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In the run-up to the Asia Pacific finals of the Bocuse D’Or competition, sponsored by S.Pellegrino, knives are being nervously sharpened and toques adjusted as young chefs prepare for the biggest test of their culinary lives. The prestigious competition has bought together the most exciting talent from the culinary powerhouses of Australia, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, followed by China, Singapore, India and New Zealand.
The third edition of the Asia Pacific competition is being held for the first time in Singapore, under the theme of ‘Gastronomic Symphony’ and as part of the Food&Hotel Asia exhibition. This meant that there was standing room only by the end of the opening day that saw the first five countries face off in a gruelling five and a half hour session.
Bruno Menard, President of Bocuse d'Or Asia Pacific, puts the competition in context: “There are no words to describe what Mr Paul Bocuse has done for us. He created this competition in 1987 to showcase the next generation of outstanding chefs and the countries here have selected the best of the best – truly la crème de la crème – from across Asia-Pacific. Day one has been amazing – look at the presentation! The work, precision and colours are absolutely beautiful.”
Each chef, supported by a commis and a coach, plated two dishes, one based on Patagonian toothfish, the other a show-stopping meat platter based on Augustus Angus beef and Rougié foie gras.
Australian chef Daniel Arnold, currently working in France at Restaurant Serge Viera, took inspiration from indigenous Australian produce. His ‘Taste of coast and country’ garnished the toothfish with flavours of Northern Australia including tiger prawns and lime pearls.
Korea’s Joonjae Ham from Seven Square at The Plaza in Seoul explained that for the toothfish garnish “We had to have one typical Korean garnish so we chose grilled fishcake with seaweed. Normally it’s sold as street food so we upgraded it by 500%! All the ingredients are from Korea so it’s full of loads of Asian flavours.”
The jury of nine prestigious names from across the region who are tasked with choosing the eventual winners includes the legendary Japanese chef Tetsuya Wakuda: “I’m honoured and excited to be here, everyone is doing such a great job. These core ingredients are familiar, so in some way they’re easy to use but also hard to use, because it depends on the chef’s application!”
Tomorrow sees the contestants from China, Singapore, India and New Zealand take the spotlight, before the overall winners are chosen and then head to Lyon in late January for the Grand Finale.
Check in tomorrow for more updates and the eventual winners.
Check out the footage from Day 1: