For many chefs, especially those who still idealize French cuisine, there is no greater glory than winning the Bocuse d'Or. In a world crazy for competitive cooking, the French contest, named for legendary chef Paul Bocuse, has earned a reputation as the most fiercely competitive and prestigious showcase of cooking excellence in the world.
But in its 25-year history, no American has ever won.
Richard Rosendale is the latest American to have a shot at Bocuse eminence. He beat out three other contestants at the national Bocuse competition this past Sunday at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
One way he wowed the judges was with his platter of chicken, which was modeled on architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house.
"I grew up nearby in Uniontown, Pa., so I always admired his work," Rosendale tells NPR. "So I applied the design process to my platter."
Fresh-faced Rosendale is the executive chef of the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. He and the other contestants had 5 1/2 hours to prepare two protein platters — one cod, one chicken — along with three garnishes. The competition stipulated that the chicken dish be an interpretation of a classic Bocuse dish — Poulet au Vinaigre.
Now that he's been tapped as America's best, Rosendale has another year to train for the international competition, which is only held every other year — the next one is January 2013. He will have three coaches to help prepare him, including Grant Achatz, the superstar Chicago chef and leader of the molecular gastronomy movement.