Culinary Death Matches

French Laundry Chef Will Compete at Bocuse d’Or

Chef Timothy Hollingsworth
Chef Timothy Hollingsworth Photo: Courtesy Bocuse d’Or

Chef Timothy Hollingsworth of The French Laundry will represent the United States at the Bocuse d’Or in January 2009. Hollingsworth and his commis, Adina Guest, bested seven other pairs at the U.S. semifinals at Epcot Center last weekend. Hollingsworth prepared Atlantic cod with Hawaiian blue prawns and sea scallops, served with artichoke gratin, tomato tart, and Barigoule bread pudding. His beef dishes were Brandt beef tenderloin roasted in bacon with beef cheeks and oxtail; beef cheek enveloped in Swiss chard; and Hudson Valley fois gras. Local honors went to Top Chef’s Hung Hyun, who received the Best Fish award.

Hollingsworth will move into a specially constructed live-and-work center next to Chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. (Lest there be a whiff of favoritism, note that Keller was not a judge.) We envision a Karate Kid–esque experience, with the role of Mr. Miyagi played by Master Chef Roland Henin. Read all the dorky details about the competition and the winning dishes in the complete press release, after the jump.


September 27th, 2008, (Lake Buena Vista, FL) — The Bocuse d’Or USA judges and executive board have announced Chef Timothy Hollingsworth of The French Laundry in Yountville, California as winner of the US competition at a Grand Gala held during the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. Chef Hollingsworth will go on to represent the United States and compete in the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest in Lyon in late January 2009.

Earlier this year, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse and many of this country’s leading chefs united their efforts to establish the Bocuse d’Or USA, the not-for-profit organization created to recruit, train and support an American team for the world’s most prestigious culinary competition, the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest, held every other year during the SIRHA International Hotel Catering and Food Trade event. The Bocuse d’Or is an Olympic style event for professional chefs created over twenty years ago by Paul Bocuse.

Eight US based semi-finalists teams (one chef plus one assistant/commis) competed in an elimination contest held over the past two days at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The competition, open to the public and all guests of Epcot was hosted by WNBC’s Al Roker and Chef John Besh. Before a live audience, the teams prepared elaborate fish and meat platters for a panel of prominent judges including Michel Bouit, Harmut Handke, Daniel Humm, Traci des Jardin, Gavin Kaysen, David Myers, Patrick O’Connell, Georges Perrier, Alain Salihac, Andre Soltner, Laurent Tourondel and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Winners were announced by Food & Wine editor-in-chief, Dana Cowin, at a ceremony emceed by Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation.

Daniel Boulud, Chairman, Bocuse d’OR USA noted, “It was so important to our advisory board that the US candidate represent the best cooking in American restaurants today. In fact, when Paul Bocuse invited me to become Chairman of the US team, my first step was to reach out to the country’s best restaurant chefs so they would encourage the young talent in their kitchens to compete. Today’s result represented the highest score in an accumulation of points based on in taste, presentation, creativity and technical skill. The Bocuse d’Or officials and I couldn’t be more proud of the candidate we will send to Lyon in January.” Chefs were each required to present two dishes; one fish and one beef, in both elaborate platters and individually plated portions. Presentation of plates comprised 50% of the contestant’s total score, determined by the following criteria each worth 10%- texture and cuisson (perfection in doneness), harmony of flavors, sophistication and creativity.

Presentation of elaborate platters counted for 30% of the contestants scores based on the following three criteria, each worth 10%- complexity, technical knife skills and originality. Kitchen organization completes the final 20% and was comprised of 10% commis performance, 5% cleanliness and 5% efficiency in timing. Competition regulations required that the fish dish be prepared using cod, prawns and scallops with three garnishes. Hollingsworth presented Atlantic Cod with Hawaiian Blue Prawns and Sea Scallops. The dishes’ garnishes included Artichoke Gratin with Grilled Cod Belly, Hawaiian Blue Prawns, Piment d’Espelette and Nicoise Olives; Tomato Tart with Charred Green Onions, Sweet 100 Tomatoes, and Tomato Consommé en Gelée; with the third garnish Barigoule Bread Pudding with San Marzano Marmalade and Society Garlic Blossoms. Seafood for all contestants was provided by Pierless Fish Corp.

The competitions’ beef dish required use of tenderloin, beef cheeks and oxtail. Hollingsworth’s presentation, Brandt Beef Tenderloin Roasted in Bacon with Beef Cheeks and Oxtail was garnished with Port Wine Braised Oxtail en Feuille de Bric, with of Violette Figs, Scallion Salad and Truffle Coulis; Beef Cheek Enveloped in Swiss Chard with Yukon Gold and Black Truffle Mille-Feuille, Tokyo Turnips and Pickled Pearl Onion Petals; and Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Cooked Fig Leaves with Jacobsen’s Farm Crosnes.

When asked about his experience in the competition, Hollingsworth noted, “It’s an extreme honor just to have my name associated with the Bocuse d’Or. I will remember the people I have met and this entire experience for a long time to come.” Hollingsworth was also quick to acknowledge his young commis, Adina Guest and noted, “her talent was inspiring.” Jerome Bocuse, son of competition founder Paul Bocuse said, “My father and I, as well as the entire Bocuse d’Or USA organization, are extremely proud to have found a very talented chef who will represent the US team in Lyon. We have very high hopes for him and wish him great success in the international competition.”

Hollingsworth will be awarded a three-month paid sabbatical to train for the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest in Lyon. He will be coached by Master Chef Roland Henin and live and work in a specially constructed training center located beside The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Hollingsworth also received a $15,000 cash prize, a 12-day cruise courtesy of Crystal Cruises and a timepiece courtesy of Jaeger-Le Coultre.

The Silver Medal and a $10,000 cash award was given to chef Richard Rosendale of Rosendales in Columbus, Ohio; and the Bronze Medal with a $5,000 cash award went to Michael Rotondo of Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, NV.

The competition also honored a number of chefs for exceptional performance. Adina Guest, commis to Timothy Hollingsworth won Best Commis with her prize including three one-week stages with Rougié Foie Gras, Regis Marcon and competition founder Paul Bocuse.

Best Technique with Sous Vide was awarded to Richard Rosendale of Rosendales in Columbus, Ohio who will win an official certification and training program with Cuisine Solutions Bruno Goussault, and a complete emersion circulator and sous vide set from Poly Science.

The award for Most Promising Chef and Bocuse d’Or Candidate was given to a young chef whom the judges agreed had the strength and potential to represent the US team in a future Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest, Michael Rotondo of Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo in Las Vegas. Rotondo’s prize package includes a $10,000 sabbatical provided by Scott Kaysen, a New York based Gastronomic Philanthropist, to train in three Michelin starred restaurants in France.

Best Fish Award was given to Hung Huynh, Executive Chef, Solo in New York City and Best Meat Award was given to Kevin Sbraga, Culinary Director, Garces Restaurant Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Huynh takes home a set of cookware by All Clad and Krups; and Sbraga will receive a three-day tour of Brandt Beef Ranch in Southern, California where a dinner will be held in his honor.

Each of the eight chef contestants was also given a one-year subscription to Avero Slingshot Restaurant Management Software.

The winning chef goes onto compete in the global competition at the SIRHA, the culinary industry’s most acclaimed International Hotel, Catering and Food Trade event. The SIRHA exhibition will take place from the 24th through the 28th of January 2009 in Lyon, France and will host the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest on January 27th and 28th.
French Laundry Chef Will Compete at Bocuse d’Or