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Chef Ádám Pohner Wins Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Final after Exhausting Battle

By Abraham Vass // 2018.02.09.

Ádám Pohner and his commis chef Richárd Csillag will represent Hungary in the European final of Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious cooking competition. The Hungarian chef prevailed following an intense competition that included six top chefs and their teams, and that was judged by some of the world’s top chefs. 

Following the selection in December, which was a private event, the final competition was held during  SIRHA Budapest, a premium 3-day international HoReCa (Hotel Restaurant Catering) and retail show which attracted many spectators and gastronomy enthusiasts. At stake was Torino and the European Final, which Tamás Széll, currently the most famous Hungarian chef won, 2 years ago. This unexpected success helped light a new fire under Hungarian gastronomy. After his victory at the European level, Széll ultimately took home a fourth place finish at the world final in Lyon.

István Veres of Babel Restaurant clinched a bronze medal. Photo: Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy.

Taking a look at the enthusiastic crowd gathered for the competition yesterday, one can clearly see the heightened interest that Hungarian gastronomy has accrued over the past several years. While waiting for the contest to take place, spectators could wander through SIRHA’s stalls, tasting and trying out a number of products.

The event’s commentators were famous Hungarian gastro-blogger András Jókuti and Italian-Hungarian restaurant owner Gianni Annoni, who together provided the crowd with interesting anecdotes and background information. The 24-person jury included many important chefs from throughout Europe, and was presided over by Enrico Crippa, chef of the 3-Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Piazza Duomo.

Ingredients were selected to correspond to the principles of the Italian final, while there were two surprise elements announced one day before the event as well. Teams had 5 hours and 35 minutes to prepare a vegetarian and a meat dish. All the six teams came from top-end Hungarian restaurants. They all were obviously very motivated and concentrated after an exhausting preparation.

The podium. Photo: Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy.

Ádám Pohner is the sous-chef (the second in command) at Kistücsök (‘little cricket’) restaurant located in Balatonszemes, on the south shore of lake Balaton. Kistücsök, owned by Balázs Csapody, is one of the pioneers of fine-dining outside the boundaries of Budapest and is renowned for its special emphasis on local ingredients, such as fish from the lake. Mr. Pohner is just 24 years old, meaning that there seems to be an extremely bright future ahead of him. Despite, his youth, however, he is experienced as well, as he has already worked in many great restaurants such as Olimpia or Alabárdos and has participated as a commis chef in a number of Bocuse d’Or rounds in the past several years.

In any case, after 2016’s success, Ádám Pohner may go far in Italy, where the president of the competition’s jury will be none other than Tamás Széll. The Bocuse d’Or’s European final will be held in Torino, capital of the Piedmont region, which is home to a great many Michelin-starred restaurants, and which features an interesting melting pot of Italian and French cuisine.

image via Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy-facebook