The Bocuse d’Or award is a symbol of French culinary excellence and savoir-faire. This summer, the Escoffier Museum of Culinary Art in Villeneuve-Loubet is celebrating 30 years of the prestigious award with a temporary exhibition - 30 ans de Bocuse d’Or - until 31st October.
Bocuse d’Or and French gastronomy
The Bocuse d’Or competition was founded by the emblematic figure of French gastronomy and three-Michelin star holder, Paul Bocuse, in 1987. The purpose was to attract visitors to the SIRHA - the Salon International de la Restauration, de l’Hôtellerie et d’Alimentation - in Lyon by creating a live competition for chefs and allow them to showcase their talents before an audience. Over the last three decades, it has grown into an international and biannual event that unites chefs from around the world in competition for the revered Bocuse d’Or before a panel of expert judges.
For those who have yet to discover the Escoffier Museum of Culinary Art - Musée Escoffier de l’Art Culinaire - it was founded in 1966 by one of Auguste Escoffier’s disciples, Joseph Donon, to commemorate his mentor’s accomplishments. The museum is housed in the former home of Escoffier in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet and offers a wide range of permanent exhibitions including unique edible art works in the L’Art Pâtissier room and an impressive menu archive in the Les Menus room. Auguste Escoffier was often credited as 'the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings'. He earned his worldwide reputation in the 1890s with the creation of his famous ‘Peach Melba’ dessert in honour of the Australian soprano Nellie Melba while working for the Savoy Hotel in London.
The ‘30 ans de Bocuse d’Or’ exhibition
The exhibition was presented at a press conference led by Michel Escoffier (Auguste Escoffier’s great-grand son and the president of the Auguste Escoffier Foundation), Régis Marcon (sponsor of the exhibit and Bocuse d’Or award winner in 1995), and Lionnel Luca, the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet.
The main highlights of the exhibition include the presentation of three symbolic trophies: Jacky Fréon’s Bocuse d’Or, the first winner of the award in 1987 (and a chef who perfected his talents under Joël Robuchon as head chef in various Parisian establishments before moving to Hôtel Lutetia and later the Grand Hôtel-Café de la Paix). The second trophy is Régis Marcon’s Bocuse d’Or from 1995, while the last is the redesigned Bocuse d’Or trophy. The new trophy has been remodelled by Christine Delessert as an Oscar statue-like representation of Paul Bocuse.
Visitors will also enjoy the chronological timeline outlining all the Bocuse d’Or winners from the past 30 years along with the 15-minute video montage. Michel Escoffier explained the importance of having the Bocuse d’Or winners’ video as being a lively visual of chefs in action during the Bocuse d’Or contest. It truly sheds light on the exceptional performance required to compete in and for the Bocuse d’Or.
The rest of the exhibition features personal pieces loaned by Jacky Fréon such as pictures, his chef’s uniform, and personal dinner plates. The organisers of the Bocuse d’Or award and the prize winners’ association have also loaned commemorative medals, pictures and videos,which have been gathered over the course of the past 30 years and the many Bocuse d’Or contests.