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After two days of culinary competition at the highest level, Norway has been picked as the winner of Bocuse d'Or Europe 2018, sponsored by S.Pellegrino.
The European gold medal winner shared the podium with silver medal winner Sweden and Denmark who took bronze. The Nordic trio will be joined by chefs from nations Finland, France, Belgium, Hungary, Iceland, UK, Italy and Switzerland at the Bocuse d'Or world finale in January in Lyon next year.
The award ceremony opened with an emotional tribute to competition founder Paul Bocuse as a tearful Jerome Bocuse looked on, after opening the proceedings with "what an amazing two days."
Gold-medal winning team, Christian André Pettersen, commis Havard Andre and coach Gunnar Hvarnes stormed the competition, beating closest rival Sweden by 5 points. While a modest chef Pettersen posed for photos, saying "I'm really really happy and very excited," Norwegian president Bent Stiansen took it all in his stride having been a winner himself 25 years ago, smiling and all set to support Norway's "big talent" on the #roadtolyon, "we'll go to zero and start again."
Their winning "theme on a plate" consisted of several elements including a "golden egg" - a poached chicken egg filled with a surprise and seasoned with fennel pollen served on potatoes with brown butter, spring vegetables of baked zucchini with herb emulsion, asparagus and lemon cream, tempered asparagus salad with Castelmagno Aligoté "Mushroom caviar" and crispy potatoes and a creamy sauce "Hollandaise."
Meanwhile, their creative platter was inspired by the Norwegian Arctic spring and the return of the midnight sun and featured Chateau Briand Fassone lightly grilled and seasoned with sprouts and arctic flowers.
Image credit: Studio Julien Bouvier
Other Special Awards
Some other special prizes were also awarded on the night:
Best Commis Prize went to Italy and Curtis Mulpas, overwhelmed to receive an award in his home country,
Special Plate Prize went to the French team with chef Matthieu Otto, commis Louis de Vicari and coach Romuald Fassenet.
Special Platter Prize went to the Finnish team and chef Ismo Sipelainen, commis Johan Kurkela and coach Eero Vottonen.
The Day's Events
Day two of the world's most prestigious competition was as lively as the first, with fans from Russia, Sweden, Croatia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, Estonia and Turkey rooting for their culinary teams from the sidelines at the Lingotto Fiere in Turin, Italy.
This day was destined to be a clash of the titans with Nordic culinary giants, Norway (Gold in 2016 ), Sweden (Gold in 2014) and Denmark (gold in 2010) all going head to head in the kitchens in the same heat, as their experienced fanbases made some noise from the grandstand.
However, it wasn't all about the Nordics. An exuberant home crowd made Italian chef Martino Ruggieri feel at home as team Italia cheered his childhood inspired dish and an out of this world platter featuring an incredible octopus sculpture, seahells and fish bones. Fortunately it was enough to get Italy through to the final on a "wild card."
President and birthday boy Jerome Bocuse was welcomed out for the final day with many happy returns although he humbly announced, "this is not my day, this is the day of the chefs coming from all over Europe ... What a fantastic venue, we've seen this contest grow over the last 30 years, and like I said, I don't think my father would have envisioned the dimension of the contest 30 years later. Thank you and we'll see you again in Lyon soon."
Fellow president Tamas Szell commented it was "definitely was a tough environment and competition" while Italian chef Carlo Cracco was "happy to be part of the kitchen family."
Russia kicked off the tastings of the day with their "theme on a plate" as the 23 chefs tasting jury diligently photographed, sniffed and scored each of the 20 dishes.
As the day drew to a close there were hugs all round in Denmark's kitchen from coach Rasmus Kofoed and the smell of burnt rosemary left lingering in the air from Estonia's platter.
Matthew Kirkley, Bocuse US champion empathised, "win or lose you tried your best it's just great to be done ... you spend months upon months doing one specific task - finally you put that out there in the world." Inspired by his European counterparts he said "Every country brings their own culture, mentality and sense of organsisation."
See what happened on Day 1 of Bocuse d'Or Europe.