St. Bart's fifth annual Gourmet Festival will have more meaning than ever this year when it opens on Nov 1.
The festival was canceled last year after the island was battered by Hurricane Irma. A dinner celebrating St. Bart's gastronomy was held was held last December in Paris instead.
Nils DuFau, president of the Territorial Tourism Committee of St. Bart's, said the festival will have a double significance this year.
"It's important as usual to show our commitment to the French touch and that we do it 100%," he said. "But this time, after the hurricane, to show that everything is back to normal.
"The image of St. Bart's really is the French cuisine and the French touch. We are very happy to be able to say everything is normal again."
This year, the festival will host six French chefs who will "showcase their signature styles and celebrate the longstanding tradition of culinary excellence on the island." They will partner with local St. Bart's chefs during the festival to present four-course menus for 95 euros per person or eight-course menus for 130 euros per person.
Serving as the festival's patron is Nicolas Sale, executive chef at the two-Michelin-star restaurant La Table de L'Espadon at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Sale will give the opening remarks at the festival and be president of the jury for the St. Bart's Chefs Challenge.
The festival's dinners will be held at hotels and restaurants in St. Bart's, including Aux Amis at the Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa, Taino at Hotel Christopher, Hotel Le Toiny, Le Tamarin, Bonito and Nikki Beach.
The event kicks off what will be a year of events showcasing that the island is "back to normal," DuFau said. With the exception of Le Guanahani, which plans to reopen in 2019, all of St. Bart's hotels will be open by Christmas. Many, like Le Toiny, which will debut a new villa product, have made enhancements to their properties.
DuFau said that overall, visitors to St. Bart's this year will find an island that is in many ways "more beautiful than ever."
"In rebuilding St. Bart's, the challenge was to make it better and more inventive and beautiful," he said. "Everything has been redone completely. Everyone on St. Bart's worked together to make things look better and be more practical."