Parading Team USA's "Manhattan" meat platter before judges/Photo by Joshua David Stein

Just returned to snowy Clevelandtown, a twenty-two hour haul from Lyon via Heathrow and O’Hare, thinking all the while on the Bocuse d’Or competition and feeling bad for Team USA, and wondering what to make of it all.

“This was a tough one to swallow,” Chef Kaysen wrote in an email, hours after the competition.  “I think I need some months to really draw all the inspiration that was seen there.  I realized in the beginning of the day after seeing both Denmark and Sweden that we did not play the game—we went there and did our food, we did what we thought was right because we loved it so much, but clearly there is a defined game in the way that food that should be presented.  Once that is figured out, then we have a chance.  The other option is to keep doing our food and change the way people cook, like the Scandinavian teams have done.

“We are a young country in these games…once we figure it out and catch up, the world better watch the f#%! out, because we will take it year after year.”

I like that guy’s spirit.

The food below is the winning fish platter and plate of Danish chef Rasmus Kofoed, chef-owner of Geranium in Copenhagen.  Team USA went with emotion, and personal story, a clam bake reminiscent of James Kent’s childhood summers in Sag Harbor.  And a Manhattan steakhouse, because he’s from Manhattan:


  • Monkfish cooked sous vide with monkfish liver torchon, running through the center where the spine typically is
  • Crab and langoustine savarin with clams
  • Corn fritter with pickled radishes
  • Oyster Rockefeller—confit quail egg yolk, red pearl onion, oyster with a Parmesan crust.


  • Lamb T-bone: loin rolled in an olive mousse, then wrapped in bacon and glazed with honey from the south lawn of the White House.
  • Lamb tenderloin cooked sous vide and then grilled, rolled in fried onions.
  • Tomato and onions
  • Wedge salad
  • Baked potato
  • Creamed spinach

I’m eager to hear the thoughts of Thomas Keller, currently en route from Paris, on his experience judging and whether competition food is fundamentally different from the emotional food he is such an advocate for. I’ll write a more thorough post on Bocuse and competition cooking after the chefs have had time to digest and reflect.

See more of Joshua David Stein’s pix (including the meat dish—you’ll see that it’s not a traditional salad and potato) and his recap/reflection at

Also, good videos are on the All-Clad Facebook page (All-Clad, as I’ve said before, is a primary sponsor of Bocuse d’Or USA and asked me and Josh to come to Lyon, on their dime, to cover it, an opportunity I was eager to pursue).

Denmark's Winning Fish Platter/Photo by Gastros On Tour

Denmark's Fish Plate/Photo by Gastros On Tour

Gastros On Tour has more coverage and pix (and the entire Bocuse d’Or 2011ranking) on their Facebook page.


27 Wonderful responses to “Bocuse d’Or—Post Game”

  • Alexander Deighton

    aren’t the two pictures above the same dish plated different ways?

  • Alexander Deighton

    Alexander Deighton
    aren’t the two pictures above the same dish plated different ways?

    I see that in the text it says it’s the same dish – but the caption reads otherwise.

  • Tags

    Time to call IBM and have them come up with a program for the Bocuse d’Or like “Deep Blue” for Chess or “Watson” for Jeopardy.

  • Jeff

    That is not a way to present food! I really want to read Chef Keller’s take on this nonsense.

  • kcg

    I agree with @Jeff. Who would want to eat that? It’s not sculptural. There is no negative space. There is no story being told. Obviously I can’t taste it, but it seems completely unappetizing. What am I missing?

  • rich sims

    Jeff, the french take on food is the way the amish view religion, it’s all in the soul!

  • JasonZ

    Ditto @kcg. I can’t even parse the platter; I wouldn’t know where to begin. The plate is something I can understand, but it’s not terribly inviting.

  • Andrea

    Are you all such sore loosers?

    Is it really not possible to be supportive of someone without putting everybody else down?

    I’m Danish – proud of and supportive of Rasmus Kofoed but his food was certainly not the only wonderful creations being shown.

    And did you not notice Michael Ruhlmans own worry in his previous post:

    James Kent is 31, he’s been sous cheffing for the past several years, which means he manages the cooks, doesn’t do a lot of cooking himself—your cooking muscles can get soft. Moreover, he has zero competition experience.

    Well Rasmus Kofoed cooks daily in his restaurant – where you won’t find his entries served, as it’s competition food and not restaurant food – and has been cooking his entry into this years competition three times a week since June.

  • Tim H

    The plate looks beautiful to me, congrats to the winners. But I’m not sure why American continues to compete in this competition. Maybe it’s just a different sensibility about food, but why adapt to fit the competition? The entire thing is less interesting to me than a decent episode of Iron Chef.

  • ruhlman

    Thanks for you good comments, Andrea. I think you’re right. Chef Kofoed is to be commended for his prodigious efforts. He’s been training for this for 6 or 8 years! First bronze then silver now gold. Probably historic effort. I’d love to eat at his restaurant and compare that food to the food he creates for competition. It’s a different kind of cooking completely. And one that really isn’t part of America’s culinary history.

