Top Birmingham chef represents UK at Bocuse d’Or competition

The city’s food credentials will be put under the international spotlight at several world-renowned culinary events in Lyon this month.

Adam Bennett preparing for the Bocuse d'Or competition

Adam Bennett preparing for the Bocuse d’Or competition

On 29-30 January, Adam Bennett, Head Chef of Michelin star restaurant Simpsons in Edgbaston, is set to take to the culinary stage at the world’s most prestigious cookery competition – the Bocuse d’Or.  Adam is flying the flag for Birmingham as the UK representative selected to battle it out at the world finals in Lyon, following several competition heats where he fought off teams from all over Europe.

The biennial competition provides a professional springboard for some of the most talented chefs in international gastronomy and is a showcase for the diversity of culinary traditions worldwide. Adam – along with commis chef Kristian Curtis, also from Simpsons Restaurant – will go head to head with 23 countries in the Bocuse d’Or finals next week in a bid to show that Britain’s culinary credentials are among the best in the world.

The Bocuse d’Or will take place during the final two days of SIRHA – one of the world’s largest food service, hospitality and gastronomy trade fairs. As part of its marketing strategy to target international audiences, Visit Birmingham, the city’s leisure tourism programme, will be showcasing the strength of Birmingham’s culinary scene at the five-day event taking place from 26-30 January. The trade fair will see over 160,000 visitors and 2,200 exhibitors descend on Lyon and coincides with an international meeting on gastronomy held by the Délice ‘network of good food cities’ – of which Birmingham is the only UK city to be part.

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services at Visit Birmingham, the city’s leisure tourism programme, who will be attending SIRHA and backing Adam at the Bocuse d’Or competition, said: “Adam is a true ambassador for Birmingham’s celebrated food scene – competing at the world final of Bocuse d’Or is a fantastic achievement and will help to raise the city’s profile on the international culinary stage. As the only city in the UK to be part of the Délice network, and with world-class training facilities at University College Birmingham, the city truly is producing the next generation of rising stars in gastronomy.

“With a growing reputation as a food lover’s haven on the global stage, increasing numbers of food tourists are making their way to Birmingham every year to experience the city’s unique food offering.   Our presence at key culinary events such as SIRHA will help build on the city’s food credentials and is part of our ongoing strategy to boost the 33.5 million visitors that come to Birmingham each year – over half of which come for our acclaimed food and drink.”

Businesses, local producers and restaurants across the city have joined forces to support Adam in the countdown to the competition.  The celebrated chef has spent the last six months sharpening up his culinary skills at University College Birmingham’s replica Bocuse d’Or kitchen. The tailor made kitchen is the same size and dimensions as the one Adam will use to compete in at the finals in Lyon – and is the only one of its kind in the UK.

Andreas Antona, Chef Patron of Simpsons, who has allowed Adam four months of leave to prepare for the competition, said: “In the past few years Birmingham has proven itself a worthy culinary destination and is quickly gaining an international reputation for food. In terms of global awareness, there is no greater culinary stage than the Bocuse d’Or and it’s fantastic to have Adam out in Lyon, not only representing the region, but the whole of the UK.”

Named one of The New York Times’ ‘Must-see Destinations of 2012’ due to its gastronomy offering Birmingham’s food scene has transformed beyond recognition over the past decade – from unknown to ultimate dining destination.  With three Michelin star restaurants, a burgeoning independent sector and bustling farmers markets, Birmingham offers unrivalled choice for those looking for an authentic culinary experience.

The Bocuse d’Or

The Bocuse d’Or is the most sought after prize for chefs around the globe.  Founded by culinary legend, Paul Bocuse, the contest has taken place in Lyon every two years since 1987.

The Bocuse d’Or takes place at SIRHA – a hotel catering and food trade exhibition. 24 countries compete, 12 on day one and 12 on day two.  With the help of a commis each chef must produce a fish dish and a meat dish, each with three garnishes, presented on silver flats to the jury of judges.  The jury is made up of a representative from each competing country with Brian Turner, CBE, the UK juror.  All this is performed in front of an audience of thousands of noisy and enthusiastic supporters and hundreds of journalists. The contest provides a professional springboard for some of the most talented chefs in international gastronomy and is a showcase for the diversity of culinary traditions worldwide.