Arnaud Bloquel wants to promote Caribbean gastronomy
As head of two restaurants in Guadeloupe, Arnaud Bloquel champions top quality cuisine that provides a combination of Caribbean and French influences, despite encountering certain supplying issues.
At the beginning of December, Gault&Millau will be launching an Antilles and French Guiana edition, a first for the guide. Arnaud Bloquel would not miss this for the world. At 32 years of age, the chef is campaigning for equality for French catering professionals in its Overseas Departments and Territories, so that their work receives the same recognition as that of their counterparts on the French mainland. “This known and recognised guide will put Guadeloupe on the world map which is something we really need. All we are waiting for now is that the Michelin guide does the same thing!”, exclaims this former pupil of some of the greats in tricolour gastronomy such as Pascal Borel and Christian Constant.
Representing the Collège Culinaire de France in the Caribbean
Fully committed to making the archipelago known on the world culinary scene, the chef has even become the regional representative for the Collège Culinaire de France, an association founded by fifteen chefs, including Alain Ducasse, to promote the quality of catering and food service in France and around the world. Last April, he also won the Panier Mystère, a culinary competition reserved for Maîtres Restaurateurs. Originally from Agen (Lot-et-Garonne) but living abroad for 20 years, Arnaud Bloquel opened his first gastronomic restaurant in Saint-François, in eastern Guadeloupe, in 2015. L’Orchidea offers both local and bistronomic cuisine.
Le Square, a new restaurant in Saint-François
Last summer, he opened a second establishment, boasting some 80 covers, called Le Square, located at the heart of the golf course in this same corner of the island. The menu perfectly illustrates the fusion of Caribbean and French cuisine, not forgetting to highlight his training as a pastry chef in Cyril Lignac’s laboratories. “We offer, for example, lamb shanks cooked for 12 hours in honey and ginger, accompanied by Joël Robuchon’s famous mashed potatoes that I have been able to master. There is also a fish broth, typical of Guadeloupe, served with yams, a root vegetable that I boil and then turn into foam.”
Problems with supplies
In his fridges he also stocks Caribbean Sea bass, whose flesh is similar to that of sea bream which is difficult to get hold of. The chef has had to make some adjustments to ensure that he gets the materials and consumable goods he needs for his restaurant. “At le Square, I am lucky to be able to work with a menu that changes every three months, but at L’Orchidea, this is quite complicated because the menu changes frequently. I need to give myself two months to make sure I have the products I need. Everything arrives by air but the prices are three or six times as expensive. We could receive provisions by boat but I’m not interested in that as they are all frozen goods”, explains Bloquel who keeps a close eye on his ratios.
In the kitchens of an airline
Always up for a challenge, since May he has been in charge of creating the menus for Air Caraïbes. This new trial means that he has to follow strict guidelines. For example, he can’t use eggs or cream in order to avoid contamination. “Coming up with dishes and recipes for flights requires me to accommodate certain constraints. I often hear that the meat is too cooked but you have to understand that everything is prepared one day ahead in huge industrial kitchens and then stored in the fridge. On the plane, the dishes are then reheated. It’s 40°C on take-off so we also have to offer thick sauces.”
Rendez-vous at the MOF contest in 2022
On 12 October this year, at the fifth edition of the Trophée des chefs ultramarins, held at the catering and tourism school in Gosier, Guadeloupe, Arnaud Bloquel defended the title he won back in 2016. This time however, he was on the other side, on the judging panel. This gave him the ideal opportunity to train for another challenge: the Un des meilleurs ouvriers de France contest in which he will be competing in 2022.