2011 Bocuse d’Or Chef’s Culinary Challenge & Tasting Event
A Sneak Peek at Canada’s 2011 Bocuse d’Or Chef Ryan Stone’s Culinary Creations!
I’m taking you behind the scenes for a sneak peek at the Bocuse d’Or Culinary Competition that will take place January 25, 2011 in Lyon, France. The Bocuse d’Or Concours Mondial de la Cuisine is the most prestigious culinary competition in the world. The very best chef’s from 24 countries will compete in the most demanding culinary competition. Competitors have been preparing for years and training for months for a competition that takes place over 2 days and only happens every 2 years.
Each chef is given five and a half hours to prepare one seafood and one meat dish. Each plate must be presented with 3 different garnishes and contain a total of 12 servings. All this will be prepared in front of a live audience of 3000+ cheering fans, 1000+ journalists and streamed live to 70+ countries… and the Iron Chefs thought they had it hard! Unfortunately I won’t be attending the event in France, so unless YOU’RE lucky enough to go, this will be the closest I can get you!
Competitors: Each competing chef must have won a qualifying competition in their own country before they can enter – see more here. Each country sends their chef, one apprentice under 22 years of age and one judge. Out of 54 countries the 24 finalists competing this year include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, CANADA, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Uruguay.
Scoring: 40 points for taste, 15 points for presentation and 5 points for representing culinary identity of their country for each dish. The highest and lowest marks are removed.
Introducing our 2011 Bocuse d’Or Canadian Candidate: Chef Ryan Stone
Chef Ryan Stone is the Executive Chef at the West Coast Fishing Club on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii.
I had the great honour and pleasure to attend a final practice run through and exclusive menu tasting of Chef Ryan Stone’s culinary creations for the competition. The room was intense as we watched him prepare this 5.5 hour meal that we demolished in 15 minutes. The sponsor is Moxie’s and it should have been Degree because I was sweating for him. The competition requires concentration, dedication and passion which I could feel coming from Chef Ryan Stone and his talented team. I wish him the best of luck, which he doesn’t seem to need because it appears as though he could do it with his eyes closed. (See results of the contest here)
The Seafood Platter
The Meat Platter
I really have an appreciation for competition food. It’s a combination of art and science. The amount of work and effort that goes into developing the recipe, executing it, and making it taste good is something I have nothing but respect for. Chef Stone said that one of the toughest challenges was keeping the food hot, which didn’t even occur to me on top of everything else. The more original, creative and unique a dish is, the bigger my eyes get… really! People even say they fear them popping out of my head.
Besides braising, baking, roasting, sous vide cooking and molecular gastronomy, I honestly don’t even know some of the cooking techniques he used, let alone all the ingredients involved for the creation of these one of a kind dishes. All I know is that I was incredibly in awe and inspired to start using my own molecular gastronomy kit I got for Christmas!
It was pretty funny to see most of us were nodding our heads with our “foodie poker faces”, but I bet a good majority of us didn’t understand what we were actually eating or how it was made. I’ll be first to admit it. This is food I’ll probably never try again and it was pretty much one bite to savour and remember for a lifetime.
The Bocuse d’Or Competition represents the creme de la creme when it comes to the culinary industry. I can barely describe the food to you because it would come out as aslkjasd;ijwlknasda;lowoj… everything was so unique and hard to describe… even for me. I need concentration as well when it comes to trying food like this! We were all given samples to share and I shared with as many people as possible.
These platters are supposed to represent the best talent and food in Canada and it’s going to be put up against the best food and talent in 23 other countries… do you feel my excitement?! I was jealous of myself!
Seafood Platter Menu
The wrap is made with custom made chorizo from D-Original Sausage Company in Vancouver, BC, which Chef Stone will take with him to Lyon. I was actually surprised they could do this. Other ingredients for the wrap included ham hock and shredded beef brisket. The crust was made from chicken skin, chorizo, herbs and bread crumbs as well as other secret ingredients. It was creamy and almost like Monkfish meets creamy scallop mousse and it had a natural sweetness and then the stronger herby meat taste to follow.
