joining Sofitel in 2007 while in BoraBora, Chef Nicolas embraced the company’s expansion into Asia, first taking on the executive chef role in Shanghai, before becoming part of the pre-opening team of Bangkok as culinary designer and then into his most recent role as area executive chef in Guangzhou in January 2013, where he oversaw five of the region’s hotels, leading a combined team of more than 600 chefs and 20 restaurants.

A multiple award-winner, Chef Nicolas is fluent in French, English and Spanish and is the proud author of three published cookery books. Chef Nicolas is married to his wife, Donia, and is the proud father to Meryl.