Dreams of culinary glory on the world stage took wing on Emirates to Germany this week, when the stars of Sri Lankan chefdom departed for the 2020 Culinary Olympics with the support and blessings of the world’s leading international airline.
A passionate promoter of the art of gastronomy in its own right, Emirates is supporting Team Sri Lanka’s bid to win honours at the 25th edition of the International Exhibition of Culinary Art (IKA) as Airline Partner.
The 28-member group led by Team Manager, multi Gold medal winner and legendary chef, chocolatier and restaurateur Gerard Mendis left on Emirates flight EK655 to Dubai and onwards to Frankfurt, Germany to compete at the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart from 14th to 19th February 2020.
As part of its support of the aspirations of the competing chefs, Emirates also helped transport more than 1000 kgs of masterpieces of culinary art, including delicate chocolate carvings, sour dough carvings, live fruit and vegetable carvings, pulled sugar exhibits and pastillaje sculptures from Sri Lanka to Germany for the ‘Individual-Showpiece’ segment of the competition.
Commenting on the airline’s support to the Sri Lanka team competing at this year’s Culinary Olympics, Emirates Sales Manager Sri Lanka Mrs Devika Ellepola said: “As a global connector of people, places and cultures, Emirates has always understood and explored the strong nexus between cuisine and the travel experience. Sri Lanka, as one of the earliest destinations on the Emirates route network, has also contributed to this axiom and we are pleased to facilitate the country’s participation at this global event.”
“The Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka is especially delighted to have Emirates as Airline Partner for the team competing at the 2020 Culinary Olympics, because we know that the airline shares our passion for gourmet cuisine,” said Chef Gerard Mendis. “Emirates also promotes signature Sri Lankan dishes as well as Ceylon Tea on-board its flights, helping take a taste of Sri Lanka to the world. Working together on this project therefore makes a lot of sense.”
Billed the largest culinary exhibition in the world, the 2020 edition of the quadrennial IKA organised by the German Chefs’ Association, will host more than 28,000 visitors and 2,000 chefs from around 59 countries who will craft more than 7,000 menus to be judged by an elite panel of global chefs from all continents. The 26 chef team from Sri Lanka has seven past Gold medal winners and also includes chefs from the Maldives who will compete in the regional segment.
When it comes to culinary competitions, Sri Lanka is well-recognised in the international arena. The teams that participated in the 2012 and 2016 IKA competitions brought home 14 and 17 Gold medals respectively; while the team that competed in the 2014 Culinary World Cup won 12 Gold Medals and two Gold awards of Excellence.
Founded in 1988, the Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka is the first and the largest organisation of professional Sri Lankan chefs. Its mission includes enhancing the professional status of local chefs, focusing on training and development, promoting high-quality products and technical knowledge, linking professional bodies to create awareness on the importance of Culinary Art, and creating professional co-operation and mutual understanding among chefs. The Guild also hosts the national event – Culinary Art Food Expo or CAFÉ, which is Sri Lanka’s biggest and foremost Food and Hotel exhibition that is held biennially.
Emirates’ support for and celebration of Sri Lankan cuisine is not a new gesture: in December last year the airline hosted a master class in appreciation of Ceylon Tea aboard an Emirates A380 flight from Dubai to London to celebrate the 27-year partnership of Emirates and Dilmah. Earlier that year, traditional confectionaries such kokis and aluwa were served at the Emirates Lounge at the Bandaranaike International Airport in celebration of the island’s ‘Avurudu’ or Sinhala & Tamil New Year festival.
It is also not uncommon to find delicious Sri Lankan staples such like pol roti, kiribath, fish ambul thiyal, red chicken curry, pol sambol and watalappan on board Emirates flights linking the Indian Ocean region to the world.
Emirates serves over 110 million meals on board each year, with the same attention to detail given to creating delightful dishes in Economy, Business or First Class. The airline caters for more than 55 million dine-in guests a year travelling to and from over 159 cities across six continents.