Everything You Wanted to Know About the Bocuse d’Or Competition But Were Afraid to Ask
• Neither Thomas Keller nor Daniel Boulud will judge the contest, but they will select teams to compete in the trials. Right now, Boulud is sending out applications to all Michelin-starred restaurants in America, as well as Relais & Chateau (another important guide) listees, recent Beard-award winners, and the top Zagat-rated restaurants in every major U.S. city. Eight teams will be selected by mid-July.
• The U.S. team trials will be at Orlando's Epcot Center on September 26 and 27. The judges will be drawn from both Team USA’s advisory board and a four-person media panel composed of Martha Stewart, Dana Cowin of Food & Wine, Barbara Fairchild at Bon Appétit, and Ruth Reichl at Gourmet. Think those are big names? The chef committee is a Who’s Who of American gastronomy: Mario Batali, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Jacques Pepin, André Soltner, Charlie Trotter, and so on. After these judges, the cheftestants will be intimidation-proof.
• If the judges aren’t tough enough, the actual judging criteria is bewilderingly intricate. This is no Taste-Presentation-Originality baking contest. According to the application, each dish has to be prepared both as a platter and in individual plates, and then is reviewed for, among other things, originality, creativity, texture, seasoning, “harmony and sophistication,” cleanliness, staff performance, efficiency, timing, and “complexity and detail.” Whoa!
• Applicants aren’t limited to those invited by Boulud. If you think you have the stuff to represent the U.S. in the so-called cooking Olympics, just fill out the application, send it in to Bocuse d'Or USA, and cross your fingers. You might be the one who brings the glory back home.