    • Jessica

      The food at Geranium is just magnificent! The same with Myllymäki’s (Sweden).
      And as someone stated above, the presentation is not as important in the scoring to that of TASTE. You can complain all you want over the odd presentation but its a presentation, it says little about the overall tasting experience.

      I’ve got to give it to the chef for his confidence to the future Or what you should call it. They better start cooking at a higher level if they want to live or at least place in the top 10. As for only westernised food; Japan was mentioned, as was Guatemala.

      It’s a competition, not everyday food. You train for it. Obviously the US wasn’t up there with the best. So there you go, whether you want to or not.

  • Tags

    Let’s not forget where the best restaurant in the world is right now, at least as judged in certain circles.

  • Mr. Boofink

    It’s pathetic that we chase after this with our tails between our legs.
    We have great products, we have great restaurants and we have great chefs. France is still bent that the international language is English and not french anymore. Get a clue, it’s like the Olympics where east Germany is going to give Americans low scores NO MATTER WHAT.

    I just don’t get it. Instead of what the USA has to offer in great cuisine we chase after this like an old man chasing after a shallow girl. Yea she might make you feel young but really it’s pathetic.

    And in the end it seems so late nineteenth century.

  • Susan

    I don’t understand why those who didn’t compete take this loss so personally or politically. Any competition that a person enters becomes a personal challange that not only allows them show their particular expertise, but helps them, though observation, criticism, loss or win, hone their craft or skill. First timers are at a disadvantage by lack of experience in the arena, but this is how it’s gained. Being selected to compete in a competition like this one is a validation of a persons excellence as it is, from then on, it’s subjective. It’s unfortunate that politics could possibly enter into choosing a winner of such a competition, but even as observers take a political view of a loss, it doesn’t mean a competitor shouldn’t enter into the challange. It’s their own personal win by being there in the first place.

  • tasteofbeirut

    I met the chef that won the Bocuse d’Or for Lebanon in 2005, Maroun Chédid. I was so awed by his talent and technical abilities. These chefs are truly masters of an international caliber.

  • Mantonat

    The only thing I find offputting are those mirrored platters and silver serving vessels – very fussy and old-fashioned. The food itself doesn’t look much different from what you see in the big modern cuisine coffee table books. Without tasting it, I can’t really see what is so culturally unique that Americans can’t compete. Maybe American teams just need more time, experience, and practice.

  • Carri

    I’m sorry, but this is just a little like mountain climbing in my book. The climber’s ego benefits at the expense of many. I know it is important to defend one’s country in the name of whatever, but ultimately, only those who win (and I’m sorry to say, they look to me to be all white males) get the reward, when if they had put all that time and energy into feeding truly hungry people so many more would benefit.

    • Mantonat

      Notice in the comments above that the Lebanese team won in 2005, so it maybe isn’t so white-washed as you may think. Also, the argument about the money going to better causes can be applied to just about anything. For instance, the money you spent on a computer and an internet connection could easily go toward people more in need. The fact that there is money and recognition for the chefs and restaurants associated with this competition means that the winners will have more money to donate to charity, should they so desire.

  • Jeddrick

    WOW..That fish plate looks really nice..Competition food is different from restaurant food. It is a way of showing your talents in a somewhat extreme manner..

  • chris k

    “We are a young country in these games…once we figure it out and catch up, the world better watch the f#%! out, because we will take it year after year.”

    Yeah. Just like the World Cup!

    Beyond the spectacle, I just don’t see the point in these culinary pissing contests. I’d love to see a Christopher Guest mockumentary based on Bocuse d’Or.

  • BeenThereAteThat

    It’s important to remember that, according to the Bocuse d’Or scoring, the TASTE of the food counts twice as much in the competition as the LOOK of the food.

    As an observer, it was easy to get wrapped up in the look of the platters as they were paraded past the judges and press. But really, only the judges know how the food tasted – and only the two honorary judges tasted both the meat and fish dishes from each country. Quel mystère!

  • Sherry Bellamy

    It must be difficult to invest so much time and energy into a competition such as this; not to mention the exhaustion and letdown after it’s all over. I get it.

    But. To say that you lost because “we did not play the game”, is a really confusing statement to make. Isn’t the whole point in entering these competitions to “play the game”?

    “We did what we thought was right because we loved it so much, but clearly there is a defined game in the way that food that should be presented.” Were they not prepared for this fact? It sounds as though they were blindsided….hit with standards of which they were unaware. Somehow, it really sounds like a bit of sour grapes to me. The winning teams weren’t better cooks; just better at playing “the game”.


  • Patrik

    Hmm yeah, I have to say. And eventhough I am not american,I have high thoughts of the us culinary direction (some of it, you are a land of extremes after all) after all, but saying you did not play the game is in a way not true. You guys have been in the competetion since 1987. In the beginning the French allways won, but lately that is not true. It is still a french competition though. I mean you cant comptete in football wearing skis just because you like them better so i think the argument that you did not play the game is a bit strange.


  • Jeff

    This has nothing to do with country of residence! Give me food that I can eat or give me death! The obscure presentation is absurd!


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