The return home was uneventful, and we all got back to our destinations safe and sound.
I can hardly imagine a better trip, though we never did get back to the spice souk for an in-depth exploration. Certainly my travel companions both the macro body of attendees to WACS and our small group of fast friends from Hong Kong and Macau.
Pictured above from left to right: Me, Raimund Picklmaier, of Macau, Billy Yeung, Rudolph Muller, Mak Kam Kui, Sammy Wong (from Shanghai), and Francis Lo.
To anyone who ever reads this: Go to Dubai, it is a wonderful place to experience.
While back to life & back to reality, I also must make a calendar note … how do I get to Chile in two years time???
Archive for May, 2008
The return home was uneventful, and we all got back to our destinations safe and sound.
The final day of the 2008 WACS congress in Dubai started, as one would expect…gradually. Delegates arrived in smaller groups, rather than en mass and many of our colleagues had needed to depart the evening before. Even our fearless leader, HKCA President, Rudolph Muller was already somewhere in the air between Dubai and Malaysia, where he was heading to do more good deeds in the name of global culinary excellence.
The first order for business was something Chefs are especially good at, but often not noted for – community support. Ferdinand Metz, on behalf of WACS presented a cheque directly to the China Delegation to help with relief efforts surrounding the Sichuan province earthquake. Our Asia Continental Director John Sloane also announced a mechanism that will be set up through the Continental Office to facilitate delegate countries donations to this cause. Details to follow when available. With tears of appreciation, China gratefully accepted and thanked the congress for its caring warmth and humanitarian action.
The remainder of the rather long final day was spent awarding the many members and participants for their efforts. Even our own Billy Yeung was up on stage as part of a large group from Unilever accepting the Global Partner award. The awards ceremonies were accompanied by what must have been a very best of TV and film music CD, as themes from bewitched, star trek, star wars and many similar themes played in the back ground – surreal. At one special moment Bill Gallagher (no relation) noted the interesting music. Of some special note in the awards were the winners of first the Hans Bueschken’s Junior Chef competition won by the Junior Chef from the USA, and then of course the Inaugural Global Chefs Challenge which was taken by Netherlands Chef Toines Smulders.
Finally the congress was called to a close, just in time for us to hurry off to the Gala Dinner held far out in the rolling dunes of the Arabian Desert at the Lisali Fort.
We were dressed in traditional garments and ate in tents under the desert moon; accompanied and enthralled by fortunetellers, shisha pipes, camel rides, belly dances, extravagant fire works, and a princes feast of food and wine. This was a wonderful way to celebrate our host country Dubai and while it was a great way to prepare for our journey home it would be equally nice as a way to enter the middle east as well.
One important lesson that we can all take home from this congress is that Dubai is a sparkling example of what a safe, hospitable, and lovely place of magic and wonder the middle east is, and for chefs this fertile crescent is the origin of the agricultural meme that has set mankind on a trajectory in which they would require, and prize our humble service.
Reporting From Dubai,
Thursday, May 15, 2008
After a few days of acclimatizing to the scorching forty-something degree dessert heat, the WACS Congress got to down to one of the primary pieces of business of this meeting – the election of the new Presidium.
Overall the election went without a hiccup and as HKCA President Rudolph Muller has already noted, Iceland, as headed by Mr. Gasser Gudmundson has been duly elected to the prestigious and difficult post of Presidium of WACS, until the next election in 2012.
The HKCA, is proud to serve the new presidium and we will do our best, as always, to help foster the ideals of WACS, in our own small way, though our continental directorate.
Til hamingju Ísland!
With the meat of the mater well settled, the congress moved on to some extraordinary educational presentations, first from the TV Chef Osama (as he says, the good one) who took us through a wonderful lesson in Mezzeh. Not only informative but all available for tasting, and delicious, of course.
After tea we had a stunning, if a bit chemical, presentation of molecular cuisine from Stephen Beholder, who cooked with nitrogen in one segment and gave us a wide overview and demonstration of this trendy chemistry rooted style of cuisine.
We adjourned for lunch while Rudy and Mak went to support and observe the Hong Kong team in the MLA Black Box Challenge Global Grand Final. We joined them in the evening for the Ceremonial Awards Dinner.
The dinner was an elegant affair and the Hong Kong team, from the Disneyland Hollywood Hotel did and absolutely wonderful job, claiming fourth place and one of only 4 gold medals. South Korea, who has had quite an exciting and successful show, took two top dish awards, and the championship title.
All in all it was another wonderful day ending late at night in the palatial Medina Jumeirah Resort.
Reporting from Dubai
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today’s events started out with an exceptional series of presentation from the countries vying to host the 2012 Congress. India, South Korea, Portugal and Sri Lanka all represented their country and their intentions for our congress in an exciting series of 10-minute presentations.
All the countries had significant strengths and benefits and it took the delegates two rounds of run-off voting to finally agree that the Republic of Korea, will host the Congress in 2012.
This is especially significant for Hong Kong because it will mean that we can plan to send a large delegation and have significant presence in competitions.
Once the 2012 location was secured we were given a zesty presentation of what can be expected at the WACS congress 2010 in Chile. It would be a tiresome and expensive excursion to be sure, but the look and feel of Chile as presented is sure to excite whichever few lucky delegates we can send from Hong Kong.
