UNDATED (CBS) -- Grapefruit may be on someone's menu next week, at the international cooking contest known as "Bocuse d'Or." It's like "Iron Chef" except there are a lot more contestants and a lot more at stake. An American team has a real shot at the title.
Richard Rosendale runs a culinary army. He's in charge of the entire food operation at the historic Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. He says, "It's a big job! We have 13 kitchens here on property, 185 chefs, 90 general kitchen workers. So my hands are full."
Yet after work he heads underground through a 25 ton blast door into a nuclear bunker. It was built as a secret hideout for Congress during the Cold War. He says, "I tell everyone it's home to yet another U.S. secret. The Bocuse d' Or training kitchen."
The 37-year-old chef is working on the most important menu of his life in what amounts to his bat cave. He says, "When we burst through the bunker doors in our Greenbrier golf cart there is some remnant of Batman and Robin."
Robin is 21-year-old Corey Siegel Rosendale's assistant chef. They have been training together for nearly two years.
This duo is America's best hope for winning the elusive culinary crown, the Bocuse d'Or cooking competition. Rosendale says, "It's like the Olympics of cooking/1:17:00 "make no mistake...we are going against some of the best chefs in the world."
It's high end cooking in a high stress sporting event environment. It's held every two years in Lyon France and is named for the famed French Chef Paul Bocuse.
Each competitor from 23 countries has five and half hours to create one meat and one fish dish from scratch and present it on fancy platters for the 24 judges. Rosendale says, "Over the top is a good way to put it. You're really trying to do food that is going to wow the spectators, wow the chefs visually, technically and also when it hits their mouth."
The Europeans dominate the competition. The best an American has ever done is come in sixth.
Richard and Corey are expected to change that. The $150,000 kitchen in the bunker at the Greenbrier is an exact replica of the one they will use in France. Rosendale says, "We actually took chalk and we chalked out on the floor exactly where everything was gonna be."
They've piped in actual crowd noise from past competitions. Their war room complete with a countdown clock is where they plot their practice sessions and review photos of past winning platters.
Rosendale works out with a trainer nearly every day to keep up his stamina. He says, "So if that's not serious about the competition I don't know what is."
A half a million dollar war chest is funding this effort. And some of America's most famous chefs including Thomas Keller are mentoring Richard and Corey. Keller, known for the famed French Laundry in Napa Valley, has turned one of his houses into a Bocuse training center. Keller says, "First and foremost I want America to be represented on that podium, and hopefully it's the top level. There's a wonderful sense of competition there but there's also a wonderful sense of camaraderie. But yeah, we want to win, no question about it! We want to kick their butts!"
In September Rich and Corey came to see Keller so he could critique their food. Yet it's so secret they kicked us out before they revealed it.
Yet while the chefs looked for ingredients in the French laundry gardens, we noticed a certain accent had joined the team.
Back at the Greenbrier the sign on the door in the war room pretty much says it all "If you ain't first you last" which is why he's spent all this time in a bunker working on his secrets.