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Chef Insight Series: Bocuse d'Or Life President Brian Turner

Posted on Thursday 13 December 2018

Here at Lockhart Catering Equipment, we always take a keen interest in our industry's Chefs; with regular support for the National Chef of the Year, the Springboard Charity's Futurechef, & Craft Guild of Chefs business partnerships.

"This competition is a celebration of food, as I think Paul Bocuse wanted it to be" Tom Phillips.

As part of this support, we felt it only right to cover the UK team's involvement in the prestigious Bocuse d'Or final with a series of insights from the Chefs that have been involved in the competition for decades...to the Candidates training intensively for the finals in January.

Useful Links

Chef Insight Series: Part 1 with Tom Phillips
Chef Insight Series: Part 2 with Tom Phillips
Chef Insight Series: Part 3 with Brian Turner
Chef Insight Series: Part 4 with Simon Rogan

We spoke to Brian Turner CBE, President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts & Life President of Bocuse d'Or, on his thoughts about this year's competition. Stay tuned, as we'll be sharing more content live from the finals in January 2019.

Above: The Bocuse d'Or UK Team Qualification. Image Credit.

Life after UK team presidency…do you have any new projects you can tell us about?

I think what you have to realise is that I went to the first competition in 1987, and then I was president at 1989, so that's almost 30 years of involvement. I am also the President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Chairman of The Springboard Charity's FutureChef competition (a 4 stage cooking competition for 12-16 year olds), & Vice Chairman of The Roux Scholarship to name a few; so I'll be continuing my work with these initiatives. I am also involved in the Countryfile live show & food festivals up and down the country.

And will you still be involved in the Bocuse d'Or in some capacity?

My plan is to do whatever I can with the Bocuse d'Or; the relationships I have built with the people I meet every 2 years in Lyon won't be cast to one side, so I'll still be in attendance. But this time I'll be going as a citizen, to watch how the competition has changed from another point of view. But also as a life president I would hope to impart my experience on the latest candidates in any way I can.

What will a talent like Simon Rogan bring to the UK team this year?

I think Simon is at the top of the tree in the UK, along with lots of new younger talent coming through the ranks. Food has changed in the last 50 years since I've been involved in cooking, and it's also changed in the Bocuse d'Or.

To this end, Simon brings a different viewpoint. You shouldn't throw out the classic touches & techniques; you can't forget that Bocuse d'Or is steeped in classic techniques, and you should always bear in mind that Paul Bocuse is there in spirit.

As Vice Chairman of the Roux Scholarship, I am aware that he's consistently sent some great talent from his empire to us who have then gone on to do really well; which shows his passion for talent. Simon is a balanced person who can help with the modern twist on the classics.

What would you consider a key aspect to preparation for this final?

You have to bear in mind the classic techniques & processes; and a lot of the judges will be looking for that classic French thinking.

To prepare well you must have decided that what you are going to do is actually achievable in the allotted time. But not only that, you have to be able to achieve it with the mind-blowing noise & the excitement of the crowd. The tension around Sirha is phenomenal.

With over 12500 spectators, you've got to produce this wonderful food that's impressive to the eye, the nose, and the taste. Psychologically as well as physically, the candidate must be up for it. A very tough competition & a very tough atmosphere means that every candidate will want to walk away with their head held high after the allotted time.

Above: Our Trend Set Magazine featuring the mainstream Street Food trend

Does the Bocuse d'Or have an impact, in your opinion, on global cuisines or techniques?

Personally I think the competition has a tremendous impact on global cuisines & techniques. I think that Chefs definitely talk to peers & colleagues and look at what they are doing and decide how they can utilise that themselves. So many people go to see what the leaders in other nations are doing for cooking at the Bocuse d'Or.

Scandinavia have had a great impact on the Bocuse d'Or as they've won it so much; so a lot of people will go and look at the Scandinavian equipment, techniques, organisation, everything! So I think it has a tremendous effect on global techniques & cuisines. The US, Scandinavian, and Japanese in particular are helping to change the face of global cuisine, as they are heavily influenced by that classical French cuisine with a twist.

Thank you for your insight Brian, and one more question…what's your culinary trend to watch out for in 2019?

Street food is still linked with value for money…that's what people are looking for. People are looking for 3 star Michelin abilities being served at 1 star prices. Particularly with Brexit looming we know that value for money will continue to be sought-after while there is uncertainty.

On top of this; sustainability, provenance, locally-sourced are all good words to bear in mind, but how they will all turn out in 2019 I'm not really sure just yet.

Read more about a project Brian is closely involved in as Chairman; Springboard's FutureChef final 2019 is held at Westminster Kingsway College in March 2019. Read about last year's final, which Lockhart proudly sponsor, here.

Find out more

In the lead up to Lyon, you can immerse yourself in the sounds of the competition, as Tom & Nathan do during their preparation by watching a summary of the 2017 finals in Lyon here:

You can find Tom & Nathan competing from 09:30am on Tuesday 29th January, with the final announcement at 6pm on Wednesday 30th January 2019 at Sirha Trade Show in Lyon. They will be judged not only on their food offering, but also on their methodology, communication, the commis chef ability, conduct, cleanliness, clean-down & much more.

Read more about the details of the Bocuse d'Or and the UK team here.