Norway were the favourites to win and their big talent, 28 year old Christian André Pettersen from restaurant Mondes in Sandnes, was the man that made it happen at the electric Bocuse d'Or Europe final on 12 June.
“I’m feeling very very happy, really excited,” he said of the win clutching the gold trophy which he's dreamt of kissing since childhood and making an international name for himself competing in S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015.
“I had really good help from Bocuse d’Or Norway and a really good team” not to mention the support of a 400 strong crowd of flag wielding, cowbell ringing, singing supporters at the sidelines, all set to celebrate with him into the small hours in Turin at what he said was going to be "a heck of a party."
The head chef, who was also listed in Forbes 30 under 30 list last year, dedicated several hours and months to training with commis Håvard André Josdal Østebø and coach Gunnar Hvarnes at Kronen Gaard Hotel, and it was their moment to shine.
As Pettersen rubbed shoulders with Sweden's Sebastian Gibrand and Denmark's Kenneth Toft-Hansen on the podium, his country president likened him to a top athlete, in this hugely demanding competition otherwise known as the "culinary Olympics".
"The biggest challenge I had to face during the competition was the environment and a new place to be”, he said.
Thanks to Pettersen's heritage, his Filipino mother and late Norwegian chef father, his inspiration and culinary technique are influenced by a fusion of ideas from his upbringing in the rugged hinterland of Norwegian town Bodo, just north of the Arctic circle. "My identity, my person and my food all share the same origins: a perfect blend of east and west, Norway and Asia, the natural and the technical” he describes on the Bocuse d’Or Norway team website.
Petterson's first dish included a riff on "Ouef Mollet" updating the classic French egg dish by adding a herb oil into the centre (in the picture below).
His second stunning dish of the day (see below) was an ambitious platter with his take on a "Nordic Arctic spring" inspired by the Nordic, Arctic spring and midnight sun. While including the mandatory premium Piemontese ingredients like Fassona beef, he also managed to work in a slice of home with almond potato from the coast of northern Norway and chawanmushi in tribute to his Asian roots.
We chatted with the newly crowned and remarkably calm champion on the phone the evening after the win, as he enjoyed some final moments in Turin before the hard work begins again... preparing for the upcoming Bocuse d'Or in Lyon in January.
How does it feel being named European champion?
It feels pretty pretty good, it’s something I dreamt about since I was 9 years old. I’ve worked really hard to prepare myself for Bocuse d’Or. I’ve competed 21 times in the past 10 years getting ready for this one.
Why is competing in Bocuse a dream for you?
It’s from my childhood, when my father had a conversation with his friends and colleagues when Norway took gold in 1997 and I remembered he was really proud about it and I thought to myself, I’m going to do that one day.
Why does chasing Bocuse “gold” become an obsession?
It’s like chasing and pushing the limits so far and always beyond what you ever expected.
How do you know when you’re ready to compete?
When I feel calm and satisfied and every detail feels calm.
How did being a S.Pellegrino Young Chef finalist in 2015 change things for you?
I would say S.Pellegrino Young Chef made me calmer about international competition and promoted me even better outside of the borders of Norway.
Last night you shared a podium with fellow Nordics, Sweden and Denmark. How does Norway differentiate itself?
I think we were on the podium as there’s a good culture in Norway to support and help the candidates and the help of all winners and earlier participants. Norway is a famous country for raw materials, fish and really good vegetables, because of the spring and climate from the cold climes in Norway.
How will you prepare for the final in Lyon?
We have to take it to the next level, stage two. Be more innovative and creative and have an evaluation of what we did well and what we have to change.
Why do you think you can win at the final in Lyon?
Because we have a really good organisation in Norway. The team spirit in our camp is really high quality and the guys are really pushing the limits. And also, with all the supporters and earlier candidates support and help with advice to push our limits beyond the polar circle.
What would it mean to you to be named world champion?
It would mean the world. It would be a dream come true. What I’ve had in my mind since I was 9 years old. Always chasing the Bocuse d’Or. I think Bocuse has been in my mind every hour of every day since I was 9.
Norway on the podium
Norway is no stranger to the podium at Bocuse d'Or, having won five gold, three silver and two bronzes since 1987. As this competition's winning team get set for the #roadtolyon Petterson will discover if his dreams can come true once again.