Team Denmark came to the Bocuse d’Or 2020 Europe regional finals last month as reigning champions, having clinched the global prize last year.
This year, under the ever-watchful eye of Danish chef and mentor Rasmus Kofoed, Danish team leader Ronni Mortensen, of Geranium in Copenhagen, put up another strong showing at the Bocuse d’Or Europe 2020 finals in Tallinn, Estonia, taking silver to Norway’s gold. That means the team will have to refocus and push again at the Grand Final in Lyon in January 2021.
In the new year, Mortensen will have to 5 hours and 35 minutes to create a plate and platter combination, as he goes up against a highly-motivated and laser-focused international line-up of chef talent from 24 countries.
We caught up with Mortensen to learn more about his experiences in the world’s premier cooking competition.
What was it like to win silver at the European Bocuse d'Or championships in Tallinn?
It was a great honour to represent my country and to bring home the silver for Denmark and the team. It was an amazing feeling after many months of hard work to stand on the podium.
You've competed with team Denmark at Bocuse d'Or a few times over the years, first as an assistant and now as Denmark's Bocuse d'Or candidate. What keeps you coming back to the competition and how does it feel to now be in the spotlight?
Bocuse d'Or is the greatest of all cooking competitions in my opinion. I have a lot of respect for the Bocuse d'Or organisation and what it represents. The whole experience is why I like being a part of the competition, from the creative and design phase, to the training period and on to the kitchens, it's an amazing journey whether you are the commis, the candidate, one of our supporters or a family member. After years in a supporting role for some really great chefs, it feels wonderful that now the time is right for me. It's not just me in the spotlight. Yes, I am the candidate, but I would not be able to do it without my team members and the support of my family.
Why is having a competitive spirit important for a chef?
A competitive spirit is necessary in all sports and competitions where there is a winner, but I would say that I am most competitive with myself, to always do better than the last time.
What is it like to juggle competitions with your day-to-day life as a chef?
It can be challenging because I also have a family and I am dividing my time between the training, my job at Geranium, and making sure to spend a good amount of time with my wife and children. Finding this balance is very important for me.
What have you learnt from your coach and seasoned competitor in the competition, Rasmus Kofoed?
I've been working with Rasmus for many years. He has had a big impact on my education as a chef and I am still learning every day. He's helped me learn to focus and to pay attention to the details. It's also really important to get things done, right after you talk about them, so that you can keep progressing and moving forward.
How was your experience at Bocuse d'Or in Tallinn?
I had a great experience. Due to Covid it was a very different competition than any of the others. We did not have a big audience this time but we really appreciate everyone that came out to support the competition. The Estonian organisation committee did a super job, everything went very smoothly.
How are you preparing and what do you need to improve for the 2021 final?
Right now, we are taking a small break and we will start again in the new year. I am training in the gym as well as the kitchen. I want to be ready and prepared physically and mentally. We start with a clean slate for the next competition so the dishes will be different, the concept will be different. I feel like there is always room for improvement, so basically we will be working towards improving in all areas of the competition.
What would it mean to you to win the Grand finale in 2021?
It would mean the world to me, that's what we are all training for, what we are all working towards and what we are all dreaming of achieving.
Ahead of the world's most gripping culinary competition a series of gruelling national rounds and continental qualifying heats will take place to determine the toughest finalists. We'll bring you news of the winning teams as they are announced.