Simon Hulstone, chef-proprietor of the Michelin-starred Elephant bar and restaurant in Torquay, Devon, has arrived in Geneva to represent Britain in the European finals of the Bocuse d’Or.
The current holder of the Knorr National Chef of the Year title told Caterer: “The Bocuse d’Or is the biggest culinary competition for individual competitors. There’s 20 chefs competing in the European finals in Geneva and we have to cook for 20 of the world’s best chefs in five-and-a-half hours producing two silver flats of food.”
The Bocuse d’Or, which launched in 1987, will culminate in a final in January 2011 in Lyon with 12 chefs qualifying from the European finals.
The 35-year-old chef, who won the Roux Scholarship in 2003, was asked to represent Britain by the Academy of Culinary Arts which is responsible for the British entry. Hulstone has been preparing for the European finals since Christmas visiting chefs, trialling ideas and putting various items on the menu so that he could illicit customer feedback.
"For the last seven weeks we’ve been doing full practices and I’ve been bringing the team (his colleague Jordan Bailey who will be his commis for the competition) together, getting the silverware ready, the correct dishes in place and making sure we’re in tip top shape.”
The competing chefs have been asked to use Norwegian halibut and Swiss veal as their main ingredients.
For the first platter, Hulstone will be serving ballotine of Norwegian halibut poached in seaweed stock with a custard of langoustine and summer pea with wild fennel pollen (a garnish inspired by Heston Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watts from the Fat Duck in Bray), young carrots braised in Cornish sea buckthorn with golden beetroot, Scottish smoked salmon and langoustine tartare, pickled onion and Devon flora, while the halibut will be dressed with a butter verjus and spring onion sauce. “We’re using sea buckthorn which is very popular in Scandinavia,” said Hulstone. “They’re some of the countries that we’re trying to impress because they often finish in the top five and they’re the countries that we’ve got to get on our side.”
The Swiss veal platter, meanwhile, is being served with black pudding and rolled in pistachio, accompanied by a sweetbread and garlic sausage, cauliflower and Parmesan cutlet, braised red beetroot with goat’s cheese and truffle, Devon asparagus with peas and wild mushrroms, foie gras button and a Madeira and truffle jus. Although Hulstone only needs to serve two garnishes, he is also preparing braised cheeks, served in lidded Thomas Keller side dishes, to the garnish is piping hot.
Hulstone says that support has been very good for the British entry, but his aim is to raise awareness far beyond his own competition. “People are really getting behind us and hopefully it will bring in another chef after me to keep it going. My aim is to represent Britain and go out there and get us the best placing we can. The supporters are not just sponsoring me they’re sponsoring the next two or three chefs ahead, they believe in it as well.”
If Hulstone is successful in Geneva - he competes on Tuesday - he will go on to represent Britain in Lyon at the end of January. “We already know what we have to cook – Scottish lamb and Scottish monkfish - and we can utilise some of the garnishes here because there will be 12 new judges from around the world so they won’t have seen what we’ve done.”
Led by the Academy of Culinary Arts, the British entry is already supported by 3663, All Clad, Aubrey Allen, Continental Chef Supplies, Clifton Food Range, Compass Group, Convotherm, Electrolux, Gourmet Classic, Infusions, Nestle Professional, Robert Welch, Unilever Foodsolutions, Uk Thermomix, Wild Harvest.
To lend your support, contact Michelle Diederichs on 020 7787 2558 or visit www.bocusedoruk.co.uk.
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