Kerstin Kühn: LA welcomes inaugral ment'or competition

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th November 2014
LA-based food writer and former restaurant editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper Kerstin Kühn, is this month looking at the first ment'or competition. Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurant in Beverly Hills last month played host to a new chef competition designed to inspire culinary excellence among young professionals in the USA. The inaugural ment’or competition has been brought to life in support of the Bocuse d’Or ment'or Young Chef Competition Los Angeles Competitors and Chef KellerUSA Foundation, with the aim of creating a pool of talented young chefs, who could one day go on to cook for their country at the world-famous culinary competition in Lyon. “This competition is designed to recognise up and coming culinary leaders, identify future ambassadors for the culinary arts and showcase the skill level and cuisine in America,” said Keller, president of the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation. “It has been born out of the Bocuse d’Or to create a foundation to support the US team in the future.” Founded by Jérôme Bocuse, Daniel Boulud and Keller, who are joined by 40 culinary council members across the USA, including three-Michelin-starred chefs Grant Achatz, Daniel Humm and Corey Lee, the ment’or competition was made up of four finals, which took place in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and New York. Each final saw four chefs competing for a three-month stage worth $15,000 at a US restaurant of their choice, with each runner-up winning a two-month stage worth $10,000.  Aged between 22 and 27, the 16 finalists were chosen based on their credentials, ambitions and letters of recommendations. ment'or Young Chef Competition Judges casualThe Los Angeles finalists were Michael Dengelegi, sous chef at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA; Soleil Ho, line cook at Bayona in New Orleans, LA; Jason Sipe, line cook at the Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA; and Lyn Wells, line cook at Canyon Park Café in Orem, UT. The four competitors were given a cut of ribeye steak, which they were asked to prepare and serve in their own style within a 2.5-hour timeframe. A panel of judges was made up of Keller, former Bocuse d’Or competitor and erstwhile French Laundry chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth, two-Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin from Mélisse, and William Bradley from Addison at the Grand del Mar in San Diego, who awarded points based on overall taste and harmony of ingredients, presentation, and kitchen organisation. “It’s really important for our industry to have competitions like this as most of the cooking competitions in this country are on TV, when it’s less about flavour and technique and morement'or Young Chef Competition Los Angeles Winner Lyn Wells about personality and drama,” said Citrin. “It’s important to give young chefs a platform to really cook their hearts out.” Under the watchful eye of the judges as well as guests attending the event at Bouchon, the competitors each cooked their individual dish with the help of a young commis chef. The winner was Lyn Wells from the Canyon Park Café, who impressed judges with her dish of marrow glazed ribeye, braised riblet filled boule, bacon cured ribeye cap, fall vegetable purée, and accompaniments, including broccoli rabe florets and braised leaves, carved butternut squash with candied chestnuts, chanterelle mushrooms, red onion jam, string bean medley, potato crisp, natural jus and herb oil. The runner up was Michael Dengelegi of the Michelin-starred Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. Wells said the inspiration of her dish was her hometown in Utah and she wanted to stay true to the meat. “What I was hoping to show the judges is the utilisation of the ingredient and I wanted to use every part of it,” she said. “I did this by trimming the “eye” down, using the meat in between the rib bones, cleaning the cap, and taking all the fat and rendering it down. Then I tried to incorporate as many cooking techniques and knife skills, through braising, roasting, and searing.” ment'or Young Chef Competition Los Angeles Lyn Wells with Chef Keller v1Judge Hollingsworth said Wells’ dish won on taste. “Each of the competitors did very well and you could really tell where they came from as they each utilised a lot of the techniques used in the restaurants where they work but also tried to bring their own personality into the competition,” he said. “In the end though, Lyn’s dish stood out because it had the best flavour.” Wells now gets to decide where she wants to spend her three-month stage. “I have not narrowed down where I want to go yet,” she said. “There are a couple places I have in mind. Per Se or Daniel also in New York, or The French Laundry in Napa Valley.”       Kerstin Kühn is a freelance food and travel writer, specialising in restaurant and chef stories. TheKerstin_Kuhn former restaurant editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, she relocated from London to Los Angeles last summer, where she lives with her husband and two cats. With a vast network of chefs from around the world, Kerstin has profiled the likes of Michel Roux, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, the Roca brothers and Massimo Bottura. She has been a contributor to publications including FOUR Magazine, the Evening Standard Food and Travel MagazineM&C ReportDesign WeekFrame Magazine and City and Canary Wharf Magazines and also writes her own blog, La Goulue. You can follow Kerstin on Twitter @LaGoulue _

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th November 2014

Kerstin Kühn: LA welcomes inaugral ment'or competition