Announcing the Team USA 2021 National Selection Candidates!

Learn more


NEW YORK, NY / SEPTEMBER 10, 2019 — The Ment’or BKB Foundation is proud to announce the three finalists competing for the title of Team USA that will represent the United States at the renowned biennial international culinary competition, Bocuse d’Or, occuring in 2021 in Lyon, France. The aspiring and exceptionally talented young chefs will compete for this opportunity of a lifetime on November 11th at The Culinary Institute of America’s Copia campus in Napa, California.

Competing chefs and their respective commis include:

  • Head Chef: Nyesha Arrington (Los Angeles, CA) and Commis: Michael Sansom (Yountville, CA)
  • Head Chef: Jeffery Hayashi (Honolulu, HI) and Commis: William Barrera (Honolulu, HI)
  • Head Chef: Scott Muns (Washington D.C.) and Commis: Yuta Umeki (New York, NY)

Head Chef applicants must be at least 23 years or older by the date of competition in January 2021, and have at least five years of dining experience. Commis applicants must be under the age of 22 by the date of 2021 competition.

The Ment’or BKB Foundation, 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 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.

The Team USA National Selection follows the same format as the incredibly rigorous Bocuse d’Or, with each team competing over a five hour and 35 minute period and concluding with an esteemed chef panel who will judge candidates’ presentations. Chef judges include: Paul Bartolotta, William Bradley, Gerard Craft, Olivier Dubreuil, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, James Kent, Matthew Kirkley, Alex Lee, Brian Lockwood, Yvan Mucharraz, Roland Passot, Melissa Rodriguez, Rich Rosendale, Joachim Splichal, Philip Tessier and Ming Tsai. In addition to the chef jury panel, Chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Gavin Kaysen, Mathew Peters and Robert Sulatycky will head the President’s Table and be honorary chef judges, tasting both platter and plated theme dishes.

Shortly after the competition, the chef and commis team to win will begin training for the Bocuse d’Or 2021 and relocate closer to the training facility in Napa, California. Ment’or BKB partners, supporters and the foundation’s esteemed chef council will continue to play an invaluable role in the support of Team USA through its rigorous training process.

“It is our responsibility to promote excellence in young culinary professionals and prepare the next generation. The Ment’or BKB Foundation is incredibly proud of the commitment and dedication we see in these three finalists in preparing for this moment,” said Chef Thomas Keller, President of the Ment’or BKB Foundation. “Team USA competing in the Bocuse d’Or is the fulfillment of Paul Bocuse’s personal wish to see the United States excel on the global stage and a goal we will continue to strive for in his memory.”

In 2017, Chef Mathew Peters won the gold medal for the USA for the first time in the Bocuse D’Or’s 30-year history. As a result, great support from America’s culinary profession is on the rise and chefs from all over the United States will be rallying behind Team USA in the coming year. The Team USA 2021 National Selection is presented by Sysco, and supported by other sponsors including: Cangshan, Steelite, Nordaq, SevenRooms, Patron/Grey Goose, and Paris Gourmet, in addition to private donations.

“Interest and support for Team USA competing at the Bocuse d’Or has been increasing over the last few years. In the past, professional cooking competitions may have seemed foreign to many, but with Chef Mathew Peters and Commis Harrison Turone winning the gold in 2017, the rise in enthusiasm and support for this event in the United States is palpable. All of these finalists are exceptionally talented, and we are excited to see who will represent Team USA in 2021,” said Executive Director of Ment’or BKB, Young Yun.

