Celebrity chef Brian Turner was the British judge at the 2009 Bocuse d'Or competition, which took place in Lyon last week. He spoke to Kerstin Kühn about his experience of the event
Caterer What was it like to judge the Bocuse d'Or?
Brian Turner The French have a saying that translates as: "The more you change something, the more it stays the same." This really applies to the Bocuse d'Or - it's an institution and so well rehearsed. There are always a few organisational problems but it's such a wonderful competition and such a privilege to be there.
Caterer Which country impressed you most?
BT Of course the winners - Norway - Sweden, France and Denmark, were fantastic, but I was really impressed with Japan. They had some very interesting combinations which I didn't expect from them. There were one or two dishes in the competition that didn't work, where the teams just tried too hard and experimented in the hope that they would gain more points.
Caterer How did Team GB entrant Simon Hulstone perform?
BT Simon was fantastic and should be extremely proud of himself. For someone who has his own restaurant and a family he performed incredibly well and it really showed how much hard work he had put in and what big sacrifices he had made. In my opinion he should have come higher than 10th place and his Scottish beef dish was truly extraordinary. All the judges thought it represented Great Britain extremely well and they all complimented the taste and flavours.
Caterer Bocuse d'Or extended the list of competing countries this year. How did the newcomers perform?
BT They performed extremely well and it was obvious that they had spent a lot of time and money on the preparation. The Czech Republic, Estonia and Australia, in particular, recognised the value of the Bocuse d'Or to their countries. They all spent a lot of money on employing trainers who were previous competitors or winners and truly understood what the competition was all about.
Caterer What needs to be done for Team GB to finish in a higher place?
BT Great Britain needs to realise the importance of the Bocuse d'Or in the same way these other countries have done. Our country has put itself on the culinary map over the past 10 years but we still have a long way to go. There needs to be more funding to allow the competitor more time to develop. Hopefully Simon has caught the bug and will represent Great Britain at the next Bocuse d'Or, which will give him two years to get ready. More funding would also allow for proper selection competitions. It's not easy to choose the right competitor it needs to be someone not just with the culinary skills but also the right physical, mental and practical abilities.