A Vancouver chef has been chosen to represent Canada at the prestigious and demanding Bocuse d’Or competition in France next week.

Chef Alex Chen will head team Canada and go up against top chefs at the competition in Lyon. He’s hoping the team can break a culinary curse that’s seen the competition dominated by European chefs, and has been preparing for this moment for years.

“For many years I’ve been putting it off, just saying, ‘You know what? I’m not ready yet,’” said Chen.

But after quitting his job at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California to dedicate his time exclusively to preparing for the two day showdown, Chen said he’s ready now.

He’ll be joined by team coach and 1999 team apprentice, Dan Olson, as well as this year’s apprentice, Jack Bers.

Olson said the 1999 competition was a tough grind, with practice on top of 70-hour work weeks. But this year, he feels they’re well prepared. .

“I think we’ve done everything we can in order to get Canada onto the podium this year for the first time,” said Olson.

As for Bers, he’s just 19 years old, but he said he’s ready to cook. “It comes down to destiny. We’ve put as much into it here as we can.”

Chen and team Canada will be making their signature dish at the competition on Jan. 29 and 30.

With files by CTV British Columbia’s Julia Foy