Jennifer Petrusky, a Commis at the 2008 Bocuse d’Or USA, Returns as a Chef Candidate
[Between now and the Bocuse d’Or USA finals this Saturday, February 6, Toqueland will profile as many of the finalists as possible.]
Jennifer Petrusky will be making a return to Bocuse d’Or action this weekend. Petrusky, who was commis to chef candidate Michael Rotondo, of Restaurant Charlie in Las Vegas, at the 2008 Bocuse d’Or USA, will be competing this year as a candidate, with James Caputo, a cook from Charlie Trotter’s, in the role of commis.
Rotondo and Petrusky placed third in the 2008 event, nabbing the bronze medal, and Rotondo was also awarded a sort-of “most likely to succeed” prize, identifying him as a potential future Bocuse d’Or USA candidate. At the time, I was working on my book Knives at Dawn, and was able to watch the teams from a judge’s-eye perspective—standing right in the competition kitchen windows. Petrusky was a rock solid commis, an impression that I know many judges shared, so it will be interesting to see how she fares in the hot seat.
The Charlie Trotter organization supplied me the following bio of Petrusky:
“Chef Jennifer Petrusky has been an essential team member of Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant for over 4 years. Soon after she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis she became part of Charlie Trotter’s team where she has collaborated with Chef Trotter as a Sous Chef in numerous cooking demonstrations and awarded international events, such as the Singapore Sun Festival in 2008, Bocuse d’Or USA 2009, The Rheingau Gourmet & Wine Festival and Gourmet Abu Dhabi in 2009.”
In all honesty, despite some persistent Googling, I can’t add much beyond the above as Petrusky was the one finalist I was unable to interview, though I did request one via a restaurant rep. I was disappointed to not be able to speak with her, firstly because she’s making the competition transition from commis to chef, which is a significant evolution (and which I imagine gives her a unique vantage point from which to manage her competition kitchen), and secondly—and obviously—because she’s the lone woman candidate from 2008 or 2010. (This was clearly something the Bocuse d’Or USA committee was excited about because, at the press conference announcing the finalists, alphabetical order was dispensed with, and her name was read first. Also, as readers of this blog know, the dearth of female contenders in the Bocuse d’Or—USA and international editions—is a subject that I personally find fascinating.)
But you know something? On the week that JD Salinger died, I’m not going to begrudge anybody their right to privacy. It’s not Petrusky’s responsibility to speak for her gender, or for her or the company to grant an interview as the competition approaches. So, I hope that she, and Toqueland readers, will forgive me for not saying more about her here; but I didn’t want to exclude her from this series and have provided what I could without overreaching or extrapolating irresponsibly.