Event Preview: Salon Culinaire 2017

Previewing the annual event that tests the skills of professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers
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FOOD & BEVERAGE, REPORTS, Competitions, Gulfood / Gulfhost

The annual Emirates Culinary Guild Salon Culinaire takes place this month at Gulfood 2017, comprising a series of practical and display-based culinary competitions that aim to test the skills of professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers.

At the time of going to press, Uwe Micheel, president of Emirates Culinary Guide, said about 1,060 entries from 130 hotels and restaurants had been submitted, with teams signed up from around the world, including from the Maldives, Russia, Turkey, South Korea and Pakistan.

Micheel, who has been actively involved in Salon Culinaire for 23 years, also told Caterer that 40 judges are gathering in Dubai for the contest, with some flying in from Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Egypt, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Switzerland, England and Scotland.

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The judges are mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) to judge culinary competitions around the world. They will be awarding gold, silver and bronze medals, certificates, and also special trophies to individuals who have attained excellence at the competition in their particular field.

Speaking about how competitors can impress the judges and grab their attention, Micheel said: “Amazing taste and great matching flavours in all the live tasted dishes. The first impression is important — a clean, fresh look. The plate has to say ‘Eat Me’.”

Some of Salon Culinaire’s competitions are entered by single competitors while others are designed as team events. Each competition is called a class and participants compete in everything from practical cooking competitions to buffet and banqueting show pieces.

For the crowds observing, Salon Culinaire is consistently one of the most entertaining aspects of Gulfood, with eye-catching ice carvings on show, artistically decorated buffet platters, and whimsical pastry and chocolate creations.

Visitors can also watch many of the real-time cookery competitions taking place over the course of the week.

Interview: Uwe Micheel, president of Emirates Culinary Guild

What will be the highlights of Salon Culinaire 2017?

The highlights for the visitors will be the live ice carving and the show piece category, wedding cake, open show piece, chocolate carving and, of course, the bread. For the competitors, the highlights are the live cooking classes with the most popular being seafood by Mitras, Beef by Meat Live Australia and Chicken by USPEC. In this class the chefs can show off their cooking skills.

What’s new for this year’s edition of Salon Culinaire?

We have two new classes this year. First is class 28, which is a static class where the competitors have to produce two starters and two main dishes using filo pastry by Toni Kaisser as the main component. The second new addition is class 29 and this is a live cooking class. The competitors have to produce two different sandwiches using Hellman’s mayonnaise and two different sandwiches using Coleman’s mustard. This seems very easy — but the chefs have only 30 minutes to make four different kinds of sandwich (vegetarian and non-vegetarian). I am looking very much forward to these two new classes.

What are you personally most looking forward to about the 2017 Salon Culinaire, and why?

This is a big question. There are many things I am looking forward to, obvious as an organiser, I want to have a smooth and successful show with lots of happy competitors and visitors. But for me personally, the size of the show and the number of gold medals won are not the most important; the key objective is for everyone to learn and gain experience, exchange knowledge and make new friends. We all learn from each other, and even the most experienced guys will see something new and learn. Salon Culinaire is a great place for every chef, young or old, to exchange knowledge and gain knowledge.

What impact does it have on the Middle East’s F&B industry?

I believe the biggest impact in the market is the knowledge sharing. As Salon Culinaire is the biggest [contest] in the region, we have chefs from the region come to visit. Many have started their own competitions, very successfully, in the past few years, in Cairo, Beirut, Aman, Doha, Muscat, Jeddah and Riyadh. We travel, visit, and support each other.

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