Richard Rosendale, executive chef of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, didn't know he would win the Bocuse d'Or USA finals on Sunday, but he imagined it.
The night before the competition, his mother gave him a magnet with a quote from Pablo Picasso. "Everything you can imagine is real," the magnet said. Rosendale put the magnet on his stove, glancing at it as he cooked his chicken and fish dishes for the judges. Rosendale and his commis assistant Corey Siegel will represent the United States in the prestigious Bocuse d'Or World Competition in Lyon, France in 2013.
"I thought that was kind of cool," Rosendale said of his mother's gift. "It was on the stove, while I was cooking."
Rosendale and three other contestants sweated through five and a half hours on Sunday to present separate dishes of River & Glen cod and D'Artagnan chicken, each with three garnishes. Second place went to Jeffrey Lizotte, Chef de Cuisine at ON20 in Hartford, CT. William Bradley, Le Cordon Bleu chef instructor in Southboro, MA, won bronze. Danny Cerqueda, executive sous chef at Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, NC, also competed in the USA finals.
Considered to be the most demanding culinary competition in the world, the Bocuse d'Or was created by legendary French chef Paul Bocuse. Since the competition began in 1987, teams of one chef and one assistant prepare elaborate food platters showcasing French technique. Held at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, the Bocuse d'Or USA finals were hosted by the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to inspire young chefs to preserve the traditions of classic cuisine. The foundation is headed by chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Jerome Bocuse, son of Paul Bocuse.
"This is beyond what we do in the kitchen," Boulud said of Sunday's contest. "This competition is very different from what we see on TV because the work is judged by the best chefs in America.
"I think that's the toughest because they are very critical—the way I'm critical to myself and to my team and to my work all the time," Boulud said.
A veteran of culinary competitions and a Certified Master Chef, Rosendale was team captain of Team USA in the Culinary Olympics in 2008. He placed second in the 2008 Bocuse d'Or USA finals, losing to Timothy Hollingsworth. Rosendale is determined to earn a medal at the 2013 World competition.
"We want to win gold," Rosendale said. "We want to get on the podium. That's our goal."
As a precursor to the USA finals, the foundation held its first Commis Competition to identify a rising culinary star. Rose Weiss, who graduates from The International Culinary Center this week, won the competition with her interpretation of the classic Paul Bocuse chicken dish, Poulet Au Vinaigre. Weiss is a butchery and charcuterie extern at Gramercy Tavern in New York City.