Cooking for Gold

Now that the excitement of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games has died down, the victory parades held and the flame extinguished, it’s time for an Olympic contest of another kind, and one that’s much more suited to my taste – the Culinary Olympics!

The event (officially known as the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung) was founded in 1896 for the purpose of promoting education and tourism, with the goal of sharing ideas and culinary techniques with other nations. A group of German chefs had a dream of an international cooking event that would cross language barriers and communicate world trends in cuisine. Sounds rather like Is My Blog Burning!! All competitions were held in Frankfurt until 1996 when it was moved to Berlin, and this year for the first time the competition moves to Erfurt. The Culinary Olympics have taken place every 4 years since 1896 (except during the World Wars) and at the last contest in 2000, more than one thousand cooks and confectioners from 32 countries competed for medals and the Olympic champion title. The competition is open to National Teams, National Youth Teams and Military Teams, as well as regional teams plus some individual events. Teams compete in categories such as Cold Platters, Hot Kitchens and Confectionery and can be awarded gold, silver or bronze medals, just like the traditional Olympics.

I was thrilled to find South Africa represented – we sent a national team (I notice that England didn’t… but Wales did!?!) and have already won a silver medal in the Hot Kitchens category. I also noticed this South African entry in the Cold Platters category. I admit that it looks rather like the Chelsea Flower Show with food, but I gather from pictures of the other entries that this is encouraged ;-)

Food is prepared in “glass kitchens” which allow spectators and judges to observe every step of the cooking process – rather like Hell’s Kitchen with less cursing… The event runs until 21 October at which stage the overall winner will be announced.

Now this is the kind of spectator sport I could get into!


And the Olympic winner is… Sweden! Congratulations – I think I’ll start planning my Stockholm trip right away :-) South Africa came a very respectable 11th out of 32 – not bad considering our relatively recent arrival on the international culinary scene, plus the fact that we were one of only 2 countries from the entire African continent to participate. Well done guys!!

And for the record, we beat Egypt ;-)

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