National Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition - Jun 2011

Jun. 25 2011

Location: San Antonio Culinary Institute of America

Photos by Jim Ray and Sam Roberts

For those living in the United States, the first thing that inevitably springs to mind at the mention of San Antonio, Texas, is the Battle of the Alamo. However, U.S. Chaîne members who gathered in San Antonio on June 25 were captivated by a different battle—specifically, the National Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs competition in which ten young chefs from around the country vied for the gold medal. The competition was held at the San Antonio Culinary Institute of America, just a few miles from where the famed Battle of the Alamo occurred. Two days before the competition, the contestants—seven young men and three young women—arrived in San Antonio. Each of the eight Chaîne regions within the continental United States sent a candidate, as did the Atlantic/Caribbean Islands and Hawaii/ Pacific Islands regions. Their home for the next three days was the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in the heart of the city. General Manager/San Antonio Maître Hôtelier Chad Taylor ensured that the young competitors, along with their families and other guests who were in town for the event, received the best service and attention possible.

The young chefs spent the day before the contest relaxing and getting to know the city. They assembled outside of the Menger Hotel, which is directly across the street from the historic battle site, for a guided tour of the Alamo. The Menger, built in 1859, twenty-three years after the fall of the Alamo, remains one of San Antonio’s most popular hotels due to its history, charm, and elegance. The Menger Bar was Theodore Roosevelt’s headquarters for recruiting his Rough Riders. Before his presidency, Mr. Roosevelt was assistant secretary of the Navy. He resigned in 1898 to organize the Rough Riders—the first voluntary cavalry in the Spanish-American War.

After touring the Alamo, the group proceeded to the Fiesta Spice Factory, which imports spices from more than sixty different countries. The company’s specialty is authentic Mexican spices, although shoppers can choose from more than six hundred products.

Lunch was at the most colorful Mexican restaurant in town: La Margarita at El Mercado—mariachis included.

At the end of the day, the contestants returned to the CIA, where the competition rules were laid out and staggered start times and workstations were assigned.

That evening, Chancelier National Sandra Miller, Conseiller Culinaire et des Professionnel National Heinz Hofmann, Executive Director Clyde Braunstein, and confrères from the San Antonio Bailliage and visiting bailliages joined the young chefs and their families for the reception at the Hotel Valencia, followed by dinner at Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood across the street. San Antonio Maître Grillardinn Mark Bohanann owns and operates the eponymous restaurant, which Texas Monthly voted the second-best steakhouse in the entire state. The counter in Bohanan’s first-floor bar area measures seventy feet, making it the longest bar counter in Texas. The venue is definitely a throwback to the nightclubs and speakeasies of yore.

Dinner at Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood

Saturday morning came early for the young chefs. At 7:30 a.m. sharp, the first competitor began reviewing the contents of the mystery basket. Each basket contained a rack of lamb, one-and-a-half pounds of whole redfish, two Cornish hens, fresh mussels, sweetbreads, king oyster mushrooms, mascarpone, couscous, and figs.

Competitors had thirty minutes to view the mystery basket contents and draft their three-course menu. They were required to prepare four identical servings of each course. At 8:00 a.m., the first contestant entered the cooking area with his completed menu to begin preparation. Three hours later, his appetizer was plated and ready to serve. Fifteen minutes after that, his entrée was ready, and after another fifteen-minute interval, his dessert was completed. The nine other contestants followed the same routine, with start times staggered at fifteen minute intervals.

2011 San Antonio Southwest Region Young Chef winner

Timed cooking tests are not new to these young professionals. They have all been tested using this format several times. Each contestant arrives at the national level already a winner. Many have won their bailliage’s local competition, and all took first place in their region’s Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs contest. Three of the contestants competed nationally in previous years, one capturing the number-three spot in 2006 and another earning the silver medal in 2010. As the young chefs fashioned their meals, the kitchen judges scored them on technique, organization, product utilization, professionalism, sanitation, and timing.

#2 meal goes on this table so that the tasting judges can do eye-appeal comparisons

Officials and Judges for this event (above):
CIA Associate Professor Hinnerk von Bargen,
Conseiller Culinaire National Hon. Jacques Fox,
SW Conseiller Culinaire Provincial Mary Bartholomew,
San Antonio Express-News Food Writer Ed Tijerina,
SW Conseiller Culinaire Provincial Ed Pavelek,
SW Bailli Provincial Joe Klein,
New Orleans Bailli Yvette Cressend,
SW Bailli Provincial Hon. Mark Bermann,
SC Conseiller Culinaire Provincial Peter Lehmuller,
CIA Associate Director of Education, Chef Rôtisseur , April Goess,
Conseiller Culinaire et des Professionnels National Heinz Hofmann and
CIA Director of Education David Kellaway

Ok, end of day. Everything is tallied up, results finalized, and it's time to celebrate, drink a little Champagne, have a nice dinner, and to recognize where recognition is due. But first, let's take a photo. . .

...Add the Chaine Banner and Whalla!!

No photos of the dinner; however, it was a full house

The reception, and the awards and recognition ceremony followed dinner.

Reception Photos

During the ceremony, Conseiller Culinaire et des Professionnels Hofmann announced the winners of the 2011 National Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs competition.

Taking the gold medal—and thereby securing entry into the International Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs competition in Turkey—was twenty-year-old Reilly Meehan of the Pacific Northwest region. Representatives from approximately twenty countries will compete for top honors in Istanbul. Mr. Meehan lives in Coos Bay, Oregon, where he attends the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. His future plans include traveling extensively throughout large cities in the United States, expanding his knowledge and honing his craft. Eventually, he would like to duplicate this plan in Europe.

The silver-medal winner was Eric Aubin of the South Central region. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, the twenty-five-year-old chef currently works at The Biltmore Estate. He particularly enjoys the teaching aspect of the culinary industry and the idea of helping to shape the careers of aspiring young chefs.

Taking home the bronze medal was twenty-three-year-old Maria Lodyguina from the Midwest region. Ms. Lodyguina currently works at the Minneapolis Club, having received her culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis. She hopes to one day own her own bar and restaurant.

After honoring all and awarding medals to the top three competitors, Chancelier National Miller inducted each young chef into the Chaîne’s professional ranks. In addition, two other professionals— Chris Cook of the Emily Morgan Hotel and our host, General Manager/Maître Hôtelier Chad Taylor—were inducted into the San Antonio Bailliage.

Well, that's it for another year. Wow! what a lot of work for all that got involved.

First the bailliage wants to thank those of you that came and participated in some of the events, dinners, receptions, ceremonies, etc. Let's see if I can remember who all got involved...

The practice run at the Argyle

The Pre-dinner (minus-2) at Boudro's

The Pre-dinner (minus-1) at Bohanan's

The Competition and the Ceremonies

Special mention goes out to the following individuals

Special Appreciation goes out to those individuals who worked late into the day/night and with little sleep returned in the wee hours of the morning to continue to make sure that everything was still running smoothly...

Here's two of those ladies.

What cha think Joel? Am I right about those two ladies? And what about yourself? Are you ready to get some rest?
Yep, I am. Good job Jim.
Thanks, Good job back at ya, Joel.