The bottom orange layer was a butternut squash gel and the dashi was made into a hot gel too. It was like a delicious scallop potato dish with seafood flavours, chunks of dungeness crab throughout, and salty bites of plump and juicy caviar. It was a great fusion of West Coast and Japanese and it would probably appeal the most to the general public, especially Vancouverites.
The gel tasted like a tangy sun dried tomato gel and it was quite firm but packed with intense flavour. It was the lightest component of the entire seafood platter because everything else was quite rich, so it was a key flavour to have. The Langoustine isn’t readily available in Vancouver but it tastes like a prawn meets a lobster. Chef will have nice, big, fresh ones to use at the official competition.
These were fragile crispy tarts filled with a light yet creamy smooth onion pea puree that was sweet and savoury. The final plating for these were excellent (picture unfortunately had to be removed). This would also be a dish that would easily be liked by all, especially if you like peas. The peas were sweet and fresh and the salty bite of smoky crisp bacon was a perfect match. The tangy sweet whole onion was a contrasting flavour and made for nice “deconstructing” presentation.
This was probably the simplest on the seafood platter, yet one of the most delicious. It was a creamy aerated foam of cauliflower mousse. It was incredibly buttery and melt in your mouth delicious with the salty bites of crunchy caviar. It tastes like savoury silky foam in your mouth with little bubbles of creamy butter.
Meat Platter Menu
This was pork skin cooked 5 ways, deep fried parsley and thyme, 2 kinds of mustard seeds and Rosemary amongst other things all minced up and made into a gel like product wrapped around the lamb. The lamb was probably the most tender and butteriest lamb I’ve had in my life. It tastes like a premium bleu rare filet mignon, but only the centre of it. It wasn’t actually gamey either.
This was a creamy mousse like meat pate and it sat on a bed of diced sauteed lamb steak which was incredibly tender yet firm. It was almost like juicy cubes of beef that was savoury yet sweet. The sauce was delicious and tasted like a thick and syrupy demi glace made with intense veal stock and it literally coated your mouth.
This was definitely one of my favourites and again probably the one that would appeal to a mass market because the flavours were rather familiar and traditional. I thought it was a pecan bar, it looked like dessert. It’s the most intricate potato and meat dish I’ve had. It was a potato confit base that was cooked in duck fat topped with a gel layer of French Onion soup broth and then another layer of sweetbread and shallot stew. Lastly there was a cornflake like topping of crispy shallots and thyme which added great crispy texture to the creamy potatoes and gamey sweetbread which was also sous vide in milk. Yup, this was a definite foodgasm!
This truffle “marrow” roll was insane. I’ve never had anything like it, and probably never will. It was a tube of savoury tangy truffle and sunchoke stock that had the texture of creme caramel but less creamy and more gel like. It had a very strong truffle flavour and I didn’t know whether to chew it or let it melt. It reminded me of putting gravy in the fridge and letting it solidify, and then taking it out and eating the jelly part… and having that melt, or liquidize, in your mouth! On top it was protected by this light and thin crispy shell sprinkled with some sort of pink sea salt to give it contrasting texture and bring out the flavours of the truffle.
This was the vegetable portion and it was a creamy pocket of pureed eggplant and beets wrapped around another tender strip of beet. It was naturally sweet and actually quite tangy as well. It was made with pickled beets and had the sweetness of poached apples and a richness of creamy goat’s cheese. The bubble on top was a golden beet bubble. It was like biting into a tapioca pearl and then having a burst of sweet and thick golden beet coulis ooze out.
I was almost sure that I was going to like the seafood platter better, just because I really love seafood, but surprisingly I loved the meat platter even more. The flavours where so much stronger and richer and every bite was a moment to savour as well as treasure. Canada is very well represented in Chef Stone’s creations with local flavours and global influences in the choice of ingredients and techniques. Congratulations Chef Ryan Stone! Canada is wishing you the very best in the Bocuse d’Or Culinary Olympics!
To see the event recap and results of the competition please see my post here.