You have no time for jet lag. You have to go find your team's kitchen, set it up, and unpack and check your product.
—Chef John Feliciano
Most of the time cooking should be a labour of love, but sometimes a little healthy competition doesn't hurt.
That's why back in 1900 German Chef Carl Matthaus Banzer started the Culinary Olympics, a competitive tradition that is still going strong today.
Every four years these Olympics are put on by the World Association of Chefs Societies (of WACS
if you are in the know). This year's event is being held from October 6 to 9 in Erfurt Germany, where 45 nations and numerous regional teams will compete for medals and bragging rights - including our very own Culinary Team Manitoba
"This doesn't pay the bills. It is for fun and personal glory and to try and showcase what Manitoba has" said chef Klaus Leiendecker, Culinary Team Manitoba member and chef at Breezy Bend Country Club. And Klaus would know; he first competed at the Culinary Olympics as a member of Student Team Canada in 1992.
Unlike popular television food competitions like Iron Chef and Chopped, the Culinary Olympics is not one of those mystery ingredient challenges where chefs stage a multi-course meal under rigorous time constraints. Instead, years of preparation goes into creating some rather avant-garde food displays, which Leiendecker and his teammate chef John Feliciano refer to as "show pieces."
You could almost think of the contest as the ultimate in food porn, as teams from across the globe will be preparing huge table displays that run from hors d'ouvers all the way to deserts. And the kicker is most of the ingredients have been meticulously pre-prepared in each team's home country, only to be rather hectically re-created for the WACS judges and served cold.
"Once you get there you get only a day and half to finish the show pieces" said Feliciano, who is also the chef at Glendale Golf and Country Club. "You have no time for jet lag. You have to go find your team's kitchen, set it up, and unpack and check your product. So it's not like in your own kitchen, where you have been practicing for the last two years."
And if your locally sourced ingredients don't arrive the way they were packed, you could find yourself in quite the predicament - as the chefs admit, the chances of the team finding Manitoba pickerel in a German market would be slim.
Here's hoping that no one forgets their luggage.