My first Article about the Pastry World Cup


This is a repost of one of my magazine articles about the Pastry World Cup and Bocuse D’or which are both held every 2 years in Lyon, France.

This was back in 2009 and my first experience with either competition.   The Almond Board of California had sought me out to go to Lyon and write about the contest for several US magazines, I also managed to get the story into Yes Chef, a top draw glossy trade magazine.  Below Is both a photo of the 2 page article and the text below that.

Back home to get more detail about the Bocuse D’or competition. the magazine arrange for me to interview TV chef Brian Turner who happened to be both a judge at the Bocuse D’or and a mentor of the UK chef Simon Hulstone.


World Championship Cookery

For any chef interested in achieving recognition, the Pastry World Cup and the Bocuse D’or are the most prestigious culinary competitions in the world. So much effort, skill and in some cases a year of practice have helped make these the ultimate prizes to win.

Pastry World Cup
Started in 1989 by French Master Pastry Chef Gabriel Paillasson, the Pastry World Cup is held once every two years in Lyon, at the Sirha Food show. The competition pits 22 country teams against each other for medals and trophies. Each team consists of three chefs who produce a chocolate dessert, a frozen dessert and a plated dessert, along with three sculptures crafted from sugar, chocolate and ice.

Each country takes it in turn to bring their desserts out to great fanfare and huge media coverage.
A team needs to produce two of each dish so that one can be available for the press to take 100’s of photos and the second is sliced into portions and offered to the 22 judges.

Bad luck turned the fortunes of the Dutch and American teams in separate instances. Team USA’s 3 foot chocolate sculpture fell over when the team tried moving it in their overheated kitchen, just a mere 20 minutes before the end of the competition. A more dramatic calamity happened to the Netherlands sculpture when it collapsed from the display table and broke into a thousand pieces in front of the huge audience. Deafening silence fell upon the room as all eyes and TV cameras turned to the stunned Dutch team who could barely believe what had happened.

The French team were clearly the favourites, ably led by their 23year old captain Jerome de Olveira, they showed nerves of steel and tremendous skill. I asked them if they felt additional pressure because France has won this competition so many times. With modesty they explained their focus didn’t give them time to consider or worry about the history of the competition.

When the judging was complete the French were indeed crowned Pastry Champions of the World, and watching the media frenzy I truly understood for the first time the importance of this competition.

Bocuse D’or 2009
Paul Bocuse is simply a living legend; perhaps the only other culinary legend he can truly be compared to is Escoffier. Both coming into the kitchen at a time of stagnation in professional cookery, that was deep on traditional but had lost its way.
Like Escoffier, Bocuse has been a trailblazer, changing and reinvigorating French Cuisine throughout his career in so many ways. “Monsieur Paul” as he is often called in reverent tones in France won his first Michelin star in 1958 and many accolades since. His 3star restaurant on the outskirts of Lyon is truly the culinary epicentre of France.

Just like the Pastry World Cup that precedes it the Bocuse D’or is held biannually at the Sirha Food show and 2009 saw 24 countries represented in the final, which is held over a two-day period.

Simon Hulstone, winner of the Knorr National Chef of the Year and chef patron at the Michelin starred Elephant restaurant in Torquay represented the UK. This was Simon?s first attempt at the Bocuse D’or and his finished in a respectable 10th place, which gives you some idea of the quality and difficulty of the world’s ultimate cookery competition.

Simon was coached and mentored by Chef Brian Turner CBE who often gives his free time and expertise to help UK chefs prepare for this crème de la crème of competitions. Brian was also invited this year to be one of the 24 chef judges because he is fluent in French.

Brian Turner said, “Analysing the winning entrants and learning what the judges are looking for is as important as the cooking and presentation skills.”
When I asked him how we could improve the UK’s chances for the next Bocuse D’or in 2011 he said, “We need to get sponsorship or government funds to put our chefs on equal footing with other countries. Perennial winners such as Norway and France understand the huge benefit and culinary prestige to their tourism industry.”
I guess the big question is do we have the desire to place ourselves in a winning position?


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