Sonny,

I am still so proud of you.  Today was a very big day for you.  You saw the real deal today, the pick and competition for the national representative for the Bocuse d’Or world event.  What you saw today was at a really high level, probably the highest level you’ve ever seen in your lifetime.  This opportunity would not have opened up for you had you not decided to compete yesterday.  Yesterday was your ticket to today. 

Two years ago, I didn’t bring anyone.  I came alone.  Today, you were with me, in your uniform, and you had access behind the ropes just like me with your camera in hand and the ability to talk to anyone you wanted.  That had to be unreal for you.  But there was a price to pay – yesterday’s competition and all that you had to do to get there.  That was the price and commitment.  You made sacrifices.  You had to dedicate yourself to practicing. 

Today was just as important as yesterday.  To see what you did, it would be a shame if you didn’t come back two years from now to compete again.  A lot of people will remember you.  So when you come back, they expect you to win.  For me, I can train you better for the next competition.  That’s what I did way back when I competed, and I went for the gold.  I have three gold medals, and I have many more silvers and bronzes than golds.  It brought me back to that stage when I would go to the podium, and I really loved that feeling.  Win or lose, we are all winners.  Just like Thomas Keller advised, “patience and perseverance” are the keys to finally seeing it through the right way.

Probably the most important question you asked the others today was, “Chef, what can I do to improve myself for the next time?” I saw you ask that of Thomas Keller, Mark Erickson, and Roland Passot.  Let me tell you what happened after that.  You have an invitation to stage at La Folie in San Francisco with Roland, Cafe Boulud with Gavin, and the Greenbrier with the winner, Richard Rosendale.  You also have a week’s worth of education for free in the CIA’s continuing education class per Mark Erickson.  Because of your performance, I asked Roland and Gavin for you.  Richard reminded me of his offer to you, and so did Mark.  Not bad for putting yourself on the line.

Tonight’s fourth place finisher had his head really hanging low.  As with yesterday’s competition, there was no fourth place, only third and up.  Danny Cerqueda did well.  The others were better today.  I told him to keep his chin up and that this should fuel his fire, and I told him that the next time, I expect him to be there.  I told him that the journey is more important than the destination, and that if he is better today than the last year or the last time he entered, that’s the most important thing. I hung out with him because I like that kind of guy.  He is now the underdog.  He is in the same position as you.  You need to persevere and put yourself on a two-year plan to enter again.  If you do, your life from now on will be much more different because it has been stretched quite far because of what you saw and experienced.

Great job, Sonny.  You know a lot of people were behind you.  Congratulations!  I admire anyone that can risk coming out of their skin and trying something new, being someone they haven’t been before, and going somewhere they’ve never been before.  I had a great weekend too!

Alan

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