The winner of the 2015 Bocuse d'Or is Norwegian. The young Ørjan Johannessen won the fifteenth edition of the prestigious competition. The final was held yesterday during the Sirha expo in Lyon. This raises Norway's tally of victories to nine, making it second only to France in terms of success at Bocuse. The other countries on the podium were two super-favorites: the Silver Bocuse went to the United States, and the Bronze to Sweden (pictured above).
The judges, consisting of 24 chefs led by Honorary Chairman Grant Achatz and by Thibaut Ruggeri (winner of the last Bocuse), used a number of judging criteria. These included the presentation in the meat dish and an emphasis on the vegetable element in the fish dish – prepared in 5 hours and 35 minutes, not a second more – but also on the ability to reduce waste to a minimum, along with technique, sustainability, and the expression of the culinary identity of the chef's home country. This was undoubtedly the case for Morocco, whose dish was highly praised by the judges for its masterful use of spices. And then, obviously, there is the criteria of taste.
"The judgment of taste remains the most important element," explains Arnaud Lallement, one of the judges for France. "First and foremost a dish must be good. Aesthetics come second." Vegetables played a starring role: in fact, 50% of the fish course was required to be vegetables. "The time has come for us to cook with greater reason. It's important for our future and for that of the planet," concludes Lallement. The chefs find out the main ingredients, in this case, Fario Trout and Free Range Guinea Fowl "les Landes" Label Rouge , just a few months in advance. And for 2015, an additional difficulty has been added: a "mystery vegetable" that is not revealed until the day of the competition. This year, it was celery the first day and fennel the second. But this proved no obstacle for Johannessen, assisted by chef Jimmy Øien and coach Odd Ivar Solvold. "Bocuse brings out the excellence in all participating countries. Even those that have great potential in the culture and products, but lack the opportunity to make the most of it," explains Régis Marcon, Chairman of the Organizing Committee.
The new entrant in this edition was Chile, competing for the first time at Bocuse. "We worked hard to get here. We've been working on it for years," explains Luis Layera, the Chilean member of the international jury. "It was an extraordinary opportunity, for the chefs and for the entire country." One thing that everyone agrees on – participants, judges, chefs – is the importance of the team. In fact, an award was given to the best commis at Bocuse: Finnish chef Antti Lukkari. Hungary and Argentina took home the awards for Best Poster and Best Promotion, demonstrating how important it is for the chefs to have the support of their countries as they put their jobs on hold and invest time, money, and research during the long months of training. Judging from Johannessen's thrilled smile as he raised the Bocuse d'Or over his head, it was worth it.