Culinary Olympics bid coincides with International Chefs Day

October 2016

England’s junior culinary team is taking on the best in the world with the help of three chefs who began cooking as schoolboys at University College Birmingham. 

The brigade will enter the competition cauldron of the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, following the opening ceremony on Friday. More than 50 countries will compete in one of the world’s biggest cookery challenges. 

University College Birmingham (UCB) has acted as the training headquarters for the five-member team. They will have to prepare a hot and cold buffet and an additional three-course meal, for 60 diners, against the clock.

Team members include a talented trio who passed through the UCB Young Chefs Academy, which is sponsored by the Savoy Educational Trust and the British Culinary Federation. The academy, run by UCB chef lecturers, stresses the value of vocational skills for pupils aged 14 to 16.

Jack Gameson, Nathan Lane and Elliot Lawn all attended the eight-week academy course before progressing to chef courses at UCB’s College of Food. Elliot and Nathan are now in the final year of the VRQ Level 3 in Professional Cookery while Jack is in the second year of a Culinary Arts Management degree.

The trio will be joined in Germany by VRQ level 3 student Thomas Kirkby; former UCB student Edward Marsh, now working at the Michelin-star Lucknam Park, Wiltshire; and Craig Bateman, of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

The team’s departure for the competition coincides with International Chefs Day, when more than 100 member organisations take part in a special day of workshops and activities for thousands of children.

The global initiative was devised by the World Association of Chefs' Societies (WACS) and the campaign message for 2016 is “Art on a Plate,” the spirit of which is reflected in the immaculate creations of England’s junior culinary team.

The IKA Culinary Olympics, whose motto is “Cooking Unlimited,” was launched in 1896 by a group of German chefs who wanted to promote their profession, raise the profile of German cuisine and widen exposure to other cultures. The first international culinary exhibition was held in 1900 and continues to be held in Germany. Like the Olympics, the contest is held every four years, a flaming torch is lit at the opening ceremony and medals are awarded to the champions.

English National Junior Team Manager and UCB Culinary Team Manager Mathew Shropshall said the team was an inspiration to young people looking to become professional chefs.

Chef Shropshall said: “Some of them have studied at the Young Chefs Academy while at school, entered national competitions with great success and undertaken work experience at Michelin star restaurants. They have part-time jobs in Michelin star restaurants and have also secured full-time work after their course. It is a shining example of the progression available in vocational chef courses.

“UCB is proud to have mentored, taught and trained these chefs to get them ready to compete against the best in the world at the Culinary Olympics.“

Representing their country is a great honour and the 16 months’ hard training with support from Michelin star chef Andreas Antona and executive chef Mark Hill has paid off.”

Neil Rippington, Dean of College of Food, said: “UCB is committed to providing young people with the vocational skills required to develop successful careers. The chefs in the junior Olympic team have developed a high level of technical knowledge, discipline and professional enrichment which will serve them well in the future. We wish them the very best of luck in Germany.”

Peter Griffiths, President of the British Culinary Federation, said: “One of the main aims of the British Culinary Federation is to encourage and support young chefs to strive for excellence in their chosen profession. With the responsibility of organising England’s junior national team, the BCF has been delighted with the progress of these young chefs. The training they have received both at UCB and out in the industry has been exceptional.”

The Savoy Educational Trust, co-sponsor of the UCB Young Chefs Academy, promotes the development of education, training and qualifications in the hospitality industry. This ethos is in keeping with the Government's plans to develop a modern further education system that contributes to the nation's vocational skills.