On April 2nd, Daniel Boulud hosted the annual C-CAP Culinary Competition at his restaurant DANIEL to determine the lucky young chef who would receive a full-tuition scholarship to the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France.
This year’s competitors were James Daversa, sous chef of Lure Miami, and Gabby Calle, junior sous chef of BLT Fish in New York City. Each student was given a whole chicken from D’Artagnan, access to the kitchen at DANIEL, and tasked with preparing a casserole-style dish with a vegetable and starch out of a maximum of eight ingredients. The candidates began prepping at nine a.m. and the first plate was scheduled for presentation at noon.
“The dish can be anything: family recipe, something ethnic, or anything they want, just no nouvelle and no sous vide,” said Boulud.
Daversa’s dish, simply called chicken and vegetable, was inspired by family meals during his childhood in Virginia. Calle’s dish, braised chicken ragout over chicken ravioli with asparagus and morels, was inspired by a love of fresh pasta. Each candidate answered a brief questionnaire about the selection of and culinary techniques behind their dish, and judging was comprised of eight criteria: flavors, timing, temperatures, presentation, portion size, technique, originality, and demeanor.
After thorough deliberation from Daniel, executive chef Jean Francois Bruel, and chef de cuisine Eddy LeRoux, the team selected James Daversa for the scholarship. Daversa, who will be honored at the upcoming C-CAP NY Awards Breakfast on April 11th, will leave for France in May, and not only train at a legendary culinary institution, but have the chance to stage in some of the most notable kitchens in Europe.
The Daniel Boulud/C-CAP Scholarship was established nine years ago when Boulud received a birthday grant of $100,000 from his business partner Joel Smilow.
Together with C-CAP, Boulud has sent a number of talented young chefs to Lyon, who have returned to attain prominent positions in restaurants all over the United States, including DANIEL. In fact, one C-CAP alum had been working at DANIEL for two weeks before he was chosen as part of the small team behind Dinner with Daniel at the James Beard House on March 31st. The event, which honored Boulud’s new cookbook DANIEL: My French Cuisine, was also the first event to be featured on the JBF Kitchen Cam.
“We get a tremendous amount of support from the industry and from chefs,” said Susan Robbins, president of C-CAP. “They’re all dedicated to our program because we’re obviously doing something right. They love our talent, and they really appreciate being able to transform lives. Our students are tremendously motivated, they want to learn, they ask questions, and they have good skills. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.