Vakkaru Maldives to host ‘Going Beyond Chocolate’ experience with Harrods London’s Alistair Birt

Vakkaru Maldives has announced plans to open its shores to Alistair Birt, Head Pastry Chef of Harrods London, in October.

Guests on the island from October 22-25 will be in for a treat as they embark on a journey to discover this ancient food of the Gods with Alistair through a series of experiences curated exclusively for Vakkaru Maldives. From “Bean-To-Bar Chocolate Masterclasses” and “Cacao Cocktails” overlooking the Maldivian sunset, to a “Chocolate Degustation” and an afternoon in the sun with Alistair’s “Chocolate Ice Cream Pop-up Parlour”, Vakkaru Maldives will transform into an immersive chocolate playground for guests of all ages.

As an Ambassador for Cacao Barry — a gourmet brand of the Barry Callebaut group, which is a world-renowned chocolate producer for professionals since 1842 — Alistair will be using Cacao Barry chocolates and the recently discovered ruby chocolate by Barry Callebaut — the first new type of chocolate in 80 years — for this exclusive island experience.

Alistair’s rise in the culinary world began in 2010 when he won the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Awards of Excellence. During his time with renowned British chocolatier William Curley, Alistair rose through the ranks to become Head Chocolatier and went on to represent the UK at the 2015 World Chocolate Masters Final. In 2015, Alistair was awarded the coveted Acorn Award — a 30 under 30 award for individuals making waves in the hospitality industry.

In 2016, Alistair joined Harrods, the world-famous department store in Knightsbridge, London, as Head Pastry Chef. He oversees a large talented pastry team and multiple award-winning outlets. He is heavily involved in the continued roll out of Harrods’ new food strategy and the historic food halls redevelopment programme where he completely redeveloped over 200 lines of bakery and patisserie items.

Now successfully training and coaching his own team into competitions, Alistair is developing the next generation of young chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Very recently, one of his protégés at Harrods, Benjamin Dufour, won the 2019 UK & Ireland Junior Chocolate Masters competition under his coaching.

October 22: Bean-To-Bar Chocolate Masterclass at Vakkaru Reserve

Hosted in an intimate setting at Vakkaru Reserve — the resort’s wine cellar surrounded by rare and vintage wine — this very exclusive masterclass by Alistair will take guests on a journey through the origins of chocolate from around the world; from the preparation of the beans in the cocoa plantations to the roasting of cacao beans. Guests will also learn about conching — a process where cacao butter is mixed under heat into a fine chocolate liquor — and tempering — a crucial step to achieve the perfect gloss and shininess of chocolate.

Vakkaru Reserve. PHOTO/ VAKKARU

Throughout the masterclass, guests will also learn more about Cacao Barry’s commitment to “Thriving Nature”, a sustainability programme addressing the challenges facing the cocoa industry where the brand is on a mission to become carbon neutral by 2025 by creating enough of an impact to offset its carbon footprint. Cacao Barry’s goal is also to become forest neutral by that time by eradicating deforestation in the supply chain and participating in reforestation efforts in cocoa-producing areas.

Its core range, Purete, is how Cacao Barry best expresses this commitment where 100 per cent of its cocoa is sourced sustainably and is traceable. For every kilo of Pureté sold, a premium goes towards training farmers to protect plantations and increase their income in partnership with the Cocoa Horizons Foundation.

Salted caramel chocolate tart by Alistair. PHOTO/ VAKKARU

Ending the masterclass on a sweet note, Alistair will work with each guest to create their very own personalised chocolate truffles using Cacao Barry’s line of Origins: the Mexique 66 per cent Origin Dark Chocolate Couverture, the Tanzanie 75 per cent Origin Dark Chocolate Couverture, and the Ghana 40 per cent Milk Chocolate Couverture.

October 23: Cacao Cocktails at Lagoon Bar

Whilst overlooking a surreal Maldivian sunset at the resort, sip on chocolate-infused cocktails like the “Cocoa Old Fashioned” made with cocoa nib-infused whiskey, bitters, sugar and a twist of orange, or the “White Chocolate Pina Colada” made with Cacao Barry’s Zéphyr 34 per cent White Chocolate, white rum, coconut cream and pineapple, or take the plunge with the “Plantation Fever” made from chocolate liquor, dark rum, lime juice and chipotle syrup cocktail.

