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Olympic History


South Africa’s Proud Olympic Culinary History

South Africa first sent a team overseas to compete in the Culinary Olympics in 1980; bringing home five individual gold medals and winning fourth place overall in the hot kitchen competition.

In 1980 South Africa competed for the first time in an international competition. A team of five, comprising four chefs and a manager with ”salt in their back pockets” and a lot of enthusiasm, represented South Africa at the Culinary Olympics. The team of five gained experience and made many friends and four years later a well-prepared team set off once more for Germany. Practice and determination paid off: the team won a bronze medal in the premier Restaurant of Nations competition, missing third place by only a few points. The chefs returned home with a further two gold medals won in other events.

In 1988 three South African teams competed in the Olympics. The National Team, a City Team and a Junior Team. The teams returned with gold medals but still no place in the top three. But at the fourth attempt the South African team was crowned World Champion in the Restaurant of Nations, the most prestigious category other than the overall winner. It also came third in the Restaurant Dishes category. Twelve years of hard work and dedication had paid off.

For the first time ever in 2000, the South African National Culinary Team, was a wholly South African born and trained team.

In 2004, Team SA brought back four medals constituting of three silvers and one bronze.

In 2008, Culinary Team SA brought back a gold medal in the Hot Kitchen section – the first gold to be won by South Africa in 16 years.

In the same year, South African National Culinary Team was awarded the official South African Team status by the Department of Arts and Culture’s Bureau of Heraldry. This recognition reflects the enormous achievements of the South African Chefs Association and growth of the South African National Culinary Team.

Throughout the culinary team’s history, renowned chefs have been a part of the team, including Bill Gallagher, Heinz Brunner, Manfred Muellers, Bruce Burns, Andrew Atkinson, Garth Shnier, Paul Hartmann, David Higgs and Garth Stroebel.


SA National Culinary Team 1980

Left to right: Billy Gallagher ; Wolfgang Heiduck; Otto Schellhas; Wolfgang Leyre; Manfred Muellers 

Culinary Team South Africa 1984: L-R: Back: Heinz Brunner; Billy Gallagher;  James Waters. 
Front: Kurt Schramm; Koenig; Bernd Wartmann

Culinary Team South Africa 1988:  L-R: Brian McCune; Glynn Sinclair; Billy Gallagher; Martin Maphanga; Garth Stroebel; Jay Rampiari


The History of IKA Culinary Olympics - By Heinz Brunner

The history of the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) - better known as the Culinary Olympics - is dominated by the energetic and inspirational figure of Matthians Carl Banzer, founder of the IKA, who developed the IKA into the biggest and most prestigious food exhibition in the world. It is he we have to thank for the IKA’s existence - his hard work, perseverance and dedication.

The IKA began in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1900 when a group of visionary chefs decided that a culinary competition was the best possible forum for sharing information on food and techniques with their neighbouring countries in Europe. From the year 1900 until the sixth cooking exhibition, in 1934, Banzer personally undertook the organisation of the show and laboured to ensure its success.

The world’s first cooking exhibition took place in 1894, against the backdrop of the turbulent history being made by the then Prime Minister of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck – the so-called Iron Chancellor. In this war-dominated environment the first cooking exhibition focused on areas like mass feeding and army catering – in keeping with the economic climate of that time. Bakers and pastry chefs in particular came into their own. Banzer became a member of the Frankfurt Chefs’ Association one year later, in 1895. By 1900 he had become the force driving behind the IKA and created that heady sense of euphoria that dominates the Culinary Olympics to this day.

In those early days the competition did not take place every four years as it does today. The second IKA was held in 1905 and the third in 1911. Sadly, the IKA then fell victim to the depredations of World War 1 and for nearly 14 years there was no exhibition, the fourth IKA was only held in 1924. Since then the staging of the cooking exhibition has been interrupted only once, by World War 2.

1956 saw the inception of the World Culinary Olympics as we know them today – a forum for chefs from all over the world to come together in friendly and stimulating competition, and to share information and ideas. Chefs from 11 countries competed in categories similar to the current categories. Since that year the Culinary Olympics have been held every four years, just as the sports Olympics are, and the IKA has grown into the most important event on a chef’s competition calendar.

Today there are over 54 countries competing for the title of Olympic Champion in Cooking. And it is at these Olympics that new trends are set. Nouvelle cuisine first saw the light of the day here, as did the 1960 gold medal-winning dish of prime rib beef and a baked potato – a dish which is as commonplace as bacon and eggs today.

It is every chef’s dream to represent his or her country at the IKA Culinary Olympics. Now, as it was when Banzer staged the first IKA, the Olympics’ primary objective is to unite the world through cooking. It is a forum where masters and apprentice teams meet to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

To be awarded a gold medal at this event is the highest accolade for a chef. The IKA Culinary Olympics also provide a showcase for manufacturers and producers to display their latest equipment and new products.

We salute the South African Champion Team and Mr Matthias Banzer. After all, without the creator of IKA the Olympics in Cookery would not exist.