Men’tor announces Team USA 2021 and our new Team USA President

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NAPA, CA | NOVEMBER 12, 2019 — Ment’or is proud to announce that Chef Jeffery Hayashi and William Barrera will represent the United States as Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or 2021 competition, the renowned biennial international culinary competition in Lyon, France.

Convening at The Culinary Institute of America’s Copia campus in Napa, California, the three finalist teams competed over a five hour and 35 minute period, following the rigorous format of the actual Bocuse d’Or competition. The platter theme was Whole Chicken, from Palisades Ranch in California, and the plated theme was Ratatouille. The team to place third was Head Chef Nyesha Arrington (Los Angeles, CA) and Commis Michael Sansom, and Head Chef Scott Muns (Washington D.C.) and Commis Yuta Umeki (New York, NY) placed second. Ment’or partnered with Martin Kastner of Crucial Detail for the design of the platter, with whom Team USA also works with as the lead designer for Bocuse d’Or platters, including the winning medals of silver in 2015 and gold in 2017. The Team USA National Selection was presented by Sysco and made possible thanks to the following additional sponsors: Bragard, Bridor, Cangshan, The Chef’s Garden, Culinary Institute of America at Copia, Robot Coupe, Ecolab, Level, Nordaq, OMvino, Paris Gourmet, Patron & Grey Goose, PolyScience, Rational, Tealeaves, SevenRooms, Shawmut, Steelite, Trimark, Urbani and Williams-Sonoma.

Taste and presentation were judged by an extraordinary chef panel, whom are also part of Ment’or’s culinary council, including chefs: Paul Bartolotta, William Bradley, Gerard Craft, Olivier Dubreuil, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, James Kent, Matthew Kirkley, Alex Lee, Brian Lockwood, Yvan Mucharraz, Roland Passot, Francis Reynard, Melissa Rodriguez, Rich Rosendale, Joachim Splichal and Philip Tessier. In addition to the chef jury panel, Chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, co-founders of Ment’or, Gavin Kaysen, Mathew Peters, 2017 gold medal Bocuse d’Or winner, and Robert Sulatycky, Team USA Head Coach, headed the President’s Table and served as honorary chef judges, tasting both platter and plated theme dishes.

Chef Jeffery Hayashi and William Barrera will now begin the rigorous journey to the Bocuse d’Or as Team USA 2021, relocating closer to the training facility at Copia in Napa, California and dedicating the next fourteen months to prepare for the 2021 competition. During this crucial training period, Ment’or will support Team USA, with the Foundation’s esteemed Chef Council continuing to play an invaluable role in mentoring them. “I feel very fortunate for this once in a lifetime opportunity,” shares Chef Hayashi, who previously competed for Team USA in 2019. “Any one of the competing chefs could have won. To now officially be on the road to Lyon for Bocuse d’Or is surreal, and I’m incredibly thankful for all the support.”

Along with announcing Team USA 2021, Ment’or has also appointed current Vice President Gavin Kaysen as the new President of Team USA, succeeding Chef Thomas Keller in this prestigious leadership role. Chef Keller will remain President of Ment’or, that he co-founded with Chefs Daniel Boulud and Jérôme Bocuse in 2008.  

As one of the founding chefs of Ment’or, Chef Kaysen has been recognized as both a Food & Wine ‘Best New Chef’ (2007) and James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year (2008). In 2015, he successfully led Team USA to a record-breaking second place victory at the 2015 Bocuse d’Or, the first medal and podium placement for the United States and a turning point for Team USA, before going on to achieve gold in the 2017 competition. As chef and owner of the James Beard-nominated Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, MN, Chef Kaysen continues to inspire and lead the culinary community. In his new role, Chef Kaysen will continue to prepare and guide Team USA to compete on the global culinary stage in 2021. 

“I have had the pleasure to being an understudy to Chef Keller for this past decade while Ment’or was growing into the program it is today: one that inspires culinary excellence through both our grant program and the Bocuse d’Or,” shares Chef Gavin Kaysen. “The amount of time, resources and funding that are dedicated to young chefs and their growth give me a tremendous amount of pride and excitement as I take on this new role of President. Having competed as Team USA in 2007, for this to come full circle as team president is the definition of mentorship, and something I take great pride in. I am proud to lead the team in 2021 and beyond.”

