Bocuse d’Or to expand to Russia, Africa and Middle East
PARIS, July 6 — The Bocuse d’Or, a cooking competition that could be described as an Olympic version of Iron Chef, is setting its sights on the burgeoning food scenes in Russia, Africa and the Middle East.
At a press conference in Paris yesterday, organisers unveiled plans to export the Bocuse d’Or franchise, as well as their partner SIRHA trade show into markets like Moscow, Istanbul and Casablanca in the next few years. The move is part of a larger scheme to tap into the dynamic food scenes within nascent economies.
Next March, chefs in Turkey, for instance, will compete in their first Bocuse d’Or throwdown, while 15,000 visitors and 150 exhibitors are expected to showcase their gourmet foodstuffs at the inaugural SIRHA trade fair.
Turkey offers an exciting opportunity, said event director Florent Suplisson, as the country boasts a particularly young population who are active, voracious consumers.
Organisers are also going hard after Morocco, tapping the country as their primary gateway to Africa, a region they would eventually like to add to the roster of continental competitions that include Europe, Latin America and Asia. Morocco will be competing for the first time in next year’s Bocuse d’Or.
Before moving on to the finals in Lyon, France in January, chefs representing their countries must first compete to represent their continent. A Bocuse d’Or Moscow is also in the works.
Meanwhile, a few countries pulled off surprisingly strong performances for their debut this year, Suplisson added, including Sri Lanka which placed third in their first Bocuse d’Or competition in Asia last month, as well as Estonia and Hungary, all of whom qualified to compete in Lyon next year.
In total, Europe will be represented by 12 candidates; Asia, 4; Latin America, 3; Canada, Morocco, Australia and the US each have one chef finalist, while the final competitor remains a mystery. Organizers say they will unveil the 24th competitor or ‘wild card’ in the next few weeks.
The wild card is traditionally a country which failed to qualify but given a second chance.
The 14th edition of the Bocuse d’Or finals takes places January 29-30 in Lyon, France. — AFP/Relaxnews