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"World Master of Culinary Arts" Award


cabrales
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The Times (London) reported in early March on the inaugural "World Master of Culinary Arts" award to be presented on May 16 in Paris.  

Second hand reports indicate this award may be intended for the "best chef" in the world (unclear).  I have no meaningful information about this award, and wonder if it is serious. (I am also unclear what relationship this has to the Wedgwood Awards, which were also mentioned.) In general, for me, this type of award leaves much to be desired.  

Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons was chosen among various nominees to represent the UK.  The nominees not chosen included: Gordon Ramsay; Bruce Poole of Chez Bruce ("I was very pleased to be included in the shortlist myself. I never expected to win"); Marcus Wareing of Petrus; Fergus Henderson of St John; Kevin Thornton of Thonton's, Dublin; Michel Roux, jr of Le Gavroche; Rose Gray of The River Cafe.

Ramsay is reported to have lamented: "Can you imagine if a British chef was selected to represent France [referring presumably to Blanc's French origins]? I am a bit miffed. I am not biased against Raymond Blanc, but I think there are brilliantly talented young chefs in this country who could compete . . . Raymond Blanc is 53 years old. . . . Today it is a young man's game, and we have chefs like Michael Caines [of Royal Clarence, Exeter]. . . and Philip Howard [of The Square] . . . ."

The framework is for local panels of judges from each of France, the UK (including Ireland), Italy, the US, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong (represented by Yeung Koon-Yat of the Forum Restaurant) to select a chef from that jurisdiction to represent the applicable country. There is a list of nominees within each country and their restaurants are sampled by the local judging panel to arrive at the chef representative for that country.  Then, the chef representatives of all participating countries have their restaurants sampled by certain judges from other countries.

That the award has certain weaknesses is suggested by the very composition of the UK local judging panel: Terence Conran :( ; Nigella Lawson :(  ; Rick Stein; Richard Sheperd of Langan's Brasserie; David Wright of the British Trade International.  Roy Ackerman will participate in the judging at the international level.

Do members know who will represent France or Italy?  ???

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It's surely not an accident that these are celebrity chefs who are best-sellers, which, for international promotional purposes, is much more important than best-cookers. No one, apart from Jeffrey Steingarten, can afford to go flying around the world sampling the winners; but millions will collect their books and, in the case of foreign chefs, buy them as soon as they come out in translation. That could be the key -- watch how these awards correlate with the announcement of new translations of all the winning chefs into all the languages represented.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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The Australian chef representative is Neil Perry of Rockpool at The Rocks and the Asian noodle bar/restaurant "XO" (yes, named after the sauce) at Potts Point. In connection with John Whiting’s point re: commercialization, note Perry is a consultant for Qantas (not in any way suggesting relevance there).

Nominees may have included Tetsuya, Luke Mangan of Salt in Sydney, Liam Tomlin of Banc in Sdyney, Janni Kyritsis of MG Garage in Sydney, Tim Pak Poy of Claudes at Woolahra (?), and Greg Doyle of Pier in Sydney.  ;)

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The fundamental concept is silly, but no more so than the Booker Prize or the Turner Proze or the Oscars. If "the masses" really do want to spend their money on something "recommended" by a panel of nobodies, then more fool them. I can honestly say that I have never been influenced by any such awards to read/see/taste an awardee's product.

By contrast, I am influenced by expert assessment (such as Michelin) but even then only once. If I try a Michelin starred restaurant and don't like it, I won't go again. If I try two and don't like them, I won't read Michelin again.

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Cabrales--are you aware of any links to articles about the awards, the jury selection and the judging process?  Is this covered in detail on a Wedgwood site--the presumed sponsor of the award? I did a quick google and found these two articles from Australia:

http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/2001/12...FXQPUUJ2VC.html

http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/2001/11...FX1HCSJ8UC.html

My initial suspicion, without all the facts, is that this is one grand global advertorial--no more, no less--paid by Wedgwood and in collusion with chefs, writers, and personalities who have been paid off to be involved.  Distracting hype?  Probably yes.  Designed to deceive inherently?  I'm not sure yet.  In return for travelling money from Wedgwood--the jury members seem to agree to write about the "awards," and lend at least tacit credibility that there is a judging process.

