Bocuse d'Or Cooking Competition

France - 12th World Cuisine Contest - Bocuse d'Or
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

The Bocuse d'Or is one of the most important cooking competition in the world. Held every two years in Lyon, France, the event is frequently called the culinary equivalent of the Olympics.

History of the Bocuse d'Or

Paul Bocuse was an acclaimed French chef, who was famous for his highly rated restaurants and innovative cooking techniques. He avoided using cream and heavy sauces, overcooking meats and vegetables, and shortened his menu to feature seasonal produce. Bocuse believed that menus should reflect simpler cooking techniques and seasonal, super-fresh ingredients. This innovative nouvelle cuisine emphasized artistic and simple presentations using bright and delicious vegetables and meats.    

His restaurant was awarded the prestigious 3 stars by the Michelin guide and soon led to a new wave of cooking in France, with many adopting Chef Bocuse's nouvelle approach. He is one of only four chefs to have received the Gault Millau Chef of the Century award.  

Bocuse believed strongly in training new chefs. He was the mentor to many accomplished chefs, including Eckart Witzgimman, who received the Gault Millau Chef of the Century award.In 1987, Chef Bocuse created the Bocuse d'Or with sports-like rules to focus on determining which country's chefs produce the best and most creative cuisine.  

How the Contest Works

A precursor to Iron Chef and Master Chef, the Bocuse d'Or brings 24 chefs from across the world to prepare dishes within 5 hours and 35 minutes in front of a live audience.  

Semi-final competitions are held across the world with the 24 chefs arriving in Lyon at the end of January. The chefs each work a single additional sous chef, meaning that each country only has a two person team representing it.

The competition begins by the chefs choosing fresh produce to take to their station. Each two person team works in identical stations that are barred from each other with a small wall.  

Each team must prepare a fish dish in accordance with a given theme. For example, in 2013, the fish theme was blue lobster and turbot. The team must present the fish dish in exactly the same way on 14 separate platters provided by the countries, which will then be provided to the judges. In 2013, the Netherlands won the fish course title.

Each team then prepares a large meat platter. The team provides the platter but the meat must be prepared in accordance with the theme. In 2013, the meat dishes had to incorporate Irish beef filet as part of a grand meat platter. The UK won the meat platter in 2013 with its versions of oak-smoked beef fillet, boiled beef, and carrots.

The United States in the Bocuse d'Or

Until 2015, the United States had not done very well in the Bocuse d'Or, frequently not even making it to the finals. But, in 2015, the United States team, led by Contestant Phillip Tessier and Commis Skylar Stover and coached by Thomas Keller, won silver.

For most recent updates on the event, check out the Bocuse d'Or website.

Was this page helpful?