15th Edition September 2011
Regularly, I delve into search engines looking for information to verify this or clarify that. Consequently, I can find myself roaming in a place or time that is distant from my starting point.
Recently I got side tracked and took off on a trip down memory lane back to 1972. I had stumbled upon something interesting - a new lead perhaps to a missing team? As I clicked hither and thither, my mind wandered and questioned "where was I in 1972?" This wandering happens frequently as we get older. Tough to focus and concentrate!
The memories flooded back. I was Calgary. I recalled the wild times that unfold during the Calgary Stampede. The downtown is festooned with every type of western paraphernalia.
Hotels are decked out like Salons from yesteryear. Straw bales and saddles proliferate in the lobbies. The wait staff and service staff are dressed in cowhides and neckerchiefs and strut around in high heeled cowboy boots with flashing spurs. The reception and registration areas are not unlike stables and yes, you may come across real horses in the lobby. Hotel Managers stay aloof sporting only the white Stetson hat and perhaps a gambler's brash waistcoat.
However, the most lasting impression of the Calgary Stampede is the music. Everywhere from the streets to the bars and even the elevators blasts of Country & Western Music prevail. Love it or hate it, you can not escape from its repetitious melodies.
I can recall merry crowds swirling with arms locked and high kicking to a polka or perhaps in sync doing a line dance. The artists of the day were such notables as Dolly Parton and Stompin' Tom Connors. Yet among all of this partying and revelry, there is one song that stood apart. It simply did not belong in the western repertoire.
The song was American Pie. Composed and sung by Don McLean. It was played in each set by all the bands and people sung in unison "A long, long time ago I can still remember..." The song was the universal hit of 1972. Those were fun days. However that is enough of digressions. Now back to business!
Where had Google led me? What had I stumbled upon? The title was "The Book of Buffets". I scanned the review and came across this comment...
"some spicy erotic passages are interwoven around ethnic cuisines. Other sections have pictorial lanscape narratives remincent of Twain or Tolstoy."
This was interesting. I searched for the author. Up came the information. His name was Klaus Mitterhauser. I then read an exposé of the author's life: Restaurant Owner, culinary lecturer, research chef, book publisher (in Japan also) and member of the 1972 US Olympic Team at Frankfurt. Bingo!
After a few emails back and forth Klaus and I were on the telephone. He is a mine of information. He can recall in detail the happenings and events experienced by the 14-man roster of the American Culinary Olympic Team for the 1972 games in Frankfurt.
Klaus detailed for me the names of each team member, where they were employed, and where they were born. After ruminating over all of this information I became aware of an interesting fact.
Team Manager, Jack Sullivan, Executive Chef of the Disney Hotel, California had a squad of fourteen chefs. Of these fourteen, two only were born in America. Klaus was born in Vienna. The balance came from Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland. The two American born chefs were: Frank Berger, Executive Chef, the Stadium Club, Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis and Richard Blaisdell, Chef Decorator, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York.
This did not surprise me. At the same salon, the Canadian Team was lead by Hans Bueschkens; each member of this team was European born.
It is interesting to look back and observe, with the benefit of hindsight, just how matters have evolved. How the culture, traditions and achievements of the New World Countries have matured as they pertain to our profession.
In matters of cuisine, the European Countries have influenced each other to a minimal extent, as neighbors do. However, when selecting their National Teams, rarely would a chef born and trained in another country have been solicited to play for the home team.
The same is true of Japan, although they have benefited from considerable French influences. Recall that it was the Japan National Team (managed by Mr. Bunjiro Saito) that broke the strangle hold of European Teams when they were crowned Olympic Champions at the 1972 IKA HOGA in Frankfurt.
Singapore and Hong Kong had a predominance of local talent on their National Teams in the earlier years, although there was participation and considerable guidance from mainly Swiss and German Chefs. There are varying similarities with Australia and South Africa.
The New World Countries of America and Canada have subsequently moved forward and experienced many successes on the international stage. Most all members of their National Teams are now of the home grown variety.
What we have experienced could perhaps be called a Darwinian progression. The outcome? Each country has in due course built its own pedigree.
If you wish to visit Klaus''s 1972 Team America then click here: