The stakes were high as teams made up of two emerging culinary entrants, one chef and one commis (junior chef) aged 22 to 27, competed for a first place prize of $10,000 in cash and a second place prize of $5,000. In addition, first and second place chefs were awarded an opportunity to intern at the restaurant of his/her choice
Nearly 100 attendees, who wined and dined at the three-hour event, got a up-close look of all the action via large TV screens peppered throughout the restaurant and bar area, and via a standing room area located just outside the rear kitchen.
Chefs working their culinary magic included Lee Foden-Clarke/ Camden Hershberger (of Beverly Hill’s Bouchon Bistro), Tyler Prieve/ Paris Dreibelbis (of Minneapolis’ Spoon and Stable), Angel Medina/ Keith Rzepecki (of Austin’s Fixe) and Houston’s own Mara Serna (of Treadsack restaurant group) who competed with the help of Logan Jung (of San Antonio’s C. H. Guenther & Son).
Each cooking duo was tasked with creating a standout dish using a common ingredient, lamb, within the allotted two hours and 35 minutes. Scoring was based on excellence in overall taste (50 points), presentation (30 points) and kitchen organization (20 points).
Guest judges— Ment’or BKB founder and chef Jérôme Bocuse, Houston judges Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner (The Pass & Provisions) and some of the nation’s leading chefs: Chris Hastings (Birmingham’s Hot & Hot Fish Club), James Kent (New York’s The Nomad), Anne Quatrano (Atlanta's Bacchanalia) and Ming Tsai (Wellesley, Massachusetts’ Blue Ginger) — critiqued the dishes and chose the winners.
Despite going over the time limit and receiving a five-point penalty, Foden-Clarke and Hershberger took home first place for their standout rolled loin of lamb (with potatoes, braised lamb osso buco, sunchoke puree, chestnut puree and braised turnip-rooted celery).
Chef Prieve's and Dreibelbis’ cabbage wrapped lamb crepinette made with lamb sausage farce and braised lamb shank (served with sweet potato puree, blanched sweet potatoes and fried sweet potatoes, plus blanched Brussels sprouts, poached mushrooms in herbs and spices, smoked charred pickles, pearl onions and lamb jus) won second prize.
Houston joined Los Angeles, New York and Chicago as the fourth and final stop of the four-city series, named after founders Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jerome Bocuse.
Ment’or BKB is a non-profit, established in 2008, to inspire excellence in young culinary professionals, to recruit and train candidates for the bi-ennial Bocuse d’Or Culinary Competition (a world chef competition), and to provide grants and scholarships to young culinary talent.