A chef takes part in last year's Emirates Salon Culinaire competition A chef takes part in last year's Emirates Salon Culinaire competition

The deadline for entries to the Emirates Salon Culinaire culinary competition that will take place at Gulfood on February 19-22, 2012 has now passed.

The competition has received more than 1200 entries form 84 hotels and from countries as far as Canada, France and Moscow. Twenty-nine international judges have also been confirmed from around the world.

Uwe Micheel, director of kitchens at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek and president of the Emirates Culinary Guild, which is organising the event, said:

"The Emirates Salon Culinaire has come a long way from where it started, as 'a small competition with a few people in the desert with not very high standards'.

“The first few years we had just a few people coming from outside Dubai,” he says. “Now chefs can go anywhere in the world to compete and win and it’s motivating when you see how people in the city have grown and how standards have grown. It gives you motivation and energy to keep going and improve the competition. We try and get a better product every year.”

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A change to this year’s competition is the inclusion of a Young Chef of the Year trophy – normally handed out in summer, it has been incorporated into the Emirates Salon Culinaire at Gulfood. It will see chefs between the ages of 21 and 25 competing in the five-course gourmet menu and lamb classes, before being given 20 minutes to cut up and fillet a chicken and fish.

“The judges will be asking questions like, ‘How would you take the head and make a stock, and then use it? How would you create a sauce?’,” explains Micheel. “It’s like an engineering exam. It’s a way to push and develop our junior chefs, because one day we will have to stop and our junior chefs will have to be ready.”

The pressure for all is huge, but Micheel, who has one of his own team members competing, says that it is even more so for the younger ones. “They might do it right all day every day, but when they compete in front of international judges, they get nervous and you wouldn’t believe what mistakes they can make. But we’re all humans. It’s nice to see we are not machines.”