Montreal at the Gastronomy Olympics

Montréal at the games Gastronomy Olympics

Samuel Sirois (chef), Gilles Herzog (coach) and Léandre Legault-Vigneau (clerk), form the Canadian Bocuse d'Or team.

Three Montrealers make up the team that will represent Canada at the Bocuse d’Or in France this year. During this prestigious international gastronomic competition, they will have to give the best of themselves to make local cuisine shine. Métro went to meet them as they undergo intensive preparation, worthy of great Olympic athletes.  

The Bocuse d'Or competition, created in the 1980s by French chef Paul Bocuse, is known to be particularly demanding. During the final, which will take place in Lyon next January, Samuel Sirois (chef and professor at the ITHQ), his assistant Léandre Legault Vigneau (young ITHQ graduate) and their trainer Gilles Herzog (also a professor at the’ institute) will have to cook for five and a half hours in order to serve exceptional dishes.  

In the kitchen of the Center national Bocuse d’Or Canada – a faithful replica of the one in which the final of the competition will take place, installed in the heart of the ITHQ – the trio train tirelessly, spending long hours cooking, rehearsing technical moves and coming up with the winning recipe. 

On the day of the final, they will have to prepare two services of 15 plates. First a starter, then a platter of monkfish (fish with a delicate flesh, difficult to cook to perfection) accompanied by three garnishes. 

“Everything is scrutinized in terms of performance, be it taste or aesthetics, explains ITHQ director Liza Frulla. The dishes, the efficiency of the gestures, the organization of the candidate, of his clerk as well, the optimal use of the products are judged. All in a very limited time. Hence the importance of having our National Centre.” 

But it's not just about cooking, it's also about being able to work under pressure, handle the stress of the competition and preserve your sleep. “We work to get back in shape psychologically with a sports coach who specializes with Olympians in order to have an optimal focus,” says the chef, Samuel Sirois. Every morning, he and his clerk also go for a run, both to keep in shape and to “weld the bonds, adopt the same rhythm and synchronize as we do in the kitchen”. 

If at this moment, the three cooks still give themselves a little time to do research, have fun and create, the serious things will soon begin.  

“In a short time, we will enter a mode a little more mechanized, robotized where there we must not forget that there is a performance and that in 5h35 we have to get everything out. [It's really a sporting event, it's a fight against time and it's weeks of preparation so that everything happens to the nearest second and that everything fits together”, underlines Gilles Herzog.    

Montréal at the Olympic Games of Gastronomy

Montréal at the Olympic Games of Gastronomy

Montréal at the olympic games of gastronomy

Montréal at the Olympic Games of Gastronomy

Montréal at the olympic games gastronomy

Samuel Sirois (chef), Gilles Herzog (trainer) and Léandre Legault-Vigneau (clerk), training at the Center national Bocuse d’Or Canada at the ITHQ. Photo credits: Josie Desmarais, Metro

Showing its difference 

“In what is requested, there are a lot of points that are given to the story behind it. So, do your products come from you? Why and how are you able to justify the fact that you have this or that legume or this or that product? So it's all well and good to go there and cook in a spectacular way, but there has to be a story behind it, and a story that is coherent,” emphasizes Samuel Sirois. 

< p>The dressing of the dishes, the design of the platters, the harmony on the plate, no detail is left to chance, the aim being to stand out from the “big stables”, such as France or the Scandinavian countries which have the means important. Proud to be from Montreal and to represent Canada, the team intends to make an impression.  

“As a Canadian team, and I would even say as Montrealers, we do things differently. and that's what we want to reflect, adds the chef. Obviously we will do everything to go as far as possible in the score, but we want to show our difference and we want to mark by our difference. -coach also hope that their work will also make it possible to lay the foundations for the next national teams which will go to the Bocuse d'Or.  

“After the Bocuse in Lyon, there will be another Canadian team that will come to work here, practice here, is already anticipating Liza Frulla. And those who have already done the Bocuse will also become coaches for the next team which may come from the Maritimes, from Ontario, from any province whatsoever in Canada.” 

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