This morning Daniel Boulud along with Jerome Bocuse, Dieter Hannig, Gérard Collomb (the mayor of Lyon) and other officials from the Bocuse d'Or competition announced the eight semi-finalist teams from the United States. These teams of two will go on to compete against one another this September in Orlando to determine who will rep America in the Olympics of the food world. Remember, whichever team wins in Orlando will take a three month break to train with Thomas Keller and USA team coach Rolando Henin in the specially designed cooking facility on the grounds of the French Laundry. And—drum roll please—the finalists are:
Hung Huynh (!!) - winner of Top Chef season 3
Rogers Powell - French Culinary Institute Instructor
Timothy Hollingsworth - sous chef, French Laundry
Richard Rosendale - Rosendale's, Columbus OH
Michael Rotondo - chef de cuisine, Charlie Trotter's
Kevin Sbraga -culinary director, Garces Restaurant Group, Philadelphia
Percy Whatley - executive chef, North Parks, CA
Damon Wise - corporate chef, Craft restaurants (withdrew application this morning)
Important addendum: After the announcement, wily Times columnist Florence Fabricant asked the team why chefs like Charlie Trotter, Daniel Humm, or their ilk can't rep the USA. The answer: it would just be too hard for them to leave their restaurants. The big guys just don't have the time.
From the looks of the Elite Eight, the panel appears to have chosen a diverse group, both geographically (California to Chicago to NYC) and in terms of background/experience (FCI, exec chefs, sous chefs and, uh, reality tv). Plus, on the local front, you've got your French Laundry rep in Hollingsworth and Percy Whatley has been the chef at Yosemite for 15 years. But the important question: is anyone ready to start placing bets on who will prevail in Florida in two months?
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