Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend an exclusive tasting event with Chef Alex Chen before he left for Lyon, France to participate in the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious culinary competition. Chef Chen originally hails from Vancouver and is now the Culinary Architect for Moxie’s Grill. However, he has spent much of his career in kitchens far and wide, including that of Beverly Hills Hotel, where he was Executive Chef before taking his position with Moxie’s.
Chef Chen has spent the last three years preparing for the Bocuse d’Or, which is commonly known as the culinary Olympics and attracts over 160,000 visitors from around the world. For the last year, he has been practicing daily with his team, which includes coach Daniel Olson, who is not allowed in the kitchen but will be at the window adjacent to Alex’s cooking booth. However, the Chef will have nineteen year old Jack Beers in the kitchen with him, as he is allowed to have one Commis who is not older than 22.
As per the rules of the competition, each chef has five and a half hours to prepare a meat dish and a fish dish, both presented with three different garnishes and containing twelve servings; two portions are plated for presentation and an official photograph. One of the garnishes must include an ingredient from the chef’s country and is kept a secret until the day of the competition. It is fortunate for our Chef that Canada–and in particular British Columbia–offers a bounty of natural foods and fresh ingredients.
This year the fish was a European Turbot accompanied by European Blue Lobster. For the meat dish, Chef Alex prepared an Irish Beef Filet. I had a chance to taste both dishes and they were fantastic. Although I love, love shellfish, I am admittedly not the biggest fan of fish; however, I adored the flavour of the turbot and found that it was cooked perfectly. The beef was cooked sous vide and was so tender that I could cut it with my fork. It should be noted that both of these dishes were not an exact representation of what will be cooked in France.
It was a great opportunity to meet Chef Alex and his team, and to gain some insight into what would be happening at the Bocuse d’Or in 2013. Best of luck, Chef! Canada is rooting for you.