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Team USA Places Second at Prestigious Bocuse d'Or

Bocuse dor winnersTeam USA featured Phillip Tessier, second from left, and Skylar Stover, right. Thomas Keller, left, is the U.S. organization's president (and the two chefs' employer at the French Laundry). Gavin Kaysen is the team's coach. Photo by Bocuse d'Or

Updated at 11:19 a.m. to include quotes from Jerome Bocuse.

Team USA achieved a first by placing second.

The chefs representing the United States at the culinary competition known as the Bocuse d'Or took the silver medal at the event, which was held earlier this week in Lyon, France. Commonly referred to as the culinary equivalent of the Olympics, the Bocuse d'Or, which takes place every two years, is a fierce competition. The participating chefs train rigorously for over a year. The US delegation has never finished higher than sixth place.

Bocuse dor team usaUSA! USA! USA! Photo by Bocuse d'OrTeam USA was represented by two chefs from the French Laundry in Yountville, California. Phillip Tessier, the restaurant's executive sous chef, served as lead chef at the competition. Skylar Stover, chef de partie at FL, was his commis, or assistant.

The Or (that's gold) went to Norway's Orjan Johannsessen and Jimmy Oien. Only nine points separated first place (1662) and second (1653); Sweden earned the bronze (1610). Twenty four countries participate in the Bocuse d'Or. (France, by the way, came in at seventh place.)

The Bocuse d'Or was founded by Paul Bocuse in 1987 and is always held in Lyon, his hometown. Bocuse, of course, is the owner of Les Chefs de France and Monsieur Paul at Epcot, and he is arguably the most famous chef in the world. His son, Jerome, who lives in Central Florida and runs the operations at Epcot, is the vice president of Ment'Or, which selects and mentors the U.S. candidates. Daniel Boulud is the organization's chair and Thomas Keller is its president.

"If you look at it as if it was a 100-meter race, we lost by only a quarter of an inch," said Jerome Bocuse, who spoke by phone from a city in the French Alps. Bocuse said that having the U.S. team place sends an important message to the world about the quality of culinary talent in this country. "It says, 'OK, look at us -- we're among the best of the best,'" he said.

Bocuse said the silver medal is the culmination of a journey that began eight years ago when his father approached Keller and asked him to become involved. He said the elder Bocuse told Keller that he loved the United States so much and that he thought this country was underrepresented. Keller committed himself to the task as did Boulud. 

The competition takes place over the course of two days, culminating with the teams cooking meat and fish dishes in just over five and a half hours in front of a live audience, who loudly cheer on their favorites.

Tessier and Stover prepared a meat platter of Barrel-Oak Roasted Guinea Hen with sausage of guinea leg confit; white corn mousse, and black winter truffle; "Garden of Sweet Peas" with French Laundry garden blossoms and herbs, sugar snap peas, and black trumpet mushroom panade; "Beehive" with boudin of smoked guinea liver, grapevine honey, pistachio; "Pain des Genes," wild fennel buds, and topaz wine glaze; Black Truffle Consommé with ragout of gizzard and heart "confit," steamed custard, and flowering cress; White Corn "Nest" with buttered corn pudding, crisped corn silk, and "petit" popcorn; and Preserved Chanterelles with salad of frisée and garden blossoms, pickled huckleberry, and "foie gras" jus. The fish plate showcased Brioche-Crusted Brown Trout Pave with American caviar, tartelette of crisped skin, garden dill, celery branch "Farci," celery root puree, compressed apples, brown butter emulsion, and smoked mushroom consommé.

By the way, Paul Bocuse did not attend the competition this year. Now 89 and suffering from Parkinson's Disease and diabetes, he thought that the demands for his attention by the participating chefs and the crowds of food fans would be too much, according to Jerome. He did, however, greet Team USA at his restaurant Paul Bocuse just outside of Lyon, where the plaque will be on display.

"It was a dream for my father," Bocuse said.

Everything Bad is Good Again

We're constantly being told that we shouldn't eat certain foods if we want to live past next Tuesday. Eggs, chocolate, whole milk -- they've all been given the thumbs down before the thumbs up. This article from Salon has a fun list of foods that were once considered death warrants that are now seen as just dandy to eat.

Coffee is once again on the good list. A recent study by the National Cancer Institute, as detailed in this article from Medical News Today, actually says drinking coffee could reduce your chance of getting melanoma.

That's this week, anyway. Someone is bound to come out with a new study detailing coffee ills. So we should take all of this with a grain of salt. Or, as the Salon article suggests, as many grains of salt as we want.

2nd Annual Field-to-Feast Dinner with Walt Disney World Chefs March 14 at Long & Scott Farms

 field pavilion

The 2nd annual Field-to-Feast Dinner featuring the Walt Disney World chefs will be March 14 at Long & Scott Farms in Mt. Dora. All proceeds benefit Kids Café Program of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

I know this is still a few weeks off, but last year's inaugural event was so much fun that I wanted to give you more of a heads up; you're going to want to attend this one.

The afternoon includes a tour of the Long & Scott Farms with farmer Hank Scott. The reception is 4:30-6 p.m., with culinary stations from 6-8:30 p.m. Culinary stars include Chef Brian Piasecki and sommelier Michael Scheifler from California Grill; Chef Tim Keating and sommelier Stig Jacobsen from Flying Fish Café; Chef Jay Smith and sommelier Damaris Jimenez from the Wave . . . of American Flavors; Chef Leonard Thompson and sommelier Jim Reynders, Disney Catering; Chef Gregg Hannon and sommelier Marianne Hunnel from Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival; Chef Phil Ponticelli and sommelier Keith Gimbel from Cítricos; Chef Scott Hunnel and sommelier Israel Perez from Victoria & Albert's; Chef Christian Rumpler, formerly of Golden Oak and now at Trattoria al Forno at Disney's Boardwalk, and sommelier Melissa Schreiber from Golden Oak, and Chef Stefan Riemer and sommelier Jason Cha Kim showcasing Disney desserts.

The dinner is sponsored by Walt Disney World Resort and Edible Orlando magazine. Cost is $165; for tickets, edibleorlando.com.

Burger & Beer Joint Closes

Burger & Beer Joint, the burger and beer joint, has closed. Show of hands: Who's surprised?

Caroline Glenn of the Central Florida Future wrote about the closing. In her article, she quoted one of the management staff:

"This concept is not for this area," said kitchen manager McKinley Cherisol. "We didn't get enough students here, and this area is just mostly for the college."

Rarely do you hear someone contradicting oneself in the same sentence.

I can't attest to the quality of either the burgers or the brews. As I commented back in May, I ended up walking out when no one bothered to serve me.

Burger & Beer Joint, of course, replaced Culpepper's. Culpepper's closed after six months; B&B lasted nine, so there are some bragging rights.

Maybe the property owner should install a revolving door out front.

H/T Joe Sarrubbo

Sunday, 1st February 2015

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