The Bocuse d'Or is considered the most prestigious international chef competition in the world and takes place every two years in Lyon, France.
Chef Paul Bocuse, dubbed the “Pope of Gastronomy” founded the competition in1987 and has since been replaced by his son Jerome as president. The event attracts some of the biggest names in cooking and winning the gruelling competition remains one of the pinnacle of a chef’s career.
A total of twenty-four countries compete in the competition, each having succeeded in regional heats. However, the podium has largely been dominated by France, Belgium, Norway and Sweden since the competition’s inception.
Rasmus Kofoed of Denmark has been the most prolific winner becoming the first multiple medallist with bronze and silver in 2005 and 2007, and the eventual gold medal in 2011. Léa Linster of Luxembourg was the first woman to win in 1989.
Each competing team consists of two chefs, one lead chef, and a commis/assistant chef. Months of dedicated, hard work and practice are required in order to perform at their maximum in what can be the biggest cooking challenge of their lives.
The teams have 5 hours and 35 minutes to prepare two incredible dishes, in fully equipped kitchens, side by side, in an open plan "culinary theatre". A coach is located outside the kitchen and keeps track of timings and issues while an inspector controls equipment and products backstage.
Dubbed the “culinary Olympics” the competition encourages each team to bring a team of supporters. Large and lively audiences cheer on their team from the side lines with plenty of flag waving, musical accompaniment and singing, making the atmosphere feel like a giant sports arena.
The jury consists of 24 renowned chef judges who make their evaluations based on the level of perfection in the presentation, in terms of technical skill, cooking sophistication, creativity and visual beauty. The jury is divided into two groups of 12, each half to judge either the fish dish or the meat dish and represent each of the competing countries. Past judges have included Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adrià, Wolfgang Puck, Eyvind Hellstrøm, Thomas Keller and past winners such as Fabrice Desvignes and Mathias Dahlgren.
The chef with the highest overall score is awarded the Bocuse d'Or trophy, a golden effigy of Paul Bocuse as well as receiving a grand prize of €20,000 and the prestigious title. A silver and bronze prize are also awarded to the chefs on a final medal podium in front of a live audience at the end of the competition.
There are also additional prizes are awarded for the best fish and meat dishes, best national culinary identity, best commis and best posters.