San Diego Chef Leads Team USA To Gold Medal Victory In World's "Most Rigorous Culinary Competition"

June 13, 2024

The former longtime chef de cuisine of San Diego's three Michelin-starred Addison restaurant has advanced Team USA to the Bocuse d'Or World Culinary Championship in Lyon, France after leading her team to a gold medal victory in the culinary competition's Americas Selection.

The U.S. is heading to Lyon, France in January 2025 to compete at the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious culinary competition. Team USA Head Chef Stefani De Palma and Commis Bradley Waddle  secured their spot on the international stage following a 5-hour and 30-minute battle in New Orleans, LA. They faced eight countries from North, Central, and South America.

Team USA secured the Gold and was selected to advance along with two-person teams from Canada (Silver), Mexico (Bronze), Chile (4th place), and Colombia (5th place). When they reach Lyon, Team USA will once again face these finalists from the Americas selection, alongside finalists from Africa, Asia, and Europe, with a total of 24 teams from around the world vying for the gold medal.

"I'm so proud to be representing the United States," said San Diego chef Stefani De Palma, who has spent the last nine-months training in preparation for the Americas selection with Commis Waddle. "It's rewarding to see all of our training lead to this result. I’m the type of person who is focused on one goal at a time and now my eyes are set on what we need to accomplish in Lyon. We’re so impressed by the final plates and platters presented by the other teams and admire the workmanship and professionalism they showed throughout the competition."

Each team in the competition was tasked with completing the Bocuse d’Or’s two iconic tests: the theme on a plate and the platter theme, both featuring the host region's local and emblematic products, which include wild boar rack, grits, alligator sausage, whole white shrimp, Murder Point oysters, and jumbo lump crab meat. To secure their spot in the finals, Team USA prepared a dish entitled "California’s Celebration of Louisiana Shellfish" and a platter entitled "Golden State Soul: California Meets the Bayou" (full menu descriptions).

De Palma worked in the kitchen of San Diego's famed Addison restaurant beginning when she was 19 years-old until she departed the restaurant in 2022 just weeks after Addison was awarded the highest tier of three stars for Michelin Guide California 2022. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, De Palma worked at various positions within the 3-Michelin Star restaurant, including as chef de partie, chef tournant, pastry sous chef, sous chef, and as chef de cuisine from 2016 until her departure in December 2022.

In addition to De Palma, two other San Diego chefs are on Bocuse d'Or Team USA. Chef de Partie Alexis Wells is a San Diego based pastry chef who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. She specializes in upscale artisan desserts and loves working with chocolate. Chef de Partie Carson Reimer grew up in Mckinney, TX and began working in restaurants when he was 15 years old. After high school, he moved to San Diego where he attended the San Diego Culinary Institute in 2016. Since then, he has worked at numerous restaurants in Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco, including two Michelin-starred Saison.

Since Ment’or was formed in 2008 by Chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Jérôme Bocuse, competitors representing Team USA have regularly finished within the Top 10 and have secured both the Gold and Silver medals at the finals in Lyon. The mission for the organization was, and continues to be, focused on inspiring culinary excellence and supporting the next generation of young professionals as they continue to elevate the cuisine in America. 

For more information about Team USA and Ment’or, visit