The Vikings were Victorious

In the end, it was the Vikings that were victorious at the Bocuse d’Or….yet again. The team from Denmark took home the gold, followed by Norway and Sweden. The Scandinavian countries have dominated the competition over the last several decades, having posting a top 3 finish every year since 1991. The Bocuse d’Or is half cuisine and half design – it needs to taste great, but look even better…and these IKEAs of the culinary world excel at both. The winning team consisted of chef Kenneth Toft-Hansen, of the Svinkløv Badehotel Isbod.

This year’s theme was a homage to famed French Chef Joel Robuchon and the founder of the Bocuse d’Or, Paul Bocuse. The competition had two elements, a plated dish of a seafood chartreuse and a platter dish of a suckling Rack of Veal along with offal, to commemorate the chefs, respectively.

Let’s start with the Chartreuse: A Chartreuse is a preparation of vegetables, always including cabbage, and meat or seafood moulded into a dome and formed in layer so alternating colors. Considered by Marie-Antoine Carême, the original Celebrity Chef, as the “Queen of entrées,” this classic French Lenten dish traditionally consisted of layers of poultry and vegetables wrapped in cabbage leaves. The name originates from the Carthusian Monks who originally made the dish with vegetables. As the story goes, the devout Monks, bored with their diet of cabbage soup, turnips, and salt cod, and surrounded by flocks of partridges in the early Spring, decided to hide the meat inside a layer of cabbage….….those sneaky monks!…see no evil, we guess….

In the Eighteenth Century, this dish became on of the hallmarks of French cuisine. The presentation of a Chartreuse can reach the limits of elaboration – with meticulously cut chevrons of carrots and turnips and the mold coated in a layer of Aspic….which is no doubt why it was such an appropriate suggestion for such a competition.

But, but, wait…you probably thought Chartreuse was a drink…. Well, those same wily Monks that ate meat during lent also liked to imbibe, so they made their own liquor too! Perhaps a bit more well known is the Liquor of the same name made by these monks at Voiron, near Grenoble in South Western France. The liquor has 3 distinct versions with 71, 55, and 40 proof, or chest-hair growing, Green, and Yellow (slightly sweet), respectively. The composition of Chartreuse is a secret, but it is made from various plants and herbs including balm, hyssop, angelica leaves, cinnamon, mace and saffron. Denmark’s Rack of Veal Platter – Courtesy of the Bocuse d’Or

As for the Platter…. The platter presentation was the homage of Chef Paul Bocuse, one of the leaders of nouvelle cuisine, which was a movement in the early 1970 that focused more on simplicity and presentation. The requirement was to maintain the integrity of the 5 rib suckling veal chop and include some for of offal (pronounced “awful” by some…..if you don’t like organ meat). The presentation includes many custom made physical elements, from the tray itself to various armantures to provide height. The platter can be designed in the circular, meaning meant to be viewed from any angle, or only from the front. The Denmark team actually created a metal stencil to cover the veal loin with a whimsical decoration. And, more importantly, the platter needs to be deconstructed easily to plate the portions.

Team USA, the defending champions, served suckling veal rack with 5 prime chops with a veal kidney farce (a mousse – pureed kidneys combined with cold cream) and an Apicius spice glaze (Apicius was a 1st century Roman cookbook author; Roman cuisine was heavily spiced coming from the conquered lands); a salad pastorale (also known as a “Shepherd’s Salad,” dates back to the Middle Ages from Mediterranean and is essentially what is known now a Greek salad – tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, and feta).

Well, as you can see, the specific theme is provided in advance allowing for the teams to research, design, construct and practice cooking their perfected menu in 5 ½ hours…..only 2 more years left to prepare for the next competition!…..