Chefs

Bocuse d'Or Announces the Tributes to Paul Bocuse at this Year's Competitions

In January 2017, the American team at the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France, made history when head chef Matt Peters and commis Harrison Turone took the coveted gold for the first time in history. Plate was there for the grueling five-hour competition—a culmination of more than two years of intense training and rule-restricted recipe development. This year, Team USA head chef Matthew Kirkley and commis Mimi Chen will endure what’s been called the Olympics of the culinary world to try and bring home another gold statue. As a follow-up to our award-winning long-form feature on the Bocuse d'Or, we are proud to host this blog series, "Behind Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or,” which will explore before-and-after insights pre- and post-competition. We’ll capture the personal, behind-the-scenes perspectives of past and present chefs, captains, coaches, program directors, and others as the team prepares to head back to Lyon in January.

Marie-Odile Fondeur is the Managing Director of Sirha, the food trade show in Lyon where the Bocuse d’Or is held.

My professional history has been tightly linked with Sirha, Bocuse d’Or and Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie since 1985—some years ago, although it feels like yesterday! 

I see them as good friends or close relatives, as they have brought me so many things. They have allowed me to meet wonderful people, exceptional chefs, and travel all over the world. 

Thanks to them, I’ve learned so many things. I’ve always been fond of gastronomy and I love cooking, but talking with chefs or food manufacturers, and seeing what each can bring to a chef or restauranteur is really magical and rewarding.

This year is the first Sirha and Bocuse d’Or since Paul Bocuse passed away, but we know that he’ll be everywhere this year. He’ll be represented at the competition, throughout the city of Lyon, and in everyone’s hearts and minds. 

First off, the Bocuse d’Or will pay tribute to him with the platter theme, which this year is: rack of suckling veal five prime chops with imposed roasted cooking method. For this platter, the candidates will not be able to use too much technology in their cooking. This was something Paul Bocuse would have loved, not only because he loved food with bones and perfumes, but because it means bringing back cooking fundamentals.We’ll ask the candidates to roast the dish in one piece—not sous vide—and with the prime chops visible. We call this a “fundamental” for the candidate, and are eager to see how they use their talent and creativity when it comes to the roasting.

During the award ceremony, a video homage will be shown, and photo exhibitions will be held at Sirha and in Lyon’s city center. There will be public events in restaurants, and the creation of a “Mister Paul Soup.” More than 5,000 liters of soup will be made by the team of the Abbaye de Collonges (the “home” of Paul Bocuse) and distributed to restaurants throughout Lyon.

On January 29th, chefs will gather back at the Abbaye de Collonges for a great dinner that will pay tribute Paul Bocuse. Combining all 350 chefs invited, there will be 250 Michelin stars in one restaurant.

Finally, candidates competing in Sirha’s French Championship of Gourmand Arts are being asked to design Paul Bocuse’s face inside their pastry, chocolate, and ice cream dessert entries.

Paul Bocuse would’ve been proud of the way the Bocuse d’Or has evolved because the values he injected in the contest are still there and are stronger than ever. Excellence, passion, and respect are still the major ingredients in the Bocuse d’Or. I already know I will certainly be moved to tears on January 29th when the competition opens (and I won’t be the only one), but I’m sure that Monsieur Paul will be there with us, watching over the contestants with his caring mind.

Marie-Odile Fondeur has been the Managing Director of Sirha since 1985.