44th Final - a great success at Le Cordon Bleu Paris
" 22 competitors came from 16 countries "
The 44th International Final of the Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs (JCR) Competition was held in the “City of Light”. Paris is not only location of the Chaîne’s International Headquarters but is also the home of Le Cordon Bleu, our host venue. Inevitably, staging the event had unique challenges due to the ongoing effect of the global pandemic.
National winners from 2020 had to wait a full year to compete with many of them unemployed due to local lockdown rules. The JCR Committee decided to have both years compete side by side with the same black box but to be scored separately by year.
Unfortunately, due to France’s COVID-19 rules some competitors were unable to participate. With so many rules and moving parts, the Committee had many challenges to overcome to bring this competition to a smooth conclusion. Many thanks go to the team at the Chaîne’s Headquarters for their tireless work and ability to adapt on the spur of the moment.
22 competitors came from 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland (2), Germany, Great Britain (2) Hungary (2), Mexico, Netherlands (2), Norway (2), South Africa, Sweden (2), Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and USA. There were four female and 18 male competitors. [NB. (2) indicates that the Bailliage entered a competitor for both 2020 and 2021]
Competitors arrived in two groups: from outside Europe came a day earlier than those from European countries. Those in “long haul” group were challenged to a ‘Rallye Gourmet’ which was a walking tour of the best of French food culture in the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Meats, pastries, chocolate, caviar and wine were sampled whilst learning about the district’s great history. These competitors were also treated to an amazing dinner at Restaurant Éclipses.
The following evening, Thursday 23rd, the whole group met for the first time at the official welcome event being a Yachts de Paris dinner cruise on the River Seine.
On our visit to La Bergerie Nationale at Rambouillet we learned that the farm was originally set up under Louis XVI to create improvement of wool production and farming. It is still a working agricultural facility. The farm hosts agricultural trials and is an innovation and training hub.
Whilst riding in a horse and buggy through the forest, we noticed that many trees had been cut down and numbered. An amazing fact: these ancient trees were felled to assist in the rebuilding of Notre Dame following the devastating fire a few years ago.
In keeping with the times, we created a “WhatsApp JCR Paris 2021” group in early June. This allowed the competitors and the committee to communicate news, questions and concerns to the group as a whole. Competitors could easily communicate with each other during the competition as well as continuing to network once they return home. All competitors were encouraged to also join the “JCR Alumni” Facebook group.
This year’s black box was very challenging as it had five proteins. Fresh whole Soulard duck was the protein advised to the competitors one month in advance.
Other mandatory ingredients revealed just prior to competitors writing their menus:
- fresh Gurnard (scorpion fish) 1 kg whole
- six scallops in the shell
- 15gm ROVA caviar
- 12 snails out of the shell
- four whole artichokes
- four whole beetroot
- 500gm mirabelles
- four whole quince
- 80gm dark chocolate
- 100gm white chocolate
- 300gm red rice
Competitors had to use at least 50% of each of the black box items with a large array of non-mandatory items available. The competition allows the young chefs 30 minutes to write their menu. Then three and a half hours to serve their first course followed by 15 minutes until their main and a final 15 minutes to their dessert.
The wide diversity of both the kitchen and tasting judges provided excellent, fair scoring which achieved the following results:
Winner: Emil Lundemo Bakken, Norway
Runner-up: Levente Lendvai, Hungary
Third Place: Kevin Vasselin, Switzerland
Winner: Sindre Fagermo Hjelmseth, Norway
Runner-up: Kenzo Li, Belgium
Third Place: Pasquale Kutsch, Germany
Congratulations to 2020 First Place winner Emil Lundemo Bakken of Norway for achieving the highest marks in the kitchen.
This year the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs awarded cash prizes to the top competitors in each year group. The Winner received 2500 euro, the Runner-up 1500 euro and Third Place 500 euro.
Such competitions rely on the expertise and unbiased fairness of both the Kitchen Judges and the Tasting Judges. Thank you to all our judges who attended from the four corners of the world.
We are grateful to Le Cordon Bleu Paris for hosting the competition at their amazing facility. For their hard work and dedication to ensuring the competition ran seamlessly, Chef Eric Briffard, Maître Rôtisseur, and his team received much praise and thanks.
Thanks also go to long time sponsors, Le Crodn Bleu, Wüsthof Manufacturing, Germany and Chef’s-Hat, Canada. These are our perpetual sponsors. We remain ever appreciative of their generous contributions to the competition.
Additionally, we would like to thank ROVA for providing caviar for the black box and for the Gala Dinner. We are also indebted to the following companies for providing black box items: Maison Charraire provided produce; Maison Armara - fish and shellfish; Maison Soulard for the amazing ducks. Other suppliers that need recognition are Maison Lanson and Masion Oddo for their generous contribution of Champagne and wine for the Gala Dinner.
Last but certainly not least, a competition of this size could not have been successful without volunteers from the team at the Chaîne’s International Headquarters who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.
Thank you all!
Next year we will celebrate the 45th International Final in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lois Gilbert, Bailli Honoraire
Member, International Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition Committee
All photos are courtesy of Mary Erhardy www.maryerhardy.com
Photos of the 2021 group of competitors
Photos of the 2020 group of competitors
Joshua Ross has winning skills at National Final