Peter Goossens: "Focus on the competition"

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 mentor for Benelux gives some tips for performing and surviving to the competition intense pressure.

You’ve honed your dish, you’ve beat off the local competition, and you’ve won through to the Grand Finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018. But when the spotlight comes down, and the pressure is really on, how do you survive?

Belgian chef Peter Goossens might know. Ever since he was a young chef he has followed a simple code: never give up! It’s a motto that has stood him in good stead over the years - Goossens is now the President of the Bocuse d’Or Belgium and a member of the prestigious Mastercooks of Belgium, and his Hof Van Cleve restaurant in Kruishoutem, Belgium holds three Michelin stars.

Known by many Belgians for his appearances on TV shows such as My Restaurant Rules and La Cuisine du Maitre, Goossens now pledges to devote more time to the really important things in a chef’s life: improving his restaurant, pleasing his customers, and developing young talent.

Peter Goossens: a dish | Hof Van Cleve restaurant

As a jury member on both the Disciples d’Escoffier ‘Young Talent Auguste Escoffier Benelux’ competition, and the Club Prosper Montagné’s ‘Best Cook of Belgium’ contest, Goossens has learnt a thing or two about performing under intense pressure. So who better to dispense advice on how to survive the S.Pellegrino young Chef 2018 competition than Goossens himself?

Fine Dining Lovers spoke to him ahead of this year’s Grand Finale in Milan.

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition final is only months away. How should a young chef prepare going into the contest?
He or she should aim to win. That means training every day and focusing on the competition.

What three essential things should a chef take with him / her to help survive the competition?
1) Taste 2) Cuisson (cooking time) 3) Presentation.

How should a chef interact with his / her competitors? Should they be open and support each other, or be guarded and ruthless in their pursuit of victory?
I would recommend a wise balance of both.

A dish by Peter Goossens

How should a young chef approach the relationship with his or her mentor? 
The mentor offers support, tips and tricks. The young chef must use these wisely to accomplish the given tasks.

How can a chef refine his / her dish and shape a narrative around it to really impress the judges?
The narrative is important, but the most important of all are the taste, the flavours and the originality of the dish.

What can a young chef do to deal with nervousness or the intense pressure of competition?
If you’re well trained and if you know your dish perfectly well, your stress will be at a lower level.

If everything doesn’t go to plan, how can a chef deal with failure in the competition?
This is of course part of the game. We brief our chef that there can be only one winner.

If all the hard work and preparation pays off, how should a young chef deal with fame and expectation if he/she wins?
The most important thing is that the chef stays close to reality and doesn’t rest on his laurels. Tomorrow is another day, another working day. Our aim as chefs is to make the people happy!

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