A vibrant portrait of the world’s most significant cooking competition, the Bocuse d’Or, in Lyon, France.
Food and tennis writer Friedman (co-author, with Pino Luongo: Dirty Dishes: A Restaurateur’s Story of Passion, Pain, and Pasta, 2008, etc.) dynamically illustrates the colorful personalities, ego-battering conflicts, career-defining aspirations, politicking, precision planning, naked missteps and the final judges’ decisions regarding the 2009 U.S. team’s shot for the culinary gold medal. “Competition doesn’t form character…Competition reveals character,” says Roland Henin, the U.S. coach, and the characters exposed beneath the stress of the 2009 competition are, in Friedman’s hands, considerable. Henin chose a triumvirate of legendary chefs as his leadership—Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jerome Bocuse, son of Paul Bocuse, founder of the Bocuse d’Or—and trained his team in a stage kitchen mock-up in California. The author follows Keller, Boulud and Bocuse as they assemble and obsessively train the strongest team of American chefs the 22-year-old competition has seen. Timothy Hollingsworth and Adina Guest, both veterans of Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry, prepared painstakingly for what Hollingsworth would later describe as “the hardest thing he’s ever done.” Friedman expertly builds the dramatic tension to the surprising conclusion. Like the raucous Bocuse d’Or itself, the writing is simultaneously athletic and infused with a gastronome’s passion. Snappy, well-timed dialogue keeps the narrative simmering briskly. Precisely rendered portrayals of ingredients, dishes, kitchen jargon, exotic foreign locales and the politics of international cuisine are aptly balanced with plenty of insider detail and mainstream accessibility. The book is infused with the muscular, meticulous gusto of a sportswriter covering the Olympics.
Edge-of-your-seat food writing of the highest caliber.