I'm so proud to have of been part of the hot kitchen team, representing Scotland, at the IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart this year!
What an incredible event - 27 senior national teams, community teams, regional teams and junior teams all had various challenges to complete, not to mention hundreds of individual entries too!
The senior national teams had two live competitions.
The first one on the 15th February - the 'Chef's Table' - was where we had to make, under intense scrutiny, 7 courses of hot and cold masterpieces, served in various ways to the seated table of 12 people, who had previously booked to taste our creations!
This meal consisted of: dips and butters according to the country with bread, hot and cold canapes, festive platter of fish/shellfish/seafood, a vegan plated course, a plated hot lamb saddle course, plated dessert course, and a selection of petit fours. I also had to display a chocolate showpiece for the Chefs Table. Thankfully I could prepare it off site and attach the finest details at the event!
We had from 3pm to make all the served items from scratch, such a huge task with dozens of elements and recipes per course! These were all served from 8pm onwards to our guests.
The second competition on the 17th February - the 'Hot Kitchen' - was where we made, under close scrutiny from the judges again, a three course meal for 110 people. Again the intensity of work was immense and exciting! We commenced at 1pm and started service at 7pm. The starter consisted of Gigha halibut, mousseline, langoustine, shrimp miso butter, seaweed tartlet and broccoli, the main course was Borders roe deer loin, game sausage, ragout onion, red cabbage puree, semolina gnocchi, and dessert was rhubarb mousse, pistachio, stem ginger ice cream, poached rhubarb, and craqueline choux with creme patissiere.
We were over the moon to be awarded silver medals for both of the competitions, the best result for Scotland since 2006!
We had the joy of staying at the hotel Schloss Weitenburg, which was about 40 minutes from Stuttgart, and they kindly provided a large function suite and kitchen for us to use for our food preparations. We were lucky to be somewhere with so much charm and German character, away from the city. We were very well looked after by them, and they even provided some much appreciated fizz after our wins!
Logistically any competition of this size is a massive challenge, with chefs, ingredients and masses of equipment to move around in unfamiliar surroundings, negotiating car parks, parking restrictions, loading and unloading the vehicles all done under a fair amount of pressure, it definitely becomes a large team effort!
On the last day after our competing, we could enjoy the exhibition as a whole - watching the other teams at work is always a learning experience, and we saw the massive trade show Intergastra too, it was very hard not to buy or order masses of lovely new shiny stainless steel equipment!
Of course the awards ceremony was fun to be at, with so much hard work and passion gone in to all the team's performances, it was easy to see how much it meant to all the medal winners!
The Scottish Team chefs were:
Thanks very much to all involved at Scottish Chefs, huge personal thanks to Callebaut and Home Chocolate Factory for providing chocolate and moulds for my pastry creations, and also to all my lovely supportive customers, friends and family!