By Sara Burnside Menuck, managing editor, Restobiz.ca
Cheers to the Culinary Federation of Canada and Canada’s national IKA Culinary Olympic Team for hosting the MediaEdge/Restobiz crew on Friday, Jan. 17, for one of their final rehearsals on Canadian soil before heading to Stuttgart, Germany.
Held every four years, the IKA Culinary Olympics is the oldest, largest and most diverse culinary competition in the world. Canada will be competing against 32 other national teams, with around 60 countries represented and 6,000 entries across all categories. Our national team will be competing in two prestigious events: the three-course, 110-person Restaurant of Nations, and the seven-course, 12-person Chef’s Table.
This year, the Canadian Culinary Federation graciously extended an invitation to MediaEdge colleagues associated with Restobiz.ca to attend the rehearsal seating for the latter event at C.W. Shasky & Associates in Oakville, Ont.
The team is tasked with presenting our diverse culture and delicious cuisine to the world – and to bring home the gold. Team Captain Rahil Rathod leads an impressive lineup of professionals, under the guidance of Team Coach Olaf Mertens, Team Manager Ryan Marquis, Team Support Manager Paul Hoag and Pastry Coach Catherine O’Donnell, and assisted by Logistics Managers Carmelo Vadacchino and Tony Fernandes.
The team itself comprises a dozen up-and-coming chefs from across the country: Annaleisa Scigliano, Chang Long Yue, Daley Solomon, Ian Fletcher, Jacob Lee, Jason Wang, Jonathan Thauberger, Phil Cameron, Rebecca van Bommel, Robert Graveline and Thushara Mihindukulasuriya.
“It’s a very diverse team and they all bring different things to the table,” says Chef Marquis, the team manager. “We were just able to bring them together.”
Formed two years ago, the team spent about six months on menu conceptualization and development alone before spending another year or so practising and fine-tuning. One of the biggest challenges for Canada, support manager Chef Hoag notes, is geographical: with chefs hailing from the East Coast to the West, the team is only able to meet every six weeks, flying in from around the country, which is a significant commitment of both time and finances. But, Chef Hoag adds, “the team over all is one cohesive team; they’ve bonded very well, no egos. There’s no issue with the team gelling at all.”
Chef Marquis agrees: “We’re feeling quite confident and excited to be there representing our country.”
While the menu itself is top-secret until the team competes, what we at MediaEdge can say quite confidently is that the seven courses we were treated to that afternoon were by all accounts a gold-medal affair. We wish all members of the team the very best of luck!
The 2020 IKA Culinary Olympics take place on Feb. 14-19 in Stuttgart, Germany. Canada has four teams in attendance: the national team, the junior national team, the B.C. community catering team, and the NAIT community catering team. The last time Canada won the IKA Culinary Olympics was in 1992.