With the Bocuse d’Or, the Olympics of the culinary world, starting tomorrow both Time and the Los Angeles Times look at the chances for Team USA this year. America’s hopes rest on Timothy Hollingsworth, a 29-year old sous chef at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry.
The U.S. has never placed better than sixth in the international competition, but this year, Keller and Daniel Boulud have invested time, money, and energy in the hopes of a better showing. Keller has raised over a half million dollars for the American team and created a training center next door to The French Laundry for Hollingsworth, who’s been on paid sabbatical since he began training in October. After winning the semi-finals, and the honor of representing the United States in competition last September, Hollingsworth has been training 40 to 50 hours a week with a coach, also provided by Fairy Godfather Keller.
Tomorrow, he’ll put all that training to work when he and his commis, 22-year-old Adina Guest, also of The French Laundry, compete in Lyon, France. In competition, they’ll have five hours and 35 minutes to prepare eight elaborate dishes on two platters, using this year’s protein picks of Norwegian cod, scallops, shrimp, and various cuts of Angus beef. While the panel of judges represent 24 countries, it’s tacitly understood that the dishes should reflect a mastery of classical French technique and also the cook’s own personal style but nothing too crazy (read: too un-French). It’s no surprise that in the last five years, France has either won the competition or placed second, with Norway typically its strongest challenger. This year will be the first year that Malaysia participates, and, hopefully, it will be the first year that U.S. places better than sixth. Go team!!!