Michael Cole and commis Laura Skvor will represent Australia at the Asia Pacific Bocuse d’Or cuisine contest next year, after a closely fought cook-off at the Foodservice Australia tradeshow in Melbourne.
Held in front of a live audience, Cole and Skvor produced a fish entrée using barramundi and scallops, and a meat main course using Angus beef oyster blade and rump cap, in a five and a half hour competition. Each course was required to be 50 percent vegetables or herbs, and the main also needed three edible garnishes, all presented on a platter to eight judges.
The other finalists were Andrew Ballard and his commis Brooke Noble; Daniel Soto and his commis Kimberly Tang; and Tyson Kromhout and his commis Brendan Bayes.
It was Cole’s meat platter – complete with floating spinning garnishes – impressed judges, and his commis Skvor was also named Best Commis of the competition.
Cole then went on to win the Chef of the Year Grand Final, being held on the same day at the show.
“I was a finalist in the 2010 Bocuse d’Or Australian Selection and ever since then I have dreamed of being chosen for the team,” he said. “Being named both Chef of the Year and the Bocuse d’Or Australian candidate is an incredible feeling.”
Michael Cole is head chef at Georgie Bass Café and Cooking School on the Mornington Peninsula. Over the past 10 years he has held senior chef positions in kitchens around the world, from Niseko, Japan to Nice, France, and more recently in Tasmania, Mt Buller and now Flinders.
Skvor is a first year apprentice chef who last year appeared as a finalist on My Kitchen Rules. The Chisholm Institute student has trained with Cole for many months to ensure they were synchronised in every element of their cooking.
Head judge Philippe Mouchel said the competition for the Australian Selection is run along the same lines as the Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific and Bocuse d’Or in Lyon.
“It is very tough,” he said, “because the candidates are also being marked not only on the taste and presentation of the dishes, but also on their kitchen skills, efficiency and communication with their commis chef. Michael’s performance was outstanding and it will be a pleasure to train him and Laura over the coming year.”
Mouchel oversaw the judging for the competition, and was assisted in the kitchen by John McFadden, executive chef at Parkroyal Darling Harbour in Sydney; Karen Doyle, head teacher at Le Cordon Bleu; and Glenn Flood, food support manager at Australian Leisure & Hospitality Group.
Bocuse d’Or Australia president Tom Milligan was one of the Australian candidates in 1995. “We have been privileged that Paul Bocuse has always welcomed Australia to the Bocuse d’Or family,” he said.
“It is exciting to see how the Australian team has evolved over the years, this year in Lyon we achieved our best ever result, with Dan Arnold and his commis Ryan Cosentino achieving eighth place out of 24 competing countries. Our challenge now is to maintain the momentum and show the world our incredible produce and culinary talent.”
The next step for Cole and Skvor is the Bocuse d’Or Asia-Pacific Selection 2018, where five out of 12 competing teams will be selected to test their skills against some of the best chefs in the world, in Lyon in January 2019.