Every four years the elite of the cheffing world gather to compete in the Culinary Olympics and two Irish teams (Senior and Junior) have qualified for this ultimate culinary challenge in February 2024. The venue is Stuttgart and based on pre-Covid figures over 100,000 people from the hospitality industry around the globe will attend. In no other cooking competition do so many professional chefs measure their skills against each other – 1,800 participants from 67 nations judged by a team of 60.
Leading the team is Alan Fitzmaurice, head chef at the Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo, President of the Panel of Chefs of Ireland, and Senior Team Captain for the Culinary Olympics. Speaking about the event he said, “Having two teams at the Culinary Olympics is a significant achievement for Ireland. We have some really talented chefs involved and the training regime is in full flow – this consists of fortnightly training sessions which will become weekly as we get closer to February. I have really high hopes for both senior and junior teams though the competition will be exceptionally high – it really is the best in the world competing for the titles”. Alan Fitzmaurice is a multi-award winning chef and a member of the senior team who won a silver medal at the Culinary Olympics in 2008 – the best ever performance by an Irish team.
Just like the more familiar Olympic Games, teams have to qualify and maintain standards to hold their place. The teams were chosen through a combination of assessment and competitive results in the Chef Ireland National Culinary Championships. The senior team consists of ten members and the junior team is eight strong. In Stuttgart each must cook a full three course restaurant-style meal (the seniors for 110 people and the juniors for 75) and a chefs table or table-on-fire style meal for 14 and 12 people respectively. It’s a replication of a live restaurant situation in a glass kitchen so every step is visible and nothing is hidden; standards are sky high and the pressure of this challenge is not for the faint hearted.
Team members travel from all over Ireland for the regular training sessions – some doing a 9 hour round trip indicating their commitment and dedication.
The senior team members are: Alan Fitzmaurice (The Glasshouse Hotel & O’Hehirs/OH Bakery),
Will King (Limerick & Clare ETB), Gordon Carrberry (Sodexo Ireland), Garret Carberry (Inchydoney Lodge & Spa), Cathy Ruth (The Washer Woman, Dublin), Jason Brean, (Gather&Gather RDS),
Carol Dollery (Limerick & Clare ETB), Aaron Ruth (The Legal Eagle, Dublin), Michael Egan (Aramark Ireland), Ahmad Afig Azam (Monart Hotel & Spa) and Sylvester Dolan (Elements of Chocolate, Leitrim).
The junior team members are: Az Ostman (Monart Hotel & Spa), Chris Leech (Sodexo Ireland Dublin/Culinary Arts at Technological University Dublin), Callum Priest (The Cliff Café/Culinary Arts at Southeast Technological University Waterford), Jessica Beckley (Whitford House Hotel Wexford/Culinary Arts at Southeast Technological University Waterford), Nayara Borges da Costa (Strand Hotel Limerick/Training Hospitality Campus Limerick (LCETB) ), Anthony Rebote (Armada Hotel Clare/Training Hospitality Campus Limerick (LCETB) ), Freddie Cullen (Dunraven Arms Hotel Limerick/Training Hospitality Campus Limerick (LCETB) ), Liam Martin (Sheen Falls Hotel Kenmare/TUS Athlone) and Evan Duane (Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly/Training Hospitality Campus Limerick (LCETB) ).
The IKA/Culinary Olympics attracts the international culinary elite to join the world’s largest, oldest and most multi-faceted culinary art exhibition which began in 1900. Professional chefs from all over the world compete individually or in teams in a fair competition. As the organiser of the event, the German Chefs’ Association (VKD) provides talented chefs with a stage and the opportunity to showcase their potential. The participants keep creating new trends on the plates and the atmosphere of the cooking spectacle will be remembered by teams and guests for a long time. The competitions from the glass kitchens will be broadcast around the globe via IKA TV live stream.