787 chefs from 86 countries
Memories to last a lifetime
Told by two CCFCC members.
Rosalyn from CCFCC Ottawa and Tina from CCFCC Okanagan.
Getting off of the airplane in Thessaloniki, Greece and spotting a huge “World Chefs 2016” banner right on the tarmac, we knew that we were in for quite a treat. In fact, even weeks before then, we had been getting email updates to give us a glimpse of what there was to look forward to. Sure enough, we weren’t disappointed.
As a member of the Global Youth Development Team, I attended this year’s World Chefs Congress along with Canada’s Young Chef Ambassador, Tina Tang, to spend time with the young chefs and to apply some of what we learned here in Canada.
Four plane rides, 24 hours worth of travel and we finally arrived in Thessaloniki! First impressions? It was cold! But it was beautiful.
Ever since Greece won the bid to host the World Chefs Congress in 2016, it was my goal to make it there...and here I was. Representing Canada as a Young Chef Ambassador none the less, along side many Canadians representing our great nation and our great federation.
This was my second World Chefs Congress but it was the first time that the young chefs had such an official program with a full itinerary tailored to them. There was so much work put into the planning and logistics. Part of the time was spent watching some of the competitions, either the Hans Bueschkens Young Chef Challenge (for chefs under 25), the Global Chef Challenge, or the Global Pastry Chef Challenge. In the centre of it all was what was called the Nestle Chill Room. It was a relaxing, semi private room designed to look like a walk in cooler, just for young chefs to meet, have a coffee, cook something or gather for an up close and personal interview with a guest speaker or an influential person in the industry.
This was my first World Chefs Congress. Excitement was an understatement. The conference main stage slowly filled up with white jackets as the opening ceremonies were about to begin. Young Chefs had the ultimate honour to carry the flags in. I had the honour to bear ours.
A beautiful tribute to the late Dr. Billy Gallagher took place on the main stage, where all the young chefs created an arc at the back to the stage for him. Without Dr. Billy Gallagher, the unity, the strength of the Young Chefs Forum would never be what it is today. We are all incredibly grateful for all that he has done for us and every minute we were there, we always thought of him.
The most incredible thing about the entire experience was in realizing the similarities between chefs from around the world. Of course, the lines that are attached to World Chefs such as “World on a Plate” and “Chefs Without Borders” reappear throughout the congress, but to actually be implicated in it is something else. The notion that food breaks down cultural borders is no secret. However, to feel it firsthand is something that all chefs should experience. Geography and politics don’t come into play. We were all there to learn new things and appreciate others’ contributions to our worldwide industry.
The congress was non-stop fun with full days packed with new things to see and do. It was easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of all-things-food-and-chefs but we should be reminded about the incredible amount of care and consideration that was put into the whole event. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Billy Gallagher, but we have been told that without his work in the beginning, we would not have the Young Chefs Forum as it stands today. In nearly each presentation on the main stage, speakers told the crowd that young chefs are the future. When discussing sustainability, nutrition, world hunger, the economy and food trends, young chefs were always mentioned. I sincerely hope that all of the young chefs picked up on that. Some of them frantically took notes in their journals while others tagged the guest speakers on social media but amidst the fanfare, I think that most of them realized that in attending the congress, they were a part of something really meaningful. The hope now is that they will go back to their home countries and be an inspiration to others.
I’ve met many people from across the globe in Greece and you would not except the similarities that we all shared. No matter what country someone was from, no matter what language was their strongest, we all had one thing we loved...and it was food. Our passion for this industry has one language, a language that we all spoke.
The seminars, guest speaks and conversations with Chefs during lunch were many of the key highlights of our experience. You never know who you would be sitting next too during lunch and what they could teach you in that hour.
With everything we had the privileged to experience, I believe there is one thing that very important...staying in touch. We are one big kitchen team, my goal is to keep the conversation flowing as the years past and the next congress is upon us to see what ideas will spark from it.
From all that I learned, I want to stress to others that the value of actually being there and seeing things on an international level is the most worthwhile part. Meeting people from all around the world and feeling a sense of belonging has a truly incredible impact in someone. The Young Chefs development team has a long way to go and I look forward to doing more on my part. I can’t wait for Malaysia 2018!
Thank you to the Canadian Culinary Federation for supporting me and allowing me to experience this great opportunity. I’ve brought more than a suitcase home, I’ve brought many memories that I hope every Young Canadian Chef will get to experience for themselves one day.
I can not wait until the day where every Canadian Young Chef will be at a WACS World Congress, representing Canada.