Meet the finalists of the Classic Fine Foods Christmas Entremet Contest 2016: François-Xavier Cocherel, Rhubarb at the Royal Albert Hall

The  Staff Canteen

This year the five finalists of the annual Classic Fine Foods Christmas Entremet Contest 2016 were selected  via a professional rating from the judges and a webpage vote. We speak to finalist François-Xavier Cocherel, from Rhubarb at the Royal Albert Hall.

This year the participant's overall score was based on two different ratings, 60% of the total was from a rating by the professional judging panel and 40% was based on a blind vote where readers were directed to a voting page and encouraged to pick their favourite entremet based on their image alone. The five with the most votes were then chosen to go through to the final. This year participants were asked to create a Christmas Entremet for 10 people weighing no less than 1.250kg. They were also asked to use at least one Valrhona chocolate, Capfruit fruit puree and one PCB item of their choice.

Over the next five days The Staff Canteen will be finding out more about each finalist, we caught up with contestant François-Xavier Cocherel to find out more about the inspiration behind his dish and how he’s feeling about the competition.

Full name: François-Xavier Cocherel

Place of work: Rhubarb (at the Royal Albert Hall)

Job title: Pastry Demi Chef de Partie

Why did you enter the competition:

I entered the competition last year and had a lot of fun creating a Christmas log. So this year I wanted to try again and see how my style and skills had evolved in the past 12 months.

What is the inspiration behind your dish:

When I was a child our Christmas table was always decorated with a Christmas crown that my grandmother used to make from scratch. I tried and reinterpreted her work with my creation this year.

Tell us a bit more about the dish itself and the elements of it:

It is red and white, shiny, the glaze is smooth and the snow balls a little more rough to the touch. I just wanted to play with textures and mix them with a bit of christmassy colours for the outside. As for the inside of my entremet, I still played with textures from a velvety mousse to crunches of cocao nibs and chocolate, and tried to balance the acidity of the raspberry with the smoothness of the Illanka chocolate introducing the tonka bean to magnify their union.

Are you looking forward to the final:

I am very excited indeed! It will be my first live competition, so I am very curious about how things will go.

 What do you think will be the most challenging part of the day:

Time! Three hours goes in a glimpse, I hope I can finish everything before the final gong.

This year the final five will be invited to re-create their entremet in front of a live audience in the recently opened TheTasteLab by Classic Fine Foods. The panel of judges which includes Pastry Chef for TheTasteLab by Classic Fine Foods London, Denis Dramé MCA and Valrhona Pastry Chef UK, Luke Frost and last year’s winner Maxime Michelot, who joins the judging panel as President of the Christmas Entremet Contest 2016, will then select the winner based on taste and appearance.

The winner will fly to New York for a 2 day hands-on training course at L’Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn. The prize includes flight tickets to New York and accommodation for 4 nights.

>>> Read more about the Classic Fine Foods Competition here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th October 2016

Meet the finalists of the Classic Fine Foods Christmas Entremet Contest 2016: François-Xavier Cocherel, Rhubarb at the Royal Albert Hall