As the UK candidate for the Bocuse d'Or 2023 World Finals, Ian Musgrave is already hard at work on his dishes
The Bocuse d'Or UK Academy team are gearing up for the 2023 World Finals in Lyon in January, held every two years.
Each month we'll hear from a different member of the team as they prepare to perform on the biggest stage in gastronomy.
In the second in our series of Bocuse d'Or diaries, we speak to candidate Ian Musgrave, premier sous chef at the Ritz London, about his journey in the competition so far.
I first went to Lyon to see Bocuse d'Or in 2017 and that's when I really became interested and started following it. Then in 2019 Tom Phillips, who is now the coach, competed and when I saw him do it I thought "I'd really like to do that". I was already interested in competitions, I'd done quite a few and had just won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year 2019. The Bocuse d'Or UK candidate selection was in 2019 and I knew Tom and a few others involved and they encouraged me to do it and I was selected. We then had to drop out of the 2021 competition due to Covid. Luckily I didn't have to go through a re-selection process, they were more than happy for me to continue to the next round. So I've been waiting four years to compete in Lyon!
You've practiced it and broken it down into minutes and seconds to make sure that you've got every fine detail down to a T
We went through the European leg of the competition in Budapest and it was pretty intense. You get the brief and it's action stations, you need to make some pretty big decisions early on to get moving, there's a lot of planning that goes into it with the food, organising the kitchen and you're chipping away at little bits to build a better dish. Ours was the best dish in Europe and we learned so much from the competition and have been able to put a few things into position since to help when competing in Lyon.
What I really liked about Budapest was having my platter presented in front of world class chefs. When you get to the cutting table to present your dish there's a real adrenaline rush. You're in front of a crowd, there are a lot of chefs watching you and you are presenting a dish that you've worked so hard on for months, and years in a way.
It's a five-and-a-half hour competition and every minute counts – you've practiced it and broken it down into minutes and seconds to make sure that you've got every fine detail down to a T and we practice in a replica kitchen. You want things to be as smooth as possible on the day and those little details count towards it. We're building our replica kitchen this week at Westminster Kingsway College.
For the finals in Lyon the theme is Scottish monkfish, which works quite well for us, and we've also got to use mussels and scallops. Currently I'm working on my dish for that, but I'm lucky to have such a fantastic team who all have valuable input and I'm grateful to have them on board.
I did a tasting this week with Clare Smyth, Simon Rogan, John Williams and Tom Phillips. Each time we have a tasting or run through someone will have an idea or a different way of looking at things. As a team we get our inspiration from so many places. I get my inspiration from the ingredients, I'm representing the UK and everything it has to offer – its fantastic produce.
The theme on the plate will be released on 17 November so by then I really need to have a clear direction of what I'm doing so I can focus on the plated dish. I'm really looking forward to getting into the kitchen in Lyon, getting "in the box" as they call it, and really pushing when the clock starts and doing the best I can.
To find out more visit bocusedor.co.uk or follow up on @bocusedoruk
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