The easy part is over for Tim Hollingsworth, the chef who out-cooked seven other semi-finalists to win the Bocuse d'Or's U.S. competition held in Orlando. Now he's about to undergo an intensive three-month training session under the watchful eye of master chef Roland Henin, from which he will emerge in January to represent the U.S. in the Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Contest in Lyon, France.
There he'll carry the weight of the collective expectations of both the committee sworn to revitalize the U.S. approach to the Bocuse d'Or (Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, et al) and the judges who picked him in Orlando. That panel included Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Patrick O'Connell and Andre Soltner. Getting the stamp of approval from this group indicates Hollingsworth is well on his way to a great performance.
At least he can practice close to home. The training center is located in Yountville, CA, home of Keller's flagship French Laundry, where Hollingsworth is sous chef. It resides in the house where Keller's father lived before he passed away earlier this year. Now the place is set up to the exact specifications of the station where Hollingsworth will cook at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon — the exact same equipment, the exact same footprint.
He should have his moves down and then some come January. Unlike other cooking competitions that throw in mystery baskets and surprise ingredients, the Bocuse d'Or is all about repetition. One meat presentation and one seafood presentation for 12 and that's it. Perfection, or something very close to it, is the expectation of Keller, who said he and his fellow chefs got involved this year because “We really want to have a stronger presence in Bocuse d'Or, to be taken seriously by the world.”
Hollingsworth should be able to deliver. His winning dishes in Orlando were:
Beef: Brandt Beef Tenderloin Roasted in Bacon with Beef Cheeks and Oxtail, garnished with Port Wine Braised Oxtail en Feuille de Bric, with Violette Figs, Scallion Salad and Truffle Coulis; Beef Cheek Enveloped in Swiss Chard with Yukon Gold and Black Truffle Mille-Feuille, Tokyo Turnips and Pickled Pearl Onion Petals; and Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Cooked Fig Leaves and Jacobsen's Farm Crosnes (a root vegetable).
Fish: Atlantic Cod with Hawaiian Blue Prawns and Sea Scallops garnished with Artichoke Gratin with Grilled Cod Belly, Hawaiian Blue Prawns, Piment d'Espelette and Nicoise Olives; Tomato Tart with Charred Green Onions, Sweet 100 Tomatoes and Tomato Consommé en Gelee; and Barigoule Bread Pudding with San Marzano Marmalade and Society Garlic Blossoms.