Virginia Chef Wins Chaîne des Rôtisseurs 2013 Best Young Chef Competition

Winner Daniel Gorman

By Marilyn LaRocque
Photos by Galdones Photography LLC, © 2013

Daniel Scott Gorman, 26, “Tournant” chef at the Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA, took top honors in the national “2013 Best Young Chef” competition sponsored by the Confrérié de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.   He was the Mid-Atlantic regional winner and vied against nine other regional winners from throughout the U.S. and Hawaii/Pacific Islands and the Caribbean Islands on Saturday, June 8, at the culinary school of Kendall College in Chicago.

At an awards gala held Saturday night at the Trump Hotel, Chicago, Gorman received a crystal trophy, red-ribboned gold medal, and three years’ membership in the Chaîne.  He will represent the U.S. at the international finals in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 6th at the Confrérié de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’ International Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition, which typically brings together about 24 of the world’s top young chefs from among the 80 member nations.  The United States has won the international contest only once in its 36-year history—in 2011.

Two other 26-year-old chefs placed second and third nationally.  Representing the Midwest, Brandon Zarb, Sous Chef at Henri, Chicago, took second place; third went to Hawaii/Pacific Islands regional winner Gary Marcos, line cook at Halekulani Hotel & Resort, Honolulu, HI.

Chefs had to be under 27 years of age as of September 1, 2013, to compete. General chairman for the Chaîne’s Young Chef competition was Heinz Hofmann, Conseiller Culinaire et des Professionnels, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

The winning chefs (L-R) Brandon Zarb, Daniel Gorman & Gary Marcos

The national and international contests require competitors to plan, prepare and plate three courses in four hours using a mystery basket of ingredients as well as a typically stocked “pantry” of items made available during the contest. Chefs were judged on their culinary skills by a panel of distinguished chefs. Judges were divided between food tasting and kitchen observation.  Tasting judges included: Gaetano Ascione, VC Culinaire Honoraire, Executive Chef, Gioco, Chicago; Michael Garbin, Executive Chef, Union League Club, Chicago; Kevin Hickey, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago; Art Inzinga, Regional Culinaire, Professor, Pennsylvania Culinary Institute; Chris Koetke, VC Culinaire, Vice President, School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College; Simeon Roldan, Bailli de Chicago Chapitre, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.  Kitchen judges, all Chef Instructors from Kendall College, included Michael Artlip and Michel Coatrieux.  Kitchen Manager was Chef Instructor Pierre Checchi.

(Clockwise)  Gorman’s winning dishes – Crispy trout appetizer, The flourless chocolate cake & Pan-roasted duck breast with potato duck hash. 

Ingredients in the mystery basket included ramps, beets, rhubarb, duck lake trout, and Vermont maple syrup, all of which were required ingredients in the contestant’s menu.  As his appetizer Gorman prepared crispy skin lake trout with trout and mushroom agnolotti, tomato butter, and pickled ramp.  His main course featured pan-roasted duck breast with potato duck hash, onion soubise, glazed beets, and maple duck juice.  For dessert he paired flourless chocolate cake with rhubarb compote, rhubarb and strawberry granite, and drunken strawberries.

Gorman’s interest in cooking began in high school.  “I spent a lot of time cooking at home,” he said,   “nothing special, just simple comfort food. I had a love of food, but I had a greater love of being in the kitchen. I was always just comfortable there. So when I graduated high school, instead of going to a four-year school for business like I had planned, I went to a local college, AB Tech (Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, Asheville, NC), where I discovered the culinary arts and got my Associate Degree.

“My first job was at a small local Italian restaurant in Asheville called Amici, where I got my first real glimpse into the industry and the teamwork/brigade environment that comes with it.  Then I worked in a few other small places during college. I did my internship at the Ocean Room at the Sanctuary in Kiawah, SC.  The time I spent in the Ocean Room was the changing point in my career, where it became a true passion. After that I spent five-plus years at Cherokee Town and Country Club, where I progressed from line cook, to sous chef, to chef de cuisine.  I learned a lot there.  At the Inn at Little Washington, I’m focusing more on details and learning more.”

As reasons why he finds cooking an exciting career Gorman observed, “It’s always changing.  There is so much satisfaction in making other people happy through food and service. There are many culinary trends today, too many to list.  But I am always interested more and more in farm-to-table and sustainable practices. I’m currently volunteering at our farm at the Inn to learn more about where our food comes from.

“I think people are trying to focus more on what is true to their area and cooking food in the best possible, sometimes the simplest, way to make an impression on the industry and the guest. But I would also say that Asian inspiration is very strong today, both ingredients and techniques. I personally tend to stay close to home (Daniel grew up in North and South Carolina and calls Atlanta, GA, his home town), using a lot of southern inspiration in my cooking, as well as a strong love for bold and spice-driven flavors.  Actually, the Inn at Little Washington is a world of its own.”

Gorman has been competing for over seven years.  “It is always fun and a great learning opportunity,” he remarked.  “Preparing for a high-level national competition such as the Chaîne’s this past weekend, I practice, practice, practice, almost more on paper and through organization than cooking.  Time management and menu writing skills are just as important in competition as the food…without it, it’s hard to deliver.

“I’ve met a lot of great cooks and chefs through time. I have been very lucky, yet it takes a lot of time and dedication to be successful. It can also be a great way to see the world. I have been to Brazil, Canada, and Korea, and hopefully I can do well in Turkey!”

The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, which has 22,000 members worldwide, 6,000 in the U.S., has chapters throughout the United States and around the globe.  Two important programs of the Chaîne are the Young Chefs competition and a comparable Young Sommeliers competition.  Both encourage younger members of the hospitality industry.  Additional information about the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is available at its U.S. website,, and international website,

Food, wine, and travel writer/editor Marilyn LaRocque has visited the seven continents, experiencing not only sights and sounds but also foods and wines. In Paris in May, she was named Vice Chargée de Presse Nationale, Des Etats Unis, of Les Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest and largest food and wine society. She was Senior Food & Wine Editor for LUXURY Las Vegas magazine for nearly 10 years and immersed herself in the cuisine scene in this over-the-top city. She knows and has written about celebrity chefs, their restaurants, and food and reported dining trends not only in Las Vegas but throughout the world, from South Africa to Scandinavia, New Zealand to South America. She knows master sommeliers and mixologists and has written extensively about wines and spirits, particularly California, as well as Oregon, Virginia, and Kentucky (Bourbon) and Tennessee (Whiskey). She has dined at globally celebrated restaurants such as Taillevent (Paris), Noma (Copenhagen), Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (London), Per Se (New York), and French Laundry (Yountville). She has served as a judge in culinary competitions, been guest lecturer at Le Cordon Bleu, Las Vegas, and served as PR consultant for the 2012 UNLVino, Nevada’s oldest and largest wine event. Photo by Jim K. Dekker