On January 12th, Daniel Boulud hosted the C-CAP Culinary Competition at his restaurant Café Boulud to determine the lucky young chef who would receive a full-tuition scholarship to study at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France.
This year’s competitors were Giovanna Delli Compagni, sous chef of Asiate at The Mandarin Oriental in New York City and Jose Fontanez, sous chef of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago.
Each competitor was given a market basket with only ten ingredients to create and prepare a unique soup and a main course to present to the esteemed judging panel: acclaimed Chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud of the Dinex Group, Executive Chef Aaron Bludorn of Café Boulud, Executive Sous Chef and C-CAP alumnus Cesar Gutierrez of Café Boulud, C-CAP President Susan Robbins and C-CAP Founder Richard Grausman.
On Monday, January 11th, Giovanna and Jose toured the Michelin-starred Café Boulud and began their prepping for the big day. The pressure was on early the next morning as the candidates began prepping their creations at eight a.m. The competitors began their dish presentation at eleven a.m. followed by the judges’ announcement at noon.
Giovanna’s dishes were inspired by her childhood memories at the beachside while Jose’s dishes were inspired by the robust earthy flavors of his youth.
These two C-CAP grads were formidable opponents and the judges were quite impressed with their dishes. Ultimately the panel awarded the first prize to Giovanna Delli Compangni for her soup of scallop chowder and main dish of lemon sole, cauliflower trio, braised fennel and sweet potato cake.
But at Chef Boulud’s competition, everyone is a winner. Jose walked away with a two-week paid stage at Daniel and Café Boulud for his sunchoke and cauliflower bisque with pan seared scallops and morel mushrooms and his pan seared lemon sole with sweet potato puree fennel and vegetable ragout.
Giovanna, who will be honored at the upcoming C-CAP New York Awards Breakfast on April 8th, will leave for France in May, and not only train at a legendary culinary institution, but also stage in some of the most notable kitchens in Europe.
The Daniel Boulud/Paul Bocuse Institut Scholarship was established eleven years ago when Boulud received a birthday grant of $100,000 from his business partner Joel Smilow. Chef Boulud continues to obtain funding for this scholarship from Ment’or, a not-for-profit, devoted to inspiring culinary excellence in young professionals and preserving the traditions and quality of cuisine in America. The scholarship includes tuition, transportation, room and board, uniforms and cookbooks and is valued at over $15,000.
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. Scholarship winners include the 2015 winner, Yvan Lemoine, currently Chef de Cuisine at Bodega Negra in the Dream Hotel. The 2014 Scholarship winner was James Daversa, he is currently Chef de Cuisine at Lexington Brass in New York City. The 2013 winner Cesar Gutierrez is now Sous Chef at Café Boulud and Sylva Senat, another Boulud Scholarship winner was recently nominated for a James Beard Award and Food & Wine Award. His latest venture is the award-winning Dos
Tacos in Philadelphia. Swainson Brown is an Executive Chef for the Pridwin Hotel in Shelter Island, and a private chef. The first scholarship recipient was Franz Corrales, Executive Chef for Sodexo USA at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C.
Congratulations and a round of applause to Giovanna and Jose!