Think cooking competitions mean middle-aged ladies trying to impress Paul Hollywood with their baps? Or seasoned pros judged by Prue, Oliver and Matthew over the rise of their soufflés? If so, you obviously haven’t come across the grandaddy of global cook-offs - the Bocuse D’Or. Started in 1987 by Lyonnais gastro-legend Paul Bocuse, this Culinary Olympiad brings together the very best from 60 countries in a canapé-and-nibbles battle to the death.
Last time out, Michelin starred Adam Bennett achieved Britain's best ever finish - 4th overall, including best meat dish – so hopes were high that he and the team could go one better and grab a podium spot this time.
Adam was confident going into the competition, having spent more than 300hrs in a purpose-built replica kitchen, but winning the Bocuse requires more than practice alone. Teams have coaches, masseuses and mentors - 3-michelin-starred Thomas Keller for the USA and ready-steady-cook’s Brian Turner for us*. This is proper competition.
This year’s event was like a cross between the superbowl, the FA cup final and the Eurovision song contest. A multi-national crowd of 4,000 noisy fans, drinking and singing football chants - at one stage the French were warned to pipe down. The British boys even had their own brass band to entertain the flag waving travelling support (think of the Barmy Army but with posher packed lunches).
Rjan Johannessen picked up the overall title, Norway's 5th win in the competition, with Team UK a creditable 10th.
Adam was philosophical, saying
"I think what we have done this year is better than what we did last time but I had a look around at what the other competitors have done and I think that everybody has raised their game."
*just to be clear, Brian Turner is not a masseuse but a very accomplished chef. Sorry Brian.
Thanks to Orama TV for the pictures.