Doesn't seem that the chefs and restaurants involved actually have to do anything other than "host" various juries for a dinner.  I wonder if the chefs have to agree to be involved and if they themselves are compensated in any way?  Assuming integrity at all levels of the process--by no means a valid assumption--I would find it very inriguing if this entire process, this entire advertorial, could take place without the formal involvement of the chefs.

A Qantas-affiliated person was on the AUS jury and Qantas-affiliated chef is selected to "represent" Australia; also on the AUS jury was the author/publication of the abovementioned two links.  Are there formal media or industry co-sponsors of these awards for each country?  Is Qantas kicking in some promotional value--are airlines in other countries involved?

On one level--the Qantas in-flight magazine editor was offered a junket, took it, got some name recognition in the process, and will probably write about it in the magazine.  Big deal, happens all the time.  

It would be interesting to determine if other media outlets--competitors essentially--are covering these "awards" if they themselves do not have a representative on the jury.  I suspect not.

I am unaware of any American chefs or judges--anyone?

At this point, this seems one notch above the Restaurant Magazine sham selection of best restaurants in the world.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Cabrales--are you aware of any links to articles about the awards, the jury selection and the judging process?  Is this covered in detail on a Wedgwood site--the presumed sponsor of the award

Steve Klc -- Unfortunately, the coverage of the award appears very limited. A quick skim of the Wedgewood site did not yield leads (there should be some information on there, I would imagine.)

http://www.wedgwood.com/wedgwoo....ation=U (Wedgewood site)

R Blanc's website likewise has no description of the procedural aspects of judging, etc., although the chef does note his receipt of the award ("2001 Winner Wedgwood World Master of Culinary Arts award, representing Great Britain. The Grand Final on the 16th May will determine which of the 7 national award winners will become the first ever 'World Master of Culinary Arts'.")

http://www.manoir.com/

(Select "Raymond", then "Raymond's Awards")

Blanc told The Times: "I am very proud to be representing Britain. Some people may ask why a Frenchman has been chosen, but I have been living and working in England for 30 years and have spent my entire career as a chef here."  The Times also notes that four chefs of French origin are among the ten nominees for the US representative (I assume the four includes Boulud and Vongerichten).   ;)

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Iron Chef crassly commercial? The very thought wounds.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Australian chef representative is Neil Perry of Rockpool

I'm suprised that Edzard from Melbourne wasn't included - the meal I had there was easily the best of the whole trip:  asian/french fusion.  Rockpool came a close second with Salt 3rd.  I don't think Pier's in the same class.

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A Flash heavy and therefore typically useless, uninformative website about these awards is located at World Master of Culinary Arts web site. . . .

Neil Perry as Australia's best chef? Very much open to question

andrew -- Thanks for locating the Website. The US representative is T Keller -- appropriate.

There are some obvious omissions from the local nominees list, when one looks beyond Australia. For example, in the US, Alain Wong from Hawaii is included, but David Bouley and Charlie Trotter are not. (For members who do not access the site: Vongerichten, Seeger, Perrier, H Keller, Colicchio, P O'Connell and Boulud were other nominees)

For me, the French nominees list is also very much "open to question" (even taking into account the subjective nature of inclusion and exclusion). I'm glad they included the chef at L'Esapdon at the Ritz, as his food is good. Bras, Westermann, Martin, Jung and Boyer are probably justifiable. But Rostang, Dutournier, Savoy and C Willer (La Palme d'Or, Cannes) are also nominated, whereas Troisgros, Pacaud and other more deserving chefs are not.  That being said, the US and French nominees lists are not so "off" (like the Restaurant Magazine article) as to be, on their face, lacking in credibility.  ;)

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On the US, the jury is passable. F Metz of the CIA is a supportable "neutral" (i.e., non-restaurant-operator) choice, and A Soltner and J Mariani are also appropriate. I think J Chodorow's places (incl. Asia de Cuba) are commercialized, over-hyped and do not offer an appealing cuisine. Thus, I wouldn't choose. On Peri Wolfman, she is listed as VP of Williams and Sonoma and also as "author". A quick Web search suggested she writes, with respect to food matters, mostly on place settings and cutlery! While I don't know enough of her background, perhaps a weaker judge as well. ;)

On France, Verge and Michel Bourdin (formerly of The Connaught, London) are "alright" choices, but nothing more than that. The Figarao journalist is a decent choice too. The others, I don't know enough about to comment. There could have definitely been alternative panel members, that's for sure.  ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...
A Flash heavy and therefore typically useless, uninformative website about these awards is located at World Master of Culinary Arts web site.

