After nearly 24 hours of nonstop preparation, American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary Youth Team USA earned a gold medal in cold-food competition during their first day of competition at the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) International Culinary Art Competition, or “culinary Olympics,” taking place Oct. 19–22 in Erfurt, Germany. ACF Culinary Youth Team USA falls under the banner of ACF Culinary Team USA. These highly skilled, young U.S. chefs are among those representing 20 nations in what ACF Culinary Team USA Manager Edward Leonard, CMC, AAC, has called the “largest culinary event on the global circuit.”
“They did nice, clean work,” said Aidan Murphy, CMC, AAC, executive chef at Old Warson Country Club, St. Louis, and one of the team’s coaches. “We won one of three gold medals. The other two gold winners and our toughest competitors were Canada and Australia.” Now, even with no sleep, the team’s spirits are better than ever with one gold medal under their belt. When they received their medals, it was the first time they really let out big smiles, said Murphy from Erfurt, Germany. Tonight, the team will get to rest for a few hours, but it is back to practicing tomorrow as they prepare their mise en place, prepare their shopping list, and do prep work for hot-kitchen restaurant and culinary studio portions of the competition that take place Wednesday, Oct. 22. In the hot-kitchen, the team will prepare 110 dishes to be served to judges and guests. Then, just a few hours later in the culinary studio, each team member will showcase their culinary skill as they prepare a course using duck in 30 minutes. “I told them they have a taste of what success feels like, and now they have to push it to the next level, “ said Steve Jilleba, CMC, CCE, AAC, corporate executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions, Lisle, Ill., and the team’s head coach. “They have to regroup and get ready for the rest of the competitions, because it all comes down to the day and the team’s performance.”
America’s history at IKA
The U.S. team’s history at IKA is long and distinguished. When Americans began competing as an official team in 1956 they were clearly the underdogs. However, American cookery soon established itself as world-class cuisine. The 1960 team captured the first world championship honor for the United States, and ACF Culinary Team USA repeated the distinction in 1980, 1984 and 1988 by taking the prestigious hot-food competition all three times and establishing a new world record for the most consecutive gold-medal wins.
At the last IKA in 2004, where more than 1,200 participants from 40 nations competed, ACF Culinary National Team USA took home a gold medal in hot-food cooking, and reestablished the U.S. as the leader in international cooking.