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                                             At the IKA, the United States fields a seasoned national team
                                             that dares to be different.
                                             By Kay Orde

When members of ACF Culinary                 they live in a black-and-white world that     process of constantly learning alongside
National Team USA compete in the             knows neither winning nor losing.”            similarly driven fellow chefs means that
International Culinary Art Competition                                                     everyone becomes better at what they do.
(IKA) in Erfurt, Germany, this month, they   The team, of course, hopes it will win this
take with them this advice from Edward       international culinary competition, widely    Meet the risk-takers
Leonard, CMC, AAC, ACF Culinary              believed to be the most prestigious in the    With the confidence that comes from
Team USA manager and national team           world. But team members are also familiar     learning and growing comes the ability,
member: “Those who do not take risks         with a fiercely held belief about culinary    Leonard believes, to take risks. So, how
when they step into the arena neither        competitions, and one they subscribe to—      much risk will the team take as it defends
enjoy much nor learn much, because           the education that comes from being a team    its 2004 World Champion in hot-food
                                             member is invaluable. It has been likened     cookery title? Will that tried-and-true path
 Left to right, Jamie Keating, Richard       to 10 years of industry experience, and the   to success work a second time?
 Rosendale, Joachim Buchner, Edward
 Leonard, Mellisa Root and Daniel Scannell
 represent the United States at the IKA.


                                              “We still focus on real food that has great      Westchester Country Club, Rye, N.Y.,         Up to the challenge
                                              flavor, is seasonal and has harmony in the       and the newest member of the national        A competition that pits a country’s best
                                              flavor profiles,” Leonard says. “We have,        team, was on the U.S. team that earned       chefs against their counterparts from 31
                                              however, raised the bar. We have worked          gold and silver medals at the American       other nations calls for innovative ways
                                              hard to develop a new presentation style         Culinary Classic held at the 2007 National   of staying in the game. Once the team
                                              that is streamlined and uses geometric           Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-    arrives in Erfurt, it will have a week to
                                              flow on the plates along with modern             Motel Show.                                  prepare for the IKA. Leonard says teams
                                              cookery techniques.                                                                           don’t have the luxury of holding practice

                                              “It is a slight risk, but the whole purpose
                                              of a competition at this level is to raise the      Game plan
                                              bar and showcase the new trends and new             Two regional teams and a youth            Scott Fetty, chef-instructor, Pennsylvania
                                              profiles used in the top kitchens today.            team are competing under the ACF          Culinary Institute, Pittsburgh; Daryl
                                              With risk comes reward, so we will see.”            Culinary Team USA banner at the           Shular, corporate executive chef,
                                                                                                  IKA in Erfurt. Meet these up-and-         PFG-Milton’s, Oakwood, Ga.; Randy
                                              The players on the national team are                coming culinarians who are poised         Torres, department chair, culinary
                                              poised to make that risk pay off. They              to perform at the top of their game.      arts, Professional Culinary Institute,
                                              are willing to embrace, if not exactly a                                                      Campbell, Calif. Team manager: Jill
                                              new direction, one that has an interesting          ACF Culinary Regional Team USA            Bosich, CEC, CCE, AAC, instructor,
                                              diversion. And they are eminently qualified         Drew Garms, sous chef, Rosendales,        Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa,
                                              for the job. Leonard, executive chef at             Columbus, Ohio; Jennifer Kopp,            Calif., owner, Cowgirl Cookie Co.,
                                              Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has          CEPC, executive pastry chef, Chevy        Newport Beach, Calif.
                                              more than 20 years of IKA experience.               Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Md.;
                                              For Daniel Scannell, CMC, executive chef            Joseph Leonardi, CEC, executive           ACF Culinary Youth Team USA
                                              at Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth,               chef, Somerset Club, Boston;              Michael Bush, Old Warson Country
                                              R.I., this is his third IKA. Joachim Buchner,       Michael Matarazzo, team captain,          Club, St. Louis; Michael Palazzola, Old
                                              CMC, executive chef at Chevy Chase Club             senior sous chef, Westchester             Warson Country Club; Kevin Taylor Jr.,
                                              in Chevy Chase, Md., was a member of the            Country Club, Rye, N.Y.; Timothy          St. Louis Country Club, St. Louis;
                                              2004 team that earned World Champion                Prefontaine, CSC, executive chef,         Wayne Sieve, The Racquet Club Ladue,
                                              status. Also a member of that team,                 The Fort Worth Club, Fort Worth,          St. Louis; John Gelineau, Bellerive
                                              Richard Rosendale, CEC, chef/owner of               Texas. Team manager: Edward               Country Club, St. Louis. Team manager:
                                              Rosendales in Columbus, Ohio, serves as             Leonard, CMC, AAC                         Steven Jilleba, CMC, CCE, AAC,
                                              the present team’s captain.                                                                   corporate executive chef, Unilever
                                                                                                  AAC Culinary Regional Team USA            Foodsolutions, Lisle, Ill. Coaches: Paul
The National Culinary Review | October 2008

