Show 539, August 19, 2023: Chef Thomas Keller, The French Laundry – 15th Anniversary of Ment’or Foundation

Thomas Keller and Young Yun of the Ment'or BKB Foundation

Ment’or, founded by chefs Daniel Boulud, Jerome Bocuse and Thomas Keller is a leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to inspiring culinary excellence in young professionals and preserving the traditions and quality of cuisine in America.” They are celebrating their 15th anniversary of achievement this year.

“Their aim is to build a sustainable community of young American professionals that are knowledgeable and confident in their career pursuits and will be life-long ambassadors of quality and excellence in the world of gastronomy. The organization is dedicated to making the careers of serious young individuals more meaningful and successful by offering them unique educational opportunities, internships, and access to a Culinary Council of established mentors.”

“Since 2008 it has been a key mission for the Foundation to enable the best young talent in America to effectively train for the privilege and honor of representing the United States as Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon. The result of that patience and determination was realized for the first time in 2015 when Team USA stood on the podium with the Silver Bocuse, garnering the recognition and respect of the international culinary community. In January of 2017 Team USA proudly returned from Lyon with the Bocuse d’Or, having realized Monsieur Paul Bocuse’s dream of USA winning Gold.”

“Team USA is chosen through a national selection process that mimics the format and atmosphere of the competition that is held in Lyon biennially. Chefs from around the country apply to compete in the Team USA National Selection Event.”

“After the selection, the team trains full time in Napa, California during the course of a year, guided by a head coach, assistant coaches, advisors, and a designer. Throughout their training, the team receives feedback from their advisors and the Board via various tastings and coaching sessions.”

Team USA 2025 will be selected at the National Selection on Sunday, September 3, 2023 at The Culinary Institute of America at Copia campus in Napa, California.” The competition is open to the public and tickets are available.

Thomas Keller joins us to talk about 15 years of accomplishment for Ment’or.

Show 417, March 20, 2021: Restaurateur & Chef Dave Beran, Pasjoli, Santa Monica

Chef Dave Beran

“The international dining scene is a vast, ever-shifting landscape, and Today’s Special – 20 Leading Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs (Phaidon) is perfectly positioned to help readers navigate it. Twenty of the globe’s leading chef-curators — 10 men and 10 women — have each selected five emerging chefs from around the world, showcasing a variety of styles of food, restaurants, and personalities. Each of the 100 selected chefs is profiled, with recipes, photographs, and menus, plus original commissioned essays that shed light on what makes a standout star in today’s culinary realm.”

An L.A. area featured “Emerging Chef” in Today’s Special is Dave Beran of Pasjoli in Santa Monica and the now departed, Dialogue (up to a 20-course, seasonally changing nightly Tasting Menu) which was highly praised. He was nominated for Today’s Special by New York-based Chef Daniel Boulud (Daniel.)

“Pasjoli is an elevated French bistro from award-winning chef Dave Beran. The restaurant pays homage to French cuisine utilizing the bounty of produce available in Southern California. Rooted in classic French cuisine and inspired by Parisian markets, Pasjoli reflects Beran’s thoughtful cooking style, showcasing his creative touches on bistro fare.”

Prior to moving to California, Beran was the chef de cuisine at Alinea and executive chef at Next in Chicago where he received a James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes and was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2014.

We’ll meet Chef Dave Beran of Santa Monica’s Pasjoli and the Founder of Dialogue (which introduced Chef Dave to the tastes of Santa Monica diners.)

Show 353, December 28, 2019: Olive Pit Mediterranean Grill with Chef Yianni Koufodontis

Yianni Koufodontis of the Olive Pit Fresh Mediterranean GrillChef Yianni Koufodontis of the Olive Pit Mediterranean Grill (Brea & Huntington Beach) prepares his dishes with a careful eye on healthy, low fat, low cholesterol and always-natural ingredients.

“For Chef Yianni, cooking is more than an art form; it is a way of life. Eating is the focal point of all Greek family gatherings, and Yianni grew up cooking daily with his mother and grandmother. His talents in the kitchen were unmistakable, even as a young man.”

“Yianni obtained his formal culinary training at the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation he worked under his first culinary mentor, Chef Daniel Boulud, a James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author and restaurateur at Restaurant Daniel Manhattan.”

“Just two years later, Yianni was asked to join Chef Wolfgang Puck’s team at Spago in Beverly Hills, where he worked closely with world cuisine chef Lee Hefter, and Wolfgang Puck.”

“In 2005, Yianni was brought in to open Petros Greek Cuisine, where he served as Executive Chef. With much press and praise for Petro’s Greek, and his knowledge and passion for Mediterranean foods rekindled, Yianni decided it was time to open a restaurant of his own.”

