The creativity, originality and inspiration of young chefs will be celebrated through a new format for “Le Taittinger” International Culinary Prize.
Michel Roux Jr – who holds two Michelin stars at his restaurant, Le Gavroche, in London – will return as the president of the UK national competition, joining a panel of judges to anonymously select a chef who will go on to compete at the international final in Paris on 28 January 2020.
Under the new format, each year the contest will celebrate a “hero” ingredient, which chefs will use at the heart of a signature dish.
This year’s hero ingredient is king scallops, with the gauntlet being thrown down for chefs to use their creativity and flair to design a dish that is both delicious to eat and visually spectacular. Competitors will draw inspiration from all the influences of culture, country, heritage and style of cuisine before adding their own personal touch.
Chefs who are aged between 24 and 39, who are currently employed in a restaurant and who have five or more years’ experience in the profession are eligible to take part in the competition.
UK competitors have until 28 October to submit their recipes with photographs, with the national winner being announced on 18 November.
The UK’s top chef will then go head-to-head with the winners of the other national competitions in Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
Each chef will cook six plates of their signature king scallop dish for a panel of judges, along with six dishes that follow a set recipe, which will only be revealed to them the night before the international final, with just four hours in the kitchen to prepare the two courses.
Before they compete, the international finalists’ creativity will be stoked through a visit to Champagne Taittinger, along with culinary workshops.
The contest, which is known as the “Everest of Gastronomy”, has been running since 1953 and has crowned champions including Joel Robuchon, Bernard Leprince and Michel Roth.
The winner of the international final will receive €20,000 and a medal, with the runner-up getting €5,000 and €2,500 being awarded to the chef in third place. Each national competition winner will take home €2,400.
Vitalie Taittinger, marketing and communications director at her family’s eponymous Champagne house, has revitalised the prize, which was launched as a tribute to Pierre Taittinger, the founder of the label.
Creativity, originality and inspiration are at the heart of Champagne Taittinger
She said: “Creativity, originality and inspiration are at the heart of Champagne Taittinger and that’s why we want to recognise young chefs who demonstrate those same qualities through their cooking.
“The new format will give chefs the opportunity to demonstrate more of their own flair and personality whilst retaining the challenging nature of the competition.
“The ability to both freestyle with their own signature dishes and also display technical excellence in producing a set recipe are equally important skills in a leading-edge modern kitchen.
“I can’t wait to find out which chef will be representing the UK in the international final – and to taste their dishes.”
For an entry pack, email
Lynn Murray, marketing director for
Champagne Taittinger at UK distributor Hatch Mansfield
Kevin McKee, UK director for Family Taittinger