The year 2013 is memorable to me for at least two events. The month of June heralded my 75th birthday. I am pleased to have achieved this commemorative anniversary of my birth. With hair that is silver and slightly thinning, I believe that I look the part. I amble along with the aid of a walking stick and I will no longer be found standing at a bar sinking a few ‘cool ones’.
Sobriety by necessity!
To celebrate I had intended to sneak maybe one beer at the local pub with the few remaining friends who still linger and who thankfully continue to tolerate my irascibility.
Well my son Ryan had other ideas. He and some buddies got busy on the phones. They coerced and herded old friends to a surprise gathering. I enjoyed a splendid evening. Obviously, I had many interesting gifts. When you get older, your friends perceive your needs in a different light. Guess what? Three of these friends, unaware of the intent of the others each bough me gift certificates for pedicures! First and foremost when they thought of me what comes to their minds? The needs of my feet? Now that is a harbinger of old age! Go figure!
Champchefs Archive Comes of Age
21 is the magic age. When we reach this landmark, we embrace freedom and then timidly acknowledge an awareness of responsibility. I have been fostering the Champchefs Archive for some five years however this is the 21st Edition. This has been a self-imposed mission. I report to no one.
This freedom comes with responsibilities. Nothing onerous mind you. And no need to be looking over the shoulder all of the time. The challenge is one of expectations. When a person sets out to record historical events the onus is upon him to get the facts straight. Therefore, at this stage I think that I should give my readers a little background. Let’s have a performance review and be accountable.
In the early days of my 10-year tenure as Executive Director of the Alberta Culinary Arts Foundation I used various secretarial services. In the latter years, I was most fortunate when Alberta Tourism decided that the Foundation needed a full time Secretary. Val was parachuted in and became my Executive Assistant.
If I may say so we were quite a team. From an operational point of view, Val had a rare ability for a young Lady. She could take dictation. She was also an IT specialist. I was very proficient at giving dictation. We were on top of the job and had some productive years together. Then it finally came time for farewells. I was on my own and I had never owned a typewriter never mind a computer.
A few years passed and I was bored. History has always been of interest to me. I realized that Canada’s chefs had no comprehensive record of the achievements of their colleagues from years gone by. Maybe individual Branches kept an archive. Mostly they did not. I had a chat with Hans Bueschkens RIP (previously a President of WACS for two consecutive terms). Hans commented that this situation would probably be reflected throughout the membership of WACS with the exceptions of the Swiss and German Chefs Associations. There is the challenge.
I got stuck-in with the research. I had a very strong network of friends and associates worldwide and soon I had accumulated reams of notes. My desk was not big enough and my brain was in overload. Two buddies came to the rescue and took me in hand. Together Rolf and Scotty set me up with a computer and the necessary soft wear. They gave me a few lessons and cut me loose.
My next step was to find a webmaster. For me, this was like introducing an American to cricket and telling him that he would be playing the silly-mid-off position. Well I lucked out big time. Chris was my man at the commencement of this project and his understanding and creativity has guided me throughout.
The inaugural Edition of Champchefs was launched in the Fall of 2007. Initially the site was essentially static and had a limited distribution. The 1st general release was in February 2008.
A selection of my favorites from the Archive:
- The 1st Team Published was: Australia National Junior Team Olympic Champions 1984
- The oldest Teams published in the Champchefs Archive are: Germany National Team @ HOSPES, Bern, 1954 and Switzerland National Team @ HOSPES, Bern, 1954
- An Emotional High: France, World Cup Pastry Champions, Lyon 2013
- Most Imaginative Team Photo: Schweitzer Delegation to IKA, Erfurt,2012
- Most Colorful Awards Ceremony: Korea’s Best Sommelier, Seoul, 2008
- Judges Jump for Joy: Mondial des Arts Sucres. Paris 2012
- There are now 509 Published Teams.
- There are now 359 Published Competitions.
- There are now 2041 different Team Members names published.
- At the Culinary Olympics we have every victorious Team since 1972.
- At the World Cup we have every victorious Team since the competition commenced.
- At Food & Hotel Asia we have every victorious Team since the competition commenced.
- At the Bocuse d’Or we have all 14 Champions.
- At the World Pastry & Chocolate Masters we have 19 Champions.
- The Champchefs Archive has visited 15 Featured Countries.
Personally, I enjoy the section that I have named Retrospectives. Herein we have captured some 25 moments in history – either a photograph or a short story that recalls special moments from far away places that happened long ago.
I try to be as comprehensive as possible and to be inclusive of all countries. There are many WACS member countries that have not received a mention in this Archive. This has not been for a lack of effort on my part. At one time or another over the past 5 years, I have emailed all South American National Associations and not once had a reply. This also applies to many European countries. I do have a problem with this disposition.
There is a reason why we have menus. Not everyone likes olives or playing team games or even sharing their history. Viva la difference.
I appreciate the support and encouragement that comes my way. Please continue to send news from your region. I say thank you to the fans who value this historic collection. The purpose of the Champchefs Archive is to capture the chef’s tradition of endeavor, achievement and esprit de corps.
I’m 21. I’ve tried my damndest. So let’s get ready to set sail and continue to ride the waves.
Maurice O'Flynn, Editor.