Why The ‘Entente Cordiale’ is Still So Special

‘Entente Cordiale’ is a friendly culinary competition that celebrates the close links between France and the UK. It was founded by the late Michel Bourdin who was for so long the Chef des Cuisines at The Connaught Hotel.

Now entering its 20th year, this year’s event was held at The University of West London on 20th March and presided over by chef lecturer Michael Coaker. The Chefs’ Forum was there to cover the event and it proved to be a very special night.

“This competition is special as it provides a unique experience for our students,” Coaker told The Chefs Forum. “It’s an opportunity for exchange and to enhance cultural, culinary and educational knowledge. What I love about it is that students pair up with their counterparts rather than compete against them. It is only a competition in a very narrow sense.”

“I was impressed with the camaraderie between the students,” said Catherine Farinha, Director of The Chefs’ Forum. “The idea of working together rather than against each other was fascinating. The English chefs liked working on the main courses but the French really shone in the desserts.”

This year’s pairings were:

The four pairs of chefs each had to prepare a lemon sole paupiette with mariniere sauce and then an interpretation of a fermented, ‘dough-based’ dessert.

Judges included Michel Escoffier (Great Grandson of August), Steve Munkley (Vice President, Craft Guild of Chefs), Franciane Tartari (Executive Pastry Chef, 1 Hotel Mayfair), Gilles Quillot (Executive Chef, French Embassy), Mark Flanagan (The Royal Chef), Daniel Ayton (President Disciples of Escoffier UK), and James Golding (TV Chefs and Fellow of Royal Academy of Culinary Arts)

Lecturers supporting students on the day were Tom Eagerton (Westminster Kingsway College), Francois-Xavier Michaud (Lycée Jeanne et Paul Augier, Nice) and Jean-Michel Tonino, Lycée Francis de Croisset Grasse.

Each team were presented with a gold medal and prizes included: