Southern Agenda

Sweet Victories

An illustration of chefs holding pastries

Illustration: Tim Bower

New Orleans hardly lacks for culinary talent, but this June it will enjoy an embarrassment of tasty riches when the city hosts the Western Hemisphere’s top chefs for the Pastry World Cup (June 11) and the Bocuse d’Or (June 12–13), global competitions often lauded as the Olympics of cuisine. Winners will qualify for finals taking place in Lyon, France, in January, a biannual showdown that packs bleachers with horn-blowing, cheering gourmands. “This is a moment in your career when you can showcase a piece of you with the world,” says Mathew Peters, the only U.S. chef—so far—to win the Bocuse d’Or. Peters wowed the judges in 2017 with his poulet de Bresse aux écrevisses, a chicken and crayfish dish. Each team gets five hours and thirty-five minutes to create a platter and plate for the judges. The pastry competition is similar, requiring teams to produce more than a dozen desserts, one of them American-style cheesecake as a nod to the host country. The food looks as good as it tastes, says Gavin Kaysen, who coached the U.S. Bocuse team and now heads an affiliated organization: “It’s almost like walking past the Tiffany store and seeing diamonds.”