Do you watch "Top Chef" regularly? I've been a bit bored this season because it seemed obvious by the 2nd episode who the top four would be. And only one tie-in challenge to the new Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook? Don't they want to sell books? I certainly heard more about the Glad family of products.
But I'd been holding out for last week's episode. It was the competition where they held a mini Bocuse d'Or. I've been waiting for the episode all season, as it was mentioned in the new book, Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse D'Or Competion, by Andrew Friedman.
The Bocuse d'Or is an international culinary competition where chefs representing countries battle it out to see who can do the best job creating two specialized platters, one of meat and the other of fish. The terms of the competition are very French, which may be the reason why the French do well every year. On the other hand, the French don't compete in the International Culinary Olympics, because one year they did very poorly. Or so I'm told. Seems like sour crepes to me.
So last year, the Americans made a concerted attempt to do better, recruiting Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud to the board. This is the story of that year of training, filled with insider stories, gossip, strategies. It's foodie porn to the max. Of course, if you heard about the competition (or perhaps saw it on cable), you already know how it turned out, but half the fun is getting there.
I won't spoil last week's "Top Chef" episode, where the prize included a place at the 2010 competition tryouts. (Reading this book, I learned that season 3 winner Hong tried out in 2009.) But I will say that the results were far from the elaborate platters described in the Knives at Dawn.
Speaking of Keller, to my knowledge, there are still tickets available to the hors d'oeuvres reception at Lake Park Bistro on Wednesday, December 2nd, at 4:30. Tickets are $85 and include a copy of the book. Call (414) 962-6300. The dinner at Bacchus is sold out, alas. It's also not too late to get a copy of the $50 Ad Hoc at Home signed by the chef/author--for that you contact us at (414) 332-1181. I don't think Keller will sign Knives at Dawn, though fans of his will certainly enjoy reading it. On second thought, who knows?