TIME Food & Drink

Meet the Chef Representing Team U.S.A. at the Olympics of Cooking

Skylar Stover (L) and Philip Tessier (R) will compete on Jan. 27 in the celebrated Bocuse d'Or. The ment’or BKB Foundation

The competition kicks off Jan. 27

While millions of Americans tune in to reality competitions like MasterChef Junior and The Taste, few are aware that the biggest championship in cooking is about to take place: the Bocuse d’Or, widely considered the Olympics of haute cuisine.

Every two years, chefs from around the world converge in Lyon, France, to prove their prowess to an exacting panel of judges. Each team of one chef and one commis (or assistant) cooks the same meat and fish — this year, guinea hen and brown trout — and tries to impress the judges with unique presentation and use of secondary ingredients from their home countries. France has won seven times in 14 competitions; an American team has never even taken home the bronze medal.

Naturally, this year’s Team U.S.A. hopes to change that. Philip Tessier, 35, Executive Sous Chef at The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., will be assisted by his commis Skylar Stover, 22, who also works in the kitchen there. Twelve teams will cook for nearly six hours on Jan. 27; another dozen will compete on Jan. 28, with winners being announced at the end. The entire event will be live-streamed.

The pair have spent the last year training intensively for their program, a process that includes everything from honing technique to endurance training at the gym. “I want to look back and know I did everything I possibly could to be ready for it,” Tessier says, “so maintaining a sense of physical discipline is certainly going to be a benefit to us.”

As for planning the actual dishes they will serve, Tessier has had some help from a team of coaches in the Ment’or program, the American organization that selects and trains Team U.S.A. for the Bocuse d’Or. Among the mentors: their French Laundry boss, Thomas Keller, as well as Daniel Boulud and several competitors from previous years.

While many young chefs are eager to strike out and lead their own restaurants, Tessier has always valued the education that comes with working for a great chef. From his culinary beginnings at the Williamsburg Inn in Virginia, to his training at the Culinary Institute of America, to stints in France, to working at powerhouse restaurants like Le Bernardin, Per Se, Bouchon and finally The French Laundry, he’s been satisfied to take his time climbing the ladder. “We have too many students come out of [culinary] school that want to be a sous chef the next day,” he says. “You can do that, but my old chef used to say, ‘I’d rather be at the bottom of the top than the top of the bottom.’ I think that is a great way of saying, take your time to get there.”

This kind of patience and precision will serve him well at the Bocuse, where fastidious technique is valued above all.

Over the last several months, Tessier and his team of mentors have honed their plans for presenting the guinea hen and brown trout. They can use garnishes on both the fish plate and the meat platter — partly with produce provided in Lyon, but ideally also making use of ingredients from their home country. For Danes and Germans, this means shipping fresh fruits and vegetables from just a few hours away, but for the U.S. team, it’s a logistical nightmare.

“Part of the whole thing is they want to see the country represent their country,” Tessier says. “So obviously, the argument is you need your own food to do that. [But] is that mustard flower going to be intact three days later, 5,000 miles away? It’s pretty questionable. That’s our challenge.”

The team did a training run on shipping in November, and the produce held up well, giving them hope that they’ll have similarly good results this month.

Unfortunately, even if Tessier and Stover do beat the odds and place in the top three, the prize may not mean as much back home as it does for their competitors. When former Team U.S.A. chef Gavin Kaysen was at a dinner party in Sweden and his companions found out he’d been in the Bocuse d’Or, they assumed he must be very famous in his country. “Over there,” Tessier says, “when you come home with a bronze, you’re a national hero. It just shows you that reverence for gastronomy and history and tradition is very deeply seeded there — and it’s becoming increasingly so here.”

For Tessier, it may take bringing home a gold medal to finally teach Americans about the high-pressure stage that is the Bocuse d’Or.

TIME Aviation

The TSA Seized a Record Number of Guns in 2014

TSA: How to Travel by Commercial Airflight With A Firearm
After filling out a brief disclosure form, commercial air flight travelers are allowed to transport unloaded firearms in locked, hard-sided cases as checked luggage only, as can be seen in props provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Washington, DC. The Washington Post—Getty Images

Security agents found six per day on average

The Transportation Security Administration kept especially busy in 2014: A record high of 2,212 guns were seized from carry-on luggage, marking a 22% increase over 2013 numbers.

