With six months to go until the world final kicks off in Lyon on 29 January, Bennett and his commis chef, Kristian Curtis, have found out they must produce a meat platter for 14 using Irish beef fillet plus three garnishes with an option to use ox cheek, chuck and ox tail to support the fillet.
No fish platter
However in a twist this year, Bennett, who took the best meat prize at the regional European finals in March, exclusively told BigHospitality the organisers have chosen not to release details of the required fish element until November.
Competitors will be provided with details of a mystery basket of produce for the fish garnish at the same time as discovering what fish they will be using. In another departure the fish will need to be plated for 14 as opposed to being presented as a platter.
"The idea is to stop the teams with the massive budgets practising to death and giving the ones that have less time and money more of a level playing field," Bennett said. "It gives us only two months to work on it."
Bennett explained he felt the UK had a good shot with Irish beef fillet, a product UK chefs know well, and would be confident with white fish but would wait and see what the organisers choose. "You can practise lots of garnishes you get with white fish but you might get farmed salmon or sea trout but I don't think they will be that cruel!"
Facilities and funding
At the last world final of the Bocuse d'Or held in Lyon in January 2011 Scandinavian chefs dominated with Denmark taking the top prize. Simon Hulstone, who had represented the UK and came 13th, chose to retire from the competition to concentrate on his restaurant.
Now, for the first time, the UK team has access to a professional training kitchen at University College Birmingham and Bennett will be taking time off from work to prepare and help the country compete with the other nations.
"Ironically it is the first year we have ever had facilities and time to practice! At the end of the day it is better for us - we are famous for beef in this country; we understand it as a product, as do a lot of other European countries but we have no excuses. The fish we will take on the chin when it comes," he concluded.