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It was full house again at Le Rocher de Palmer which hosted the second edition of the audacious culinary competition Aquitaine Land of Genius, on Sunday 20 November 2016!

For this edition, organised as part of the Bordeaux S.O Good festival of gastronomy and art of living, the six finalists prepared a recipe offering a new take on a popular dish before a panel of experts, including the starred chef Michel Guérard.

Stress, pressure and passion: during the 2-hour show, the candidates had to demonstrate all their creative abilities!


A new popular dish

Michel Guérard, honorary president of this 2016 edition of the audacious Aquitaine Land of Genius culinary competition, asked the finalists to concoct a new popular dish ‘with a sense of sharing and communion,  a vector of desire, charm and wit and of course, having its origins in our regional heritage’.

These reinterpretations of popular dishes were made with regional products listed in the Inventory of Gastronomical Heritage of the New Aquitaine Region.

    ‘You must boost our good old regional cuisine with brio, reaffirm our gastronomic identity with its pâté en croûte, pies and other famous delicacies.’

    Michel Guérard, starred chef and honorary president of the Aquitaine Land of Genius competition.

Complete dishes accompanied with garnish, comprising meat or fish, fruit or vegetables and grains. A dish that could be the centrepiece for a family meal.  A challenge taken to heart by the six finalists and which would reward the winners of the three categories.


The three winners of the Aquitaine Land of Genius competition

In the amateur category, Frédéric Jouot, manager of a jewellery store in Charentes, was awarded for his recipe ‘Lightly smoked South-West pork, served from head to foot in all its possibilities’. For this culinary enthusiast, a popular dish ‘already brings everyone together around a meal’.

    ‘When we have a family get-together, we usually light an ancient bread oven which is more than 200 years old. We put a pig into this bread oven with a whole lot of different trimmings. It’s the opportunity to have a big family feast. I wanted to restore a gastronomic aspect to this dish.’

    Frédéric Jouot, winner of the amateur category.

The making of his dish:

    ‘My fillet of South-West pork will be smoked with garden herbs (thyme, wild thyme, rosemary), accompanied by a potato and black pudding loaf, and a flat crépinette sausage made of pork trotters with truffle oil.  (Garnished with) minced pork stuffing with chanterelle mushrooms from the woods of the Landes, carrots from Jarnac-Champagne and pork trotters. There will also be a small stuffed cabbage. The whole dish will be accompanied by a herb caramel and AOC Cognac sauce’.

    Frédéric Jouot, winner of the amateur category.


In the Young Apprentice category, Denis Agovi was declared the winner of the competition.  Originally from Albania, the young man is a student at the Jean Capelle vocational high school in Bergerac. Cooking, his ‘favourite profession’, has been a passion for three years. For him ‘cooking is about bringing pleasure to people, trying to progress as much as I can, so that I can achieve great things.’

    His dish is a tribute to the first fish his host family prepared for him when he arrived in Dordogne. It is a ‘Matelote of eel in Pécharmant and truffled leeks, Périgord foie gras with walnuts and Espelette peppers.

    In my recipe, I used a freshwater fish. Instead of Bordeaux-style sea lamprey, I used Bordeaux-style eel and foie gras from the South West. There are Périgord PDO walnuts, Périgord truffles, Pécharmant AOC, wild leeks, sand-grown carrots from the Landes, cep mushrooms from Périgord and red Espelette PDO peppers. This creates a blend between land and water.’

    Denis Agovi, winner of the Young Apprentice category.


In the Chefs category, Damien Mitteau stood out with his ‘New Garbure, finished off Chabrot-style’. A recipe which this station chef for several restaurants qualifies as ‘impertinent, popular and authentic’.

    ‘I wanted to reinterpret the garbure, a popular traditional family dish of the South West and the chabrot custom. For me, the audacity lies here. Once you have finished the garbure, you add a reduction of red wine to the stock, you lift the plate to your mouth and drink, chabrot-style. (…) I wanted to express the popular aspect of my recipe by using everything I had to hand. I made my breadcrumbs from dried bread and used the nettles from my garden. This, for me, is the definition of a popular dish: using what you have to hand.’

    Damien Mitteau, winner of the Chefs category.

A dish produced with products from all over Aquitaine:

    ‘I used  cabbage from Magnat, haricot mais beans from Béarn, Bayonne ham, foie gras duck from the South West, PGI salt from Salies-du-Béarn, PDO butter from Charentes-Poitou, yellow leeks from Poitou, sand-grown carrots from the Landes,  Espelette peppers and Poitou echalion.

    Damien Mitteau, winner of the Chefs category.


Michel Guérard and his outstanding jury

In order to judge if the finalists met all the criteria of the competition, Michel Guérard surrounded himself with a panel of experts! Professionals from the world of gastronomy were able to move around the stoves set up on the stage of Le Rocher de Palmer and inspect the preparations of the reinterpreted dishes! The culinary show was presented by the journalist and food columnist Sébastien Demorand, a loyal follower of the event.  The jury consisted of:

  • Alain Dutournier, President of the  jury and starred chef at the Carré des Feuillants
  • Hélène Darroze, voted World’s Best Female Chef, starred chef at the Hélène Darroze
  • Yves Camdeborde, chef at the hotel Le Relais Saint-Germain
  • François-Régis Gaudry, food critic for L’Express magazine and journalist at France Inter radio.
  • Loïc Ballet, food columnist on France 2 television.


The Winners’ trophy: a showpiece of French craftsmanship.

The trophy awarded to the three winners was specially designed by Agen-based artist, sculptor and plastic artist, INDO. Charles Indaud, by his real name, wanted to pay tribute to one of our flagships of craftsmanship, Limoges Porcelain, and to gastronomical cuisine. This wholly self-taught artist likes ‘working in silence and serenity. (...) I like to hear the sound of the materials, the metal I’m cutting, the porcelain I’m trimming.’ Internationally renowned, this native of Charente leaves another mark on the artistic world with this symbol of culinary creation and heritage.

This second edition of the audacious culinary competition Aquitaine Land of Genius has been another resounding success. A culinary show in front of a full house which enabled us yet again to highlight the quality of the products of our region.