Norway has inspired numerous award-winning chefs and Bocuse d’Or winners, including 2015 Gold Medalist Chef Ørjan Johannessen. 2015 Silver Medalist and former executive sous chef of Napa Valley’s famed The French Laundry Chef Philip Tessier recently joined Chef Ørjan in Norway to experience the nation’s seafood-centric culinary culture and help judge the Årets Kokk Norge (Chef of the Year)—which determines who will represent Norway at the 2017 Bocuse d’Or.
While in Norway, Chef Philip traveled to Bekkjarvik—a small fishing village and home to Chef Ørjan’s award-winning cuisine—to experience the rich heritage and deep connections to sea.
“Being able to cook your fresh catch right off of the boat is the kind of thing you dream of,” said Chef Philip. “The best thing is what you don’t have to do. You just let the fish speak for itself.”
In addition to maintaining abundant sustainable wild fish stocks, Norway’s aquaculture industry ranks among the world’s leading programs.
Chef Philip visited a farm where he experienced Norway’s aquaculture firsthand. “I [was] really excited to see what the trout farms are all about,” said Chef Philip. “There are a lot of misconceptions about fish farming. This is the model for the world to follow.”
Chef Ørjan added, “Norwegian Fjord Trout is one of the best fish in the world. It’s farmed in the right way. And at four to five kilos, it’s the perfect size for a restaurant kitchen.”
The two chefs learned about Norwegian Fjord Trout—the product his Team USA candidates competed with at the Bocuse d’Or Team USA National Selection Event.
What is the Bocuse d’Or?
Held every two years in Lyon, France—and often referred to as the “culinary Olympics”—the Bocuse d’Or is among the most prestigious international cooking competitions, bringing together top chefs from 24 countries to compete in a five-hour, 35-minute cooking challenge.
The Årets Kokk Norge, the Bocuse d’Or and Norway
Many Norwegian chefs dream of the day they can compete at the Bocuse d’Or, spending their careers preparing for the Årets Kokk Norge. Inspired by Norwegian history, Chef Christopher Davidsen won the 2015 Årets Kokk Norge and became the 2017 Norwegian Bocuse d’Or competitor.
The Bocuse d’Or has always held special significance for Norway, as its chefs have won five gold medals and placed nine times out of 15 total competitions. Over the years, the Norwegian Seafood Council has worked closely with the Bocuse d’Or—at both international and national competitions in Norway—often supplying seafood such as Norwegian Fjord Trout, which was the official seafood of the 2003 Bocuse d’Or.
Norway Supports Team USA
The 2015 Bocuse d’Or not only marked the ninth year Norway placed in the top three, it was the first year the U.S. placed in the top three. Chef Philip’s talent and determination won him the Silver Medal that year, but it also brought the Bocuse d’Or to the forefront of the U.S. culinary industry.
With a long history together, it was a natural fit for Norway to continue to support the Bocuse d’Or by sponsoring the Bocuse d’Or Team USA National Selection Event and provided Team USA candidates Norwegian Steelhead Trout so they could work with the product and prep for the competition, as each competitor had to prepare a Norwegian Steelhead Trout dish for the competition.
“I think the candidates in Las Vegas are pretty lucky to be able to work with the Fjord Trout. With a fish like this, you want to bring out the simplicity and the clarity of it, maintain the color,” said Chef Philip. “There’s a lot to work with—the fattiness of the belly, the richness of the loin.”
Chef Matthews Peters, of Per Se in New York, won for his Seed-Crusted Norwegian Fjord Trout with smoked trout belly, white sturgeon caviar, crispy russet potato “cone,” King Richard leeks, matsutake mushroom, pickled purplette onions, romaine lettuce and Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
In addition, the Norwegian Seafood Council, in partnership with ment’or is working to educate the U.S. market about the Bocuse d'Or while inspiring culinary excellence through the use of sustainably farmed seafood. Founded by Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jérôme Bocuse, ment’or provides support to teams training for the Bocuse d'Or and culinary scholarships.