King of the kitchen George Calombaris has launched Australia’s next culinary star at the Bocuse d’Or, which is to chefs what the Olympics is to athletes –gruelling, competitive and the culmination of years of hard work in order to fulfil a lifelong dream.
Ten years ago a determined chef by the name of George Calombaris represented Australia with what is now known as the world’s most prestigious cooking competition and started discovering our culinary stars.
To this day he still recalls the experience as one of the most daunting in his career.
However, the fear brought on by flying our country’s flag in front of a live audience and cooking against the world’s best chefs only served to spur Columbaris into a life of cookery success and his quest to discover culinary talent.
Now he’s best known as one of the strict yet nurturing judges on the hit show Masterchef , owner of a slew of upscale restaurants and the creator behind a range of cookbooks. But recently, Columbaris returned to his competitive roots to announce Australia’s 2015 representative for the Bocuse d’Or at a Gala Dinner held at Sofitel Brisbane.
The winner was none other than our own Brisbane Club’s Executive Chef Shannon Kellam. Kellam will represent Australia at the 2015 Bocuse d’Or World Final in Lyon, France for the second time.
Calombaris recalls “the Bocuse d’Or was the last competition I competed in and it made me a better chef, it’s such a high level of competition that you need to be one hundred per cent committed or else you had better just go home.
“That experience has made me who I am, now when I’m doing things like judging Masterchef I can put myself in the competitor’s shoes because I know what it’s like to have that kind of pressure on you, even when you’re doing something you love.”
During the gala dinner celebrated chefs Patrice Falantin, Philippe Mouchel, Alain Fabregues, Stephen Clarke and Pierrick Boyer whipped up a delectable feast, with a portion of the proceeds going to Bocuse d’Or Team Australia’s campaign. The event also featured an auction, where diners will had the opportunity to purchase a private dinner for ten people cooked by the winning candidate.
“It’s great to see the attention and the respect our chefs in Australia are receiving now,” says Colombaris.
“I was the only person in my school that went into cooking and it wasn’t necessarily something that was seen as prestigious, but now there is a lot of respect for the chef.
“My advice … go in there with your mind in the clouds and your feet on the ground.”