A Look Behind the Scenes: Logistical Masterpiece in Stuttgart Hall plan of Intergastra and IKA 2024.

Planning for the IKA/Culinary Olympics began months in advance so that the teams could move into their kitchens and the guests could take their seats in February 2024. VKD, Messe Stuttgart and Dehoga Baden-Württemberg “spill the beans”.

Coordinating diverse needs

Felizitas Laun, Managing Director of the German Chefs’ Association (VKD)   

Registering the teams, on-site logistics, managing service providers: as the organizer of the IKA/Culinary Olympics, all the “threads” come together at the VKD. What is the biggest challenge here, Ms. Laun?  

Felizitas Laun. Foto: VKD/Wrobel
Felizitas Laun. Foto: VKD/Wrobel

Felizitas Laun: It’s being there around the clock for the participants’ concerns, big and small. To be there for them. It means making an emotional commitment to being available 24 hours a day. Whether it’s a lack of food, kitchen utensils, toques, power cables, injuries or a sympathetic ear – the responsibility of bringing all the “threads” together and coordinating the diverse needs requires not only logistical planning, but above all empathy and the willingness to work tirelessly for the well-being of everyone involved. A big thank you goes to all the volunteers, but especially to my colleagues at the VKD office, who take care of so much in the background in a confident and reliable manner. 

The IKA has been around since 1900 and has been held at various locations. How has this top-class competition changed over time?   

The IKA has evolved significantly and is now a top-class global event that reflects not only culinary expertise, but also cultural diversity and innovative trends in gastronomy. Its roots are firmly anchored in tradition, but at the same time the IKA has its finger on the pulse of the times and reflects the changing demands and trends in the international culinary arts. This can be seen, for example, at the (Junior) Chef’s Table. