he first (bi-annual) Commis Competition as part of the Bocuse d'Or USA Cuisine Competition will take place on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  As a Culinary Council member, I was requested to nominate my top commis candidate to compete (1 candidate only, based on merit), with the following requirements:

-  Must be between 23 and 27 years old

-  Must have 3 years experience working in my restaurant or in a combination of other Culinary Council member restaurants

-  Must have 5 - 8 years of restaurant experience

Four commis were chosen by the Culinary Council members, based on their essay, credentials, and recommendation from their restaurant, to compete in the arena-like setting at the CIA's auditorium.  The panel of judges and officials from the Bocuse d'Or USA Culinary Advisory Board, include: Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse, Gavin Kaysen, and Chris Hastings.  The candidates will be evaluated on his team's* reinterpretation in preparing a classic chicken dish from a Paul Bocuse recipe.  Sonny was required to prepare his own creative interpretation of "poulet au vinaigre".

*Each commis is matched with a CIA student acting as an "assistant to the commis."

Each commis will be asked to prepare (6) individually plated portions of their dish for the judges, (1) plate for the head table, and (1) plate for the media in a 2 1/2 hour time period.  They will be judged for excellence in technique, flavor, sophistication, harmony of ingredients, originally and presentation; and evaluated on the basis of their cleanliness and efficiency in the kitchen as follows:

50% Overall taste

30% Presentation of the plate

20% Kitchen organization

Based on his/her overall performance, the top commis will receive a $10,000 scholarship for a 2-3 month stage at a 3-star restaurant of their choice in Europe.  The 2nd place commis will receive a $5,000 scholarship for a 3-week stage in the USA at a Culinary Council member restaurant of their choice.  The 3rd place commis will receive a collection of cookbooks from Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jerome Bocuse and the Culinary Institute of America.

Sonny has put himself on a path in search of excellence, and I applaud his courage, passion, and discipline to compete in the culinary arena on a national level.  It is an accomplishment to be selected as a candidate in his first attempt at this year's inaugural commis competition.  I'm proud of his efforts and look forward to tomorrow's competition!