Chef Jeffery Hayashi is Chef de Cuisine of the acclaimed Senia Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hayashi, originally from Oahu, moved to Arizona at age four and spent the bulk of his upbringing on the mainland, though visited his grandparents in Hawaii throughout his childhood. While culinary arts were not his passion in his formative years, he spent his time focused on building, art, and creating things with his hands, which led him to study architecture at Arizona State University. After realizing that architecture wasn’t his path, Hayashi serendipitously was introduced to French-Australian Chef Philippe Padovani, who had made a name for himself in Hawaii. Philippe, who had learned cooking by fire in the kitchen, encouraged Hayashi to come and work for him as an apprentice, as Padovani opened his namesake, Padovani Grill. Hayashi, who had never worked in a kitchen before but liked hand crafts, worked for Padovani as an apprentice for a year and a half before moving to Vintage Cave as a commis under Chef Chris Kajioka. Kajioka then convinced Hayashi to join him on the team for Chef Mourad Lahlou’s new restaurant in San Francisco, Mourad, in 2014. Hayashi worked as Executive Sous Chef at Mourad for four years, at which time the restaurant earned one Michelin star, among other awards and accolades for its Moroccan fine dining cuisine. In 2018, Hayashi headed back to Hawaii to work at Senia, the elevated Hawaiian restaurant opened in 2016 by both Kajioka and Chef Anthony Rush, where Hayashi served as the Chef de Cuisine. Senia has garnered national attention, including a pre-opening feature in the New York Times, and Eater named it one of the year’s most anticipated restaurants. Chef Jeffery Hayashi funnels his creativity and hand-crafting solely through his cooking, though his love of the outdoors is where he spends his free time – surfing, hiking, anywhere that he can immerse himself in nature. William Barrera will be Commis for Chef Jeffery Hayashi; he works for Roy’s in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“We have witnessed extraordinary tenacity and talent from these young chefs competing at this year’s Team USA National Selection. I want to acknowledge all the chefs, coaches, judges, sponsors, supporters and mentors who have been part of the Team USA effort. It is because of you we continue to represent the United States in such a profound way,” said Thomas Keller, President of Ment’or. “It has been my true honor to work so closely with the teams representing America on the international culinary stage over the past 11 of years. Chef Gavin Kaysen has been a monumental force not only to the Foundation, but as a mentor to aspiring chefs. I could not be prouder of his dedication and contributions; I have all the confidence that he will lead Team USA into a very bright future.”

Ment’or, founded by acclaimed chefs including Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud, helps to both support and oversee the training of the U.S. national team in the lead-up to the Bocuse d’Or competition. Since 1987, Team USA has participated in this international culinary event, and has placed on the podium twice, being awarded Silver in 2015 and winning Gold for the first time in 2017.

About Ment’or:

Ment’or is a nonprofit that aims to educate and inspire excellence in young culinary professionals and also preserve the traditions and quality of cuisine in America. Ment’or is led by founders Chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jérôme Bocuse, as well as an esteemed Culinary Council of over forty renowned chefs. Educational grants and internships are offered to culinary professionals through the Grant Program. The Young Chef and Commis Competition series offer yet another opportunity for young culinarians to further their careers. Ment’or has awarded nearly $1.4 million in grants since 2014 to young chefs across the USA. Ment’or is also responsible for recruiting, training, and financially supporting the promising young American talents who represent Team USA in the prestigious biennial Bocuse d’Or competition, held in Lyon, France. For the first time in history, Team USA won the coveted Gold Medal at the 2017 Bocuse d’Or.

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  • Cheers to @paulbocuseofficiel! Today we raise our "bowls" in a champagne toast to celebrate Monsieur Paul Bocuse and honor a tradition he started for his mentor Chef Fernand Point. Chef Bocuse worked as a young cook at La Pyramide under Chef Point and as his protegee it was his responsibility each morning to pour a glass of champagne for Chef Point. One morning, Chef Bocuse decided he should share in this ritual so when Chef Point turned away for a moment, Chef Bocuse poured some champagne into a salad bowl that sat on a shelf. This continued and one day Chef Point caught him but said nothing. The next morning, after Chef Bocuse poured the glass for Chef Point, much to Monsieur Paul's surprise, Chef Point, poured some Champagne into a salad bowl and said nothing.

    We honor Monsieur Paul for his truly incomparable spirit that made him the incredible leader and mentor that he was. Monsieur Paul's passion and dedication to the profession lives on as we continue to strive for excellence in our profession. #happybirthday #bocusedor #mentorbkb #inspringculinaryexcellence #bonanniversaire
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