Britain's most high profile chefs have rallied round to support Simon Hulstone in his bid to win the Bocuse d'Or culinary contest, dubbed the "culinary equivalent of the Oscars", for the United Kingdom.
Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White and the Roux brothers have all pledged their support for Hulstone, who is the UK's representation in the competition, and called for the competition to be more widely publicised in Britain.
To this end, the chefs have launched a petition at the Restaurant Show today that they hope will raise funds for Britain's bid and draw attention to Hulstone's efforts in the contest.
Speaking at the Restaurant Show this morning, chef Albert Roux said: "The Bocuse d'Or is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world. Chefs come from all over the world to compete. They prepare months in advance; its like a marathon.
"Simon has to still run his restaurant while training. It's high time this country recognised this competition."
With the help of his commis, Jordan Bailey, Hulstone will compete at the Bocuse d’Or final in Lyon on 24-26 January 2011. Along with 23 other national chef teams, he will present a fish dish and a meat dish, each with three garnishes, presented on silver flats to the jury of judges.
The British team is organising a supporters trip to the final to cheer the two chefs on.
Brian Turner CBE, president of Team UK and UK judge says: “The Bocuse d’Or is such a prestigious contest and receives a huge following in countries such as France, Norway, Denmark and the USA. However, it is still relatively unknown in the UK which means that our candidate has to prepare with little or no financial support.
This year, we’ve managed to secure generous donations from some of the food industry’s big names but we’ve still a long way to go until we reach the kind of funding which other candidates receive. This is why we’ve launched the petition - to increase awareness of this fantastic competition among the British public and raise much needed funds.”
Founded by chef Paul Bocuse in 1987 to celebrate the individual talent of young chefs the Bocuse d'or takes place every two years at SIRHA - a hotel catering and food trade exhibition.
According to the Academy of Culinary Arts, which is spearheading the UK's bid and the petition, the "contest provides a professional springboard for some of the most talented chefs in international gastronomy and is a showcase for the diversity of culinary traditions worldwide."
Both Electrolux Professional and Nestlé Professional are hosting the petition at their stands throughout the duration of the show.