Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, having won virtually every accolade in the culinary world, can add one more to its list: Timothy Hollingsworth, a French Laundry sous chef, who will represent the United States at January’s Bocuse d’Or
Held every other year in Lyon, France, the Bocuse d’ Or is a true chef’s championship, bringing 24 chefs from Iceland to Uruguay together in a two-day cookoff. Renowned French chef and holder of three Michelin stars, Paul Bocuse, considered one of the fathers of nouvelle cuisine, began the competition two decades ago to bring international attention to promising young chefs. Today, a win at "the Bocuse" is like a Culinary Olympic medal—the ultimate acknowledgment of culinary skill.
At the Epcot Center this weekend, American chefs competed in the semi-finals for the honor of representing the United States in Lyon. Each entrant was required to present two dishes, a fish preparation including cod, prawns, and scallops; and a beef dish comprising oxtail, beef cheeks, and tenderloin. And they were serving to a tough crowd: judges included Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Laurent Tourondel, among others. But Timothy Hollingsworth and commis Adina Guest won the day, beating out Top Chef winner Hung Huynh and French Culinary Institute instructor Rogers Powell for the win. Richard Rosendale of Columbus, Ohio took the silver, and Michael Rotondo, chef de cuisine at the Restaurant Charlie of Las Vegas, took the bronze. Best Fish award was given to Top Chef Huynh, Kevin Sbraga of Philly's Garces Restaurant Group took the Best Meat award, and Rosendale also took the title of Most Promising Chef.
Hollingsworth now heads back to familiar territory for a sabbatical. He’ll be camping out in Yountville, right next to his home turf at French Laundry, for three months of intensive training with coach Roland Henin, one of Thomas Keller’s own instructors. This marks a huge shift from last year, when the winner, Gavin Keysen, funded his own test kitchen and preparation. The United States has never placed better than sixth in the Bocuse d’Or. But with so much behind Team USA, this may be the year that luck changes.