Two new national finalists were added to the website. Fulvio Pierangelini is representing Italy, and Jun Yukimura is the Japanese representative. I am not conversant in the cuisine of these chefs. The French representative is not yet available on the Website.

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Cabrales-

Fulvio Pierangelini is the chef-owner of the restaurant "Gambero Rosso" in San Vincenzo (Tuscany, near Bolgheri, where Sassicaia, Ornellaia and many other famous super-tuscans are produced).

The restaurant has two michelin stars and given the level of the decor it is difficult to imagine it ever getting three. However, just about everyone (except for me) believes that the food is amongst the very best in italy. The Gambero Rosso guide (no relation with Pierangelini) rates him consistently as the best in Italy while the Expresso guide (affiliated with Gault Millau) puts him in the top five every year.

His signature dish, Chickpea puree with gamberetti (little scampi) and crude olive oil is probably the most imitated dish in high-endish italian restaurants.

I visited only once and while I found the service better than expected (Pierangelini has a reputation for being a shy man with a bit of a rough attitude), the food I found underwhelming. One interesting dish he serves, however, is the "voyage around a cinta sense pig" where 8-9 differnt little plates are brough to the table with different cuts exploited. The bread with ciccioli (essentially, the fat just under the skin) was the highlight.

Wine spectator did a small feature on him:

Wine Spectator - Gambero Rosso

BTW, I found the list of candidates to this competition from Italy to be surprisingly realistic, definitively more than the French one.

Francesco

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One interesting dish he serves, however, is the "voyage around a cinta sense pig" where 8-9 differnt little plates are brough to the table with different cuts exploited. The bread with ciccioli (essentially, the fat just under the skin) was the highlight....

BTW, I found the list of candidates to this competition from Italy to be surprisingly realistic, definitively more than the French one.

Francesco -- Welcome to eGullet and thank you for using your first post to provide insight on the Italian representative.  :smile:  I also enjoyed your description of the pig dish. I recently asked Wilfrid about dishes that "deconstruct" animals. This is an area in which I am interested. Unfortunately, the search function is not operating right now and I can't locate the short mention.

Here is a pig dish that I *tried* to take in at Pied de Cochon bistro in Paris. Click here. You might know from reading the boards that Simon M, Steven Shaw (aka Fat Guy) and others are particularly interested in pig products.

If you have the information readily available, are there other Italian dishes where different parts of an animal are used to create a dish?

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Heh. cabrales, that post you linked had me clutching my stomach with both arms to prevent something rupturing the first time that I read it.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Cabrales,

the only other dish that I can recall now that puts together so many parts of an animal is by Pierangelini himself. He used to do another "voyage" around the gallina livornese (the hen of a breed of chieckens called after the seaport in Tuscany) but he decided to stop because he said that he couldn't get the quality hens he needed. I haven't tasted this so I couldn't comment on the results.

On top of my head I can't think of anything else, I am sure there is more especially in traditional cooking. Certainly nothing like Pierangelini's voyages where so many parts of the animal are presented together (I know that Thomas Keller does this with lamb but I am sure you were aware of that).

Finally, thanks for the welcome. I have been lurking for months but I decided just now to take the plunge as I've noticed the small number of posts/issues dedicated to Italy and decided to do something about it.

Francesco

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I am influenced by expert assessment (such as Michelin) but even then only once. If I try a Michelin starred restaurant and don't like it, I won't go again. If I try two and don't like them, I won't read Michelin again.

If I stopped after two disappointments, I'd be reading nothing but my own writing. Maybe even not that. I've often been disappointed by return visits to restaurants I liked the first time.

:wink:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I think the single best anything is always going to end up being someone's subjective choice and not everyone's first choice. I'm not sure I'd even care to name a "best" chef. Still, I'm not upset at Thomas Keller representing the US. I haven't got strong grips with anyone else on the panel, although I have no opinion on many of them as I don't know them at all. At least there are no clunkers who I know and feel shouldn't be on the list. The four from NY tend to be a bit more media exposed than some others who might cook as well. Charlie Trotter is an odd man out.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's odd that the representative for France is to be announced on May 16, the same day that the overall "winner" is to be declared (at least based on my review of the applicable website).

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  • 2 weeks later...
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