“In 2008, together with his partner George Makridis, Yianni opened the first Olive Pit Grill in Brea, California. The restaurant’s success was immediate, and in order to keep up with demand, they opened their second location in Huntington Beach, California two years later.” This year the Brea restaurant moved to a new, expanded space in Downtown Brea on S. Brea Blvd.

“For many generations our family has been dedicated to serving the best Mediterranean cuisine. We serve Greek and Italian classic dishes prepared old-world style… but toss in Chef Yanni’s inspired personal touches, and what you end up with is uniquely Olive Pit Fresh Mediterranean Grill.”

We spirit Chef Yianni out of his busy kitchens for a chat.

Show 211, February 18, 2017: Young Yun, Executive Director, ment’or BKB Foundation

We’ve been enthusiastically following Team USA’s progress (backed by the ment’or BKB Foundation) in the bi-annual Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition for the last five years. Late last month Team USA achieved the impossible – Gold in Lyon.

Young Yun“We knew the world was watching ever since Chef Philip Tessier made the podium for the first time in 2015, and expectations were very high for Team USA this year. Nine years ago, our Founding Chefs Boulud, Keller and Bocuse, made a promise to Monsieur Paul Bocuse that we would win Gold and we are so proud of this team for realizing his dream. They carried quite a weight on their shoulders and carried it with exemplary grace, strength, and leadership.” – Young Yun

Team USA’s primary backer and inspiration, ment’or BKB Foundation (represented by Executive Director Young Yun), joins us to savor this tremendous achievement for the culinary arts in the United States and also discuss the other programs ment’or sponsors and organizes to encourage young culinary talent and the Team USA competitors of the future.

Congratulations Team USA 2017!

Go Team USA 2019 !

Show 197, November 12, 2016: Chef Vincenzo Loseto, The Nomad, Ment’or BKB Foundation’s 2016 Young Chef Competition Winner

Vincenso Loseto of Team USA at the BOcuse D'orThe Ment’or BKB Foundation (founded by Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jerome Bocuse) supports Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition and mentors up-and-coming culinary talent in the USA. Earlier this year Chef Vincenzo Loseto of The Nomad in New York won the prestigious honors as the 2016 Young Chef. He’s been on quite a ride since then. We’ll meet him.

Vincenzo’s winning presentation was Veal Tenderloin with Oyster Mushroom and Herb Mousseline. The judges included Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse and Team USA 2015 alum, Chef Philip Tessier.

Since then Chef Vincenzo has staged at Noma in Copenhagen, one of the World’s most acclaimed restaurants. He was also just with Team USA in Lyon in advance of the 2017 Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition. Currently he’s assisting Team USA 2017 (Chef Mathew Peters and Commis Harrison Turone) in the intense training for the upcoming competition in the USA replica kitchen suite of the Bocuse d’Or in Yountville.

Chef Vincenzo will also preview the Bocuse d’Or 2017 Team USA VIP Experience. There is the extraordinary opportunity for discriminating food tourists to accompany Team USA to the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon with VIP status at every stop. Talk about the ultimate gift for a very special foodie…

Show 179, July 9, 2016: Chef Cesar Gutierrez, Café Boulud, New York, ment’or BKB’s Young Chef Competition

Cesar GutierrezMent’or BKB Foundation Chef Founders, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jerome Bocuse hosted the 2016 Young Chef Competition at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York on June 8th to identify up-and-coming culinary leaders and provide them with the opportunity to work alongside Team USA 2017.

Cesar Gutierrez, Executive Sous Chef, Café Boulud, NY (and a C-CAP graduate) finished in Second Place. His assistant was Esther Ha also of Café Boulud. We’ll meet Chef Guitierrez.

The Young Chef competitors prepared one dish that featured one Veal Rack and Veal Sweetbreads and/or Veal Osso provided by Marcho Farms.

Chef Guitierrez will be going to Lyon, France in February of next year to stage with Team USA (Chef Mathew Peters (Per Se, NYC) and Commis Harrison Turone) competing in the Bocuse d’Or international culinary competition.

Show 164, March 19, 2016: ment’or BKB Foundation’s Young Chef Competition

Philip TessierApplications are now available for the 3rd Annual ment’or BKB Foundation Young Chef Competition and the new Commis Competition. Mentor’s programs celebrate the young culinary talent that exists in the US and provides unique opportunities for them to be recognized on a national level.

The Young Chef Competitions launched in 2014 to recognize outstanding young chefs throughout the country. Selected candidates and their Commis will compete in the 2 hour and 35minute live cooking competition with judges scoring on taste, presentation and kitchen organization.

This year, ment’or will host one competition in New York City with six selected candidates. Ment’or cofounder and Chairman, Chef Daniel Boulud says, “Every year, we see the talent and pool of young chefs grow. It is gratifying to note that our Young Chef participants have not only honed their skills and craftsmanship, but stay connected to our culinary network and pass on their knowledge to the next generation of upcoming chefs.”

