Culinary ‘Olympics’ bring silver linings for Flossmoor chef
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org October 21, 2012 10:04PM
Tim Bucci, chef/culinary arts instructor at Joliet Junior College, is seen in the Renaissance City Center Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, at 214 N. Ottawa St. in Joliet. Bucci is going to Germany to compete in the World Culinary Olympics. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Flossmoor resident and renowned chef Tim Bucci added two more medals to his long list of culinary credits when he competed on the U.S. National Team in the International Culinary Exhibition — known as the “culinary Olympics” — in Erfurt, Germany, earlier this month.
Bucci, an associate professor in Joliet Junior College’s culinary arts program, said his team of six received the second-highest score and a silver medal in the cold-food presentation, and a silver medal in the hot-food kitchen, and it finished sixth overall out of 32 teams competing from around the globe.
“I was hoping for a gold medal, but it was one of the toughest years. They were not giving out a lot of medals,” Bucci said.
Judges gave out only one gold medal in the cold-food program and three in hot-food preparation, he said.
The second-place overall finish is the best the United States has done in cold foods in 25 years, Bucci said.
“It’s certainly a good feeling to be at that level,” he said. “Second of 37 is really great. It was a very successful competition.”
For their winning cold platter, Bucci’s team prepared appetizers that included olive- and wine-stewed octopus, pheasant terrine with roasted carrot, ricotta and fig “beehives” with a chamomile honey center, and tandoori-marinated whitefish with a legume terrine.
Six items of each were presented and all had to be identical, Bucci said, as they were judged on show, not taste.
Teams from Sweden, Norway and Germany placed first, second and third, respectively, in the overall competition, according to the American Culinary Federation.
This was Bucci’s third trip to the “Olympics” and his first as part of the national team. Four years ago, he earned a gold medal in an individual event for show foods.
He was one of six chefs chosen from a field of 70 applicants to be on the national team.
“You strive for perfection, and the national team got close,” ACF Culinary Team USA Manager Steve Jilleba said. “Overall, the teams of ACF Culinary Team USA produced the food we wanted to show to the world, and I am proud of the efforts put forth by all the team members, support team and apprentices.”
The ACF also sent military, regional and youth teams to the competition, for a total medal count of two golds and five silvers.
Bucci said this will be his last competition for now.
“I’m going to take a little break,” he said. “My wife will be thrilled.”