Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Backstage" at the Bocuse d'Or

(photo credit: Amy Blogs Chow)

“The CIA auditorium is alive with the smells of roasting chickens and simmering herbs, the sounds of knives making precise cuts and packed wall to wall with industry professionals, vendors, and screaming culinary students..."

This is just one small taste of the excitement that ensued at the Culinary Institute’s Hyde Park Campus this past Saturday, January 27th and 28th. The Culinary's Hyde Park campus was the host of the 2012 USA Bocuse d’Or Competition, an event that pits four of the Nation’s most talented chefs against one another to see who will represent our country in the Bocuse d’Or World competition, held in Lyon, France.

I got a front row seat, as well as a pass to go behind the velvet rope to fill you in on the events of this special weekend!

I have been a CIA student for three years now, and I can still remember sitting in my Gastronomy class during the first six weeks of my Associates program. One of the main things that we were taught in Gastronomy was about the history of the restaurant, as well as about the chefs that have greatly impacted the culinary industry (you can see many of them in my photo). Chefs such as Jerome Bocuse (son of Paul Bocuse, the father and founder of the Bocuse d’Or, as well as chef of Les Chefs du France in Walt Disney World), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry and Per Se), Daniel Boulud (Restaurant Daniel, Café Boulud, DBGB), Grant Achatz (Allinea and NEXT), and many more, were judging and helping throughout the competition.

Since I am also a writer and Copy Editor for our school newspaper, La Papillote, I got a unique look behind the scenes of the competition!

Being in the La Papillote Newspaper office throughout the event was like stepping into Grand Central Station for these notorious Chefs. Chef Jerome Bocuse and Chef Daniel Boulud whisked by me speaking hurried French and looking over judging paperwork, while Chef Grant Achatz, (seen with me in the photo above), swung by to pick up his judging chef jacket. When Thomas Keller popped his head in our small cubicle to ask for a pencil, the staff just about toppled over one another, excitedly trying to find the first pencil they could get their hands on. These men and women are people we've been hearing about and learning from since we started here. They are our idols, people we aspire to be like in the future, and at that very moment, they were all within arm's length!

I also got to watch the most action-filled part of the whole weekend from the VIP section (while snacking on some complimentary foie gras terrine and Nescafe espresso, yum!!!!).

It was exhilarating watching each of the four teams start the competition during their allotted intervals, and then, when the buzzer sounded, present gorgeous and meticulously constructed plates of food.

Each team was required to use two different proteins (assigned by the Bocuse panel) in their dishes. The first, cod, had to be plated with three garnishes, and was judged by a specific panel of fish judges. The second, chicken, was presented on a platter which is shown to a panel of meat judges, and then carved and plated so they can taste each component. Chef Bocuse, Chef Keller, and Chef Boulud were honorary judges and got to taste each competitor’s dish.

The winner of the 2012 Bocuse d’Or USA competition is Richard Rosendale, who represented the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. His chicken platter can be seen above
(credit: First Press PR)

The Bocuse was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was one of the many amazing opportunities I have had (and will to continue to have) as a CIA student!

Stay hungry and curious,


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