Feasting at cooking's Olympics


POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Competing on the American team at Bocuse D'Or was a Kapiolani Community College culinary graduate, Adina Guest, who served as commis, or assistant.

In the end, the American team placed sixth, but Guest is neither disappointed nor discouraged.

“;We did well,”; she said in an e-mail from France. “;We gave our best, and I believe for having trained for three months, with only six full practice runs, and never having seen or observed the competition before, we did extremely well.”;

While three months may sound like a long time, other teams had been practicing for a year or more. And there was no way to prepare for the 5,000 screaming spectators who packed the Bocuse D'Or stadium.

The competition is compared to the Olympics both for its international prestige and its raucous crowd—the type usually associated with sports competitions.

“;The loudness and pressure from the crowd made the cooking much more physically and mentally challenging than would be experienced during a normal kitchen service,”; Guest said.

To keep each other on track, chef Timothy Hollingsworth and Guest constantly communicated their next steps.

It was this synergy that got them to Bocuse D'Or in the first place. During the American semifinals that determined which team would advance to the international competition, every one of the 13 judges commented on how clean and organized Hollingsworth and Guest worked. They awarded Guest the distinction of Best Commis and chose Hollingsworth and Guest to represent the nation.

But things were a little more difficult in Lyon, France. “;The organization took the most effort,”; Guest said. “;There were so many components to bring together—food product, equipment, platters, travel, hotels—which were made more difficult because it was all set in a different country.”;

She hopes to compete again, next time as the chef. It's one of her many dreams, among desires to travel and work in kitchens all over Europe and perhaps even coming back to Hawaii to open her own restaurant.

In the meantime, she's headed back to Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., where both she and Hollingsworth work.

Chef-instructor Frank Leake, Guest's advisor at KCC, is sure that Guest's name will be in the papers again soon: “;You find a star every once in a while, and it is this young lady. Adina Guest is going to be a name everybody will know.”;