Guests will also have the option of trying Alistair’s take on the classic Margarita with his “Frozen Chocolate Margarita”, a cocktail laced with delicious chocolate liquor, tequila, cream, orange and lime.

Also on the list will be the refreshing “Chilled Mint Chocolate”, made with Cacao Barry’s Tanzanie 75 per cent Origin Dark Chocolate Couverture, mint infused milk and vanilla, making it the perfect mocktail for members of the resort’s Parrotfish Club – Vakkaru’s exclusive club for very special guests between the ages of 3 and 12.

Lagoon Bar at Vakkaru. PHOTO/ VAKKARU

October 24: Chocolate Degustation at Vakkaru Reserve

Hosted by Alistair and Island Sommelier Stefanie Weisner, Alistair’s chocolate degustation menu is an experience for the senses with three bespoke chocolate desserts.

Starting off the dinner with some of Vakkaru Reserve’s signature dishes, Alistair’s desserts will then begin with “The Vakkaru”, a playful take on the coconut with a Maldivian mango compote centre to celebrate his week at Vakkaru, made using Cacao Barry’s Mexico Origin 66 per cent Dark Couverture Chocolate paired with a dessert wine. It will be followed by the Chocolate Moelleux Tart, a heart-warming chocolate moelleux tart made using Cacao Barry’s Tanzanie 75 per cent Origin Dark Chocolate Couverture, Maldivian chilli and spice-roasted pineapple, and served with a light sparkling wine.

Chocolate macaroons by Alistair. PHOTO/ VAKKARU

Alistair will end the indulgent night with his take on a classic British dessert – a ruby Eton Mess. The ruby is a completely new taste and colour for chocolate, born from the ruby cocoa bean – to achieve an intense pink colour with no additional colourants or fruit flavourings. Presented live on the table, in billowing curls of mist from dry ice, the Ruby Eton Mess promises a sensorial high for the epic end to an extraordinary dinner.

October 25: Chocolate Ice Cream Pop-up Parlour by the Pool

A limited-edition collection of Alistair’s bespoke chocolate ice cream will be made fresh on the island using ingredients from the resort’s organic farm. In an interactive and immersive experience, guests will be able to create their very own ice cream flavour using a combination of a very special chocolates.

Poolside dining at Vakkaru. PHOTO/ VAKKARU

This 2019, Vakkaru kicked off its collection of curated, ultra-immersive and cherishable guest experiences in partnership with guest experiences specialist, The Magnolia Creative Collaborations. The debut experience in August features Pilates pioneer Yasmin Karachiwala, who is fondly referred to as the “fitness guru to the stars”.

Guests can watch out for more experiences from culinary greats, wellness mentors and scent experts, as well as luxurious fashion collaborations and exquisite artisanal pop-ups. Through these experiences, Vakkaru Maldives aims to inspire guests to create timeless memories, effortlessly.

Located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa atoll and accessible by a 25-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport, Vakkaru is a secluded tropical island resort blessed with timeless ocean views, white sandy beaches and nurtured by nature. The resort offers guests a holistic approach to unassuming luxury and unforgettable experiences. Drawing on the rich traditions of the locale, design elements are focused on traditional Maldivian style and fused with the finest natural elements. The result is the creation of amazing spaces for guests to connect with each other and the environment around them.

Whether travelling on a romantic break or with family and friends, the resort offers a superlative choice of accommodation types, including family rooms. Each of the 125 beach and overwater villas and suites have a natural aesthetic and sense of privacy.

An indulgent selection of dining choices await guests in four restaurants and two bars, with several ingredients hand-picked from the island’s very own organic farm. The beachfront Amaany restaurant specialises in international cuisine, and serves breakfast and dinner. Isoletta overlooks the garden and specialises in Italian cuisine, while Vakku is a beach restaurant that specialises in international cuisine and serves dinner. Overlooking the garden, Onu specialises in Asian cuisine and serves dinner.

Extensive Parrot Fish Club facilities offer tailored activities for children aged between three and 12 years. Indoor play and activity areas have been designed to capture the imagination, and the outdoor exploration space features a children’s pool.

To experience “Going Beyond Chocolate” with Alistair Birt, guests can book Vakkaru’s Beach Villas starting from USD 533++ or Over Water Villas starting from USD 612++ per night including breakfast for two persons. For reservations and general information, please visit vakkarumaldives.com or contact reservations@vakkarumaldives.com.

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