The culinary competition that is, to me, the best and most important in the culinary world or at least for me is The Bocuse d’Or:
In 2013, I published a short article that tells a little bit about the competition (because in that specific year I followed it very closely), and I think that when people ask me what I think about cooking competitions, my answer is:
For competitions of any kind there is tremendous added value; a cook who prepares for a competition generally prepares himself via studying, training, consultation with other professionals, and on the day of the competition (and this is true of any competition) there are elements like pressure, fear of mistakes, dealing with an unfamiliar arena, and more…an experience that provides a wealth of professional experience.
It is difficult for me to follow everything that happens in the world of competitive cooking, but there is one competition that I think someone who wants to see an unparalleled professional world—full of passion, ego, pressure, rivalry, pride, attention to the smallest details, huge budgets, and years of training—I recommend such a person take interest in and get to know the highest-regarded competition in the world, the Bocuse d’Or, or the Golden Bocuse (named after the famous chef, Paul Bocuse).
Here are a few details that I hope cause you to read more; there is a lot of material about this competition but I will summarize it briefly:
The competition was established in 1983 by the business group of the well-known French chef Paul Bocuse.
The competition is held every two years at the famous “Sirha” culinary fair, which is considered one of the most important culinary fairs in the world—it is in Lyon, France (in parallel with this competition there is also the World Confectionary Cup competition and the Bread-Baking Competition—both of which are considered the highest competitions in the world).
The competition is held over two days.
Teams of 2-3 people take part in the competition and represent a country—they are those who already won qualifying competitions in their home countries; each team has a mentor who does not take part in the competition but who also serves as a judge in the tournament (of course he doesn’t score his own country).
It is important to note that in order to reach the tournament, each country must have an organization/association under which anything related to chefs is organized in the country.
In 1997, something happened that turned the competition into something that the competitive cooking world had never known—fans from Mexico arrived and behaved like in a football (soccer) match. Since then the atmosphere in the tournament area has resembled the Olympics—fans come from all over the world.
Teams come with huge budgets—rumors hold that the US delegation in 2012 invested $1 million for training. The French chef who won in 2007 worked 6 hours a day with 3 mentors who each had the MOF (French artisanal degree)
Rasmus Kofoed—from Denmark, in 2005 he came in 3rd place, in 2007 he was in second place, and in 2011 he won first place, gold—he had invested all of his money and 7 years of training, including sponsorship of the Danish national airline.
One last note:
I heard once a newspaper reporter summarize by saying that whoever wins this competition is the best chef in the world—my answer to him is that the winner is not the best chef in the world, because there is no such thing, but there is no doubt that the winner is the person with the best skills if he is to win the hardest competition in the world.
Thanks for reading,
Here are a few great links:
The posters for the teams that competed in 2013, here you can also vote on the best poster.