Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bocuse D'or Blowout at Bar Boulud

The thrill of victory... the agony of defeat.   We all know those immortal words from ABC's Wide World of Sports.  In the wide world of culinary competition, the US was more akin to the hapless ski jumper falling off the jump than any of the jubilent winners seen in the opening montage.  Many big players in the US culinary world are trying to change that.

For those of you who do not know about the Bocuse D'or, it is very simple to explain:  Culinary Olympics.  Young chefs represent their countries in a high pressure cooking event, judged by a veritable pantheon of culinary gods.  Throw in throngs of rabid, flag waving fans and you get the picture.  Yes, throngs of rabid, flag waving fans,  at a COOKING competition.  I kid you not.

The US has not fared well at this event.  The last time this event was held, the powers that be asked some of the top US chefs to get involved in preparing the US team for competition.  They asked and got none other than Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller to throw their toques into the ring.  You know this is serious when you can get these two to help out.  The US did okay last year, but they are looking ahead to doing much better.  So, they held a fund raising dinner last weekend at Bar Boulud in NYC.  I decided to make the sacrifice and eat a terrific meal for the team.

Saturday was the worst weather day we had in a while.  A constant rain mixed with snow fell the entire day.  While nothing short of a full on blizzard would have stopped us from going, we got dressed up and headed out into the tempest.  We arrived at Bar Boulud in less time than we thought and headed downstairs to the event.  A glass of cold champagne and some warm company soon put the poor weather out of our minds.

It was a much smaller event than I imagined.  Since about 200 people were at the Top Chef Bocuse D'or event, I was expecting about the same.  There were only about 40 people at this event, but they were dedicated.  Two couples came up from Philadelphia for the event.  One couple was even taking the train back that night!  It's about a 90 minute train trip, so those people can only be described as hardcore.

Some really tasty appetizers were making the rounds when the man himself, Chef Daniel Boulud showed up.  He made his way through the crowd, greeting all.  We soon were seated for dinner and Chef Boulud gave a talk on how he was recruited to help out the US team and gave a quick preview of the dinner menu.  "When in doubt, serve foie gras" is how he described the inspiration for the first course.  The dinner was mainly Lyonaise holiday dishes.  The standout was the poached chicken with truffles under its skin.  Yes, it did taste as good as it sounded.

The conversation at the table was almost as good as the food.  With topics ranging from Lady Gaga to law school.  The evening flew by.  Flew by so fast that we missed our ride home and had to have another car sent to pick us up!  At least by this time, the rain and snow had stopped and NYC was resplendent in its Yuletide trimmings.


pughc said...

Sounds awesome John. Denise and I ate at Thomas Keller's restaurant Ad Hoc in Yountville in Napa Valley when we were out there. Outstanding food for a family style meal. We were there on short rib night but Chef Keller told me at his book signing we have to try the fried chicken next time. The recipe is in his book titled Ad Hoc so I will let you know how it turns out when I make it.

Tasty Trix said...

I want your life! Yeah, I love the idea that people will act football crazy for cooking ... that makes so much more sense to me, really.

Katja said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing experiences- I love them all!

Fresh Local and Best said...

This sounds like an incredible event!