There are culinary experiences that fall short of a concise description, and the words can only do them justice to a certain extent. Here I am, one month passed after my experience of Sirha Lyon 2023, still in awe and excitement, and still trying to process the amazing.
I decided to attend Sirha Lyon pretty much at the last minute, an extraordinary move on my part (I usually plan well in advance) I had been thinking of special ways to mark my 10 years of blogging, and Sirha Lyon seemed to showcase this celebratory spirit to perfection. Celebrating its own 40th anniversary in 2023, Sirha Lyon – the world’s leading food service event with a prestigious history of celebrating gastronomic excellence – brought together nearly 210,000 professionals, and 4,700 exhibitors and brands. Over the course of five days (19-23 January 2023), 600 novelties/innovations were presented, and 81 masterclasses, round tables and competitions were held, including the World Pastry Cup and the Bocuse d’Or. This is the first part of my three-part review of this incredible event.
I arrived in Lyon one sunny, freezing cold afternoon. I had never visited France before, and this experience (for which I was very grateful) gave me the chance to reconnect with my European roots. A cup of hot, thirst-quenching, aromatic tea enjoyed while watching the world outside, and the apartments similar to the one I had grown up in – what a great start to my journey 🙂
The Expo started off on a snowy morning.
Luckily, it stopped snowing soon, and the snow didn’t settle.
One notable event held on day 1 was the 8th edition of the International Catering Cup, which brought together twelve teams competing to win first place, the gold trophy, and the title of the best caterer in the world.
Each team had to prepare several dishes falling under the rubrics of cocktail appetizer, fish dish, pig dish, and gourmet coffee (you can check out the full list of required dishes here), and to present them to a professional judges, in a race against the clock.
The USA team – represented by Chefs Pascal Kamin, Clément Goyffon, and Claude Le Tohic – won the gold medal, while France won the silver, and Czech Republic the bronze. Singapore (winner of the previous edition of the International Catering Cup) won the special award for the best cocktail appetizers, while Italy won for its creations in the fish category, Belgium in the pig category, and Vietnam in the coffee category. Congratulations to the USA team!
La Coupe de France de la Boulangerie (French Bakery Cup) was another exciting competition I observed during my 5 packed days covering Sirha Lyon.
The 16th edition of this prestigious event brought together 12 teams of 3 regional bakers, who competed over 3 days in the following categories: bread, viennoiseries, artistic buffet, and bakery food test (snacking).
This year’s theme – The Conquest of Space – invited a lot of creativity. The baked treats were of the highest quality, and were breathtakingly beautiful.
I was particularly impressed with the Chefs’ artistic buffets, which showcased stars, planets, cosmonauts, and every other cosmic element you could think of. Incredible talent – as expected, of course.
At the end of 3 challenge-packed days, the gold medal went to the Bourgogne Franche Comté 1 team, the silver to the Bourgogne Franche Comté 2 team, and the bronze to the Occitanie 2 team. Bourgogne Franche Comté 2 also won a special award from event sponsor Valrhona, while Bourgogne Franche Comté 1 won the award for the best creative galette des rois.
Once the French Bakery Cup ended, the stage was all set for The European Sugar Art Championship to begin. Over the course of two days, candidates created artistic pieces made of drawn, blown, and ribbon sugar techniques on this year’s theme: Salvador Dalí.
The winners of this prestigious event were Chefs Thomas Mahou (gold), Raimondo Esposito (silver), and Maël Touvenin (bronze). What an incredible display of sugar artistry!
Of course, no culinary event is complete without browsing, learning, and tasting, and Sirha Lyon vastly surpassed my expectations on all counts.
Being the dessert lover that I am, I was mesmerized by the superb dessert displays I came across…
… many on the topic of Valentine’s Day.
I was also super excited to visit the section of the Expo which showcased 14 international pavilions, the site of many meetings, demonstrations, and tasting sessions. I sampled sardines at Spain’s pavilion, organic matcha at Japan’s pavilion, and my number one discovery, almond coffee at Saudi Arabia’s pavilion, which offered a spectacular immersive journey into the heart of the largest country in the Middle East. The creamy almond coffee, made of rice flour, sugar, almonds, cardamom, and milk, was a revelation to me.
There was also the Italian pavilion, with lots of scrumptious products and tastings…
… and the French regional stands, showcasing plenty of organic local delicacies…
… and additional deliciousness involved…
… and a lot more! I would also like to highlight the chestnut ice cream at the Clement Faugier stand, the versatile gourmet vanilla pearls at the Prova Gourmet stand, and last but not least the high quality Valhrona chocolate (a prestigious name in the culinary world and a sponsor of the International Catering Cup, the World Pastry Cup, the French Bakery Cup, and the Bocuse d’Or).
A special mention must also be made about the Segafredo Zanetti stand inside the Coffee section of the Expo, whose delicious caffeine-packed beverages kept my energy levels up throughout this stellar, infinitely exciting gastronomic event. Thank you, Segafredo Zanetti!
Stay tuned for my detailed reviews of the World Pastry Cup and the Bocuse d’Or, hosted in Lyon this year. Coming up soon 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I received complimentary tastings to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.