OnlyOnAOL: Rich Rosendale on how 'The Contender' differs from other 'false' cooking competitions

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Meet Team Bocuse D'Or USA


"It's real -- that's the biggest difference."

World-renowned chef Rich Rosendale is frank about his experience in cooking competitions, and nothing stacks up to his time at Bocuse d'Or, perhaps the world's most prestigious cooking competition. As Rosendale admits, most other competitions that the general population is familiar with are slightly inauthentic.

"I've done stuff on the Food Network over the years, and I've seen what goes on behind the scenes, where you can retake or adjust the clock to create false tension," he explains. "But at the Bocuse d'Or it's 100% raw. What you see is what you get, and you can't just start over; once the clock starts, there's a definitive time when it will stop."

And in "The Contender," the film Rosendale stars in that focuses on the year of intensive training he completed leading up to the competition, as well as the competition itself, it's easy to belief his claims about its intensity. As he says, it's "like training for an Olympic event." This was serious stuff, and it was something that Rosendale had wanted to compete in ever since he became enamored with cooking.

"My mentor planted a seed [for working towards Bocuse d'Or], so I had set it as a personal goal for myself -- it's the pinnacle of competition to be able to participate in."

That aforementioned passion for dates way back to high school, when he says his interests wavered and he tried out a multitude of sports, but none of them ever truly stuck or felt right. And then he took a home economics class.

"When I got into the kitchen, it was a cake decorating class in home ec in high school that really grabbed hold of me," Rosendale remembers. "It became a creative outlet that I didn't know I existed before."

That ability for cooking to overtake him is what really drove his desire to put everything he had into Bocuse d'Or, an experience that "has changed the trajectory of my career and my life."

"Leaving the competition, the opportunities really began to surface," Rosendale explains. "I had the opportunity to go on CBS's 'Recipe Rehab,' for example. It's kind of a ripple effect -- you throw a stone into the water, and all of these things that you can't possibly imagine are going to materialize as the result of participating in something like [Bocuse d'Or] on a world stage."

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