Young YunCandidates of both the Young Chef Competition and the Commis competition will be paired with mentors from the Foundation’s Culinary Council or previous Bocuse d’Or Team USA representatives to guide them throughout their training. Winners will have the choice of a cash prize or the coveted opportunity to work with Team USA as they train for the upcoming January 2017 Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France.

Applications are now available through Thursday, April 7, 2016. Applications and additional details about the ment’or Young Chef and Commis Competitions can be found on the ment’or BKB Website.

Ment’or BKB’s Executive Director, Young Yun, and Chef Philip Tessier, Silver Medalist for Team USA at the 2015 Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition and Coach for Team USA 2017 have all the details.

Show 151, December 19, 2015: Chef Andrew Gruel and Producer Andy Harris on Las Vegas Dining

Deviled Eggs at db Brasserie in Las vegasChef Andrew always enjoys Chef Jose Andres’ first restaurant in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan, Jaleo. As he says it never disappoints. His go-to dish is the chicken croquettes artfully served in a shoe.

db Brasserie (Daniel Boulud) at The Venetian just celebrated their first anniversary in May so Producer Andy wanted to revisit them. The food is always consistently good but what really impressed him was the level of attentive service and welcoming environment when the restaurant was not terribly busy. (It’s a slow Weekend in Las Vegas with Christmas coming up.) That’s the sign of a well-managed establishment. The executive chef, Vincent Pouessel was out in the dining room touching tables. His pastry chef was doing the same thing.

Show 149, December 5, 2015: Ultimo – A Weekend of Excellence, Las Vegas

Ultimo A Weekend ExcellenceThey always do it B-I-G in Las Vegas. What’s billed as the culinary event of the year, Ultimo – A Weekend of Excellence, hosted by The Venetian and The Palazzo, will take culinary extravagance to new levels, December 17th through the 20th.

The highlight of the festivities will be the competition to select Team USA representing the United States in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or international cooking competition in Lyon, France in early 2017. This is the Olympics of the culinary arts. For the first time ever Team USA (Chef Philip Tessier and Commis Skyler Stover) was awarded the Silver Medal at the Bocuse d’Or this year. Chef Tessier will be part of Ultimo Weekend.

For the third year in a row, Ultimo will celebrate the romance of Italy with lavish feasts and exceptional experiences from an A-team of award-winning chefs as it unfolds around The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas. Renowned culinary luminaries participating in the weekend will include Chefs Jérôme Bocuse, Daniel Boulud, Josiah Citrin, Shaun Hergatt, Gavin Kaysen, Thomas Keller, James Kent, Roland Passot, Philip Tessier, Ming Tsai, Richard Rosendale, and Dario Cecchini, the famed Chianti “Butcher of Panzano.”

“This will be, without a doubt, the most spectacular gathering of world-renowned chefs in Las Vegas,” said Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of food & beverage for The Venetian and The Palazzo.  “For the culinary enthusiast, this will be a weekend to remember.”

This exceptional winter weekend will feature the return of The Venetian’s Grand Banquet, a landmark collaboration between several of the world’s best culinarians including Chefs Keller, Tessier, Hergatt and Tsai.

Sebastien Silvestri, Vice President of Food & Beverage for The Venetian and The Palazzo is our guest.


Show 114, March 14, 2015: Chef Gavin Kaysen, Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis

While we were waiting to connect with Chef Gavin in Minneapolis, Kedric explained the fascinating evolution of restaurants over the years at South Coast Plaza. There is something for every taste and price level but the accent is always on quality. No Food Court there. For instance the long-running McDonald’s was replaced last year by Din Tai Fung a favorite for Shanghai-style soup dumplings with a worshipful, foodie cult following.

Gavin kaysenIn the words of Chef Gavin Kaysen : “In the past year, I’ve left New York City where I had the pleasure of cooking alongside Daniel Boulud running his Café Boulud brand; opened Spoon and Stable in my hometown of Minneapolis; served as the head coach for Team USA as we won a record-breaking Second Place in the Bocuse d’Or; and led my restaurant to become a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Foundation Awards. I’m looking forward to sharing the next steps of my journey with you.”

First we’ll chat with Gavin about his work with Team USA and Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation which is now known as men’tor BKB Foundation. Chef Gavin represented the United States at the 2007 Bocuse d’Or, a prestigious, international culinary competition hosted biennially in Lyon, France.

He was personally selected by Chefs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, both men’tor BKB Foundation Directors & Founders, to serve as the Head Coach of the Bocuse d’Or USA Team in both 2013 and 2015.

Chef Gavin Kaysen joins us.