If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to France but can’t afford the expensive flights, then how about letting France come to you instead?
On Saturday, March 25, Le Chef, Auckland’s leader of French cuisine for the past seven years, will be holding ‘One Day in Provence’, an event celebrating the French region’s delicious food and drink.
A thousand lucky foodie fanatics will have the chance to savour a seven-course lunch over five hours, featuring Provençale delicacies at The Cloud on Queens Wharf.
Provence, a southeastern region of France, is famous for its incredible landscapes of lavender fields, olive groves and rolling vineyards, which produce some of the best wines in the world.
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Due to Provence’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean influences can be found throughout the cuisine, from simple ingredients like quality tomatoes and olive oil, to fresh meats and breads, which will all be on the menu on March 25.
Behind the epic event are three Frenchies, all from the south of France, who want to celebrate the end of summer in style.
Edouard Legoff is the owner of Vulcan Lane’s French restaurant Le Chef and the founder of the Auckland French Festival, which was launched in 2017.
Legoff has been steering the helm at Le Chef for the past seven years, and has been in the hospitality industry for almost 20, both in Aotearoa and France.
Legoff said he had been successful in bringing French cuisine to New Zealand because of the way Kiwis readily embraced the culture.
“Hospitality in New Zealand in amazing, there are so many good products that we can work with, while bringing something [to the industry] New Zealand doesn’t have,” he said.
“New Zealand loves the French food and French way of life, which is why we have been so successful.”
As part of the Auckland French Festival, Legoff has previously hosted ‘One Night in France’, an exclusive French dining experience at Shed 10 with over 800 guests.
After five years of ‘One Night in France’ Legoff said he “wanted to bring something new to the customer”.
“We’re three guys from the south of France, and we just said – let’s do something together to celebrate where we came from,” he said.
Organising the event alongside Legoff are friends and industry colleagues Benjamin Longhurst and Simon Benoit.
Longhurst is a wine professional from EuroVintage, and will be the official wine guide for the day, answering any and all questions diners might have about AIX Rosé, a co-host of the event.
A selection of fine champagne and wines from the south of France will also be available, as well as take-home bottles of AIX.
“Having lived in New Zealand for many years, the team are keen to give back to the New Zealand community by partnering with a local charity,” Legoff said.
“For every bottle of wine sold during the event, the organisers will donate $5 to Breast Cancer Cure.”
Provence is one of the oldest wine regions of France, and the first type of wine made in the area was rosé, with its climate boasting perfect conditions for wine-making.
Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, where AIX gets its namesake, sits within a distinctive Mediterranean climate, with vines found no further than 30 km from the sea.
Provence’s vineyards bask in around 3000 hours of sunshine per year, bringing a long, hot summer and meaning most Provencal grape growers are free of concerns about unwanted rot and vine disease.
Rounding off the trio is Simon Benoit, who will be the food consultant of the day. Benoit is the manager of Cazador restaurant specialising in house-made charcuterie.
“Our partners, Clara, Miranda and Susan, will be responsible for the artistic touch to the experience,” Legoff said.
Legoff said diners can expect “a typical long lunch in the south of France in the summertime”.
“Good food, good weather, and a beautiful glass of rosé,” he said.
Doors to Provence open at 12pm, where guests will be greeted with said glass of rosé, before being seated at long tables set with 1000 places.
The long lunch will cater to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters, with each menu beginning with a ‘Provencal platter’, which includes a selection of charcuterie and bread and butter.
”The first course is all about sharing, and discovering the people around you,” Legoff said.
Diners will be offered three more courses before the main event – a Provençale white wine lamb casserole for the meat-eaters, and cheese-stuffed tomatoes, potato dauphinoise and ratatouille for the vegetarians and vegans.
The courses will be served every 30 minutes over three hours, by which point Legoff hopes diners have forgotten about the food and started dancing.
“At One Night in France, after three or four hours, everyone was out of their seats and dancing, and I hope that’s what is going to happen here,” he said, alluding to secret entertainment to help the cause.
When asked if you have to be a foodie to enjoy the day, Legoff insisted there would be something for everyone.
“If you love life, and you want to travel in France, but on the wharf, that’s what we will offer,” he said.
The event also has a dress code, asking attendees to come adorned in pink and white, a nod to the colour of rosé, and white to signify the charity they are supporting.
Tickets cost $123 per person, including a seven-course menu, rosé and entertainment, and can be purchased at le-chef.co.nz.