“I promised Monsieur Paul (Bocuse) 10 years ago that we’d make it to the top of the podium. We made it in nine ” – Thomas Keller, president of Team U.S.A.
A team of American chefs took home the coveted gold medal in the 2017 Bocuse d’Or culinary competition — the equivalent of the Olympics for professional chefs — for the first time in the contest’s 30-year history.
Established in 1987, the Bocuse d’Or culinary competition brings together 24 teams representing 24 countries every other youear to take part in the greatest contest in modern cuisine.
The prestigious world cooking championship was founded by French gastronomy legend Chef Paul Bocuse. Larger that life, Chef Bocuse is considered one of the fathers of modern French cuisine and was amongst the founders of the nouvelle cuisine movement, who advocated cooking with a lighter, deft hand focusing on only fresh, high-quality ingredients.
Bocuse still oversees his three-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges as well as a quartet of Lyonnaise restaurants named after the cardinal points. Le Nord, l’Est, Le Sud and l’Ouest specialize in French regional cuisine representing the cardinal points of France.
The World Cup Culinary Challenge: Create two spectacular dishes from scratch in front of a live audience in 5.35 hours
Under intense pressure, the 24 teams from all the world prepare their absolute best version “Bresse chicken with shellfish” and “Vegetal (Vegan) Dish” before advancing to the final round.
Going for the gold: USA takes the day:
The American win was a spectacular victory in the long-running French culinary competition – prepared in a packed, raucous auditorium with music, cheering crowds and international press.
Led by Head Chef Mathew Peters, and with assistance from Commis Harrison Turone, both from Thomas Keller’s superlative New York restaurant Per Se, Team U.S.A. garnered 20,000 euros in prize money and a well-deserved first place finish. This year’s win marks a first for Team USA, bettering their second place performance in the prior competition in 2015.
In the grande finale Peters and his twelve person staff orchestrated 14 dishes ranging from a vegan dish with cremini mushroom wrapped in asparagus to lobster with meyer lemon mousse.
Peters, who was, before taking time off to prepare for the competition, the executive sous chef at Per Se, established his career at another Thomas Keller culinary icon – The French Laundry in the quintessential wine capital of Napa Valley, California.
Silver Standout: Norway
Team Norway’s captain Chef Christopher Davidsen is Executive Chef of three Trondheim restaurants including Søstrene Karlsen, Kalas & Canasta, and Almas. Davidsen, Norway’s 2015 “Chef of the year” drew on his Norwegian culinary heritage in the seafood industry, which he shares in the video below. The Scandinavian team has placed an impressive 5 times on the competition podium.
Iceland brings home another Bronze:
Goaded on perhaps by the inspirational run through the Euros by the Icelandic Men’s Soccer team, the diminutive island with outsized personalities delivered big on the competitive stage. Led by Chef Viktor Andrésson, a Reykjavik chef at restaurant Grillio du Radisson Blu Saga, Team Iceland won 10,000 euros in prize money. The country comes back on the podium after a 3rd place finish in 2001. While Chef Andresson didn’t quite manage to pack the rafters with 8% of the Icelandic population as did his soccer counterparts, he was nonetheless cheered on by a vocal contingent of supporters sporting Viking helmets and belting out Icelandic folk songs.
All three winners will now have be honored with a membership in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Winners Association.
For more information on the premier culinary event of the food universe, consider watching the documentary film, El Pollo, el Pez, y el Cangrejo Real, a lively look at one Spanish Chef’s journey through the competition. Required reading for any foodie: Knives at Dawn, a recounting of the U.S. effort leading up to the 2009 Bocuse d’Or.
- Prize for the Best Commis: Benjamin Vakanas, France
- Special Vegetal plate prize: France
- Special Plate Prize: Hungary
- Prize for the best Promotion Campaign: Australia
- Prize for the best Poster : Hungary
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