Ørjan Johannessen of Norway has won the 2015 Bocuse d’Or, the world-famous culinary contest held in Lyon, with the UK’s Adam Bennett placing 10th.
It is the fifth time that Norway has won the Bocuse d’Or, which sees 24 countries from around the world compete for the title. Johannessen takes home €20,000 (£15,000) in prize money as well as the Bocuse d’Or trophy. Philip Tessier of the USA and Tommy Myllymaki of Sweden took second and third place respectively.
Special prizes were also awarded to Hideki Takayama of Japan for the best fish course, to Matti Jämsen of Finland for the best meat dish, to Argentina for best promotional work and to Hungary for best poster.
Bennett, who represented the UK for the second time in the biennial competition, worked together with Team UK commis chef Josh Allen, a 22-year-old culinary arts management student, under the guidance of coach and representative of the UK at the 1996 Bocuse d’Or selection, Idris Caldora. They cooked on the first day of the contest, on Tuesday 27 January. A group of more than 100 British supporters, including a brass band, were in the crowd at Lyon to cheer the chef on, some wearing Adam Bennett masks.
The competition marks the culmination of 300 hours’ preparation and 11 run-throughs for Team UK at a special Bocuse d’Or kitchen at University College Birmingham. The team worked solidly for five-and-a-half hours preparing, cooking and serving two dishes – one using French fario trout, and another using free range guinea fowl as the main ingredients – to the international judging panel.
Bennett’s menu fish dish (pictured above) included:
Fillet of French fario trout with a lobster mousseline centre and nori seaweed
Braised celery stem filled with a smoked trout brandade, topped with smoked trout, horseradish and croutons
Cylinder of potato cooked in saffron stock, creamed leeks, caviar and trout eggs on top.
‘Champagne’ velouté (made with Nyetimber English sparkling wine) and a shellfish sauce.
Watercress and pea shoots
Meanwhile the meat dish (pictured above on its platter, made by Heritage silverware) was made up of:
Slow cooked leg of guinea fowl, Wiltshire ham, tongue and veal sweetbread
Parfait of guinea fowl livers, beetroot glaze
Crisp potato dentelle, St Georges’ mushroom cream
Evesham “red meat” turnips, quinoa and tarragon
Staffordshire cabbage cone with black lentils
Roasting juices with English apple verjuice and rosemary
Speaking to The Caterer about competing this year, Bennett said: “We really pushed the amount of work we could fit into the time. I thought that seeing as this is the last time I am doing it, let’s push it and it will either collapse around us or we will do well. We managed to pull everything off so it was great. It was far more intense this time than last time. The meat platter in particular had an awful lot more work in it.
“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.”
He also praised the contribution of Allen (pictured above left, Bennett in the centre) and Caldora (pictured above right), as well as from 19-year-old Matt Nicholls who was responsible for kitchen set-up.
There were some minor changes to the format of the Bocuse d’Or this year, continuing a trend that two years ago saw the organisers alter some of the regulations for the world final to avoid overtraining.
Once again, the 24 finalists had to serve their fish course on to 14 individual plates. However in a departure for this year’s competition, they were obliged to use one secret vegetable for the garnish, chosen from a possible four, which was only revealed the evening before the competition. In the event, it turned out to be celery. The chefs also had to shop for the fruit and vegetables used in their other garnishes at a competition market, also on the eve of the first day.
The judging panel included high-profile chefs such as Thomas Keller, representing the USA, Adolfo Munoz of Spain, and Royal Academy of Culinary Arts president Brian Turner for the UK. President of Honour at this year’s competition was Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, USA.
The Bocuse d’Or is considered to be the world championship in cooking. It was founded in 1987 by legendary French chef Paul Bocuse and Albert Romain, organiser of the trade exhibition Sirha, where the competition is held.
Bennett’s performance this year follows his fourth place in 2013 when he won the prize for best meat platter and commis chef Kristian Curtis won the prize for best commis chef – equalling the best-ever overall result for a UK team competing at the most high-profile international culinary contest (Clive Fretwell also scored fourth places and individual gold medals in 1991 and 1993).
BOCUSE D’OR 2015 FULL RANKINGS:
- Norway – Ørjan Johannessen: 1662
- USA – Philip Tessier: 1653
- Sweden – Tommy Myllymaki: 1610
- Finland – Matti Jämsen: 1599
- Japan – Hideki Takayama: 1553
- Denmark – Kenneth Hansen: 1509
- France – Nicolas Davouze: 1484
- Iceland – Sigurdur Helgason: 1435
- Netherlands – Jan Smink: 1423
- UK – Adam Bennett: 1401
- Germany – Christian Krüger: 1383
- Australia – Shannon Kellam: 1344
- Hungary – Gàbor Molnar: 1338
- Estonia – Dmitri Haljukov: 1324
- Argentina – Emiliano Javier Schobert: 1315
- Switzerland – Christoph Hunziker: 1314
- Singapore – Eng Tong Yew: 1301
- South Korea – Dong Ki Kim: 1300
- Morocco – Issam Jaafari: 1275
- Malaysia – Kenneth Loke: 1274
- Canada – Laurent Godbout: 1248
- Chile – Mauricio Eduardo Nunez Diaz: 1209
- Spain – Alberto Moreno: 1166
- Guatemala – Victor Hugo Velasquez Hernandez: 1071
Team UK photo credit: Jodi Hinds