Ment’or announced the Head Chef and Commis representing the U.S. this week.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated November 13, 2019
Ken Goodman

Although Denmark took home gold at the 2019 Bocuse d'Or—aka the "Culinary Olympics"—earlier this year, preparations are already gearing up for the next edition of the prestigious biennial competition. On Tuesday, Ment'or, the non-profit that helps to support and oversee training of the U.S. national team, announced who would be representing Team USA at the Bocuse d'Or in 2021. Chef Jeffery Hayashi of Senia Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii will be Head Chef, while William Barrera, who worked for Roy's in Honolulu, will be his Commis. Hayashi previously competed for Team USA in 2019.

"I feel very fortunate for this once in a lifetime opportunity," he said in a statement. "Any one of the competing chefs could have won. To now officially be on the road to Lyon for Bocuse d'Or is surreal, and I'm incredibly thankful for all the support."

Hayashi and Barrera beat out two other finalist teams in a preliminary competition hosted at the Culinary Institute of America's Copia campus in Napa, California. The event lasted five hours and 35 minutes, and was modeled after the actual Bocuse d'Or competition—the plate theme was Ratatouille, and the platter theme was "Whole Chicken" from Palisades Ranch in California. Head Chef Scott Muns and Commis Yuta Umeki came in second place, while Head Chef Nyesha Arrington and Commis Michael Sansom finished third. The taste and presentation of the dishes was judged by a panel of chefs that included Paul Bartolotta, William Bradley, Gerard Craft, Olivier Dubreuil, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, James Kent, Matthew Kirkley, Alex Lee, Brian Lockwood, Yvan Mucharraz, Roland Passot, Francis Reynard, Melissa Rodriguez, Rich Rosendale, Joachim Splichal and Philip Tessier.

The next step is for Hayashi and Barrera to relocate near the training facility at Copia in Napa, where they'll train for the next 14 months leading up to the competition. Ment'or also announced that chef Gavin Kaysen will take up the mantle as the new president of Team USA, succeeding Thomas Keller, who will continue to serve as Ment'or's president.

"The amount of time, resources and funding that are dedicated to young chefs and their growth give me a tremendous amount of pride and excitement as I take on this new role of President," Kaysen said in a statement. "Having competed as Team USA in 2007, for this to come full circle as team president is the definition of mentorship, and something I take great pride in. I am proud to lead the team in 2021 and beyond."

Team USA has been competing in the Bocuse d'Or since 1987—they took home silver in 2015, and gold in 2017. Hopefully, Hayashi and Barrera will be able to add another gold to those wins in 2021.