Home' Hospitality Business : HB AUG 2016 Contents O
ne can’t separate food and travel.They perfectly complement
each other. Food to me is about being or iginal and staying
true to cuisine. Having reviewed restaurants around the
world, it’s sur prising sometimes how the littlest guy on the
block puts his soul on the plate with simplicity and fresh ingredients,
whilst some big names fail to get this basic idea r ight by trying to be
everything to everyone. But one big pop up restaurant this year will be
dishing out a feast most foodies can only dream of.
With over 2,000 chefs from 50 countr ies, tur ning 20,000 eggs, 1
ton of meat, 1.2 tons of fish and 4,600 kg of vegetables into 7,000
fresh menus, the Inter national Culinary Art Exhibition also known
as the IKA/Culinary Olympics will be the biggest restaurant in the
world from 22-25 October this year. With the 2016 motto of ‘Cooking
Unlimited – come, see, wonder and taste’, the event will welcome over
24,000 guests from around the world.
Held every four years in the Ger man town of Erfurt, the IKA/
Culinary Olympics is just that – the Olympic Games of Cookery
where ever y menu and every ingredient exudes freshness, creativity and
ingenuity.With the first event held in 1900, IKA/Culinar y Olympics
has attracted national teams from across the globe to compete and be
Olympic champions of cooking by showcasing their mastery and skills
to a panel of acclaimed judges and the world’s public.
The stakes are high, too. Countr ies are represented by participating
chef teams and winning gold in the IKA/Culinary Olympics is the
equivalent of winning gold in the Olympic Games. An event far too
important for a country like New Zealand - where inbound tour ism
is the top export ear ner - to be absent for 28 years. The last time
New Zealand participated in the culinar y Olympics was in 1988. It’s a
costly affair to participate, and from the moment teams and menus are
announced to the event, preparation, administrative and logistic costs
can be anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000.
But thanks to the sponsorship backing of New Zealand dairy
heavyweight Fonter ra and leadership of NZ Chefs, this dream is
now reality. A New Zealand culinary team, ‘The NZ Chefs Fonter ra
Olympic Squad’ is mounting a challenge this year.
Director of Global Food Service – Fonter ra, Grant Watson says it’s
a fantastic opportunity to support the New Zealand chefs and food
industry. “For the New Zealand foodservice business this sponsorship
helps to support the industry that we are part of, and passionate about.
This is about the New Zealand team flying the flag on an inter national
stage, amongst their food industry peers, and recognising their journey
and stor y back home in New Zealand.”
NZ Chefs National President Graham Hawkes says it’s great for New
Zealand to compete at the world’s top cooking arena and the team has
been doing great. “We have a brigade of seasoned campaigners in the
squad and most of them have been together for the past 18 months.
The team has chefs in their twenties and up to their sixties, so is a good
mix of exper ience and new talent.”
When it comes to the menu, their motto is: ‘keep it simple, keep it
fresh’. “We’re presenting food that is wholesome and can be prepped
and cooked within the strict timeframe that is allocated in the
competition,” says Hawkes. Menus represent New Zealand produce
that is famous worldwide, “and we’re exporting Akaroa salmon, New
Zealand lamb and venison to use in the competition. The menu is
designed to appeal to the diners and is an endorsement of the chefs
prepar ing it.”
NZ Chefs are also carefully balancing the practice, training and
development aspect of the team as they don’t want to push them
too hard and over train. “We realise that most team members are still
working in the industry or have full time jobs. We’re therefore carefully
balancing training and encouraging chefs to train in their sur rounds
and without taking a laboratory approach.The last thing we want is the
team to over train”, says Hawkes.
Before the trip, the team are presenting a range of feasts across the
country to showcase parts of the menu. It’ll be a chance for food
enthusiasts to engage with the team and to taste the most prized menu
in the country.The actual menu is a well-guarded secret and will come
into play on the day of the event in Ger many.
2016 is shaping up to be the biggest in the history of the event.
Jennifer Zimmer mann from the Association of Ger man Chefs says,
The road to Erfurt...
Harmeet Sehgal represents two of New Zealand’s leading travel media brands. Tasked with reporting
on the biggest culinary event of the year, the IKA/Culinary Olympics, he looks at how New Zealand
and Australian culinary teams are placed three months out from the competition.
The NZ Chefs Fonterra Olympic Squad
46 | August 2016 | Hospitality BUSINESS
CULINARY OLYMPICS 2016
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