LYON, France — The 14th Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France begins today with Canada’s Alex Chan of Calgary-based Moxie’s Grill & Bar challenging a field of 24 champions fighting for a spot on the podium. The two days of intense competition will see 12 chefs representing their countries, cooking before a live and enthusiastic audience with continuous TV coverage. The chefs in the final event are winners in 60 national and three continental selection rounds in Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Chan and his fellow contestants will fight it out for five-and-a-half hours in identical open kitchens strung across the massive Eurexpo, Lyon convention centre, displaying their genius and creativity to win the coveted gold, silver and brown trophies as well as a unique status in the highly competitive culinary hierarchy. The next 48 hours are built on the foundation of years of preparation, with local challenges, followed by months of focused practice and planning culminating in the frenzied Tuesday cook-off.
During the past two exhaustive years, Chan has had the support and guidance a Bocuse d’Or Advisory Council chaired by Robert A. Sulatycky, Bocuse d’Or Canada 1999 competitor (and chef/regional director of Culinary and Food & Beverage Operations at the Beverly Hills Hotel/Hotel Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles). Other council members include: David Adjey, David Adjey Cuisine, Toronto; Michael Allemeier, chef instructor, SAIT Polytechnic Institute, Calgary; and Ned Bell, chef/owner, Cabana Bar and Grille, Kelowna, B.C. During the next two days, Robert Sulatycky will act as a member of the Chef’s Jury — chaired by Paul Bocuse — which will make the winning selection.
Chan’s battle for Canada could change an unfortunate history, as the country has participated in all 14 Bocuse d’Or competitions, since 1987, and never had a candidate in any of the three winning positions. Canada has some good company in its record, with seven other countries, including the U.S., in the same position.
The principal ingredient in the 14th Bocuse d’Or is premium grass-fed Irish fillet steak, accompanied by chuck steak, cheek and tail, and supplied by Bord Bia – Irish Food Board. The meat is to be presented on a dish with three freely chosen accompaniments purchased at a local market. New this year, the candidates will also be required to cook Turbot Label Rouge and European Blue Lobster. Announced just two months before Tuesday’s start of the event, the fish theme will highlight an entirely redesigned gastronomy event that promises to be more dynamic than ever. Previously candidates could practice their recipes as early as six months before the competition.