Fabrice Devignes during Bocuse d'Or 2007,
The suspicion of foul play from the French candidate during the Bocuse d'Or is of great concern to us. We have been discussing for quite sometime how respond to the accusations made by the German team regarding the two boxes arriving in Fabrice Devignes kitchen. We can fully support that these boxes in fact did arrive. However, we can not agree to the time of day (9:18) as stated in the conclusion from the International Organizing Committee. Two of our assistants on the Danish team are certain that the boxes arrived somewhere between 10:45 and 11:00. When pointing on the boxes they were both send off by the former French gold-winner Mr. Adamsky.
The question everybody is asking themselves afterwards is : Why didn't anyone say anything to the controllers or jury members ? ? It is a very natural and simple question. The answer however, is more complicated. First you must remember that the Danish assistants were sent off by a member of the Bocuse d'Or Academy. Secondly we and everyone else consider the Bocuse d'Or as the most important and prestigious competitions for chefs in the world. Just to participate is the highlight of many chefs career ! The awe for this competition is inevitable first you set foot in the competition area. The candidates work under an extreme pressure and the atmosphere is very tense. The whole idea of cheating at this competition is simply non-existing. No one would ever dare to risk total personal defeat or what's even worse disregard the whole spirit of this contest except – maybe – Fabrice Devignes. In spite of the fact with the two boxes it was somewhat impossible for us to believe that they should contain anything illegal. Furthermore, to make an accusation of this caliber during the competition could very well be Russian Roulette with a lot more than one bullet in the chambers...until we read about the German experience in the newspaper on our way home !
We have been keeping a low profile in this matter because we didn't want to be accused of being bad losers. We are not bad losers ! On the contrary, we are extremely happy and proud about our silver-award – won by a dedicated and hard working chef. We have no reason to feel bad about anything – except if we lost the gold because Fabice Devignes was cheating.
And this nails the core issue in this matter : The doubt ! Did he cheat or didn't he ?
Well, after the temperature has cooled off two weeks after the competition we still have to admit that the doubt has not been erased. Especially not after the International Organizing Committee calls the Germans bad losers (bad losers from the 11th. position – what would they gain from accusing anyone ? ? ! !) and furthermore the Committee acknowledge the two boxes – but conveniently two minutes before Fabrice Devignes started. They disregard the honesty in our complaints and respond as if this is just a family game for 3 years and up ! It would certainly look good on the International Organizing Committee if they had initiated a more thorough investigation of this matter apart from referring to the rules in article 15 and list convenient times for the arrival of the boxes.
By doing so the International Organizing Committee is – knowing or unknowing – complicating the matter even more. Instead of solving the case they add gas to the burning fire of conspiracy theories by acting somewhat arrogant in their reply.
The Committee must understand what is at stake here. We are talking about an
almost "sacred' chefs competition. Each participating country are investing a lot resources in the Bocuse d'Or in terms an extreme number of hours by volunteer workers, a considerable amount of money donated by sponsors ( The Danish team economy is € 150.000+).
In addition to this we have been working hard on making the Bocuse d'Or a public event in Denmark and we have succeeded in getting a lot of attention from the Danish media and even the minister for food, agriculture and fisheries caught interest in us !
On that basis our main concern is not a matter of gold and silver medals. It is a matter of credibility and future competitions. How can we promote a competition where cheating might be possible ? How can we ask our sponsors to invest or re-invest in this competition if there is any doubt at all about fair play ? How will any candidate in the future be able to establish the necessary enthusiasm and invest hour after hour, month after month in preparation time ?
The situation about the Bocuse d'Or 2007 is very serious. We much prefer to believe that Fabrice Desvignes did not cheat. But as time goes by more and more indications on foul play turns up. Apart from the two boxes, it is confirmed repeatedly from a number of people that his work in the kitchen was unorganized and he appeared to be very nervous. Nevertheless he is able to present some very impressing dishes 5 hours later. Looking at each tray they demonstrate an enormous creativity with two to three details on each garnish. A number of extinguished and high profile chefs have expressed their serious doubt in the possibility to make such a large number of time consuming details in just 5 hours."
Karsten Kroman, Vice président du Bocuse d'Or Danemark