The Bocuse d’Or Europe is where it is decided who will get into the grand finale of Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, part of the Sirha trade show in 2017. The event is held in Budapest this year, where 20 enthusiastic chefs are determined to prove themselves in the competition, reports

The 20 well-prepared competitors have all succeeded in the first round, the national qualifiers. They represent their home countries, cultures, culinary traditions while working in open contest kitchens in front of an audience. Not surprisingly, they already rehearsed every move in order to be precise and to be ready in time, as they will have 5 hours and 35 minutes to impress the jury.

The competition is held in 2 days, therefore, the group of the 20 chefs is halved: on the 10th of May the first ten will have to show their talents. This group includes competitors from Iceland, Austria, Norway, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Estonia, Spain, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The 11th May will be the day of the second group, in which chefs from The Netherlands, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Croatia, France, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark and Sweden will be in charge of the kitchens. On the second day also the results are announced. 11 of the competitors will be given the opportunity to take part in the 2017 grand final and win the greatest title, the Bocuse d’Or.

Turizmusonline mentions that one of the sayings of Paul Bocuse highlights the importance of good ingredients. Thus, a major part of the Bocuse d’Or competition is the use of excellent ingredients, through which, the hosting countries are also honoured. This year, as it is Hungary, chefs have to apply Hungarian components.

The competitors, at first, will have to prepare a dish of Danube sterlet sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus) and its caviar with the help of their commis, and serve it on plate, as if in a real life restaurant. The jury will pay special attention to the use of the ingredients while tasting, as 50% of them have to be plant-based. Moreover, to make the event more exciting, the chefs should include a component which is yet unknown, and will be revealed only the night before the competition.

The second and main course is the meat. Here, the chefs will have to prepare a dish using the saddle and thighs of a young red deer. 14 portions are to be made, of which 10 are served whole or pre-cut, then combined together on tray, whereas the remaining 4 are arranged on plates. Decoration is allowed, dishes will be judged based on the special features and the originality of the recipe, and the reasonable use of ingredients. Furthermore, at this stage of the competition, the chefs are especially encouraged to represent the cultural and gastronomical heritage of their countries, through the tastes, serving, cooking techniques and the spices.

Two different groups of juries will evaluate the chefs. The jury of kitchen supervise how the chefs work during the competition and may give 20 points – 10 for hygiene and methods, and 10 for the optimized use of ingredients. The jury of tasting consists of the participating chefs’ team leaders and is responsible for giving 80 points – 40 points for the final taste, 20 for serving, 10 for the optimized ingredient use. The last 10 points can be obtained based on the originality of the recipe in case of the meat dish, while for the fish these points are given due to the use of the secret ingredient.

Hungary will be represented at the Bocuse d’Or Europe by Tamás Széll and his team (captain Szabina Szulló, coach Frigyes Vamberg and commis Kevin Szabó), as they won the national selection on the 18th of February. This is the second time for Széll to be in the competition, for he was ranked 10th in 2013. In 2015, Gábor Molnár ended up as the 13th.

Turizmusonline talked to Zoltán Hamvas, president of the Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy, who told that, about 10 years ago, a process to reform the once famous Hungarian cuisine and catering began. Through these years approaches were renewed and tastes shaped to make the traditions fit the needs of today’s world. The change, according to Hamvas, required great organization so the bests of chefs, hosts of caterings, oenologists and pastry cooks came together to make progress and rediscover Hungarian cuisine. He also said that without this cooperation the country could not have made it to the finals of Bocuse d’Or.

The hosting of the competition is seen not only as an honour, but as a great opportunity that motivates people to show their development and encourage chefs of the next generation to shine and present their talents, popularizing the gastronomy of Hungary.

Copy editor: bm


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