In fact, the French were not very popular with the judges -
French chefs feel the heat as Welsh and Germans beat them in international contest
Friday February 24, 2006
The result will not go down well in the restaurants of Paris, and the brasseries of Biarritz will be rocked by the news. After three decades of declining to compete in international culinary competitions a French team stepped back into the arena yesterday - and finished a dispiriting last behind Germany and Wales, countries not always associated with haute cuisine.
Determined to make a good impression at a contest in north Wales, France had put up five of its most respected chefs.
But the judges were underwhelmed by their skills, describing them as "old fashioned", and did not take too kindly to their laid-back approach to timekeeping.
Nor were they pleased that the French had spent almost double the budget for the competition and prepared some of the more fiddly bits in advance.
The competition, at a college of further education in Colwyn Bay, was a sobering experience for the French. "I just hope it doesn't mean they take offence and drop out again," said one of the judges.
The French have chosen not to put their reputations on the line at contests run by the World Association of Cooks Societies since 1978.
Other nations compete in international matches, accruing points for a league. Canada is top, with Singapore second and Switzerland third. England is down at 33rd but Wales is a creditable seventh and Scotland sixth. The French have no ranking because they do not compete.
But some of their culinary leaders have decided they ought to return to the international stage, hence the appearance of a team of chefs - touted beforehand as the Thierry Henris of French cooking - in north Wales.
The Welsh and Germans (ranked fourth in the world) had turned in good, solid performances earlier in the week in the three-team contest when they prepared three-course lunches for 75 diners who had paid £25 a head.
Yesterday it was the turn of the French, led by leading Paris chef Bernard Leprince. But they got off to a stumbling start. Their "show plates" were half an hour late for the judges, who said they were not impressed by the team or their old fashioned techniques. "Times have moved on," one judge said. They also spent double the £450 budget.
The Germans and Welsh were awarded gold medals, with the Germans just ahead, and the French received a silver. Mr Leprince was not downhearted. "It was our first competition and we enjoyed it."