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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 11:39 a.m., Wednesday, January 28, 2009

American team, including Island chef, 6th in culinary 'Olympics'

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kapiolani Community College graduate Adina Guest, 22, competed in the Bocuse d'Or global culinary contest in Lyon, France. Though her team finished sixth, Guest's work drew high praise.

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A two-chef American team including Islander and 2008 Kapiolani Community College culinary graduate Adina Guest, 22, working under French Laundry sous chef Timothy Hollingsworth, 28, came in a disappointing sixth place today in the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France, the two-day biennial global culinary contest considered the Olympics of cooking.

Sixth is the highest any American team has ever placed.

The chef from Norway won the event. The chef from Sweden took the Bocuse d'Argent, the silver medal, and the Frenchman won the bronze after a two-day marathon of cooking and judging that pitted chefs from 24 countries against each other.

The Americans had hoped to make a better showing, in part to draw more attention and funding for future teams; they had to raise $500,000 to prepare for the grueling competition.

Still, Guest drew high praise.

The New York Times quoted Jerome Bocuse, son of founding chef Paul Bocuse, as saying that while team leader Timothy Hollingsworth of the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., is "very good," his assistant, Guest, "is exceptional."

Things didn't go well for the Americans Tuesday when one of two confections submitted for the pastry competition deflated before it could be submitted for judging.

In preparing for the event over the course of several weeks in a specially built mockup of their competition workspace installed in Napa, Ca., Guest and Hollingsworth did six full runs of 5 1/2 hours each of the menus, which feature fresh American cuisine.

In an e-mail to friends in Hawai'i, Guest reported that one of their practice rounds was even observed by the great Paul Bocuse, 82, an occasion that had her writing with many exclamation points. "What an honor it was to have him watch us and taste our food and hear his feedback (translated into English by his son Jerome Bocuse,)" Guest said, adding, "Funny as it sounds, the logistics of packing, equipment and finding products is more challenging than the actual cooking itself will be on the final day," she said.

The American team is featured in the February issue of Food and Wine magazine, on newsstands now, and in articles in the New York Times and will be part of a new book on the Bocuse d'Or by writer Andrew Friedman, who spent weeks observing the team.

The competition is carried out under strict guidelines nothing can be pre-cut, for example, prepared ingredients are barred and some foodstuffs are assigned and must be used. It is particularly difficult because a large and loud audience and cadre of press circulates in the room mere feet from where the teams are working, separated only by plastic partitions.

Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.