The first round of two tryouts will take place later this month, February 19 through February 21st in Elgin, Illinois, to determine who will be selected to represent the United States on the ACF Culinary Team in the 2012 International Culinary Art Exhibition, also known as the “Culinary Olympics” in Erfurt, Germany. Twenty-eight chefs have been chosen to compete in the first of two culinary competitions at Elgin Community College.
The U.S. representation comprises a national team, a military team, and a youth team. Each team will represent the United States at the Culinary Olympics. Over thirty applications were received for the national team.
The twenty-eight selected chefs for the national team will battle it out in two elimination rounds for a coveted spot on the final internationally acclaimed six-member team. Those who qualified for the first cold food tryout underwent intense scrutiny which included a review of their résumés, biographies, competition experience, and work histories.
Chefs competing at the tryouts must have a firm grasp of “classical cooking principles” and must be accomplished in food presentation and technique. In addition to culinary skills, chefs are also expected to demonstrate an ability to work as a team player.
“ACF Culinary Team USA tryouts are not a venue in which to learn for first-time competitors. This is truly a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity and experience that moves careers to new levels,” said ACF Culinary Team USA Manager Steve Jilleb. “Experience and knowledge in the craft of cookery at a skilled level is essential, as is being able to produce garde manger food and hot cuisine at the highest possible level.”
The first tryout involves the preparation of cold food and the second tryout hot food. Kevin Storm, executive chef at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis is among the twenty-eight chefs who qualified. “I’ve been practicing relentlessly,” Storm told St. Louis reporter Evan Benn from his kitchen at the country club, where he’s been top chef since 1996. “The club’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so I’ve been coming in here, working on my techniques and thinking up ideas. These events are very intense, because you see a lot of good chefs working at a high level and trying to make everything perfect.”
For the cold-foods event, Storm says he’ll prepare a plate using either salmon or sturgeon, lobster, mussels and scallops. “I’m going to use salmon and cure it with tea and smoked salt to mimic that smoked-salmon flavor,” he says. “Then I’m going to do a lobster terrine in the shape of a lobster claw. And a seafood terrine in lobster jelly with scallops, cured salmon belly, mussels and herbs.”
More than 1,500 chefs compete from over 50 nations in a battle for the Olympic culinary Gold. ACF Culinary Team USA began competing in international competitions in the fifties. The 1960 team captured the first world championship honor, and ACF Culinary Team USA repeated wins three times in the eighties by winning the hot-food competition which established a new world record for the most consecutive gold-medal wins.