The culinary eyes of the world will be watching at the end of this month as chefs compete in the most prestigious competition in the industry, the Bocuse d’Or. Held once every two years in Lyon, France, this fierce contest brings the greatest chefs in the world together in an event often referred to as the “Olympics of cooking”.
Chef Alex Chen is Team Canada’s 2013 contender. Together with coach Dan Olson and 19 year old commis (apprentice) Jack Beers, the three will attempt to bring home the coveted Bocuse d’Or to Canada at the end of the two-day competition.
At Gastown’s Railtown Café, the team has been busy all year preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Over 56 countries apply to compete; that number is whittled down to 24. Out of the chosen 24 participating countries, each team will be expected to prepare two dishes, one with meat, the other with fish. Each day, 12 countries will compete (Chef Alex and Team Canada will be put to the test on January 29).
This year, the fishes are Turbot and European blue lobster, while the chosen meat is Irish beef filet. Alex will need to prepare a platter presentation for the beef as well as 14 plated dishes for the fish.
With five and a half hours to prepare the dishes, the final component to be incorporated into each dish will be the garnish, an ingredient kept secret until the day of the competition.
Chef Chen took leave of his prime position as Executive Chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood to pursue his life-long dream of representing Canada at the Bocuse d’Or.
While growing up in Vancouver, Chef Alex Chen fell in love with cooking. His career has spanned North America, including some choice positions at the Four Seasons Toronto, Four Seasons Chicago, and most recently at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He is honoured to represent Canada.
I too was honoured to be able to try both dishes that he will be preparing in Lyon. Due to the competitive force of the Bocuse, the exact dishes could not be replicated on Sunday, however these are very close with regard to presentation and ingredients. Chef Chen aims to incorporate Inniskillin ice wine into one or both of the dishes, for a true Canadian accent.
Moxie’s Grill and Bar has renewed its title sponsorship for the sixth consecutive year to make this journey possible. According to Laurids Skaarup, Moxie’s President, “The title sponsorship of Bocuse d’Or Canada means a great deal to us. Since 2006, when Bocuse d’Or first approached us to partner with them, we have created a powerful partnership that is focused on core values like our passion for food, for hospitality and for teamwork.”
The Bocuse d’Or was founded in 1987 by legendary chef Paul Bocuse, who is widely accepted as the father of modern cuisine.
Both dishes were superb and bursting with flavour. I especially loved the fish dish for the delicate texture of the turbot coupled with the butter poached blue lobster from France. Every ingredient on the plate works and the saffron potatoes are excellent when dipped into the cauliflower purée.
These two dishes were delightfully enhanced with a glass of Christophe Pacalet 2010 Beaujolais, a light bodied, versatile wine that worked with the tender meat and fish.
I also discovered Railtown Café Catering’s gorgeous macarons, particularly the maple variety. These were so fresh and soft with a creamy maple flavour.
Here’s wishing Alex Chen the best possible outcome as he and his team depart for France on Wednesday!