Pittsburgh chef’s skills face test at Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup
A Pittsburgh chef is taking his skills abroad to represent his home nation in a competition for international glory.
Chef Shawn Culp of Bridgeville, the new culinary director of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, is part of the nine-member U.S. team competing Nov. 22 to 26 in the 2014 Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. American Culinary Federation National Culinary Team USA will join 29 other countries in the event.
“We look forward to presenting American cuisine to this international audience and representing the dedication and creativity U.S. chefs have for their craft to the culinary industry across the world,” says Joseph Leonardi, Team USA manager.
The Culinary World Cup, established in 1972, is held every four years during Expogast, an international exhibition of culinary arts products, education and technology.
The American team has been preparing for more than a year. At the event, they will be challenged to create a culinary and pastry arts program to include hot and cold finger food, a buffet platter, a vegetarian three-course menu with dessert and a five-course menu with dessert. The team also will compete in a hot-food competition where they will create a three-course meal for 110 people.
“The judges are looking for perfect skill and cooking technique,” Culp says. “It needs to be executed with very high precision.”
For Team USA, the challenges start before they even get to the kitchen.
“Traveling is one of the biggest hurdles,” Culp says. “For some countries, this is in their backyard and they can drive there. We have to take a long flight over there and travel with our food, which sometimes doesn’t make it because of customs.
“The second challenge comes from being in a different country, different customs, language, taste profiles, culture — that all goes into play when you’re competing in someone else’s arena.”
Even just preparing for the competition, “takes your skills to another level,” Culp says.
“One year on the team would be equal to seven in industry,” he says. “When we meet for practices, the ideas and discussions generated in those small sessions are so concentrated, the level of skill is amplified very fast. I can definitely say since I’ve been associated with the team, my skills have sky-rocketed tremendously.”
The teams meets every few weeks to practice in Chicago and will begin convening in Texas to prepare for future competitions in February. The team also will compete at the American Culinary Classic in Orlando in 2015 and at the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung in Erfurt, Germany, in 2016.
For Culp, the idea of bringing home gold for his country justifies the personal commitment.
“One coach said, ‘I didn’t tell you it would be easy, but I am telling you it will be worth it,’ ” he says.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or [email protected].