Tom Phillips, sous chef at Restaurant Story in London, won the UK Selection of the Bocuse d’Or on Saturday 18 November. Five chefs competed in a three hour 45 minute cook off at The Skills Show at Birmingham NEC. The runner-up was Adam Thomason MCA, executive chef at Restaurant Associates. The other chefs competing were Chris Hill MCA, premier sous chef, The Ritz London, Frederick Forster MCA, executive chef, The Don Restaurant London, and Tony Wright MCA, senior lecturer University College Birmingham and Bocuse d’Or candidate 2016.
Each competitor received a pan from Bocuse d’Or sponsor Mauviel whilst Tom was presented with a winner’s trophy and the book Chasing Bocuse by Philip Tessier, the chef who secured silver for Team USA in the Bocuse d’Or 2015 and went on to coach the winning team in 2017.
The chefs prepared a fish dish using Fjord trout and lobster as the main products and a meat platter using a short saddle of lamb as the main product – each course had to be presented with a minimum of three garnishes.
Tom’s fish plate was native lobster with Fjord trout mousse, celery branch, winter radishes, pistachio purée, burnt chive oil, lobster verbena cream, Oscietra caviar.
His meat platter was saddle of lamb glazed in a spinach crêpe, turnip tart – with caramelised onions, crispy Brussels sprouts and pickled onions, glazed lambs tongue, ransom capers and an aerated Tunworth sauce, braised celeriac, truffle, celeriac skin, crispy trompette mushrooms and mustard frills.
Tom, aged 25, has dreamt about taking part in the Bocuse d’Or since he started cooking professionally. Prior to joining Restaurant Story, Tom was chef de partie at L’Enclume and his experience includes working at Le Bristol Paris and The Ritz London. He also spent 18 months working at Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in New York. Thomas Keller is President of Team USA, the current title holders of the Bocuse d’Or.
Tom must now prepare to compete for a top ten place at the Bocuse d’Or European heat in Turin on 11-12 June 2018. Only the top ten scoring countries will go through to the world final in Lyon in January 2019.
Following his win Tom, who was supported by commis chef Nathan Lane of The Ritz and formerly of Simpsons in Edgbaston, said “It was a privilege to compete against some of the UK’s best chefs. It’s only just sinking in what my commis Nathan and I achieved and I feel honoured to have the opportunity to compete for the UK next year. I have followed the Bocuse d’Or since I started to cook and always dreamt of competing, winning on Saturday was the beginning of my career dream becoming a reality! Both Nathan and I can’t wait to get stuck into training.”
The UK jury was led by UK Team President Brian Turner CBE and included Bocuse d’Or Academy chair, Andreas Antona, team vice president and Bocuse d’Or UK candidate 2013 and 2015, Adam Bennett MCA of The Cross at Kenilworth, technical director of Team UK and executive chef of The Ritz John Williams MBE, Idris Caldora former Bocuse d’Or candidate and coach of Team UK 2015 team and Bocuse d’Or ambassador, Claude Bosi of the two-Michelin starred Bibendum restaurant. Philip Tessier travelled from California to join the jury.
Team UK President Brian Turner spoke after the result, “Today’s chefs put in a great performance and we witnessed the highest standards of cooking at a UK selection to date. The future looks very bright indeed and I sincerely hope that those who didn’t win this time will consider putting themselves forward again.”
“I’d like to thank all the judges who gave their time to judging today and particularly Claude and Philip who contributed a great deal to the discussion. I would also like to thank ACT Clean, Aubrey Allen, CCS, Mauviel, Norwegian Seafood, University College Birmingham and World Skills UK – without whom we would not have been able to host such an important competition.”