Shannon Kellam: Being The Australian Bocuse d’Or

From the archives: This article is from our original site MyCityLife, posted back on 31 July 2014

Every facet of our cultured lifestyle has their Magna Carta: The printing press. Symphony No 5 in C minor Opus 67, Allegro con brio. Lady with an ermine. The Guggenheim Museum. The quilted handbag, parfume No 5 and The Suit. And then there is the Bocuse d’Or. While Gutenberg, Beethoven, da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright and Chanel are forever imprinted into history’s pages, it is Monsieur Paul Bocuse whose name is immortalised across the globe with the grand prix for Chefs. 

The Lyonese cuisinier is renown for his innovative gastronomy contributions to the world. Recognised as The Chef of The Century and the godfather to a bounty of esteemed students across the globe, this culinarian virtuoso’s name is emblazoned permanently into the culinary history books with the Bocuse d’Or. This biennial chef championship is the world’s most prestigious cooking competition. With 24 countries taking part, being selected to represent your country at the Bocuse d’Or is equivalent to being on the Olympic team.

And taking out the d’Or to Culinary Excellence in August last year, Brisbane chef Shannon Kellam has really created waves. As the Executive Chef for The Brisbane Club, having previously refined his skills at Wilson’s Boathouse, Il Centro and Raphael’s, Shannon really has put Brisbane on the map with his incredible achievement. Since starting his apprenticeship at 16, Shannon has entered culinary competitions every year, for the last twenty years or more. And it has been to be a part of the Bocuse d’Or that has particularly been his dream. 

Preparing for his trip to Lyon in 2015 with a few dinners under his belt, from The Regatta to Urbane (which MyCityLife reviewed, here) and Cha Cha Char Wine Bar & Grill, Shannon comes to Victoria Golf Club for his final banquet on August 9. Hosted by local domestic goddess Dominque Rizzo and Secret Meat Business chef and personality Adrian Richardson alongside six of Australia’s top chefs, this will be a night of culinary excellence where we say Bon Voyage to the Bocuse d’Or Candidate. And in the lead up to this prestigious event, MyCityLife sits down with Shannon to chat being The Australian Bocuse d’Or.

How does it feel to be the Australian candidate for the Bocuse d’Or?
It feels fantastic actually and at the same time, it’s a massive amount of work and a big commitment. 

You’ve met Paul Bocuse before. How was that experience for you?
In October 2012, I represented Australia in the culinary Olympics in Germany: The Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung. This is the Culinary Olympics – the largest culinary event in the world. But the Bocuse d’Or is different because it’s in honour of Paul Bocuse and is the pinnacle of what a chef can do. I was in Germany for four weeks, representing Australia. I went from the culinary Olympics straight into training for the Bocuse in 2012, so it was very hectic. I drove around France and ended up at Lyon. I had dinner at Paul Bocuse’s Restaurant, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges. It was the most amazing thing in my life. I arrived and Paul was there, standing at the front waiting to greet me. He was in his full chef uniform and hat, and he held my hand and walked me around the restaurant and introduced me to every table in the restaurant as a Bocuse D’or chef for Australia. It was absolutely amazing. He also took me into the kitchen. I have a photo of Paul and myself. It was absolutely fabulous.

On that day in August 2013 when you were competing for the Australian candidacy, what do you think it was that made you stand out from everyone else?
It’s been a long road to be able to cook at that standard or level – especially in a competition environment. The skill and the experience leading up to the most recent national selection is what definitely made me stand out the most. 

What is it going to be like in January on the day of the Bocuse d’Or?
You have to prepare all your measuring, all your scaling, set all your equipment out, prepare the kitchen and get it all ready for the day of the event. Speakers are laid out around the walls of the kitchen and music is blaring – you have to get use to the noise. You have to climatise to that noise or you wouldn’t be able to cook on the day because the crowd is so loud and vocal. It’s like being in the centre of a soccer stadium. 

Having taken out the Australian candidacy for the Bocuse d’Or, what do you think you’ve done for Brisbane?
In Australia, there is so much focus on Sydney and Melbourne. People need to understand that Brisbane is there too. If Australia can do well in this, everyone will be talking about the culinary arts in Australia. And coming from Brisbane will be very inspirational because Brisbane is not so well known for its food or producing great chefs. It’s something I want to turn around, because we have great produce and we have great local chefs finding it hard to get recognition.

With your last dinner due August 9 at Victoria Park Golf Club before we say bon voyage, what will you be working on?
I will look at new techniques, new garnishes and new cooking methods. I relocate to France in November, and start to do the full hit out every single day for the two months after that.


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