Culture

Hungarian Chef Tamás Széll and his Team Get Ready to Head to Bocuse d’Or World Championship

Following their victory in the European section of the Bocuse d’Or international cooking competition last May, Hungarian chef Tamás Széll and his team are heading to Lyon next week to take part in the Bocuse d’Or finale: the world championships of the competition.

While the finale itself will be held from January 24th to the 25th, Széll and his fellow Hungarians will be arriving a few days early to prepare and get adjusted to things in the French city. Széll spoke to reporters at a press conference Wednesday, the last for his team before their departure to the Bocuse d’Or finale.

According to Hungarian news site index.hu, Széll said that, while practices and preparations for the tournament have been going quite well, there have been some hiccups. For example, at practically the last-minute Bocuse d’Or officials informed the Hungarian chef that he would not be allowed to bring his coal-fired grill to Lyon; this naturally caused problems considering the fact that Széll had built his entire menu plan around the use of the grill.

While Széll admitted it was not easy to change the manner of cooking for his planned dishes, he says that he and his team have everything figured out, and that they are as ready as they will ever be. The chef added that he has been in constant contact with three-Michelin star awarded Danish chef Rasmus Kofoed, who has been helping Széll prepare for the event.

Index added that Széll did not seem too stressed at the press conference, and was in fact cracking jokes about reporters, telling them that, while their work was important, they shouldn’t get too close to him. In this, the chef was referring to the events of last summer’s European competition held here in Budapest, where Széll was swarmed with reporters throughout the contest.

Hungarian chef Tamás Széll at a press conference held on January 11th (Photo- Péter Csákvári).
Hungarian chef Tamás Széll at a press conference held on January 11th (Photo- Péter Csákvári).

Founded in 1987 by Paul Bocuse, the Bocuse d’Or finale world championship is held every other year, with regional competitions held in years between. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the contest’s founding.

According to the competition’s website, contestants in this year’s Bocuse d’Or finale will have to contend with the creation of two dishes; the first must include “‘Bresse chicken and shellfish’ based on an interpretation of the famous Lyon recipe for ‘Chicken and crayfish,” while the second dish must be “100 % vegetal, composed exclusively of fruits, vegetables, cereals, seeds or legumes.”

Within these parameters, contestants naturally add their own additional ingredients and styles, often incorporating those from the cuisine of their home countries. When asked about what he would add, Széll would only say that there would be an emphasis on pickled vegetables, and added that they would be bringing special, engraved copper plates to serve their dishes on. The main motif will be the Hungarian oak forest.

While Széll competes in the event, Hungarian chefs Lajos Biró, Szabia Szulló, and László Jahni will all be in attendance as well, introducing competition visitors to the wonders of Hungarian cuisine.

In addition, this year marks the first time that the MC of the Bocuse d’Or Finale will not be a Frenchman; rather, the position will be filled by Hungarian gastro-blogger András Jókúti.

Széll will be competing on the first day of the competition, and many people think that he might in fact end up winning the competition, especially considering the fact that, until now, the winner of the European competition (who last year was Széll) has always gone on to win the world finale as well. That being said, the Hungarian chef faces serious competition, perhaps most prominently from American chef Matthew Peters of well-known New York restaurant Per Se.

Via Bocuse d’Or official website and index.hu

Images via MTI and Péter Csákvári- Men&Tál Gastro Blog

Check out Péter’s photos and restaurant reviews here.