Chefs representing Japan, Singapore and Australia triumphed as the gold, silver and bronze award winners respectively of the Asia finals of the prestigious Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific competition, sponsored by S.Pellegrino. The victorious trio will next head to Lyon for January’s global final, to be joined by two ‘passport entries’ from China and South Korea.
The second day of Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific meant more breathtaking plates from the cream of Asia’s culinary talent. Hundreds of fans and friends squeezed in to the final awards ceremony, creating a colourful and enthusiastic crowd cheering on the decisions made by the total of thirteen judges.
The gold medal winner, along with 8000 euros, was executive chef Kotaro Hasegawa from Japan’s Hiramatsu Group who presented a stunning meat platter based on Augustus Angus beef and Rougié foie gras.
Modest and grateful, speaking in fluent French, he attributed his success to others: ‘It’s due to good luck and my amazing team. I didn’t win this alone, the whole team did. It was the first time I’d ever tasted or cooked toothfish, so it was really difficult. The beef was also completely different from Japan where it’s a lot fattier, but we had trained extensively on the dish.”
The Japan team’s mentor and coach said that they had 6 weeks to prepare and, although they hoped to win, never expected to, given the quality of the competition.
The Silver medal and 5000 euros went to Eng Tong Yew from Singapore’s Resort World Sentosa while the bronze and 3000 euros was picked up by Australian chef Dan Arnold with his team’s rendition featuring flavours of Northern Australia including lime pearls.
Jury President Tetsuya Wakuda commented that “The level of technique and cooking has been amazing and the chefs have learned and absorbed from all different cuisines. This is a competion with people from different countries and it reminds you that being a chef is an amazing profession because you can live anywhere in the world.”
A Look at the Dishes
The second day further celebrated indigenous produce from around the Asia Pacific region, including David Schofield’s fish garnishes of native New Zealand ingredients including kawakawa related to the betel leaf and horopito, a pepper-like spice used for centuries by the Maori.
Chef Sanjay Thakur representing India and working for Etihad Airlines used fiddlehead ferns infused in oil to accompany their beef dish, as well as Himalayan pink salt from northern India.
Looking ahead to the global final marking the Bocuse d’Or’s 30th anniversary, Paul Bocuse’s son Jerome Bocuse laid down a marker for the global competition: “I’m sure we’re going to see more countries from Asia following Japan’s path and making the podium in the global competition final, so France, Scandinavia and elsewhere should watch out!”