Kevin earned the right to compete for the 2011 Bocuse D’Or, but that doesn’t assure him a place at the table in
The Bocuse D’Or evolved from a professional cooking exhibition and trade fair that took place in
First prize is 20,000 euros and a gold statue of Paul Bocuse in Chef’s garb, second prize is 15,000 euros and third is 10,000 euros.
It was a pretty brilliant idea. Remember the Food Network didn’t even start broadcasting until 1993. There were no nightly televised food competitions. There were not the number of food-centric shows that there are now.
This unique idea started out calmly enough until 1997, when the Mexican team engendered support from the audience with mariachi bands and cowbells, which now is a staple at the bi-annual competition. (The cowbells, not the mariachi bands.)
There are 24 teams composed of a lead chef and young (22 years old) commis chef. They have 5 hours and 35 minutes (I’m guessing they are extremely grateful for that extra 5 minutes) to to make one meat and one fish dish, each surrounded by three imaginative, complicated garnishes, executed with precision.
The teams work in side by side stadium style kitchens. No cooking in advance is permitted, except for stock and measuring out of certain ingredients. Each ingredient, including intricately turned vegetables, is prepared within the allotted time. They know which proteins they’ll be cooking well in advance.
In 2007, after Gavin Kaysen came back from his chance to win gold in
Gavin had to buy his own equipment and had nowhere near the same time to prepare as his competing chefs did. He placed 14th in part because, during the competition, a FRENCH dishwasher ATE one or two of his garnishes! How much of an accident could THAT have been?
Paul Bocuse, himself, was interested in upping the
Chef Paul Bocuse recruited Thomas Keller, to be President of the Bocuse d'Or
A test kitchen was built next to Keller’s French Laundry. Timothy Hollingsworth, the
When I’ve watched the Bocuse D’Or, it’s been absolutely fascinating. I sat there open mouthed at the phenomenal complexity, the fastidious execution, holding my breath at the final products, miraculously standing tall, defying every law of gravity.
But the Bocuse D’Or is a competition, not a television show, although it is televised in excerpted form. We see only a tiny part of what goes on during the competition. We hear nothing of the judges’ deliberations. We just see sweat and strain and toil and then the top three winners are announced and a lot of flag waving and anthem playing ensues. It’s mysterious and magical.
Of all the chefs this season, I think