Ten chefs from around the world competed this week in the 10th International Championship for Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Bilbao, Northern Spain.
The ten finalists were chosen from a total of 59 contenders, the majority of which were Spanish, but also including eleven Italian chefs, two Greek, Two Danish, two Portuguese, one German and one Mexican. The final ten featured two Italians and one Dane, with the remainder of contestants coming from various regions of Spain.
Despite the strong Spanish presence, it was Danish chef David Oliver Fischer, from Restaurant Hos Fischer in Copenhagen, who took out the prize for the best dish. Fischer was the first chef outside of Spain or Italy to win the award, with his dish of Piña, aceite y espino cerval (pineapple, olive oil and buckthorn) deemed the best by the judging panel.
The ten chefs, who were each allowed an assistant, created their extra virgin olive oil dishes within a six-hour time limit. Each chef produced ten media raciones, or half servings, of their creation, in which olive oil played a major role.
Also valued by the jury were evidence of imagination, a high standard of culinary techniques and aesthetically pleasing dishes.
Finalists were provided with seven extra virgin olive oils, all of which had the prestige of being included in the “Jaen Selection 2012”, a selection of the top oils for the year which includes Fuenroble, Quinta Esencia, Melgarejo, Nobleza del Sur, Oro Bailén, Oro de Cánava and Tuccioliva.
From these high quality oils, the chefs had to choose the most appropriate for their dish in the bid to take home the prize of €18,000 ($22,921). The dishes were then critiqued by a panel of judges including restaurateurs and gastronomic journalists.
The winning recipe: Pineapple, olive oil and buckthorn
An initiative of the famed olive oil producing region Jaén and sponsored by its provincial council, the competition took place in the Bilbao Exhibition Center on Tuesday the 6th of November as part of the “Professional Fair of Gastronomy and Food Focus.” The aim of the event was to stimulate creativity in chefs, while promoting the use of the historic and nutritious product that is so important to Spain in both sweet and savory dishes.
In addition to the championship, a variety of other olive oil-based activities were held throughout the day, including olive oil tastings and olive oil cooking classes. Well known chefs, such as Martin Bersategui, demonstrated how to make dishes based on olive oil, including delicacies like olive oil ice cream with marinated tuna and sautéed monkfish liver and cod with pil pil sauce.
To round out the day, along with the presentation of the prize money and trophy to chef Fischer, Spanish chefs Ignacio Sanfilippo, Iñaki Rodrigo and Josean Martinez Alija also received awards in recognition of their commitment to the use of extra virgin olive oil throughout their careers. The event concluded with a tasting of food products from Jaén, as well as an olive oil lottery for members of the audience.
Pineapple with olive oil and buckthorn
200 gr. Buckthorn
50 gr. sugar
5 dl. Cream
300 gr. White Chocolate
500 gr. Fresh hazelnuts, peeled
50 gr. Black olive.
OLIVE OIL CREAM
1. Marinate pineapple in Picual oil and put on the grill.
2. Blanch the nuts and put in cup Pacojet, sift 6-8 times, adding acacia honey.
3. Boil the cream and add white chocolate mousse, pass and let stand overnight. Whisk before serving.
4. Add the dried sliced black olives.
5. Sift buckthorn with sugar syrup and Picual oil.
Plate and Serve