UPDATE January 30, 2013: Tamas Szell & Team Hungary finished at the FANTASTIC 10th place at Bocuse d’Or 2013! Wow – what an amazing achievement!! Congratulations! … and if this was not already unbelievable enough, Hungary won the Best Poster Award at the event – please see below the winning poster by photographer Viktor Galos.
We are all so proud of Tamas Szell, Adam Garai and Team Hungary as well as very happy for the entire Hungarian fine cuisine! Excellent! Chapeau! And we should not forget to thank Bocuse d’Or for an amazing event organization. It was a blast. Hungary will be back . . . Adieu for now. :) [End of update.]
In about two weeks – more precisely January 29-30, 2013 – all Hungarian eyes will be looking to Lyon, France as Tamas Szell, first Hungarian Gourmet Chef ever is going to compete with the best chefs of the world at Bocuse d’Or. This prestigious event is the World Chef Championship and it takes place every two years.
Bocuse d’Or was launched by Paul Bocuse in 1983 and since then it has become one of the most sophisticated culinary events worldwide. Semifinals took place in 2011 and 2012 in Latin America, Asia and Europe, and 24 countries made it into in the finals. Tamas Szell finished as the 9th in the European semifinals in March 2012.
Tamas Szell is 30 years old and he is the Sous Chef at Onyx Gourmet Restaurant in Budapest. Onyx Restaurant is the second in Hungary with a Michelin-star, but the first where only Hungarian chefs cook. Tamas won the first prize in the highest ranking culinary event in Hungary in 2008 and 2010, and now our eyes are set on him when he cooks his carefully created menu in Lyon end of January 2013.
For the finals the type of fish and meat, that the contest menu has to include are announced beforehand to all participants. Composition of the menu is up to the chefs, however there are of course strict rules and timeframes to adhere to. Competing chefs work in small teams: there are two helpers (one of them is the chef’s choice from the beginning and he can pick the other person from an official pool of people before the event), who help with peeling, steaming, preparing and there is a coach, who measures time and observes, if everything goes according to plan, however the coach cannot be in the cooking area during the contest. Chefs cook live and they have to serve restaurant sized plates to the members of the jury for evaluation.
It takes a tremendous amount of preparation to participate at such an event. Prior to the contest menus are cooked countless times to try different techniques, to make sure that time management is perfect and every step sits. Actually, Tamas’ team trains everyday. One day is the preparation and next day is cooking: he and his team are re-cooking the exact same menu for about 3-4 months – non-stop. Trainings and event participation cost millions (Hungarian Forint that is . . .), but it is considered as an investment, since know-how won prior to and during the semifinals and final can be applied in the restaurant, where Tamas creates and works at. And of course it is great PR for the restaurant: who would not like to be spoilt by a Bocuse d’Or chef? :)
Tamas’ goal is to finish in the top 10 during the finals and he takes no chances: nobody less than Rasmus Koefed (gold medalist Bocuse d’Or 2011) and Geir Skeie (gold medalist Bocuse d’Or 2009) visited him in December 2012 to help with the preparations, menu creation and some tips & tricks.
Hungarian kitchen is well-known and is a synonym for very good cooking, but its image is full of clichés. Now it is time to elevate its perception and make Hungarian cooking known for its fine cuisine as well as to exploit the fantastic potential it has to offer. Bocuse d’Or event is the perfect place to demonstrate these potentials, to put Hungary on the fine culinary horizon and to inspire other Hungarian chefs and future chefs, as well.
For more information on the Bocuse d’Or please visit the official website or Facebook page. For further insights on the Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy please click here or have a look at their Facebook page.
Source of images: courtesy of Bocuse d’Or. Tamas Szell Bocuse d’Or 2013 Poster created by Viktor Galos.