Bennett, now head chef at The Cross in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, had previously stated his hope of competing against the world’s best in Lyon in 2015 after finishing fourth in 2013, the highest ever by a Brit.
He went head to head with Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year Frederick Forster, from The Boundary, and Raj Holuss, from The Ritz, at a national selection competition at University College Birmingham on Monday.
Each chef had to prepare and cook three different garnishes to accompany a chicken ballotine, the food presented on traditional silver flats.
Bennett’s winning platter comprised a ballotine of French farmed chicken with wild mushroom and truffle mousseline with fricassee of leek and chicken leg, carrot with chicken, tarragon and mustard, potato and cȇpe croquette with pickled mushroom, savoy cabbage with bacon, chicken jus and sherry vinegar.
The first challenge for Bennett, former head chef at The Cross’s big sister, Simpsons in Birmingham, will be to prepare for the European selection competition in Sweden on May 7-8. Think of this as being like a World Cup qualifier in football. Chefs representing 20 European nations will take part in a two-day cook-off in Stockholm with 12 places in the final (always held in Lyon) up for grabs.
The successful 12 countries go forward to final in France in January 2015.
All the chefs have to use the same key ingredients for the qualifier and must cook a meat dish and a fish dish. For the 2013 world final, Irish beef fillet was the centrepiece of the meat dish. The main ingredients for Stockholm have yet to be formally announced although there has been speculation that Swedish pork, or gris, could be the meat. The tail, apparently, is the hallmark of the Swedish pig as all pigs get to keep their tails as the sign of a life well lived.
Brian Turner, president of the Bocuse D’Or Team UK, praised the high standard of cooking skills demonstrated by the three chefs in the selection, which was staged at University College Birmingham.
He said: “Adam once again demonstrated his talent for producing wonderful looking and tasting food and that, along with his experience at the Bocuse d’Or, makes him the strongest candidate for 2014.
“However, the Bocuse d’Or is the pinnacle of chef competitions so it’s essential that we continue to seek out candidates who have an interest in taking on the challenge, as well as the skills required. We hope that both Raj and Frederick will be taking part in the national selection for 2017.”
Bennett, from Coventry, will again use the specially-built Bocuse D’Or competition kitchen at University College Birmingham as he prepares for Stockholm.
- Adam Bennett and Brian Turner are due to appear on the BBC’s “Saturday Kitchen” on January 11.