Luxembourg Day Three

Peter Evans

Peter Evans

Executive Chef 25th November 2010
It's day three here in Luxembourg and the temperature is definitely on the decline. Are we closer to one or both of the poles here than the UK? I'm also sure that they've turned the heating down in the hotel, just to increase the hot drinks sales. Tuesday saw a great win for the Senior team in the hot kitchen, as their results were posted yesterday. The Senior team competition, if you remember was Monday, and part of the team, joint team captain Mark Hill, Executive Chef from the House of Commons, at 9.00pm on Monday evening, had cleared down, and came straight back to the Hilton Luxembourg. At this point  the Hilton,who must be congratulated for their outstanding support in allowing full use of their kitchens, equipment and KP's to Team England. Anyway back to Mark, who then worked to 2.00am that morning (Tuesday). Following a few hours sleep, and bite to eat, he then joined the rest of the team, and worked all through the night on Tuesday into Wednesday morning, this included, members of the hot kitchen, it really is very much a team culture and whilst each section has its specialist, everyone really does join in and help, right down to cleaning up, staff feeding and making the tea. Mark is the cold buffet specialist, this is really where he excels, he has a great team, and is supported by Nick Vadis Executive Chef =Compass UK and Ireland I bumped into Mark Hill this morning who along with Simon Hulstone, was at breakfast, both looked white, with lack of sleep, I grab a coffee with Mark Hill who was extremely happy with what he and the team had achieved, and I guess to be fair you simply can't ask any more than that. The team can arrive at 6.00am to set up their buffet; they have two hours and at 8.00am is hands off and tools down, and in come the judges. Two hours may sound a lot of time, however when you consider some the centre pieces that the teams use, the stands and props that adorn their work the build time alone is huge. Much of the team time is used  ensuring that they lay their work out in a way that is easy for judges to follow, is well presented, it flows and of course looks good, after all this is very much a visual display, well almost, except for petit fours, where one plate must be edible. I'm sure there is an argument of perhaps just how relevant is this type of static competition to the work place, we all know that often, food isn't food, and there's a large amount of creativity and smoke and mirrors in making this food look, as though it is in fact restaurant food, and making sure it will last some twelve hours on display, and under lights. This will be the last year that competing teams are allowed to use centre pieces, and everything will be paraded on a flat table. This in a way is a great shame, as some of the buffet stands and centre pieces really are works of great art. These according to the rules are not taken into account and therefore do not influence the marking, though I don't think anyone will deny that it certainly draws the eye, and enhances the food offer. This will of course mean that everyone is on a level playing field;  it will reduce costs for the teams which has to be better for the smaller teams that are not so well funded as others. It was like this some twenty or so years ago, and then, as the Salon's became International, funding grew for the teams, this saw teams such as the US and the Canadians, who are often government backed, have budgets that were in line with some third world countries GDP. This began to really raise the bar in terms of buffet design and layout and of course this has put a huge strain and added cost to many teams. So back to today's action, and Team England are placed between Culinary heavyweights Germany and Singapore, for me the Germans are very good, this is all my opinion, nothing more, but it's quite traditional in fact the centre piece is somewhat sombre and reminds me of a cemetery, sorry but it does, much of the work is very good, with great detail, very intimate, I'm not an expert, so again I'm simply telling it as I see it. Team England's is very clean, a beautiful centre piece, that rises from the table and rotates, the buffet is clean un-cluttered and some of the petit fours you are frightened to breath near, as they look beautiful and yet so fragile. The Singapore buffet display is outstanding, it's how I would want my ideal kitchen to look it's clean, straight lines, very simple. The table is stunning right down to the dish display talkers not a detail is missed. There of course is an Asian theme to their work, and for me it's the stand out buffet. Just to explain the rules a little, it is not a first past the post system, but medals are awarded on points scored, so you could in theory have everyone or no one win a  gold medal.  The points total, works the same for both junior and senior teams and although each team, has a junior and senior team, they are judged as separate teams. Having won a gold in the hot kitchen, the cold team, have added pressure to achieve the same result, the combine results points tally will result in an overall "Culinary World Cup Winner" which is a first past the post system. It was great news for English Junior today team, who added another silver medal to their hot kitchen silver, so congratulations to all, and at this point I must point out, what a highly motivated talented young team, Team England has, and how refreshing to see, when so often we read of the doom and gloom of tomorrows generation of chefs. So it's very much fingers crossed here at Hilton Luxembourg for the senior team, it's a night off tonight everyone has finished, it's five O'clock, as I write this.  I have a feeling that a few beers may just be consumed tonight!
Peter Evans

Peter Evans

Executive Chef 25th November 2010

Luxembourg Day Three