Bocuse d’Or is the gastronomy event of the year, the grandstands crammed with thousands of fans. When the mood climaxed I felt I was at a football World Cup, waiting for the final penalty kick. When Hungary was announced the winner, we were laughing and crying at the same time, (…) the audience almost exploded with joy and ovation.” – said Balázs Csapody, a member of the coordination and support team during the preparations.
Hungary made history on 11st May. Tamás Széll and his team won the Bocuse d’Or final in Budapest, which means Hungary secured its place at the World Championship in Lyon. The runner-up was Norway, while third place was awarded to Sweden.
Teamwork, unity and humility
When the final results were announced, Tamás Széll could barely talk from his tears. Nobody expected such a sweeping victory. The chef who brought world fame to Hungary prepared for this challenge 4 months long, and stayed calm throughout the contest, despite the proximity of fans, photographers and TV personnel. “I wasn’t nervous. My previous competition experience helped me a lot, but of course in Brussels I wasn’t as accomplished yet. We enjoyed the competition and the preparations very much, but it’s good to finally be at the finish line. We primarily always follow the Scandinavian teams, but we wouldn’t have dared dream about getting among them, not to mention getting ahead of them. We particularly thank Frigyes Vomberg and Kevin Szabó, and we will always remember this day. We have a few things to sort out regarding the competition now: we are going to cook the menu again on Saturday to show the exact techniques and the detailed steps of each recipe, which is going to be recorded for a documentary. From Sunday onwards we are going to relax a little, focus on the restaurant, and only then will the real rest begin.” – said the European chef champion.
Szabina Szulló, team captain, was pleased to accept the responsibility of being the only female member of the jury: “I was very anxious. I had already been a jury member, but this was the first time to be asked for such an honourable task at such a grand event. During the competition we gained a lot of experience; we can see where we are in our knowledge and preparation, and what we need to pay attention to at the championship in Lyon, not to mention the immense joy of being in first place.”
The winning menus
The competitors used set ingredients, but they were able to “blend” the specialities of their cuisine, their individual creativity and customs into the dishes. The fish and meat menu prepared by the 20 chefs and their teams included the following compulsory dishes:
Lightly salted sterlet and langoustine with pickled ramsons and brown butter.
Crispy scallops with smoked mangalitsa bacon
Cucumber salad with green herbs
Fried yellow beets with mustard seeds
Tartlet with cauliflower puree and caviar
Mussel velouté with champagne
Leg of young deer grilled on charcoal, forest mushrooms and smoked mangalitsa bacon
Saddle of venison with “mosaic” duck fat and crispy artichoke leaves
Beetroot with roasted duck liver, apples and mustard seeds
Carrot and sea buckthorns with roasted pumpkin seeds
Spring herb tartlet with asparagus, green peas and pine nuts
“Somogy” kidney-potato puree with summer truffles
Venison gravy with salted lemon, wild garlic and thyme
Photos/source: Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy/Robert Bacsi