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GASTRONOMY

Nordics outshine French at culinary world cup

Despite the so-called 'world cup for chefs' being held on home soil in Lyon, France failed to pick up the Bocuse d’Or this year as Nordic and American chefs took the podium places.

France’s proud history of haute-cusine took a knock this week at the annual Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, otherwise known as the World Cup for chefs.

Despite having won the competition the most times over the years, France was unable to even score a place on the podium this year.

After more than five hours of cooking, Norway’s Ørjan Johannessen and his team took the gold for Norway. The United States came second, while Sweden won the bronze medal

"Everything came good on the day of the competition," the 29-year-old Johannessen told news agency NTB. "There was very little to separate the top three countries."  

French candidate Nicolas Davouze finished in seventh place, which would normally be a respectable ranking, but for the fact he was expected to at least make the podium. 

At total of 24 chefs competed in the prestigious competition in which contestants are expected to "demonstrate creativity, spontaneity and the mastery of their art."

This year contestants were asked to prepare a guinea fowl dish alongside a fish and vegetable recipe using fario trout.

The competition takes place in front of a live audience of 2,500 people, including hundreds of food critics and writers, with a panel of experts selecting the winner.

The Bocuse D’Or, which takes place in the French city of Lyon, was started by the French chef Paul Bocuse, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine. 

Norwegian chefs have performed strongly in the competition, taking gold five times, a performance beaten only by the French.

French chef Regis Marcon, holder of three Michelin stars and a former winner, testified as to the importance of the competition on a chef’s career.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today, if I hadn’t have made the effort to enrol in the competition,” he said.

RESTAURANT

Restaurant of legendary chef loses third Michelin star

The restaurant of famed French chef Paul Bocuse, who died almost two years ago, has lost the coveted Michelin three-star rating it had held since 1965, the guide said on Friday.

Restaurant of legendary chef loses third Michelin star
L'Auberge de Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or was 'no longer at the level of three stars', the guide said. Photo:
The retraction of the coveted three-star ranking, coming just three years after Bocuse's death,  has prompted anger and dismay from many of his peers.
 
The Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near food-obsessed Lyon in southeast France, was the oldest three-starred restaurant in the world, having held the accolade without interruption since 1965.
   
The Michelin Guide told AFP on Friday that the establishment “remained excellent but no longer at the level of three stars” and will have only two in the 2020 edition of the famous red book — known as the “Bible” of French cuisine.
 
The Bocuse d'Or organisation, which holds the annual international cooking competition he created, greeted the announcement with “sadness” and expressed its “unwavering support” for the restaurant.
   
Bocuse's family and his kitchen team said they were “upset” by the decision, and celebrity chef Marc Veyrat, who recently sued the Michelin Guide over a lost third star, described the move as “pathetic”.
   
“Monsieur Paul”, as Bocuse was known, died aged 91 on January 20, 2018, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
   
Dubbed the “pope” of French cuisine, he was one of the country's most celebrated of all time, helping shake up the food world in the 1970s with the lighter fare of the Nouvelle Cuisine revolution, and helping to introduce the notion of a celebrity chef.
   
Michelin boss Gwendal Poullennec visited Bocuse's restaurant on Thursday to deliver the news, guide spokeswoman Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin told AFP.
   
Even before Bocuse's death, some critics had commented that the restaurant was no longer quite up to scratch.
   
But Michelin's decision, a year after stripping Veyrat of his third star just a year after awarding it, immediately stirred controversy.
 
'Irreparable'
 
While food critic Perico Legasse told BFM television the guide had committed an “irreparable” error in a quest for media attention, Veyrat said he had “lost faith” in a new generation of Michelin editors he accused of trying to make a name for themselves by taking down the giants of French cuisine.
   
“I am sad for the team that took up the torch at Collonges,” tweeted the three-starred chef Georges Blanc.
   
The restaurant has been modernising its look and its menu, pursuing a philosophy its management team describes as “tradition in motion”.   
 
“The chefs have reworked the dishes. They have been refining them for more than a year, evolving them while retaining their original DNA and taste,” the restaurant's manager Vincent Le Roux told a regional newspaper recently.
   
The restaurant is scheduled to reopen on January 24 after three weeks of renovations — three days before the official launch of the latest Michelin Guide.
   
Bocuse described himself as a devotee of traditional cuisine. “I love butter, cream, wine” he once said, “not peas cut into quarters”.
   
According to Michelin, restaurants are selected on four criteria: the quality of the products, the expertise of the chef, the originality of the dishes and consistency throughout the meal and across seasons.
   
But critics say the costs of ensuring such standards have made Michelin stars an untenable proposition as more diners baulk at spending massively on a meal.
   
A handful of French restaurateurs have in recent years relinquished their prized three-star status because of the stress of being judged by Michelin inspectors.
   
In 2018, the guide allowed, for the first time, a restaurant to withdraw from its listings after Sebastien Bras, the chef at Le Suquet, said he no longer wished to cook under that type of pressure.
   
The 2003 suicide of three-star chef Bernard Loiseau was linked, among other reasons, to speculation that his restaurant was about to lose its three stars.
 
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