Each food element is designed to be a piece of art. Chef Ritchie spotlights Canadian ingredients of meat, fish, and produce. They are assembled into a beautiful entrée that is pointless to describe in words (watch the film). Those menu items are then presented on a platter and positioned in an even more artistic manner. The platter looks heavy as it is around four to five feet in diameter. It is circular with ripples representing the great lakes of Canada, but emphasizing that presentation is just as important as the taste of each item.
As you’d expect, a great deal of the film features food preparation, plating, and presentation, but even more time is spent observing the discussions and philosophy of what will be on Team Canada’s menu. Then there’s that damn platter. The team uses computer modeling not only to design the size and contours of the platter but also how each item is placed on it.
“…eavesdrops on the high-stress planning and training required to compete.”
Merci Bocuse is an educational film about the Bocuse d’Or competition that eavesdrops on the high-stress planning and training required to compete. If this interests you at all, Merci Bocuse is worth watching. The film’s biggest problem is the balance and fulfilling expectations of a food documentary. In my humble opinion, food should be the star of a food documentary. When the film does spotlight the food, it’s mouth-watering—there’s just not enough of it. I would love to have seen a professionally filmed highlight of the final platter, but it doesn’t happen.
I’m willing to concede that getting up-close access during the competitions was probably out of the hands of the filmmakers. That said, documentaries work best when filmmakers are up close to the action…like in your face close. Here cameras stand at a distance—so it feels distant. Because the key players were not wearing microphones, the audio of the meetings is not the clearest. We want the film crew to be annoyingly obtrusive and it’s clear they can’t. Also, the footage of the actual Bocuse d’Or is shot at a distance, which severely lessens the drama one can create on film.
Thanks to Merci Bocuse, I learned about a fantastic competition that I never heard of and saw some incredibly prepared food. At the same time, I wish the food could shine more. The Bocuse d’Or is a true cooking competition, where every advantage is given to the competitors is designed to help them create fabulous food without manufacturing reality show twists and turns. If you’ve never heard of the Bocuse d’Or, this is a good education. If you’re a fan of the Bocuse d’Or, you’ll enjoy the inner workings of an elite competition.
"…then there’s that damn platter."