Monday, 20th November 2017, 6:30, the eight candidates began the 51st edition of the Taittinger International Culinary Award.
Once again, the famous Ecole Ferrandi (6th arrondissement, Paris) hosted the competition. As every year, the clerk conducted the draw for the commis chefs who would have the difficult task of assisting the young chefs during these decisive hours.
In a spirit of goodwill, the Director of L’Ecole Ferrandi, Bruno de Monte, ensures that his teams match their reputation and the challenge of the competition.
The theme of the contest was: ‘Game animal with fur, served with gravy or a jus in a gravy boat and three sides: one with a potato base, one with a pumpkin and chestnut base and one free choice.’ The day before, during a draw made in accordance with the rules and monitored by the clerk, Deer had been chosen. The candidates then only had a few hours to develop their recipe and they also had to work on the following set recipe: ‘An interpretation of quince and fig tartlets presented on decorated plates.’
For the fifth year in a row, the Culinary Award was being presented by Emmanuel Renaut who, since 2013, has presided over the jury in his leadership role. Chef at the ‘Flocons de Sel’, 3 stars in the Michelin guide, he generously brings his energy and kindness to this competition while ensuring fairness between the candidates from different backgrounds, whether they be renowned or more modest.
He is supported in this mission by the organising committee and the jury whose members, by their exceptional experience and their professionalism, are an example for the candidates.
The Kitchen Jury consisted of four chefs: Bernard Leprince, Christian Née, ‘La Pyramide’ 2 Michelin stars, Amandine Chaignot from the ‘Rosewood Hotel London’ and Lars Van Galen ‘Larnsnik’ 1 Michelin star, from the Netherlands.
The Tasting Jury was Marcel Ravin from ‘Monte Carlo Bay’ 1 Michelin star, Michel Roth, ‘President Wilson’, Geneva, 1 Michelin star, Pierre Résimont of Belgium’s ‘Eau Vive’, 2 Michelin stars, Stéphane Decotterd, from ‘Pont de Brent’, Switzerland, 2 Michelin stars, Michel Roux, ‘Le Gavroche’, London, 2 Michelin stars, Hiroshi Horita of the ‘Mange Tout’, Tokyo, 1 Michelin star and Sonja Frushammer, 1 Michelin star. We must also not forget the guest chefs, Stéphanie Le Quellec, ‘Le Prince de Galles’, Paris, 1 Michelin Star, Christophe Bacquié, ‘Monte Cristo’, Le Castelet, 2 Michelin stars, Ulf Wagner, ‘Sjomagasinet’, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1 Michelin star, Jonathan Zandbergen and Christophe Raoux, The Peninsula Paris.
After these hours of applied work and the totalling up of the points under the control of the clerk, the award ceremony took place in the sumptuous setting of the Peninsula Paris ideally located in the heart of the capital next to the mythical Place de l’Etoile. This palace, which has become, in a few years, one of the most important places in French Gastronomy, is a true emblem of excellence and expertise, and the perfect place for our young chefs’ dreams to take root. The dinner, imagined and designed by the talented chef Christophe Raoux, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2015, perfectly illustrated the level sought by each of them.
The ceremony began with a passionate speech by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, who insisted that freedom must be fiercely protected, that the tastes and desires of each one should in no way be destroyed by moralising speeches. His words were widely applauded by the even the most timid representatives of the culinary art of excellence and excess.
Amandine Chaignot, luminous muse of gastronomy, revealed the prize list little by little, crowned this year and for the second time, by the great Swiss restaurant, the l’Hôtel de Ville à Crissier Chef Tom Meyer was named the winner of the coveted trophy. In his eyes, you could read the emotion of a child walking on the moon for the first time without believing it.
The illustrious prize has been awarded to the youngest winner in all its history. Barely 24 years old, this young man with clean features moved towards his destiny in uncertainty, the heavy medal with the effigy of Pierre Taittinger around his neck.
The whole Taittinger family was happy to surround him in this special moment.
Second place on the 2017 list is awarded to the Japanese Tomoaki Sakata of the Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel , while France took the third place on this highly regarded podium with Romain Masset of the Restaurant Régis and Jacques Marcon.
The other five finalists, Yohei Hosaka, Yohan Gerard, SanderVan Zantvliet, Matthias Walter and Tom Scade also produced sensational dishes and left with the feeling of having given everything.
The bright and intense performance of the artists were mixed on the menu served by the wonderful team of the Peninsula Paris. The actress Armelle Lesniak staged a deliciously comic scene.
The spellbinding voice of Molly Wagner, daughter of Swedish conductor Ulf Wagner, echoed some of the finest jazz classics while the elegant Angel’s Groove Quintet blended the ballet of dishes and vintages.
For this celebratory meal, Maison Taittinger had reserved a vintage of which only a few bottles remain, a delicious Brut Millésimé 2000, as well as its exceptional vintage, the 2006 Comtes de Champagne, served both as Blanc de Blancs and as Rosé.
The evening was also the opportunity to award the Cordons Bleus prize, renamed Cooking Talent, to Laurence Duffaud. For this, Alexander Lohnherr, representative of the family business Miele, recalled the values shared by both houses, their partnership and their promotion of gastronomy in everyday life.
Additional information – Le Taittinger Culinary Award
The history of the Award is that of a meeting between Champagne and Chefs, between a Family and Gastronomy. The idea came one evening during the 1966 harvest when Claude Taittinger President of the House of Champagne invited Georges Prade, Commander of the Ordre des Côteaux de Champagne, to the Château de la Marquetterie. The two epicureans discussed their memories, their love of cuisine with natural flavours, their fears about the evolution of gastronomy…
They then decided to launch a project, an international gastronomic competition, organised and judged by professionals, to celebrate cooking which associated the respect of the classic rules and a certain creativity. Born of a simple exchange, this Award had a prestigious destiny.Very quickly, young crowned chefs become the stars of the profession. Recognised by their peers, the doors of the very confidential circle of the great chefs then opened to them thanks to the integrity and the difficulty of this competition. For the family behind this award, the handing down and sharing of valuable expertise is now more than ever at the heart of it.