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At cooking’s Bocuse d’Or, France is first, Canada is ninth

Vancouver’s Alex Chen, one of 24 chefs to qualify for the biennial Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, had 5 1/2 hours to cook two main dishes – European turbot and French blue lobster, and Irish beef tenderloin – along with several side dishes.

Laurent Cipriani/AP

Canadian chef Alex Chen earned a ninth-place finish at the prestigious Bocuse d'Or cooking competition, an event widely heralded as the culinary Olympics.

The two-day event concluded Wednesday in the French city of Lyon, with the home country's representative being awarded the top prize.

Chef Thibaut Ruggeri of France received the gold Bocuse and a cash prize of 20,000 euros ($27,200). Jeppe Foldager of Denmark nabbed the silver and a cash prize of 15,000 euros ($20,400), while Noriyuki Hamada of Japan was awarded the bronze Bocuse and 10,000 euros ($13,600).

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The chefs had 5 1/2 hours to cook two dishes – European turbot and French blue lobster, and Irish beef tenderloin, with the option to include chuck steak, ox cheek and oxtail. They also had to come up with three garnishes, including one representing their home country.

The British Columbia-based Chen was among the chefs from 24 countries who faced off in the biennial contest. The 35-year-old was lured back to Canada in December 2011 from Los Angeles, where he worked as executive chef at the high-profile Beverly Hills Hotel after stints at the Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and Chicago.

Preparing for the contest consumed Chen's life since he beat five chefs in a national contest in Toronto in April 2010, putting him on a track to fulfil his dream of representing Canada at the Bocuse d'Or, which has been held every two years since 1987 and was named after Lyonnais chef Paul Bocuse.

The event was founded by Bocuse and Albert Romain, organizer of the International Food Trade Exhibition, who sought to create a contest to bring the greatest chefs out from behind closed doors and onto the world stage.

Canadian Robert Sulatycky earned the best-ever finish for a North American chef in the Bocuse d'Or, placing fourth in 1999.

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