LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – When the gold-standard Bocuse d’Or USA culinary cook-off unfolds Sept. 26 and 27 at Epcot in Walt Disney World Resort, TV personality Al Roker will emcee the excitement. When the contest concludes and spatulas rest, culinary great Charlie Trotter, along with other star chefs from around the world, will host a Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony fit for the most discriminating gourmet.

The opening-weekend event of the 13th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, open to park guests, promises to deliver celebrity panache, high kitchen drama and extraordinary culinary moments.

Roker, together with Dana Cowin, editor-in-chef of Food & Wine magazine, will spotlight the action for Epcot guests in the park’s World Showplace arena-like setting. There, eight two-person teams of the country’s top chefs will turn up the heat in the kitchen with the hope that their culinary creations land them a top spot representing Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest – commonly called the Culinary Olympics – in Lyon, France, Jan. 27-29.

Epcot guests can attend the competition and observe the culinary wizardry. Each of the eight teams will serve up elaborate fish and beef dishes to be judged by a top-chef panel: Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Georges Perrier, Laurent Tourondel, and former Bocuse d’Or USA competitors. Dishes will be judged on excellence in taste, presentation, technical skill and overall kitchen organization.

The competition culminates Sept. 27 with a Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony recognizing the first-, second- and third-place teams. Tickets are still available for the star-studded event featuring gourmet cuisine, live musical entertainment, dancing, a silent auction and a chance to meet and mingle with some the world’s top chefs, including the Gala Dinner Chefs, as well as contest founder Paul Bocuse, and the Deans of The French Culinary Institute, Alain Sailhac and Andre Soltner.

The Gala Dinner includes hors d’oeuvres, a four-course tasting menu, and a dessert reception prepared by Chefs Boulud (Daniel, New York City), Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago), Patrick O’Connell (Inn at Little Washington, Washington, D.C.), Perrier (Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia), Tourondel (BLT, New York City), Soltner (French Culinary Institute), Salihac (French Culinary Institute), David Myers (Sona, Los Angeles) and Traci des Jardins (Jardiniere, San Francisco), and will be paired with Diageo Reserve Signature Cocktails and Moët Hennessy Champagnes. The highlight of the evening will be a Dom Pérignon toast and the announcement of the Bocuse d’Or USA winning team.

The eight finalists competing for a spot on the US Team include:


  • Timothy Hollingsworth, Sous Chef, French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
  • Chef Hung Huynh, “Top Chef” Season 3 Winner, Solo, New York City
  • Rogers Powell, Instructor, French Culinary Institute, New York City
  • Chef John Rellah Jr., Executive Chef, Hamilton Farm, Gladstone, N.J.
  • Richard Rosendale, Chef/Owner, Rosendale’s, Westerville, Ohio
  • Michael Rotondo, Chef de Cuisine, Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago
  • Kevin Sbraga, Culinary Director, Garces Restaurant Group, Philadelphia
  • Percy Whatley, Executive Chef, Delaware North Parks, Yosemite, Calif.
    The newly selected Bocuse d’Or USA team will join 24 teams from around the world at the Bocuse d’Or World Competition in Lyon, held every two years.

    Reservations for the Gala Dinner and Awards event are $450 per person, plus tax, at 407/WDW-FEST and include 2-day Epcot admission (a $150 value). Proceeds benefit Bocuse d’Or USA (a not-for-profit organization sponsoring the competitors’ training, travel and culinary education).

    Throughout the six-week-long Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Sept. 26-Nov. 9, guests can sample food and wine from around the world at international marketplaces and specialty dinners, attend seminars and wines schools and meet guest chefs. For more information, call 407/WDW-FEST or visit www.disneyworld.com/food.