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With 50 years of culinary experience, chef Jean Hue designs a festival to celebrate 125 years of the Alliance Francaise

The Alliance Francaise of Pondicherry turned 125 last month, and boy are they throwing a bash. After an elaborate parade, musical evening and other programmes like movie screenings, the organisation declared a culinary festival this week. The Indo-French Culinary Week 2014, has six restaurants creating specials curated by expert French chef Jean Hue. The retired chef, who has been mastering French cuisine for 50 years, has shared his secrets with the local chefs at Hôtel de l’Orient, La Maison Rose, Ocean Spray, Satsanga, Villa Shanti and Café de Flore.

“French cuisine has a completely different approach (to Indian cuisine) — the decoration of the plate, the nose where the olfactory smell comes into play, and the mouth to finalise what is expected,” says the chef, who recommends dessert lovers try the iced nougat at Villa Shanti, guava jam at Café de Flore and lemon tart at Satsanga. In this, his first visit to India, he has found our spices to be unique. “Cinnamon has an incomparable flavour here that we don’t get. It is harvested here, then ends up on a long boat trip to Europe. By that time, it undergoes a huge loss in flavour. It is a pity,” he offers. That said, he asks us not to miss the last few days of the festival (till March 23) and tempts with names like coq au vin (chicken braised with wine) and flamiche aux trois fromages (three cheese puff pastry).

Prices from Rs. 300 onwards. Details: pondichery.afindia.org

— Ryan Peppin

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