During lunch we had a very special presentation of the produce from the ship of the dessert, the camel. We dine on pit-roasted camel and drank the slightly acidic camel milk. Both were delicious, the meat being quite similar to Kalua Pork, and the milk being low fat and similar in texture and taste to a skim yogurt drink. I was excited to see some large bones full of marrow on the camel tray and so just had to taste. I can tell you camel Ossobuco is just as tasty as the veal version. Perhaps in time some adventurous chef will serve it in Hong Kong.
The afternoon program was a vibrant panel discussion on Women Chefs in WACS. It was very good to see that, rather than segregating women as a special issue, there was an actual pledge and strong current of understanding among the panel and delegates that we should adopt a mission of celebrating diversity of every kind, and allowing chefs to be chefs without need of any arbitrary prejudicial measurement or segregation. A chef is a chef is a chef, and we are all in this together.
Of note also in this discussion was the need to move forward in our care of our employees, communities and environment as well. A special recognition was given that in many was the fast food industry has been beating us at feeding people economically and at community and employee care. We can certainly learn a thing or two from these industries and adding our values for nutrition and real, whole, sustainable cuisines, we can drive our profession into a future with the goal of a triple bottom line of: “People, Profit Planet.”
With the afternoon session drawn to a close we were on our own for the evening and so the Hong Kong Delegation spread to the four corners of the city for our a bit of private time.
Reporting From Dubai
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
It was an early start, with the congress commencing every day at 8:15, but this, the opening day, was an especially important and exciting beginning, with the parade of flags, and our own Francis Lo, carrying Hong Kong’s flag up onto the dais where it sat in auspicious place behind exiting WACS World President Ferdinand Metz.
The day was fully booked with the business affairs of what amounts to the “United Nations of Chefs”, and even chefs must tackle these mundane tasks every few years or nothing else could be accomplished as a global body of partners.
Rudy Muller, graciously asked both Francis and I to take turns sitting with him in the table of honor, as the second seat representing Hong Kong.
I believe I can speak for Francis and Rudy as well when I say were struck time and again with the profound honor of our position.
Of particular note today: During his presentation of the region, our Continental Director, John , in front of the entire congress, praised the outstanding work of the HKCA in web presence, stating to the world that at least in his opinion, ours was the strongest web presence of WACS. Marco Varinga, you make us all proud.
But the WACS is not all about business, we enjoyed a wonderful education presentation on Indonesian spice mixtures (Bunbu) given by Unilever Chef, William Wongso.
The opening diner – Dubai – Modern Flavours & Trends, was held at the beautiful Jumeirah Emirates Towers, a fine affair, and just enough wine (but not too much) for a good nights rest.
Reporting from Dubai
Monday, May 12, 2008
I must be one of be luckiest unemployed chefs in the world.
Due to a last minute work situation our Hong Kong Chefs Association, 2nd Vice President, Hans Rudi Nussbaumer; was unable to represent Hong Kong, in Dubai, at the World Association of Chefs Societies, Congress held in a different international location, every two years.
I – QED – was available and absolutely delighted, to serve both as a poor replacement delegate for Hans Rudi, as well as the HKCA live reporter to the event.
Our Hong Kong delegation met at the Hong Kong International Airport for a midnight flight to Dubai, UAE. Among our delegation: Our President, Chef Rudolph Muller, EXCO Member, Chef Billy Yeung, Hong Kong Young Chefs Club Chairman, Chef Francis Lo, and Myself. Also meeting us in Dubai, was Chef Mak Kam Kui, fresh from managing the Ladies Team in Singapore, and now bringing a team from the Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel, to represent Hong Kong in the MLA Black Box competition.
The flight was nice, safe and quiet, though the fates, in an effort to extract some small payment for my great fortune, saw fit to sandwich me in, between two very large, and very noisy Romanian Women. My mantra for the duration was “it’s only 8 hours” which served me well enough.
Upon arrival in Dubai, it seems Billy thought our travel was too comfortable, and so he set about being detained at immigration by the Dubai authorities, for lack of a visa, which apparently (as we thought before and learned afterwards) he did not actually need. Billy was finally released to our welcoming arms after about 6 hours of discussion and assistance from the WACS organizers.
So, with a scant few hours of uncomfortable sleep, and a blazing mid-day awaiting us in Dubai, we set off to explore this amazing, high-tech, city that has suddenly sprung up as a largely man-made oasis in one of the most hostile desserts in the world
We did manage to barely break the surface with some brief tourist stops at museums, markets, mosques, modern attractions, and of course we sampled much of the wonderful Middle Eastern food. Then it was time to check in and freshen up before heading to the WACS Congress pre-opening cocktail party.
The Party was a fine affair of meeting long parted friends as well as making new ones. Rudy, showed one of the reasons why he is such an excellent choice to represent us, in that it seems that he knows and gets along well with nearly everyone who has joined the congress, sharing admiring embraces throughout the evening.
With name cards exchanged all round, bellies full, palates sated, and the dessert night beginning to cool, we headed back to our hotel for some rest before the early morning opening ceremony and congress first meeting.
Christopher Gallaga Reporting from Dubai, Sunday, May 11, 2008;