Jun 7, 2024 - Food and Drink

U.S. hosts Bocuse d'Or, Pastry World Cup qualifiers for the first time ever

A trio of chefs hold trophies while standing on a riser at the center of a crowd of chefs.

Norway chef Geir Skeie, center, was the Bocus d'Or winner in 2009. Photo: Fred Dufour via Getty Images

For the first time ever, the U.S. is hosting the continental qualifying rounds for the biggest culinary competitions in the world — and it's happening in New Orleans.

Why it matters: New Orleanians can buy tickets to see the qualifiers for the Bocuse d'Or and the Pastry World Cup, getting an up-close look at one of the premier events in the food world.

Catch up quick: French Chef Paul Bocuse created the world's "most rigorous culinary competition" in 1987 with two dozen countries competing each time with a two-person team.

  • The creation of the separate, dessert-focused Pastry World Cup followed two years later.
  • Finals for each take place every two years in Lyon, France, but qualifying rounds take place worldwide.

New Orleans will host teams of chefs from North America and South America from June 11-13 as they vie for one of the finals spots in France for both the Bocus d'Or and the Pastry World Cup.

  • The Pastry World Cup qualifiers will include teams from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Paraguay.
  • And the Bocus d'Or qualifiers include teams from Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, the U.S., and Venezuela.

Reality check: This isn't like your average cooking show competition, says New Orleans & Co.'s executive vice president Alice Glenn.

  • Instead, think haute cuisine, garnishes applied with tweezers and intense scrutiny on every single thing that ends up on the plate.

Zoom in: Bocus d'Or competitors will have to create two dishes in New Orleans, both requiring specific nods to regional ingredients.

  • One will be a platter that includes wild boar rack, grits and alligator sausage, according to a press release.
  • The other will be a plate requiring whole shrimp, oyster and lump crab meat, the release says.

Fun fact: For the first time in over two decades, the lead chef is a woman, Stefani De Palma, Glenn says. De Palma is the third woman to be the lead chef for the U.S. team since it was formed in 1987.

  • De Palma, along with her commis (aka assistant) Bradley Waddle have been training in Napa with a full team of coaches since winning the spots last September.

If you go: The audience can get pretty rowdy in support of their country's chefs, Glenn says, so get ready for a good time.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Stefani De Palma is the third (not the first) woman to lead the U.S. team, and the first in over two decades.

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