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The annual Bocuse d’Or, in which selected chefs from all over the world chop, stir, and season their way to the international title, is certainly the crème de la crème of the culinary world, and at the young age of 31, Colorado’s own Angus McIntosh Jr. has recently been named as one of only four chef finalists to contend for a coveted spot representing Team USA in the 2017 competition. McIntosh, (who is the sous chef at both Ristorante Del Lago and PLAY at the Broadmoor) will face three culinary heavyweights in the elimination round held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas on December 17, 2015. The winner will then have approximately one year to train for the international competition in Lyon, France, where a new world champion will be crowned. Here, McIntosh divulges his thoughts on the announcement and his reverence for food.
5280: It is a tremendous honor for such a young chef from Colorado to contend for the 2017 Bocuse d’Or. How do you account for your success?
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McIntosh: I really feel that it is a combination of things that led to my selection as one of the contenders. As a part of the application process, I wrote an essay about how my dad was a chef, so I have been around the food industry my entire life. He loved the Bocuse d’Or so much; we had an old poster from the competition hanging in our living room all those years I was growing up—that’s how ingrained food and this particular competition have been in my life. I have worked in kitchens my whole life, and went the to the CIA for culinary school where I actually had a chance to meet chef Paul Bocuse (the namesake for the competition), and did an apprenticeship with the prestigious Greenbrier Hotel program in West Virginia learning under chef Richard Rosendale. He later went on to win seventh place at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or, and I had the great fortune to assist him at the competition in Lyon. Additionally, here at the Broadmoor, I have also had a wonderful mentorship with executive chef Bertrand Bouquin, whose friend and mentor is chef Daniel Boulud, who is also the chairman of the board of directors for the Bocuse d’Or .
Sounds like you’ve had a lot of great mentors but you seem a bit shy about stating your own accomplishments.
I have had great teachers, but on my own, I have competed in a number of other major culinary competitions. I earned a silver medal at last year’s Chef of the Year Competition held in Las Vegas, and I had the great privilege of cooking for Obama and around 200 members of his entourage just two days before he became president. I have also had the honor of cooking for a number of great chefs around the country over the years.
That’s a pretty impressive resumé. After all of those great experiences, what do you think you have learned about yourself as a chef?
I have become a pretty great organizer, and for one of the competitions at the Bocuse d’ Or, mise en place, organization is everything. It is you with your commis [an assistant chef] in a box for five and a half hours, cooking with whatever you brought with you. You can’t leave your workspace until it’s over, so it is crucial that you have absolutely everything planned out ahead of time.
What will you be judged on in the competition?
You are rated on the overall harmony of flavors in the dish, the presentation of the platter, the techniques employed, and your efficiency in the kitchen.
You are cooking against some pretty heavy hitters. Can you take those guys in Las Vegas?
I am super humbled to compete with these chefs. My whole approach is to go in there and learn as much as I possibly can. It’s all about the food and making it the star that shines. I’m grateful my family, friends, and co-workers have given me all of this time to practice, and I’m honored to have an opportunity to inspire the next generation of chefs.