Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs - Ben Rogers
Adelaide, November 30, 2019
His thoughts on competing in the International Final in Calgary
" It's funny the difference that two hands, a clear mind and no blood loss can make! "

It’s amazing how food alone can bring people from all around the globe to one location to celebrate and indulge together. That was basically the whole idea of the Chaîne’s International Final of the Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition. It was such an amazing and inspiring experience to be with other young chefs with the same interest and passion as myself. I have made friends for life.

In less than a day, we were all hitting it off like we had known each other for years. The companionship and sportsmanship between competitors was uncanny. Right up to the competition day we were all discussing techniques and ideas on what to do with the ingredients. Come the day of the competition everyone was on edge keeping to themselves and saying very little.

I found the competition to be both challenging and enjoyable. Unfortunately, I decided to test myself further by lacerating my left hand seven minutes into the competition! I lost nearly 30 minutes getting cleaned up and having stitches. At this point I knew that I wouldn’t be able to perform to my full ability and would have to change how I was going to execute a lot of my mise en place. I made peace with myself at this point that I wouldn’t be able to win, however changed my main goal to finishing the competition.

Despite this set back I managed to finish with no time penalty. It was a great way to push myself and really see what I could do, even with the additional challenge. It was also an incredible opportunity to show my craft and skill as I had spent months practicing different menus, techniques and methods of cookery. I spent time refining small details like which smoking chips to use for different fish and the difference in time temperature and size for protein cooking times. I worked on both my strengths and weaknesses knowing I had to ensure I gave it my all.

Everyone in the competition did this in their own way, each one of us at some point competing in the regional competition then going on to compete in the National Final and win. Each one of us earned our way to the International Final knowing that we all only had one chance at it. It’s one of those lifetime events you can never buy, it can only be earned.

I highly encourage everyone to give it a crack, you have nothing to lose and only better yourself by doing it. You improve every time, and the people you meet along the way, will ensure you make friends for life. It’s all about challenging yourself.

Sequel: Back home in Australia and fully recovered

It's funny the difference that two hands, a clear mind and no blood loss can make! After waiting for my hand to heal and certain fruit and vegetables to come into season, I was able to re-enact my competition dishes that I wanted to do for the International Final in Calgary compared to what I actually did.

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Lightly smoked, poached freshwater fish rolled in fish sponge
sous-vide prawns, onion puree
pickled shallots, crispy skin, prawn oil

Slow-cooked beef coulette, lentils and rolled with zucchini
seared quail breast, quail glaze
caramelised honey squash, cumin carrots
celeriac puree

Ginger chocolate ganache
spiced sponge, poached peach cheeks
berry jam, cinnamon tulle, spiced custard

Naturally, all went perfectly to plan! Better late than never. :-))

Ben Rogers
Chef Rôtisseur