UCB's Josh excels at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon

January 2015

A UCB culinary arts management student faced the cooking challenge of a lifetime when he took part in the world’s most prestigious chef competition.

Josh Allen, 22, represented the UK alongside Michelin-star chef Adam Bennett in the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France.

Josh was the team’s commis chef, working alongside Bennett in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the competition hall at the giant SIRHA hospitality show.

The duo produced two stunning dishes – a fish course with French brown trout and an ornate meat platter showcasing guinea fowl – in the allotted cooking time of five hours and 35 minutes.

They were assisted by Matt Nicholls, 19, a former UCB professional cookery student, who was Bocuse d’Or apprentice. Matt now works at Simpsons restaurant in Edgbaston.

The UK team was supported in the competition arena by a vocal group of supporters including UCB students who travelled to Lyon by coach.

Out of 24 finalists, the UK came 10th. The gold medal went to Norway with the United States winning silver and Sweden taking bronze. The international jury awarded marks for the taste and presentation of dishes, the “geographic typicality” of the meat dish and optimising the use of vegetables in the fish course.

Bennett, chef director of The Cross at Kenilworth, and Allen practised for the competition at a specially-built kitchen at University College Birmingham. The University has also staged a fundraising dinner for the team.

Bennett said he thought the team’s dishes were superior to those he produced in 2013, when the UK came fourth, but he believed all the countries had raised their game. He said: “I've had a hell of a ride again and loved every minute.”

The UK’s fish dish comprised two fillets of trout sandwiched around a lobster mousseline, topped with nori seaweed paper and served with a Champagne velouté and a crustacean sauce. The garnishes were: celery puree; slices of celery fondant; and a braised celery stem filled with a smoked trout brandade, topped with smoked trout, horseradish and croutons; and a potato cylinder cooked in saffron stock, filled with creamed leeks and topped with caviar and trout eggs.

The complex meat platter featured guinea fowl suprêmes filled with a mushroom and parsley duxelle, decorated in discs of truffle and celeriac to mimic the bird’s feathers. A boned leg of guinea fowl was stuffed with sweetbreads, bacon, ham, tongue and pistachios.

The garnishes included a potato cake with a liquid mushroom centre; beetroot-dipped guinea fowl liver parfait; and a cabbage cone filled with black lentils. The sauce was a guinea fowl jus with apple verjus and rosemary.

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