Bocuse d’Or

9 Feb

OK, so it’s been a while.  I’ve been trying to upload a bunch of pictures, but iPhoto is being a bitch right now, so I decided to give posting a whirl and see if I can find the pictures later or in the dark corners of my computer files, since I uploaded them somewhere else.  This past weekend, I went to the Bocuse d’Or USA qualifying competition for the real thing in Lyon with my dad.

The weekend, put on at the Culinary Institute of America, consisted of many panel discussions; demos; book signings; and, of course, the competition itself.  Chefs at the competition ran the gamut from young to old, European to American, and New American to old school French with regard to technique.  Names included the following: David Chang, Grant Achatz, Andre Soltner, Jerome Bocuse, Georges Perrier, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Michael Ciramusti,Timothy Hollingsworth, Eric Ziebold, Charlie Trotter, and more.

On the first day, I got in line to get my Per Se menu from last winter signed by Thomas Keller.  Even though I got in line early, I almost didn’t make it to the front before the signing ended!  Luckily, I made it, and I was able to meet the man himself!  Nice!


Later, I cut out of a demo given by Eric Ziebold a little early to get my Momofuku cookbook signed by David Chang.  It’s not that the demo was boring–Chef Ziebold was teaching the technique to make a baked chiboust (a “souffle” made with pastry cream and meringue)–but I didn’t want to risk missing the signing.

Luckily, I got to the line long before it would get long, and I quickly jotted down what I wanted Chef Chang to write in my book, as instructed by the staff organizing the signing.  I wanted mine to say, “Eat free at Momofuku any time!”  When I got to the front, Chang laughed at my proposition.  However, he wrote what I had said, followed by, “after washing dishes.”  I’LL WASH YOUR MOMOFUKU DISHES!  I don’t care!  Just imagine endless Momofuku meals!

Later, I enjoyed watching a demo by Charlie Trotter and then listening to a chef panel about achieving excellence in your culinary career.  After the panel, I went home, and the next morning…

I woke up and made a chiboust!  Mine was beer-flavored instead of lobster, like Chef Ziebold made, but it was very good.  I replaced some of the milk in the pastry cream with reduced beer to give it a nice flavor, and it was delicious.

After I made the chiboust, my dad and I returned to the CIA for the competition and more panels.  The competition was very cool; I loved watching the competitors parade around platters of nicely prepared and intricately garnished lamb and salmon!  Also, I really liked watching the chef judges eat.  Specifically, I found it fascinating to see Grant Achatz contemplate each dish so closely and carelfully deconstruct it with his fork before eating it.  Could eating styles mirror cooking approaches?  Probably!  Paul Bartolotta, Laurent Tourendel and Walter Manzke both dug in more quickly and boldly, and Bartolotta has a more big Italian approach in addition to LT running a steakhouse.  Hmm.

Ultimately, I thought James Kent would win after seeing his precise execution, and the next day I found out he did. To cap off the day, we attended another panel, where I was in the front row right across from Chefs Chang, Hollingsworth, and Perrier!  It was so cool!


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