Celebrating Chef Champions – 2016

It was a grand night when the Lords of Food from all parts of the country came together to celebrate themselves. The culinary art is one of the oldest skills known to humanity. Last week, a team of Chefs came together to celebrate ‘Team Sri Lanka win at the World Culinary Olympics 2016’ in Germany and International Chefs Day. The Daily News attended this gala event and heard firsthand why a society needs these masters of food.

“We have the largest gathering of the Chef’s Guild here today. The main event today is meeting Chefs from hotels in different parts of the island and getting to know each other and having a good party and keeping in touch with each other for the next one year. We have a few events that have taken place in the last one year. And these must be addressed in due fairness to those who have supported us to make tonight a success,” said Chairman Chefs Guild of Lanka, Gerard Mendis.

“I would like to thank mainly Fonterra as the main sponsor of this event today, a partnership going back since the formation of the Chefs Guild of Lanka in 1988. We have come a long way. We have been in existence for 25 years,” stated Mendis.

In those 25 years Chefs Guild has contributed immensely to the industry by building up the image of our chefs in Sri Lanka.

It is the duty of the present members to sustain that image that has been created. Fonterra has been there since day one.

“At the first Chefs day we had 112 participants. And today we have around 420 Chefs present here. We have come a long way and none of this would have been possible without Fonterra. I would really like to thank the Fonterra team here for making this day possible once again,” pointed out Mendis

Apart from Chefs day the Guild has been involved with Fonterra in other events.

Long time commitment

“Despite the hardships and difficulties and ups and downs they have always been behind us. I also want to thank Unilever, Nestle, Anchor, Prima and Litro Gas for sponsoring us. We have had a very busy schedule this year,” added Mendis.

“It is a pleasure to be with what I describe as the culinary artists of this country. And when I think about 420 of you sitting here and the possibilities of what you can do with food, what I can say is WOW! It really gives me a good feeling. I warmly hail all of you, the culinary artists and my friends from the corporate world and everyone here gathered to celebrate this special day. Each year members of the world association of Chef Societies celebrate the international chefs’ day.

On this day Chefs around the world celebrate their profession and take the opportunity to promote good will and friendship amongst each other. Fonterra is proud to celebrate the international Chefs day with the Chefs Guild for more than 20 years. It is our long time commitment to developing chefs – the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s Culinary Industry.

It also marks our continuing appreciation and gratitude for the trust you have placed in us for so many years,” said Sunil Sethi as Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka and Indian Subcontinent

Sustainable partnerships

Sethi remarked that in Sri Lanka consumers are growing even more health conscious and are demanding high quality products. “Ensuring unparalleled quality in their cuisines for local and international guests, is of paramount importance to us and the Chefs Guild and the chef fraternity plays a vital role in providing this,” pointed out Sethi. Sethi was keen to add that through the Chefs Guild they develop and recognize Chefs across the country as a part of the value added sustainable partnerships they have with the Culinary Industry.

Culinary skills

“Today I am pleased to say we are exploring exciting opportunities to work even closer together and further strengthen the culinary industry. I want to touch on how we are creating this value for you. It is the area of soft skills development.

We will continue to assess the industry through partnering to facilitate culinary skills training.

However culinary training itself is not sufficient. Today Chefs are stepping out of the kitchen into the spot light, interacting with multiple stakeholders and being exposed to the public eye. So we will support our Chefs to take on these challenges and be future ready by introducing soft skills development. We will work towards creating a stronger culinary industry. We understand that there is a great need in the industry for more trained chefs,” explained Sethi.

Sethi stressed that there is a shortage of sufficient talent. Together with the Chefs Guild and food professionals, they will provide opportunities to the talented and aspiring Chefs from rural communities in Sri Lanka to help fill those gaps. “Last but not the least is our kitchen demonstration. We are very happy to announce that we are launching our very own nutrition kitchen in Colombo soon. The state of the art facility will be used as a demonstration space to try and test certain products.

We will train chefs on various aspects. I don’t want to keep you away from the celebration this evening. So Romance you food and Romance you drinks!,” summed up Sethi in his address.

Milestones Achieved by the Chefs Guild

The Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka participated at the IKA World Culinary Olympics and did Sri Lanka proud by winning a total of 32 medals which included eight gold medals and one gold with excellence.

There were a total of 61 countries represented. Sri Lankan Woman Chef Buddhini Wijetunga took part and won a Gold Medal at this event Having taken part for the first time at the ‘World Culinary Olympics’ in Germany in 2012 and the ‘Culinary World Cup’ in Luxembourg in 2014, also won many Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals.

The IKA World Culinary Olympics is known to be the most prestigious global culinary event and Chef Gerard Mendis was the first Sri Lankan Chef to do his country proud by winning gold in 1988.

In 2004 Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe who worked with Chef Gerard at the Hilton Colombo, also participated, sponsored by his employer, Aitken Spence Hotels and won Gold Medals.