Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Back in 1991, while at work in my office I had a visitor, another chef. He asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was into planning details for the Canadian National Team’s trip to Chicago to compete in the American Culinary Classic.
Jan said to me “your team probably has a good chance of getting on the podium in Chicago but how do you feel about your chances for Frankfurt in ’92. Don’t you realize that only European teams win there?” I scolded my friend and told him to brush up on history. I reminded him that Canada was IKA Champions in 1984 and that Japan was the first Nation to break through the walls of fortress Europe in 1972 when they captured the title of Olympic Champions.
“Where do you find all of this information?” asked my friend? “Networking” I replied. “That is fine for you,” he replied “but where does the average chef go to find this information.” This question remained at the back of my memory. In fact, most of my intelligence came from two dear friends namely Hans Bueschkens RIP and Marcel Kretz. They were connected everywhere and willingly shared with me details and secrets from their pool of knowledge.
Some years later after the Canadian’s victory at the 1992 Frankfurt IKA I found myself pondering Jan’s question: “where would a chef look to get information on the results of completions from recent years not to mention competitions from yesteryear?” We need to compile an Archive for reference and research. I retired in 1993 and I was bored with life and enjoying the booze too much. I needed a mission and challenge. Thus, the Champchefs Archive came into being. A new challenge waits. I was invigorated.
How do I commence along this road of enquiry? What resources do I need? The answer was simple. I need money, I needed information and I needed a computer. The computer was the easy one. My young friend Rolf Knecht built computers as a hobby. He set me up with one of his spares. However, I forgot one thing – I now need to learn to type! Money was next. I solved that by ditching my scary plan to buy a share in an ocean-going yacht to fulfill my dream of competing in the Americas Cup. Thank God, I came to my senses.
Finally, information. I realized that this would not be a problem. I had spent a great deal of the last 25 years travelling the world presenting Canada Food Festivals on behalf of Canadian Industries, Governments, both Federal and Provincial and also by leading Alberta Provincial Teams and the Canadian National team. I had traveled to Pacific Asia, South Africa, Europe and the USA. I had a network of colleagues around the word. These colleagues would be my resources and provide me with information. I got lucky and found a great Webmaster, Chris and an IT specialist, Scotty. They became my anchors with the practical world of computer technology.
I published the 1st Edition of the Champchefs Archive in February of 1998. It was a very simple edition limited to just a list of Team photographs and results. The first team to be posted in the Archive was the Australian National Junior Team who won the Junior Championships at the Frankfurt IKA, 1984. I took this photograph myself.
First Photograph posted to the Champchefs Archive
During the ensuing years, I became more confident and expanded the reach of the Archive. My editorials became more opinionated (it is great when you own a publication and need not ask permission for the sins that you are about to commit). I created a Hall of Fame that I am very proud of. This Hall of Fame placed all of our victorious heroes in one place. The Section on Expressions of Excellence is my random choice of what I consider to be works of art from great chefs. Perhaps my favorite section is Retrospectives. In this grouping of stories, I have delved into the past and captured historical moments that reflect the spirit and comradery of chefs worldwide. One day I intend to compile these stories into a magazine.
Over the years, I came across some interesting facts. As an example, South East Asia’s preeminent International Salon is “The Battle for the Lion”. This year is the 25th anniversary of the first Battle. It commenced in 1990 and the Singapore National Team claimed victory. Prior to 1990, the Salon was named Federation Mondiale des Societies de Cuisiniers International Challenge. Paul Bocuse judged the 1978/80 events. The last International Challenge so named took place in 1986 where Ferdinand Metz’s US Team and my Canadian Team claimed 1st Place jointly. Joe Yapp’s Singapore Team took 3rd place.
Let us stay with international Salons for a moment and look at the World Cup held every four years in Luxembourg. Quite fittingly, this is an impressively named competition, but previously it was named the European Cup. The last Team to win this European Cup prior to its name change was Marcel Kretz’ Canadian National Team in 1982. I think that it is sad to have lost the European Cup as a major event on the international circuit but the reality is that the WACS endorsed calendar is jam packed and already demanding on competing international teams.
To date the Champchefs Archive has posted 682 Teams since its first entrant, the 1984 Australian Junior team posted in 1998. Of that number 161 are Junior Teams. It has continually been my focus to give prominence to Young Chefs. I pay tribute to Dr. Rick Steven WACS Director for Asia. In a recent release to his Asian constituents, he finished his message with this statement. “As we always talk about it, the young people are our future”. Rick was talking about the International Secondary School Challenge and encouraging Asian Countries to participate in this competition for youth. He concluded: “The food prepared by these students with some mentorship is outstanding”. The Champchefs Archive is proud to feature 161 Junior Teams.
One thing has bugged me for years and I swore on my Grandmother’s blancmange that I would not broach the subject in this my final editorial but when it came to ‘crunch time’ my brass monkeys whispered to me: “Why back off a subject because it is ‘sensitive’ at this stage in your rebellious life.”
There is not a single South American Country represented in this Archive. Mexico has one. At one time or another I have contacted by email, every president of WACS affiliated countries. I have never had an acknowledgement. A few years back I contacted Louis Perrotte WACS Continental Director for the Americas. He sent me a list of three upcoming Salons in various South American Countries. I contacted each of them for news and salon results. Not a whisper came back.
This recalcitrance is not limited to our colleagues in S. America. Many European Countries have never hit their reply button to respond to my emails. Even sadder there have been in past years WACS Regional Directors who will not respond to my correspondence. It is my opinion that these Directors bear particular culpability. If they don’t love me then that is fine just tell me “get lost” or perhaps a more strident comment; thereafter I will never disturb their siestas again.
On average, the Champchefs Archive receives between 7,000 and 8,000 visitors a month. When I release a new edition, the number is larger. I use a distribution system called Mail Chimp. What I like about this system is that if an email address is abandoned then it is eliminated from my contacts. However, this results in my mailing list getting shorter because I rarely add new contacts. The sad reason is that I have lost patience and to some extent interest.
This realization has bothered me and after due consideration I have decided to draw back from the Archive. I am the only person who has input and it demands continual awareness on my part. It is time for me to drop a gear or two and slow down. In addition, there is the financial aspect to consider. This has been considerable.
This in no way infers that I will abandon the Archive. What it means is that I will minimize my time commitment and prioritize my involvement.
This will be my last Editorial.
I will no longer ‘chase and seek’ content material.
I will post a new edition twice yearly not the current three times a year.
Now having said that, I will be pleased to continue to publish new teams but only if, the photographs and information are sent directly to me. I should be able to post the major WACS Salons as this information is regularly found on the web.
I have been assured that I will not live forever. Once I bid farewell to this universal stockpot of humanity I will ensure that enough money is left available to pay the web Domain fees and the like to guarantee the continuance of the Champchefs Archive.
Please understand that this is not a farewell. I am simple backing off center stage. I trust that my many friends worldwide will still stay in contact. Also cheer for the Welsh Rugby team when they are playing Australia!
Please click on this link to view a new section that I have added: Global Chefs Challenge 2015-2016
Or go to the Header "Teams" and scroll down to "Global Chefs Challenge 2015-2016".