SANTIAGO, Chile — The 34th biannual Congress of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), is underway at the Casa Piedra Convention Centre in Santiago, Chile.
Some 20 Canadians — led by the Canadian Culinary Federation’s (CCFCC) national secretary, Simon Smotkowicz of the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton — had registered opening day, along with close to 400 delegates from more than 60 countries.
Smotkowicz, who is also manager of Culinary Team Canada, was appointed official voting delegate from Canada, replacing CCFCC national president, Judson Simpson, who was forced to cancel due to personal reasons.
The first day of the Congress was highlighted by the enthusiastic reuniting of old friends at the two headquarter hotels, the Sheraton Santiago and the Radisson Vitacura, and at the convention hall.
Behind the scenes, the WACS National Board held meetings as Congress delegates took advantage of three-hour bus and walking tours of Santiago, a city of about six million.
The gala opening cocktail reception and dinner on Sunday was highlighted by a special President’s Award and 10 Honorary Membership awards. Presented by WACS president Gissur Gudmundsson of Iceland, the President’s Award went to WACS’ long-time treasurer (26 years) and 47-year member, Norbert Schmidiger of Switzerland.
Canadian culinary stars hard at work at the congress include:
• Canada’s candidate for WACS continental director – Americas, Claude Buzon, president of Chef’s Hat Inc. in Edmonton
• “The America’s” competitor for the WACS Global Chef Challenge, Chris Thomson, executive sous-chef of The Banff Centre in Alberta, supported by junior chef Myles Fedun of Jacks Grill Restaurant in Edmonton
• Canada’s competitor in the Hans Bueschkens Junior Culinary Challenge, Trevor Ritchie, a student at the Niagara Culinary Institute in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., supported by Niagara College chef and mentor James Olberg.
• Other Canadians attending include: Christophe Luzeux, executive chef of the Halifax Trade Centre; Sara Harrel, president and culinary explorer, The Veg Company Inc. and vice-president, Escoffier Society of Toronto; Mitch Kostuch, group publisher, Foodservice and Hospitality magazine, Toronto; and junior chefs Melissa Hryb of Winnipeg, Ashley Stenabaugh of Muskoka, Ont. and Brooke Winters of Victoria.
The event ends Thursday. For more info, click here.