The Bocuse d'Or, otherwise known as the Olympics of the culinary world, will take place in Lyon, France, on Jan. 24, 2015. That means the Bocuse d'Or U.S. team -- chef Philip Tessier and his commis (assistant) Skylar Stover of the French Laundry in Napa -- have just 396 days to train for the world's most rigorous and over-the-top cooking competition, which pits chefs from 24 countries against one another in a 5-1/2-hour contest that takes place in a stadium in front of an audience of thousands of cheering fans (often armed with foghorns and cowbells).
Tessier and Stover will be coached by all-star chefs including former Bocuse d'Or competitor Gavin Kaysen, chef of Café Boulud in New York; Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next in Chicago; Gabriel Kreuther, formerly of the Modern in New York; and Richard Rosendale, formerly of the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.; in addition to Bocuse d'Or U.S. directors Jerome Bocuse, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.
The Bocuse d'Or competition, founded by famed French chef Paul Bocuse, takes place every two years. Teams of two (chef and commis) have to prepare two elaborate platters -- one meat and one fish, with three elaborate garnishes for each. The platters are presented to a panel of two dozen judges who assess each on taste, complexity, precision, classic technique, innovation and harmony of the dish.
Winner of the Bocuse d'Or 2013, chef Thibaut Ruggeri of Lenôtre leading team France, presented a meat platter inspired by Versailles and its gardens, for example, with beef Rossini mounted on a pedestal as its centerpiece and accompanying topiary-shaped dishes.
"It's not just about preparing two dishes," said Tessier in a statement. "It's about impacting the perception of American chefs and our country on the worldwide stage. I want to unite the U.S. in that common goal."
In 2013, team USA placed seventh; the U.S. has never landed a spot on the podium among winners of the gold, silver and bronze trophies (which are created in the likeness of chef Bocuse). The most recent winners were France, Denmark and Japan.