The TSA found an average of more than six firearms per day, the agency said Friday, and of those seized, 83% were loaded. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport saw 120 guns seized, the most of any airport.

Passengers who try to bring firearms onto a plane in their carry-on bags can be arrested and criminally charged.

TIME Gadgets

This Is Your Dad’s Next Birthday Present

Leatherman
Craig Wagner—Leatherman

Meet the Swiss Army bracelet

Swiss Army Knives are so played out. You know what we need? Swiss Army bracelets.

Leatherman has announced a new product that you wear on your wrist, Tread, featuring 25 usable tools, including wrenches and screwdrivers but no blades, Mashable reports. Leatherman President Ben Rivera got the idea for the product at Disneyland, where he said he was “stopped at the gate by security for carrying a knife, when what they had actually seen was my Skeletool.”

For the record, the Skeletool looks a lot like a knife.

The product comes out this summer, when handy folks the world over will finally be able to go into theme parks with all the tools they need to, who knows, fix a roller coaster or something.

[Mashable]

Read next: Here Are 12 of SkyMall’s Weirdest Products

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME faith

Pope Francis to Families: Get Off Your Screens and Actually Talk to Each Other

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE
Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for the private Audience to the Accountants and Accounting Experts in Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican, on November 14, 2014. Andreas Solaro—AFP/Getty Images

The Pontiff says technology should be used to enable conversation, not hinder it

Pope Francis wants families to know that technology isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

“By growing daily in our awareness of the vital importance of encountering others, we will employ technology wisely, rather than letting ourselves be dominated by it,” the Pontiff said Friday in his annual message for World Communications Day.

In other words, cut down on your screen time, kids.

Not that mothers and fathers aren’t beyond reproach: “Parents are the primary educators,” he said, “but they cannot be left to their own devices.”

“The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that ‘silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist,'” Pope Francis said.

This isn’t the first time the Pope has implied those family-centric Apple ads might be misleading. “Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things,” like “chatting on the Internet or with smartphones,” he said last year.

Even in 1967, long before the dawn of the selfie, Pope Paul VI remarked upon the rapidly expanding world of communications, noting how television and other media leave “their deep mark upon the mentality and the conscience of man who is being pressed and almost overpowered by a multiplicity of contradictory appeals.”

It’s like they say in Proverbs 18:2: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion [on Twitter].”

TIME Bizarre

Here Are 12 of SkyMall’s Weirdest Products

In honor of the retail catalogue filing for bankruptcy, here are some of its strangest offerings

  • Litter Robots

    SkyMall

    If you are too lazy to clean your cat’s litter box, this Jetsons-style contraption will scoop out waste and put it in a special poo drawer as a nice little gift for the next time you check.

  • Money Maze Game

    SkyMall

    Because wallets are so boring.

  • Bracelet Assistant

    SkyMall

    For people with remarkably bad fine motor skills and no friends to help them put on jewelry.

  • Pet Crate End Tables

    SkyMall

    With this fancy piece of furniture, your dog becomes a part of the ambiance. Just don’t keep anything too breakable on top.

  • Passing the Bar Game

    SkyMall

    “Fun for lawyers too,” SkyMall promises about this game that’s sure to be as riveting as a case brief.

  • Jumping Hot Dog

    SkyMall

    Wait, is that a sausage or a pill?

  • BrilliantSpa Black Diamond Jewelry Steam Cleaner

    SkyMall

    I have always wanted a special sink to clean all of my many diamonds.

  • Cobra Walking Stick

    SkyMall

    “Practical and stylish,” writes SkyMall, “our walking stick is a required accessory almost any time we venture from home.” We’d never be caught dead without it.

  • Pierogi Ornament

    SkyMall

    Folks, do your relatives a favor and buy them REAL pierogis for the holidays.

  • Wine Bottle Glass

    SkyMall

    Tell the haters you’re only having one glass. So much classier than drinking straight from the bottle.

  • Mounted Squirrel Head

    SkyMall

    Moose heads are, like, so over.

  • Dog Breed Toaster

    SkyMall

    Some people like their bread evenly toasted. Others love a really burnt spot in the middle in the shape of a four-legged creature. There’s just no accounting for taste.

TIME Crime

California Teacher Defended Colleagues Accused of Having Sex With Pupils

Kids should have kept their “stupid mouths shut and enjoyed it,” he allegedly wrote on Facebook

A teacher has been placed on paid leave after allegedly writing on Facebook that students should not have complained about having sex with two female teachers at his school.

