An Angus beef steak is accompanied with a potato dumpling and some red cabbage, the flavour is enhanced with a demi-glace sauce with a drop of slivovitz. “The Bocuse d’Or jury also takes into account if you build on the traditions of your national cuisine,” says Jens Peter Kolbeck over a dish, with which the two-member team will compete already a week from now at the world cuisine championship, the Bocuse d’Or contest.

“If we place among the top seven, I will consider it a big success,” Všetečka says. (ČTK)

The Danish chef Kolbeck is coaching Jan Všetečka and his aide Ondřej Landa, who will be the first Czechs ever taking part in this prestigious gastronomy contest.

Všetečka, who works at the Prague restaurant Kampa Park, got to the finals that will take place in the French Lyon, by participating in the national round and then advancing to the European semifinals. The men spend long weeks at the stove and give final touches to the dishes with which they want to impress the jury. One of its members this year will be for example Anne Sophie Pic, the only woman with three Michelin stars, or the American chef Thomas Keller.

Codfish with mussels

Similarly like in the past years, there are several ingredients that the competitors of this year’s Bocuse d’Or have to incorporate in their recipes.

In one of the courses Všetečka combined Norwegian codfish and scallops, while his meat dish includes Angus beef.

Pumpkins are piling up beside fish and beef in a tiny kitchen on the outskirts of Prague, where the training of Všetečka’s team takes place. The butter flavour of the pumpkin that the chef orders from Danemark has become the base of an intensely yellow coloured composition of the pumpkin purée and jelly.

Seed for five hundred

“Ondra, that’s five hundred off of your salary. You left a lemon seed in there,” Marek Raditsch, the director of the Czech round of Bocuse d’Or is joking.

He spends as much time as he can with the team, and he will also go to Lyon with them. “From the logistic point of view, it is easier than the semifinals in Norway. France is an EU country and so we will not need any special permission for importing ingredients,” Raditsch says.

Besides the Czech team there will be 23 other competing teams from all around the world. Every team will have five and a half hours to show how tasty and eye-appealing their dishes are.

“If we place among the top seven, I will consider it a big success,” Všetečka says. So that the menu is visually attractive, he has even included the architect Bára Škorpilová in their preparations. The way the dishes look can make for as much as one third of the total of 60 points that a chef can get.