Finally, a Win!

Bocuse d’Or the biennial culinary competition founded 30 yrs. ago by French chef Paul Bocuse is generally acknowledged to be the “olympics” of the world of cuisine. The United States generally finishes back in the pack although in 2015 we finished third.

Finally, yesterday, a team from the U.S. won the competition.

I promised Monsieur Paul 10 years ago that we’d make it to the top of the podium,” said the chef Thomas Keller, who is the president of Team U.S.A. “We made it in nine.”

The team’s head chef was Mathew Peters, 33, from Meadville, Pa., who was most recently the executive sous-chef of Mr. Keller’s New York restaurant, Per Se. His commis, or helper, was Harrison Turone, 21, from Omaha, who also worked at Per Se.

Both of the chefs took a year off to prepare for the contest, a fierce competition in which the American team is made up of younger chefs who can spare the time to train as well.

The task was to interpret Poulet de Bresse aux Écrevisses, essentially  braised chicken with crayfish sauce, and this year the teams were required to include a vegan dish.

The American version involved the chicken with morel mushroom sausage, braised wings, a wine glaze and sauce Américaine, a kind of lobster sauce. Alongside were a chicken liver quenelle with foie gras, corn custard, black-eyed peas and toasted pistachios, as well as lobster tail with Meyer lemon mousse. The garnishes included preparations using carrots, Vidalia onions, black truffles, carrots, peas and potatoes. They brought some of the ingredients from the United States.

For the vegan dish, the chefs prepared California asparagus with cremini mushrooms, potatoes, a custard made of green almonds, Meyer lemon confit, a Bordelaise sauce and a crumble using an almond and vegetable yeast preparation that mimicked Parmesan cheese.

The U.S has had a vibrant food culture for many years. This validates our progress. Congratulations to the team.

How long, if ever, will it take before French cooking is displaced as the standard of excellence?

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