At Bocuse d’Or culinary contest, non-European places in top 3 for second time

January 30, 2013

A non-European reached the podium for only the second time in the Bocuse d’Or’s 26-year history, but it wasn’t U.S. chef Richard Rosendale. Japan’s Noriyuki Hamada captured the bronze Wednesday at the world’s most prestigious culinary competition, joining gold medalist Thibaut Ruggeri of France and silver medalist Jeppe Foldager of Denmark as the 2013 winners.

American hopes had been high for Rosendale and assistant chef Corey Siegel from the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. They placed seventh out of 24 countries, despite an all-out effort that included months of intense practice in a training kitchen at the Greenbrier, deep-pocketed support from the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation and coaching from many of America’s top chefs.

The competition, founded by famed French chef Paul Bocuse, a Lyon native, featured two-person teams working in identical kitchens for 51 / 2 hours before an enthusiastic, and noisy, live audience. This year contestants were challenged to produce an elaborate meat platter using Irish beef and 14 fish plates featuring turbot and European blue lobster. For the first time, the contest tested the chefs’ creativity by requiring them to improvise side dishes from ingredients they shopped for in a special Bocuse d’Or market the night before the competition.

Ruggeri, sous-chef at Lenotre Paris, became the seventh French gold medalist at the competition, which is judged by renowned chefs from participating countries.

Foldager, sous-chef at Copenhagen’s Sollerod Kro, captured Denmark’s fifth medal. Third-place winner Hamada, executive chef at Bleston Court Yukawatan, a French restaurant in Karuizawa, Japan, became the first contestant from outside Europe to reach the podium since Singapore’s William Wai won bronze in 1989.

The United States has twice placed sixth, in 2003 and 2009. A reorganized U.S. effort spearheaded by celebrity chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jerome Bocuse, son of Paul Bocuse, has generated increased American interest but has failed to produce a medalist.

Once again, female chefs were largely absent from the Bocuse d’Or, except in the roles of assistants. Estonia’s Heidy Pinnak was the only woman competing as a primary chef. The only woman ever to reach the podium is Lea Linster, who captured gold for Luxembourg in 1989.

Teams are asked to evoke the cuisine of their own countries. Rosen­dale’s fish entry paid tribute to the Appalachian region, and included turbot cooked with Virginia ham and Tennessee black truffles as well as a lobster mousse with butternut squash cooked in apple cider and mulling spices.

The U.S. team presented its beef and garnishes on a silver platter inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which is near Rosendale’s home town of Uniontown, Pa. The tray featured hickory-grilled beef, a beef oxtail “Yankee Pot Roast” with spiced red wine sauce, fried hollandaise, bone marrow and thyme-infused beef broth with a crispy beef filet and roasted carrots.

Rosendale will return next week to the Greenbrier, where he oversees nine restaurants, 13 kitchens and a 185-person culinary staff.

The next Bocuse d’Or will take place in January 2015. Chefs will compete for the opportunity to represent the United States at a national competition at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., next January.

Johnson is a freelance writer in Lewisburg, W.Va.

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