Team UK – The only nation to bring home two trophies
UK candidate Adam Bennett and commis chef Kristian Curtis from Simpsons in Edgbaston, yesterday reached the highest place ever for Team UK in the world’s most prestigious chef competition, the Bocuse d’Or.
The team put in a fantastic performance and reached fourth place, just six points away from a place on the coveted podium.
France won gold, Denmark silver and Japan won bronze – the first time that Japan has reached the podium.
Coventry-born chef, Bennett, head chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant, led the team to win the special award for the best meat platter, while Kristian Curtis, was awarded the prize for best commis.
It is the seventh time France has won the Bocuse d’Or, which sees 24 countries from around the world compete for the title in a five and a half hour cook off.
A delighted Bennett said soon after the result: “This result has moved us to a level where we belong. It proves that with the right facilities and resource we can deliver.”
He added, “I’d like to pass on my thanks to the sponsors, supporters and to Andreas and the team at Simpsons who’ve been amazing over the last twelve months. Having unlimited access to the Bocuse d’Or kitchen at University College Birmingham has been huge asset and I hope that the next candidate is able to make good use of it!”
It is the first time that Team UK has won the commis prize and chef Kristian Curtis, 22, from Stratford, couldn’t hide his surprise on winning the award, “I totally didn’t expect that! The last few winners have been female so hearing my name called out came as a complete shock – it’s absolutely brilliant!”
Brian Turner CBE, UK Bocuse d’Or judge and President of the Academy of Culinary Arts, said, “We’re the only team with two prizes and we were just six points off the podium, a fantastic result – Adam and Kristian did us proud.”
More than 100 supporters were in the stadium to support Team UK – many wearing Team UK aprons and waving Union Flags provided by Bocuse d’Or sponsor Nestlé Professional. In a first for the competition, cheers were accompanied by The England Band who entered the competition hall playing Rule Britannia and led spectators in a series of well known anthems throughout the day.
Adam’s fish plate consisted of tronçon of Label Rouge turbot with Blue Lobster and seaweed, jellied eels with Scottish smoked salmon, caviar and cucumber ketchup, potatoes, creamed leaks rolled in espinette butter and salad of pickled vegetables with mustard seeds, apple and celery puree.
His award winning meat platter: roast fillet of Irish beef from sponsors Bord Bia, cooked over English Oak, mushroom and bone marrow farce, Hampshire truffles, braised oxtail & cheek with pickled walnuts & root vegetables, onion puree, “boiled beef & carrots” – Scottish carrots filled with salt beef and mustard, savoy cabbage & Wiltshire bacon with Hampshire truffle, potato cake with pickled mushrooms and red wine jus.
Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services at Visit Birmingham, said:
“Adam is a true ambassador for Birmingham’s celebrated food scene – competing at the world final of Bocuse d’Or has been a fantastic achievement and will help to raise the city’s profile further on the international culinary stage.
“With a growing reputation as a food lover’s haven, increasing numbers of food tourists are making their way to Birmingham every year to experience the city’s unique culinary offering – over half of the 33.5 million visitors that come to Birmingham annually visit for our acclaimed food and drink.”
The top seven national candidates:
The Bocuse d’Or
The Bocuse d’Or is the most sought after prize for chefs around the globe. Founded by culinary legend, Paul Bocuse, the contest has taken place in Lyon every two years since 1987.
The Bocuse d’Or takes place at SIRHA – a hotel catering and food trade exhibition. 24 countries compete, 12 on day one and 12 on day two. With the help of a commis each chef must produce a fish dish and a meat dish, each with three garnishes, presented on silver flats to the jury of judges. The jury is made up of a representative from each competing country with Brian Turner, CBE, the UK juror. All this is performed in front of an audience of thousands of noisy and enthusiastic supporters and hundreds of journalists.
The contest provides a professional springboard for some of the most talented chefs in international gastronomy and is a showcase for the diversity of culinary traditions worldwide.