Nyesha Arrington & Michael Sansom:

Chef Nyesha Arrington is a rising chef in Los Angeles, most recently gaining traction as chef of both Leona Restaurant, Venice (2014 – 2017) and Native Restaurant, Santa Monica (2017 – 2019). Her path began as a child growing up in Southern California, cooking diverse and cultural foods alongside her Korean grandmother, Ai-Soon Lee. She graduated from the Culinary School at the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles, in 2001. Arrington worked for Chef Josiah Citrin at his acclaimed two-Michelin-star Mélisse restaurant in Santa Monica, before joining the team of legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin and Mobil award-winning Las Vegas restaurants, L’Atelier and The Mansion. During Arrington’s tenure as Executive Chef at Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica from 2011-2013, she was named a Rising Star by Angeleno magazine. She appeared as a “cheftestant” on Bravo’s Top Chef and in 2012, Arrington was recognized by as one of the 30 Under 30, among many other media accolades. Outside of her restaurant work, Arrington has an ongoing dinner installation called “Food is Art,” a traveling events and culinary demonstration business. Having spent much of her young life in competitive sports and martial arts, she is turning her attention to competing as a finalist for the USA Team for the 2021 Bocuse D’Or in Lyon, France.

Her Commis for the competition is Michael Sansom, who currently works at Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant, ad hoc, located in Yountville, CA.

Jeffery Hayashi & William Barrera:

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 but 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 alongside Kajioka at Senia, the elevated Hawaiian restaurant opened in 2016 by both Kajioka and Chef Anthony Rush, where Hayashi is currently serving as 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 is currently working for Roy’s in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Scott Muns & Yuta Umeki

A Dallas area native, Chef Scott Muns is currently head of Research and Development as well as Continuing Education for the Rose’s Restaurant Group, covering three restaurants in Washington, D.C. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he began his professional cooking career with an externship at The Mansion on Turtle Creek under Chef Dean Fearing. After graduation, he worked with Chefs Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson at 2941 in Falls Church, VA, followed by INOX in McLean, VA. From 2008 to 2013, Muns joined Chef Bryan Voltaggio at his newly opened VOLT restaurant in Frederick, MD. During his tenure with Voltaggio, Muns worked his way up from cook to Chef de Cuisine at VOLT, while also helping him open other restaurant concepts. In addition to his full-time work, he has completed stages at Tabla, New York City with Chef Floyd Cardoz; at Per Se, New York City with Chef Thomas Keller; and at Geranium, Copenhagen with Chef Rasmus Kofoed. In 2013, Muns joined Chef Aaron Silverman to open Rose’s Luxury, Washington, D.C., as Chef de Cuisine. In 2014, the restaurant landed on the coveted Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in the United States list. He was appointed Head Chef of Silverman’s acclaimed Pineapple and Pearls restaurant in Washington, D.C. from 2015 – 2019, which has received two Michelin stars for three consecutive years, and a AAA Five Diamond rating. This year, Muns moved to a new position within Rose’s Restaurant Group – as head of Research and Development, as well as Continuing Education, covering three restaurants. In this position, he helps other chefs refine their dishes, oversees menu development, develops in-house curriculum for advancing the careers of current employees and travels between the three unique kitchens. Before moving to the culinary arts, Muns was an aspiring musician, playing the Euphonium and competing until college, which has instilled in him a strong work ethic, competitive spirit and dedication to his craft. He has wanted to compete in the Bocuse d’Or since he was a student at The Culinary Institute of America.

Yuta Umeki will be the Commis for Chef Scott Muns. Umeki is currently working at Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Per Se, in New York City.

The Team USA National Selection will be held on Monday, November 11th at The Culinary Institute of America’s Copia campus in Napa, California. Tickets to attend and witness the chefs compete are available at

Learn More


  • We are excited to be partnered with @syscofoodie who is providing each team with 3 free range chickens, weighing between 3-3.5 lbs, from Palisades Ranch, a Sysco company. These birds come from the Palisades Pride Natural line, which is a true “No Antibiotics Ever” program using only Free Range California Grown small birds. We can't wait to see what the finalists create! Link in bio or copy this link to purchase tickets. #mentorbkb #roadtolyon #chasingbocuse #bocusedorUSA
    ... See MoreSee Less