There were scenes of celebration in Budapest today as home nation Hungary was named the winner of the Bocuse d'Or Europe. The Gold medal winners shared the podium with Norway, who were awarded the silver medal, and Sweden who took bronze. They will be joined by chefs from the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Estonia at the Bocuse d'Or final in Lyon next year.
Gold-medal winning chef Tamas Szell of Hungary impressed the jury with his meat dish of leg of young deer grilled on charcoal with Hungarian spices, mushrooms and smoked mangalicza pork fat. His fish dish was lightly salted sterlet and langoustine glazed with pickled ramson seeds and brown butter, alongside crispy scallop with chervil and Hungarian smoked pork fat.
Szell was shocked, but clearly delighted by his team's success: "I don't believe what's happened," he said. "I'm happy, of course, but I will prepare for next year now."
When asked if he was confident about winning gold in Lyon, he laughed. "I don't know, I don't know. I just want to thank everybody in the Hungary team. We are really proud, of course."
Silver-medal winner Christopher William Davidsen of Norway's fish dish of sterlet with freshwater crayfish sauce won much praise from the judges. Davidsen was in confident mood ahead of next year's event: "It feels very good," he said. "Now we've got the answer that the food we are making is good enough for the podium, and tomorrow we start work in preparation for Lyon. We are going all in. This is the first step."
Photo Credit: Bocuse d'Or Official
The Day's Events
Day two of the prestigious competition was a passionate affair, with a healthy contingent of enthusiastic supporters from the length and breadth of Europe. As expected, the Hungarian team's fish and meat dishes were given a rapturous reception from the home crowd, and their vociferous support apparently made all the difference.
Bocuse d'Or Europe President of Honour Rasmus Koefed, of three-Michelin star restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen, was blown away by the high standard of this year's contest – in the crowd as well as the kitchens.
"I have been tasting yesterday, and the atmosphere was really special," he said. "Today is even more crazy because you have all the Hungarians and all the other countries supporting. And the food is really good, especially the fish dishes from the Scandinavian countries. They were really impressive."
"The Norwegians have been working really deeply with the fish industry to find the best way to cook the sterlet, which is like a little similar to the Danish eel. But I think Norway did the best fish dish yesterday. Norway are always strong competitors because they always invest a lot of time and effort in finding the right candidates," said Koefed.
Preparations are already underway for the main Bocuse d'Or event in Lyon in January 2017, where teams from Latin and North America and Asia will join the successful European teams. Who knows, maybe Hungary can pull off another surprise win?