Czech round of the 'Oscars' for chefs has announced its ten finalists

The winning chef will be chosen in Prague following an exciting five-hour competition that is open to the public. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 29.03.2023 13:56:00 (updated on 29.03.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Ten young professional Czech chefs and their teams will compete in the national round of the world's most prestigious cooking competition, Bocuse d'Or, which is returning to the country following a hiatus of several years.

The Bocuse d'Or Czech Academy, composed of renowned Czech chefs, has now chosen the ten finalists following a national round of selection. The winner will be selected based on scores from the technical and tasting juries at Prague's O2 universe from May 4 to 6 as part of the Makro Czech Gastro Fest.

This year, for the first time in its history, the Czech Republic received an official license to organize the national round of the competition, no small achievement as the community of professionals associated with the competition sets trends in world gastronomy. 

The Bocuse d'Or awards
The Bocuse d'Or awards

Chef Marek Fichtner, whose Czech Gastronomic Institute holds the license for the Bocuse d'Or, told Forbes:

"For us, it is the absolute pinnacle, nothing more. It's about the same as competing in the Olympics for athletes. There are many other competitions in gastronomy, but this is the highest achievement. There are many Michelin stars, but only twenty chefs win the Bocuse d'Or in two years."

For those unfamiliar with the competition, known internationally as the world "culinary Oscars," French chef Paul Bocuse launched the event in 1987 to raise public awareness of the extraordinary dedication, hard work, and precision needed to master the best dishes.

Paul Bocuse (middle) surrounded by the jury of the Bocuse d'Or competition.
Paul Bocuse (middle) surrounded by the jury of the Bocuse d'Or competition.

The progressive competition starts with the national round, followed by the continental round, then the world final. The winner of the national round, however, does not automatically advance to the European round, which will be held in 2024 in Trondheim, Norway. 

The Bocuse d’Or takes place every two years in Lyon, France. The final round of the competition includes 24 teams, each of them representing one country. Czech chef Jan Všetečka made it to the finals in 2009. 

Each country’s team consists of one chef and one assistant chef, the so-called “commis.” A professional jury evaluates the overall taste, plating, techniques used, and efficiency of teamwork.

Marek Fichtner, the president of the Bocuse d‘Or Czech Academy
Marek Fichtner, the president of the Bocuse d‘Or Czech Academy

The main criterion is the taste of the dishes, but the presentation and originality of the dish will also contribute, together with the processing and yield of raw materials, workplace cleanliness, and respecting the set time limit.

The assignment is clear: Chefs must prepare two hot dishes within a time period of 5 hours and 35 minutes.

A mandatory part of the first course is rabbit loin and rabbit thigh. The second dish dubbed the "Spring Plate," must include potatoes and garlic varieties from a list specified in advance. Everything else is left to the imagination and skill of the cook.

Fichtner says that spectators will enjoy the event which will feature an entertaining accompanying program for the entire duration of the event. He adds, "Our dream is to organize the European Bocuse d'Or round in Prague in the future."

Bocuse d'Or finalists (national round)

  • Patrik Bečvář has worked as a chef at several excellent domestic restaurants, including Zlatá Praha at the Intercontinental Hotel, and Selský dvůr or the French restaurant in Obecní dům. He has cooked for several former U.S. presidents, such as George Bush at Prague Castle and Barack Obama at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic.
  • Jakub Fusek is currently the head of the kitchen at Hotel Atlantis, before that he was a chef at the Stará prádelna restaurant near the Veveří castle in Brno and Adam's bar & bistro. He also gained professional experience abroad in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany as well as at top Prague tables at the Four Season Hotel and Cafe Savoy.
  • František Hrdina has cooked in five-star hotel restaurants (Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, and Kempinski Hotel, both in Prague), and on luxury ocean and river liners. As part of internships, he worked on events in Turkey, India, and the U.S. together with three-star Michelin chef Thomas Bühner. In 2020, he started his journey at the Prague restaurant Červený Jelen, where he worked up to the position of Junior Sous-chef.
  • Petr Kozma has been cooking since he was 15 years old. After his apprenticeship, he started at the restaurant of the Chateau St. Havel, where he worked for four years. He then joined Ginger & Fred in the Dancing House in Prague, where he still works as chef à la carte.
  • Ondřej Molina has worked at top restaurants in the world, such as the Michelin-starred restaurant Hibiscus in London, Fiskebar in Copenhagen, or the Grill in Auckland, New Zealand. He has worked with renowned chefs Sean Connolly and Marc Müller. Since 2022, he has been the chef at the trendy British pub Arthur's in Karlín.
  • Vojtěch Petržela is a two-time Gastro junior winner and winner of the first year of the competition KU Young Chef. Since 2018, he has been the captain of the Junior National Team of Chefs and Pastry Chefs. He is a champion in the area of carving produce. At the age of 21, he became Chef of the Year. Petržela has worked at Hotel Aplaus Litomyšl, Chateau Mcely, and Restaurant Víčep.
  • David Schlesinger gained valuable professional experience during his internships abroad and work in Czech restaurants such as Hilton Prague, Taverna Olympos, Miminoo restaurant, Radegastovna, Zlatý strom, and La Corte Restaurant in Prague.
  • Martin Staněk, a member of the National Team of Chefs and Confectioners of the AKC CR, reaped success in cooking competitions as a junior. He worked as a chef in Germany and in the famous Clarion Hotel in Ostrava. In 2014, he strengthened the team of Filip Sajler and his Perfect Canteen, where he worked his way up to the position of Creative Master Chef, which he still holds.
  • Dominik Unčovský learned from renowned professionals as a novice chef and assisted the Prague Culinary Institute in the creation of cookbooks by Roman Vaňek and Zdenek Pohlreich. In the following years, he worked for well-known venues such as La Finestra in Cucina, Sanscho, and Mánes. He also trained in the kitchens of mountain hotels in the Alps and Jeseníky and completed a one-month internship in India.
  • Lukáš Velšmíd has been at the helm of the kitchen of Restaurant Bělecký Mlýn in Zdětín in the Prostějov District for the fourth year. He previously worked at Cafe New One in Olomouc and also at several establishments in Scotland and Ireland, including Hotel Meyrick, and the No 15 Restaurant, during the time it was awarded AA Rosettes.

The Bocuse d'Or takes place at Prague's O2 universe from May 4 to 6, 2023. Buy tickets online at:

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