Because I’m not a working chef, not even a professional cook, anymore, I’ve been staying away from this thread. But several of us have picked it up privately, and they’ve encouraged me to post my views---mostly, I think, because they’re different from what most of you have expressed.
First off, the pursuit of excellence is a laudable goal in its own right. Doesn’t matter what the field is. Advances are made when talented people push the envelope. If nothing else, that makes the Bocuse d’Or worthwhile. No, most of us will never take part. But it’s surely good to know it exists. And, it should go without saying, that’s I’d love to be in the audience.
Putting that aside, however, do you guys really believe there's no trickle-down effect? That the techniques and methodologies and uses of ingredients developed for competitions like that don’t impact on what you’ll be doing in the future? Must be that trends in the culinary arts just appear, magically, out of thin air?
I'm put in mind of that great scene in The Devil Wears Prada. Meryl Streep's soon to be assistant has made a comment to the effect that the world of haute culture has nothing to do with what she wears. At the time she;s wearing a blue blouse on that came from a big box discount store.
Meryl goes through this great soliloquy, tracing the "blue blouse" the girl is wearing back to it's introduction by a top-name designer as something else two years previously. No, the girl didn’t have any direct relationship with the Parisian fashion scene. But the genesis of her blouse began there.
So, too, with the Bocuse d’Or. Most of us have no direct relationship with it, and never will. But the indirect effects are there. Like it or not, we are all cooking with blue blouses, whether we recognize it or not.
No, it's not about participating in the competition for most cooks and chefs. It's about the innovations and inspiration that, eventually, we’ll all be using in a much diluted form, that ties us to the contest.