Can American Chefs Compete?

bocuse d or The U.S. is the home of countless “reality-show” cooking competitions—Top Chef, Iron Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped, etc. But when it comes to the real thing. Eh, not so good.

Bocuse d’Or, a biennial international cooking competition in Lyon, France, is probably the most highly regarded test of culinary artistry. Since its inception in 1987, the U.S. has never managed to finish higher than a tie for 6th Place in the competition. The top finishers are usually from France, of course, but also Belgium, Norway and Sweden among others.

The next competition comes up in January. Chef Richard Rosendale, executive chef at  The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, WV. and winner of Bocuse d’Or USA will represent the U.S., assisted by Corey Seigel, also at Greenbrier.

The competition pits two-chef teams from 24 countries against each other. They have 5 1/2 hours to create a meat platter and a fish course. In recent years the BocuseUSA Foundation, supported by luminaries such as Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud, has raised money and supplied training and facilities to boost the chances of the U.S. team

For much of its history a culinary backwater, the U.S. has undergone a culinary revolution in the past 50 years.  American chefs have achieved celebrity status and even ordinary neighborhoods now include an extraordinarily diverse collection of ethnic restaurants that serve as incubators of the culinary imagination.

Is this revolution mostly just PR and cheap eats or is there an infrastructure of culinary artistry emerging that puts American food culture on a par with the other great cuisines of the world?

The Bocuse d’Or competition is one way to find out.

Good luck to Chefs Rosendale and Seigel!

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