Denmark 'squashes' opponents in France's top culinary competition, the 'Bocuse d'Or'

AP - Laurent Cipriani

Denmark's ode to the humble squash helped propel the Nordic nation to victory Monday in prestigious culinary competition the Bocuse d'Or, beating host and defending champion, France.

With foghorns and firecrackers, a passionate Danish crowd cheered on chef Brian Mark Hansen, 41, as he steered Denmark to its third victory in the gastronomy equivalent of the World Cup.

"I have dreamed of this for 20 years," Hansen, a chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Copenhagen, told French news agency AFP.

After national selections in some 60 countries, the two-day final in Lyon pitted 24 chefs against each other in the 'Golden Bocuse' competition set up by French Nouvelle Cuisine pioneer Paul Bocuse in 1987.

Norway came second and Hungary third.

Long known for their hearty meat-and-potatoes fare, Danish chefs have taken the culinary world by storm in recent years, racking up Michelin stars and global awards.

Scandinavian contestants have finished at least in the top three every time in the biennial event going back to 1991.

Intense preparation

France has seven titles, but this year chef Nais Pirollet, 25, the only woman in the competition, finished fifth.

But she managed to pick up a special prize for her "Feed the Kids" menu.

"There is no sadness, it is a victory to be here," she told AFP, explaining how she trained daily for five-and-a-half hours nonstop to replicate competition conditions.

Denmark got the most jury votes in both categories.


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