Bocuse d'Or rules stipulate that the chef's commis, or assistant, must be young and relatively inexperienced. Rosendale chose Siegel, 21, who is an apprentice at The Greenbrier, where Rosendale himself apprenticed in 2005.
They work in a carefully calibrated routine several times a week preparing the secret menu they'll prepare in front of an audience of thousands and a panel of judges.
Greenbrier employees seem to know what days Rosendale and Siegel are cooking. "When we're plating up, people come out of the woodwork. It's pretty funny," he said. "We're pretty popular then."
The energetic Rosendale seems confident as he anticipates his rapidly approaching Jan. 30 competition date. He's placed highly in more than 40 international competitions, but Bocuse d'Or is by far the most prestigious. He will prepare two entrees, one meat served on a platter and one seafood served on individual plates. The main-ingredient meat and seafood are selected and provided by Bocuse d'Or.
They've known for some time that the meat ingredient is Irish beef tenderloin, but didn't know until November what seafood they will be using -- turbot and European blue lobster.
"I had two weeks to develop a recipe that use turbot and lobster in one entree," he said.
Both entrees must be accompanied by three original garnishes and include a mystery ingredient that will be revealed to him on the day before the competition. The inclusion of a mystery ingredient is an element introduced this year to the competition, which otherwise hasn't changed much in 20 years.
"It's a challenge for everyone. They wanted to shake it up and add spontaneity," he said.
He's tried to develop a preparation plan for a wide range of ingredients. "If I get cauliflower, here's what I would do," he said. "If I hadn't given any thought to what I would do, I'd be in trouble."
The atmosphere during the competition is frequently raucous, reminiscent of sporting events, with spectators cheering on their teams. Cowbells and sirens are not unknown. Rosendale blasts recordings of loud crowd noise during his timed trial runs to render him impervious to the background sound that plagues some competitors on the big day.
Rosendale considers control, planning and organization to be his great strengths. The Greenbrier owner Jim Justice inadvertently challenged those skills during a celebrity event.
"One of the most stressful points in my career came when Mr. Justice ordered a birthday cake with sparklers for Jessica Simpson. I could not get those sparklers to light as I tried and tried behind a curtain," he said. Just as it was time for the big reveal, someone showed up with a lighter that did the trick.
Rosendale qualified for the international competition over three other finalists last January at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. The chefs were required to use River & Glen hookers cod and D'Artagnan chicken to create two entrees and to accompany them with three intricate garnishes. The dishes he prepared were influenced by the comfort-food flavors of a childhood in Uniontown, Pa., with an unexpected presentation -- a Mr. Potato Head belonging to one of his sons.
He filled the Potato Head mold with a slow-roasted chicken mixture and cooked it in a vacuum. "It looked like a roasted chicken," he said. Except that the inside held layers of country ham, cornbread stuffing and black truffle butter.
He likens the melding of timeless flavors and contemporary presentations to the job he faced when Justice recruited him to The Greenbrier in 2009 and charged him with reviving the resort's culinary heritage.
"I like to take something familiar and remake it. You don't dilute the history of memorable dishes," he said, and cited the example of The Greenbrier's coconut almond pound cake, which was traditionally griddled and topped with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.
His reincarnated version features a ball of vanilla ice cream encased in a chocolate shell sitting on top of a slice of cake. Servers pour warm chocolate sauce over the sphere, which melts the shell and reveals the ice cream inside.
Justice fully supports Rosendale's efforts and has provided hospitality for visiting coaches and team members.
"Jim Justice has been phenomenal. He trusts me to do this and not neglect my responsibilities here. He really wants The Greenbrier and West Virginia to be on the world stage. We'll literally be competing there," he said. "It's great exposure and helps reinforce the culinary tradition at the Greenbrier.
"I really want to bring this home to The Greenbrier."
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.