The Bocuse d’Or is the 21 year old brainchild of the iconic French Chef Paul Bocuse. The contest, held every two years in Bocuse’s hometown of Lyon, France, gathers some of the world’s finest chefs, all competing for bragging rights.
Over July 2nd and 3rd Stavanger, Norway played host to the first edition of the event for 2008, the Bocuse d‘Or Europe. The event was open to all European Nations. At stake was 12,000 euros ($18,826 USD), and spots for the top finishers in the international finals taking place in January next year. Twenty countries sent their best and brightest to compete, with teams consisting of a Chef (aged 23 or older and a bearing the nationality of the country they represent), a commis, (who contest rules stipulate must be 22 or younger), and a coach (who is not allowed to enter the kitchen during the competition). Each team was chosen from a National Selection event, held in their home country earlier in the year.
Ten teams cook in the Iron Chef style kitchen each of the two days and are judged by a Jury of esteemed European gastronomes. For this competition, two Norwegian staples were showcased, Salmon and Lamb. Each team was given roughly 10 lbs. of fish and 1 leg of lamb, 1 lamb saddle, 6 kidneys and 6 sweetbreads. Chefs were free to use any garnish they like and were required to submit 12 portions of their dishes. Ten plates are tasted by the voting members of the jury, one by the Honorary President, American Chef Thomas Keller, and one plate reserved for photographs. Samples of the ingredients were supplied to the chefs in the months leading up to the contest to allow them to practice.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the home team came out victorious. Norwegian chef Geir Skeie compiled the most points and won the Gold Medal, followed by Jesper Kure of Denmark and Jonas Lundgren of Sweden. The French did manage to save some face with Philippe Mille taking honors for both best fish and meat dish. The top 12 finishers were rewarded with an automatic berth to the 2009 finals.
How do you feel about competitions such as the Bocuse d‘Or? Is there really such a thing as the perfect dish, and if so, who is unbiased enough to be the judge?