Sean Kane, a teacher at South Hills High School in West Covina, Calif., was put in administrative leave after appearing to defend his colleagues who have been arrested for allegedly having sex with students. A message allegedly appeared on his Facebook page saying the kids should have kept their “stupid mouths shut and enjoyed it,” the L.A. Times reports.

Kane’s colleagues Melody Lippert, 38, and Michelle Ghirelli, 30, were arrested Saturday on suspicion of having sex with students during a trip to a local beach, not sponsored by the school. Lippert is also accused of providing students with alcohol on the same beach on a separate occasion.

Some students at the high school have launched a social media campaign to get Kane back on the job, using the hashtag #FreeKane to express their support for the art teacher.

[L.A. Times]

TIME weather

Brace Yourself: A Big Storm Is Coming to the East Coast

National Weather Service

Some regions may see a foot of snow

A nor’easter could wreak havoc all along the East Coast over the next 24 hours, with a mix of rain and snow that will likely cause airline and traffic delays along the I-81 and I-95 corridors.

Up to a foot of snow could accumulate in some locations, AccuWeather.com reports. Snow heavy with added rainfall could also bring down trees and power lines.

Check your local weather for specific predictions, and get ready for a good snow-shoveling workout.

[AccuWeather]

TIME governors

Chris Christie Has Been Gifted 77 Weight-Loss Books While in Office

<> on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Andrew Burton—2015 Getty Images

Titles include The Macho Man Diet and Leave the Cannoli, Take the Weights

Of the 1,100 gifts Chris Christie has received from the public since taking office five years ago, 600 are books, 77 of which are about diet, weight loss, exercise or bariatric surgery.

The gifts include CDs, DVDs and kits, NJ.com reports, and they come from authors and readers alike. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz sent the New Jersey governor a copy of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.

While Christie has thanked supporters who’ve noticed his weight loss since his bariatric surgery two years ago, he prefers to keep the topic of his size a private matter. We’re guessing not all 77 of these titles have a permanent home on the Christies’ bookshelves.

[NJ.com]

TIME People

Twin 9-Year-Old Boys Left Basically Alone for Months

An empty playground is seen at an apartment complex, Jan. 22, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. where authorities say twin 9-year-old boys were left mostly alone for four months after their parents took three siblings to Nigeria and left an uncle to care for them.
An empty playground is seen at an apartment complex, Jan. 22, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. where authorities say twin 9-year-old boys were left mostly alone for four months after their parents took three siblings to Nigeria and left an uncle to care for them. Jim Cole—AP

The boys were left to fend for themselves while an uncle only checked in every few days

Twin 9-year-olds were left virtually on their own for four months in a Manchester, N.H. apartment where an uncle would only occasionally check in on them.

The boys’ parents and three siblings left for Nigeria in July with the intention of returning the next month, but were delayed, the Associated Press reports. In the mean time, their 25-year-old uncle, Giobari Atura, was supposed to stay with the boys. Instead, he says he checked in on them every few days.

Police finally became involved in November when the boys’ school alerted them that they’d been living alone, getting themselves up in the morning and taking the bus to eat breakfast and lunch at school. The only edible food found in the apartment was ramen.

The twins were initially placed in foster care, but have now been returned to their parents, who came back to the U.S. shortly after learning of the situation. While Atura was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in December, the parents will not be charged since they left their sons in the care of a relative.

[AP]

Read next: Celiac Disease Among UK Kids Has Tripled

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME 2016 Election

Marco Rubio Takes Steps Toward Presidential Run

Sen. Rubio (R-FL) Discusses Obama's Shift In Cuba Policy
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) reacts to U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement about revising policies on U.S.-Cuba relations on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. T.J. Kirkpatrick—Getty Images

The senator has told his team to "proceed as if he is running for president"

Sen. Marco Rubio is making moves to launch a 2016 presidential bid and has even told his team to “proceed as if he is running for president,” one senior adviser told ABC News.

Rubio will reportedly skip votes in the Senate next week in favor of making fundraising stops in California, Texas and Illinois. An upcoming book tour will also take him through all of the early-voting primary states.

Meanwhile, Anna Rogers of the conservative American Crossroads Super PAC will go to work for Rubio’s political action committee on Feb. 1 and will lead the charge to raise the $50 million the senator would need to run in the Republican primaries.

Rubio is expected to make an official announcement in the coming weeks.

[ABC News]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser