The Norwegian who won the Bocuse d’Or 2009 had dreamt of winning since he was twelve-years old. Do you think a lifelong desire is essential to Bocuse d’Or success?
I’m not sure. I think you can find different sources of motivation to win the Bocuse d’Or. Whether being challenged for years, or [spontaneously] challenging Kevin, as we are now, to go to Hyde Park. [His attitude should be,] ‘They’re giving me that opportunity and I’m going to show them what I can do.” I’m sure there are different ways. I’m sure that all the previous winners didn’t win because of lifelong inspiration. You could ask them why they did the Bocuse d’Or, or why they participated in Top Chef, and get different answers. Ultimately, it’s the challenge.
This is the second year running that a Top Chef candidate will appear in the U.S. team selection event. (Top Chef Season 3 winner Hung Hyunh competed in 2008.) Does the ability to do well on Top Chef offer some indication of the ability to do well in the Bocuse d’Or?
It’s about the pressure, and at the end of the day if you’re a good chef on television you can be a good chef in the Bocuse d’Or competition. You’re performing in front of an audience, but you’re still cooking. It’s all about cooking and how well you can cook under that pressure.
Andrew Friedman is the author of the soon-to-be-released Knives at Dawn: America’s Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d’Or Competition, which details the story of the 2009 American team.