LYON, France — Canadians are walking tall in Lyon, France today, following a spectacular personal performance by Canadian chef Alex Chen and his assistant cook Jack Beers at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or competition. The winners will be announced in France after 7:30 p.m. today.
In a field of 12 national chef champions cooking for five-and-a-half hours — while facing strong contenders and previous winners such as Belgium (5 podiums), Iceland (1 podium), Sweden (5 podiums) and Singapore (1 podium) — Chen’s challenge was cheered on by more than 50 red-and-black-Canada-sweater-clad fans whose flags, banners and home-made signs marked their presence in the 800-seat auditorium. Even in the massive “presse” paddock where every plate and platter was shown to the media as judging proceeded, the Canadian presentation drew positive, even surprised, raves. That evening, Chen’s work was the buzz of the event.
The Canadian contingent hails from across the country, dominated by some 30 people from B.C. and 13 people from Quebec; it also included Donald Gyurkovits, the Canadian Culinary Federation president, and Bruno Marti, past president — both from B.C.
It’s never over until it’s over, so Chen’s 2013 performance does not guarantee a podium position as 12 more competitors are hard at work in identical 193-square-feet kitchens with identical ingredient criteria.
The 14th biannual challenge is dominated by the personality and presence of Paul Bocuse who serves as president and founder and chairs the international jury along with Enrico Crippa, honorary president, and Rasmus Kofoed, president. Robert Sulatycky, Bocuse d’Or Canada 1999 competitor, represents Canada on the jury.