At just 23 years of age, Giovanna Grossi cooks with ease and aplomb. She tamed her nerves to produce an exquisite artistic dish which won her the honor of representing Latin America in the upcoming Bocuse d'Or.
Acurio and the other judges relish the idea of Latin America being well represented at the Bocuse d'Or finals to be held next year in Lyon. A total of 24 countries will compete for the grand prize, which is why the jurors set aside their emotions and assessed the contestants to the full extent.
Aware of the responsibility to represent Latin America, along with Jessica Tony from Uruguay and Marcos Saenz from Guatemala, Grossi is ready to continue her training for the most demanding and prestigious event in the gastronomic world. Here is what she told Fine Dining Lovers after her big win:
In the history of Brazil you were the first woman to win representation for the Bocuse d'Or and now again repeated the feat in classifying for Lyon. How do you feel?
I am very happy. There are more and more girls in the kitchen but machismo is still dominant in the industry. I am very happy also by the work of Jessica Tony from Uruguay who won second place.
What is the biggest challenge you've had in your career?
I think there is a chance to learn something new with every experience so I've taken the best [from each one].
What inspired you to participate in this prestigious competition?
I had been working in Europe for four years. When I was in Barcelona I felt like participating to represent Brazil, so I went back to Sao Paulo to apply.
The Bocuse d'Or is a very demanding competition that requires time, but mostly self-discipline to learn, practice and improve your skills. How did you prepare?
After making the national team I trained intensively for months at the Laurent Suaudeau school to perfect the technique. Communication is essential in this teamwork and I had the support of Nicholas Santos as commis, and my coach Victor Vasconcellos.
You've worked in Paris and Spain. What role does the French cuisine play in your training?
For me, the classic French cuisine is the basis of everything. If you do not know the basics, it is difficult to develop a modern cuisine like that of Spain.
Sports teams always study the competition, did you do the same?
We do not study the competitors who participate in the contest. We decided to concentrate and do our best work.
Will you stay in Brazil for another season?
That's right and I'm happy [to do so]. The continued support of Laurent Suaudeau will prepare me daily. I still have much to learn.
Acclaim From Stellar Chefs
Xano Saguer, pastry chef Espai Sucre, Barcelona
"Giovanna, apart from being a very good student, is a great person. We are very proud that she won. She is a very dedicated and persevering girl, I'm sure we'll hear a lot from her."
Roberta Sudbrack, Best Female Chef in Latin America:
"She is a great professional. Despite of her youth Giovanna has one of the most important characteristics of any good cook: posture! There is no doubt she is going to shine."
Thomas Troisgros, Olympe, Rio de Janeiro
"I am happy that Grossi won representing Brazil. The Bocuse d'Or tests your skills and knowledge under pressure and [limited] time. Even the best can crack because if you make one single mistake or a bad decision ruin the whole event."