International JCR Final
Mexico City, Mexico October 5-9 2022
Report by Lois Gilbert, Bailli Regional Val d’Okanagan
Member, International Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Committee
Mexico City was the site of the 46th International Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition with competitors from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Turkey and United States of America. We were pleased at the gradual increase of 4 females to the 13 males.
Mexico Bailli Délégué, Thierry Blouet, Marco Alberran: Chargé de Presse and Pilar Roth: Chargée de Missions, and the Mexico City Bailliage, Guy Santoro: Bailli, Nadia Luna: Sommelier created a unique program for the competitors, companions and judges as well as international and local guests.
The competitors first tour was to Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in an area on the edge of the lake were the Aztecs settled centuries ago. This area is comprised of many canals populated by “chinampa”, or floating gardens were the crops are grown. Farmers rely on the constant source of water and the rich volcanic soil for their crops. Access to the plots are by “trajineras” or colourful gondolas as there are no roads, electricity or running water. Chef Alex and his team who are reviving the traditional Aztec method of cooking hosted us. The lunch provided was an eye opener for all as to how sophisticated a meal could be all cooked over fire and without amenities. The flavours were different than what we would expect from modern Mexican food that has a Spanish influence.
The second tour was a walking tour of the old city where we were able to see the Spanish influence in the architecture of the palace and churches. We also had the opportunity to view the new excavation site in the square, which revealed an old Aztec settlement. Each evening we were treated to amazing restaurants that allowed the competitors to better understand the local ingredients.
The black box for this year had a change to the percentage the competitors had to use. In previous years, competitors had to use 50%of each mandatory item. This year, the Committee changed the percentage to 25%. The black box consisted of 8 river prawns, 12 oysters, 700 gm Canada Beef New York Strip and 2 Canada Beef cut short ribs (4 pieces) both had to be served in the same course. The mandatory fruit and vegetables were 300 gm. Topinambour (Jerusalem artichokes) , 1 whole pineapple and 120 gm. California raisins. An abundance of vegetables and herbs rounded out the non-mandatory items the competitors could use to complement their menus. The competition allows the young chefs 30 minutes to write their menu then 3.5 hour to their first course followed by 15 minutes until their main and a final 15 minutes to their dessert.
This year we invited last year’s winner Sindre Hjelmseth of Norway to attend as the Assistant Kitchen Supervisor. The wide diversity of both the kitchen and tasting judges provided excellent and fair scoring which resulted in a First Place medal for Tonje Svee, Bailliage of Norway, Second Place medal for Otto Hietamies, Bailliage of Finland and Third Place medal for Joshua Ross, Bailliage of New Zealand. Congratulations also to first place winner Tonje Svee of Norway for achieving the highest marks in the kitchen and being awarded the Harald Wüsthof High Kitchen Score award. Winners received a monetary prize of 1st: 1500 euros, as well as a 5 week intermediate course at Cordon Bleu Paris and a large set of knives and tools from Wüsthof Manufacturing. 2nd: 1000 euros as well as an intermediate knife kit from Wüsthof, and 3rd : 500 euros and a small knife kit from Wüsthof. An additional gift of a bottle of1800 Mileno Tequila was also provided to the winners by Cuervo.
Competitions like this rely on the expertise and unbiased fairness of both the Kitchen Judges and the Tasting judges. Thank you to those judges that attended from all corners of the world.
We are grateful to le Cordon Bleu, Paris represented by Ileana Gomez, Head Quality Management and Academic Programs Cordon Bleu Mexico , Wüsthof Manufacturing, Germany and Chef’s-Hat Canada, These are our perpetual sponsors, and we are very grateful for their generous contributions to the competition.
We would also like to thank Canada Beef for their generous donations as well as local sponsors California Raisins, California Milk and Idaho Potato Commission. Competitions of this size cannot be successful without the volunteers from the host Bailliage who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Thank You All!
Next year we will celebrate the 47th Concourse International des Jeunes Chef Rotisseurs to be held in Istanbul Turkey.