SANTIAGO, Chile — Canada’s Trevor Ritchie, a student at the Niagara Culinary Institute, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., was named winner of the Hans Bueschkens Junior Culinary Challenge at the 34th biannual Congress of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), at the Casa Piedra Convention Centre in Santiago, Chile.
In other WACS news, the Canadian candidate for WACS continental director – Americas, Claude Buzon, president of Chef’s Hat Inc, Edmonton, Alta. was defeated in the first round of the vote for the America’s seat on the WACS presidium. With nine American countries voting, no candidate had the required five-vote majority in the first round; in the second round, the winner was U.S. candidate, Louis Parrotte, founder of Le Coq Au Vin Restaurant, Orlando, Fla. representing the American Culinary Federation, who defeated Mexican candidate, Margarita Vin. The America’s was the only contested continental director position; the other six positions having been acclaimed by the countries in their regions.
Chris Thomson, executive sous chef of The Banff Centre, was unsuccessful in winning top honours in the WACS Global Chefs Challenge in a field of seven regional finalists of continental winners from Africa/Middle East, Asia, Europe Central, Europe North, Europe South and Pacific Region. Thomson had entered the finals after finishing in first place while competing against three chefs from other Americas countries, the U.S., Chile and Brazil at the WACS Global Chefs Challenge Continental final for the Americas, which was held in Sao Paul, Brazil in September 2009.
Another highlight of the Congress was a seminar on Women in WACS, chaired by Susanne Metz, special advisor for Women in WACS. It included a spirited discussion on a wide range of issues, one of which was put forward to the entire conference for consideration for the 2012 Congress in Korea. WACS honorary president, Bill Gallagher of South Africa, asked that WACS official languages of English, German, French and Spanish be changed “to reflect the new realities of its worldwide membership.” In documenting the proposal, Gissur Gudmundsson, president, explained how providing real-time translation of four languages is already one of the greatest single costs the association faces.
Speaking of language, so-called “kitchen language” was cited by several delegates as an obstacle to many people perusing a career in foodservice. Australian Juliet Aspden commented, “Learn to live with kitchen language, and learn how to use it at the appropriate time.” While some participants suggested special provisions for women in foodservice, a consensus emerged. ”Let’s not get into the mentality of expecting special treatment for women. We have to stand up for equal rights and prove that we’re as good as, or better, than the best around us.”
Nine new countries were inducted into WACS, along with one new affiliated member, bringing the international membership to 80 countries. The new member countries are: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guam, Ghana, Namibia, Macedonia, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan; the new affiliate member is Honduras.
The WACS 2014 conference has been awarded to Scavenger, Norway after a spirited campaign against Turkey. Norway previously hosted a Congress in 1990, which attracted the largest attendance in the history of the 70-year-old organization, with some 1,300 chefs and delegates participating. WACS 2012, which will take place in May in Daejeon, Korea, will be hosted by the Korea Cooks Association.