August 14, 2016
Reflecting on Bocuse d'Or
With the Flavor Expedition Recipe Contest deadline looming September 1st, Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski, the 2014 winner, shares his experiences from Bocuse d’Or.
Not sure where to begin, except simply “WOW!” The Bocuse d’Or grand prize trip and overall experience were beyond everything I thought they’d be, and one of the most memorable things that’s happened in my life.
The energy in the stadium was electric, like watching a major sporting event. We sat in the stands both days to watch the teams work. It was like this huge orchestra going on, with so many different moving parts. Yet everything flowed so well and things just fell into place. There was a good American contingency there, so it felt great to be onsite to cheer on team USA. Plus, I was able to watch history being made as the US team placed for the first time- 2nd place!
There were other pleasant surprises throughout the trip. Since the Bocuse d’Or competition is co-located within the SIRHA Show, we were able to explore the world’s largest foodservice tradeshow and see items from around the globe. The size of this event made the NRA Show look small in size. Walking the floor of the show was almost mesmerizing, due to the incredible assortment of items showcased. Unlike most food shows we’ve all been to, it wasn’t just about deep-fried samples and finger foods. It was about the provenance of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Learning where and how they’re grown. Vendors from around the world, with so many exciting innovations still not yet seen here in the US. We tried to walk the space in two days and still didn’t get to everything!
Minor’s arranged for us to have lunch prepared by a past Bocuse d’Or winner. Within a private area of the Nestle booth, we enjoyed a full sit down lunch with 25 or so VIPs. It was some of the best food we ate while in France. The plate presentations were so intricate and detailed; everything was there for a reason and paired remarkably. It was a 2-3 Michelin star restaurant within a tradeshow booth. Simply amazing, and we’ll never forget it.
In the evenings, and the two extra days after the competition, my wife and I were able to explore Lyon and all its beautiful sights. We ate at so many great brasseries and bistros. Nothing but great food and service. This was truly a trip of a life-time and I feel so very lucky and honored to have won the trip!