Embark on a flavorful evening while sampling French cuisine of the Loire Valley with the French chefs from L’Association des Cuisinières de la Loire!
CultureALL and the River Center present
Taste of the Loire Valley
Tuesday 21 November • 6:30 – 8:30 pm
River Center • 340 SW 3rd Street, Des Moines
For one night only, the visiting chefs will gather together to lead guests on a memorable gastronomical journey. The tasting stations will feature dishes and wines that best represent the Loire Valley.
- 6:30 Culinary Demonstration
- 7:15 Tasting of Loire Valley Foods and Wines
Tickets are $40 per diner. Your contribution supports future culinary exchanges with L’Association des Cuisinières de la Loire and CultureALL’s multi-cultural education programs for K-12 students in Central Iowa
Online reservations are encouraged. Click the link below to to purchase tickets, or make your reservation by phone by calling the River Center at 515-330-1517.
The Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France and includes historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Montsoreau, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours. The Loire is often called the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to its abundance of vineyards, orchards, farms, and gardens – its wines are considered among the best in the world. The Loire is also known for its architecture, which includes many famous châteaux (castles), making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in France outside of Paris. In 2000 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites because of its unique cultural heritage.
The “French Connection”
For more than 20 years Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) has hosted a French Chef Exchange with Des Moines’ French sister city St. Etienne. Each January, two chefs from L’Association des Cuisinières de la Loire (the Chefs’ Association from the St-Etienne region) spend two weeks on the DMACC campus to teach French cuisine to DMACC’s Culinary Arts students. As part of the exchange, DMACC students travel to France each May to serve two- to three-week apprenticeships with French chefs.
Michael LaValle became involved in the exchange when Chef Robert Anderson, executive director of DMACC’s Culinary Arts program, asked him to host some students from St. Etienne. As CEO of the Embassy Club, Michael (along with his wife Lisa) are leaders in Des Moines’ culinary scene. What began as an informal exchange turned into an annual competition to identify the best young chefs in the Loire region. Ingredients are chosen, and the competitors have just four hours to prepare a full menu for a panel of judges. The competition predates the “Iron Chef” events you may have seen on TV. It has become one of the most prestigious events in the French culinary community drawing national press coverage and judges from among the most respected chefs of France.
The winners of the competition come to Des Moines for a two-week exchange that includes the opportunity for them to demonstrate their skills for Des Moines diners. In the past, says LaValle, the event has been small. The opening of the River Center – one of Des Moines’ newest event spaces – has made it possible for him to expand Taste of the Loire to accommodate more people. This year’s winning chefs – Charles-Henri Chaverot and Guillaume Massardier – will be showing off their skills on November 21. Please join us in welcoming them to our city.
The CultureALL Connection
The Taste of the Loire event dovetails with CultureALL’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner initiative. When Michael LaValle heard about the project, he generously offered to donate a portion of the proceeds of this year’s Loire Valley event to support CultureALL’s K-12 education programs. We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner with the River Center and DMACC in bringing this event to the community.
It’s a delicious culinary adventure that you won’t want to miss – we hope to see you there!
Can’t Make It to This Event?
If you are unable to join us for this event but you’d still like to have a cultural culinary adventure (and support CultureALL), please consider coming to our next Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner public gathering: a Multi-Cultural Dinner at the River Center on Thursday, December 7, hosted by four amazing leaders in the community. Find out More here.