                                              Jamie Keating, chef/owner of Gourmet                Loan Co, assistant pastry chef,           Kampff, CEC, executive chef, St. Louis
                                              Events in Columbus, Ga., is new to                  San Francisco Marriott, San               Country Club; Aidan P. Murphy, CMC,
                                              the national team but was a member                  Francisco; Christopher Desens,            AAC, executive chef, Old Warson
                                              of ACF Culinary Regional Team USA                   CEC, AAC, executive chef, The             Country Club; Kevin Storm, CEC,
                                              and competed at the IKA in 2004.                    Racquet Club Ladue, St. Louis;            executive chef, Bellerive Country Club
                                              Mellisa Root, consulting pastry chef at

sessions, as they are just working hard to     working in environments that use metric
make sure they have everything in place        measurements, as well.”                                   Team USA Thanks Its
for the competition kitchen. But Team                                                                     Generous Sponsors
USA’s national team will have one final        But teams must also bring with them certain
run-through before they compete.               items, and one of the biggest obstacles
                                               could well be dealing with the airlines and
“Our biggest challenge will be our hot-        security, as well as new rules for luggage
food lunch at the hotel two days after we      and what can be taken on the plane.
arrive in Erfurt,” Leonard says. “This is a
huge undertaking, but it gives us a last       Coping mechanisms
hot-food run before the big day.”              Is it possible to prepare, physically, mentally
                                               and emotionally, for this kind of major
Why this extra pressure on the team so         competition, a once-every-four-years
close to the competition? “We did this         chance to show the world your country’s
in 2004, as well, and it was not easy,”        best, most innovative culinary creations?
Leonard says. “But it gave us a chance
to do the menu one more time, work in          “For us, it all comes down to discipline,”
a tight space and also get used to the         Leonard says. “All of us are working chefs
products we have to use, which can be          who cook daily in the kitchen, which
quite different in Germany than in the         really helps the physical part, especially
United States. But this exercise will really   working behind the line. Mentally, we
help us with any last-minute adjustments       know the pressure we are under and the
and keep us ready to compete.”                 expectations that are on us and what we
                                               need to do. But our focus is steady, and we
Other challenges come from competing           are dedicated to doing our best and giving
in a foreign country, but Leonard says the     110%. After that, it’s in the hands of the        from the excitement of being there to
team is fortunate because most of them         judges. Emotionally, it all comes together        showcase your talent, compete against
are repeat IKA competitors.                    when you get there and enter the great            the best and try to achieve your goals,”
                                               hall. Then you step into the kitchen and          Leonard says. “What those who come to
“This isn’t the first time we’ve competed      your adrenaline kicks in, and you gear up to      watch the competition will enjoy is not
in Erfurt—some of us have been several         cook like you’ve never cooked before.             part of us and what we are here for. Total
times—and that’s a big help,” he says.                                                           focus is demanded of us so that we are
“In some ways, it is like a home away          “We hope and expect that the IKA will             in the moment and cooking to win.”
from home for me. I visit often, and           be a great show, and that the jury will be
have many colleagues and professional          open and looking for modern techniques            And Leonard’s final piece of advice to
friends in Germany. This helps overcome        and the highest level of craftsmanship that       the team? “It is far better, in the heat
some of the challenges, such as where          can be expected from a national team.”            of competition, to dare and do mighty
to find the ingredients and supplies                                                             things that differ from the norm. To raise
that we need for our program, and how          Despite the pressure, Team USA’s                  the bar and have the courage to do it

to overcome language barriers and              national team is looking forward to the           differently than anyone else is truly a
                                               experience. “The enjoyment comes                  glorious triumph.”


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