Art on a plate is a term often bandied about, but nowhere is it more evident than at the Culinary Olympics, which is held once every four years in Germany, attracting participation from over 50 countries and consisting of two categories – one of which is a display of culinary art unlike anything seen anywhere else in the world.
South Africa will be among the 32 countries showcasing their talents, skills and culinary specialities to the world in October. Our aspiring young team of seven chefs have been hard at work practising the dishes they will present to esteemed judges from around the globe – among them the 29 intricate dishes that make up what is known as the Cold Table. Consisting of various categories, including a five-course menu, tapas, festive platter, friandises, four desserts, three starters, an ovo-lacto three course menu, showpiece and more, the Cold Table is an overwhelmingly impressive demonstration of the techniques and talents of the chefs represented on our Team.
Culinary Team South Africa’s Cold Table was recently unveiled for the first – and last – time in public at the inaugural Food & Hospitality Africa expo, where visitors had the opportunity to view the culinary masterpieces created over two days by the Team. Painstakingly prepared in intricate detail and with exact precision, the food is coated with aspic, a gelatine-like substance, to preserve it for the duration of the display and to enhance the colour and visual appeal of the dishes.
“The Cold Table is a showcase of chefs’ skills, patience and precision. This presentation is the personification of the science of culinary art, which tests old world skills presented in new world style,” says Heinz Brunner, Manager of Culinary Team South Africa.
Says Garth Shnier, former manager of the Team and now Cold Table advisor, “The Cold Table is judged on the presentation, composition of the plate, practicality of the dish for the restaurant environment, aesthetic appeal of the dish, quality of aspic work and whether the dish appears as described. It is an extremely exacting component of the Culinary Olympics and one that tests the skills of chefs unlike any other. Our young chefs will be exposed to cutting edge techniques and cuisines from around the world and will return to share this knowledge with their peers. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest benefits of international culinary competitions.”
Through consultation with technical experts in the field of gelatine and aspic, this year’s team has broken new ground in the chemistry and technique of aspic. “Most gelatine in the world is used in bulk food manufacturing applications, but its versatility is only bound by one's imagination. Gelita is honoured to have been able to contribute to the South African National Culinary Team's efforts on their cold table presentation with regard to the aspic work. It has given us an opportunity to share our knowledge of gelatine’s versatility” says Dieter Nelles, Operations Manager of Gelita South Africa.
The cold table is to be presented entirely to the international jury on exhibition day, which for South Africa will be Saturday 22 October. The theme of South Africa’s Cold Table this year is ‘The Bounty of the Earth’, reflecting South Africa’s rich natural resources and mining history, as well as the abundant bounty of ingredients from land and sea. Each team member was asked to choose a gemstone to represent the dishes they will be presenting, with the chocolate showpiece of a mineshaft and traditional mining equipment completing the picture.
“We are going to the Olympics as proud ambassadors of South Africa and representatives of a great heritage of culinary excellence in this country,” says Brunner. “We will put in all the necessary hours to do our country proud – and we’re delighted at the growing support we are getting from people within the culinary industry and from the general public.”
To follow their journey on social media, CLICK HERE
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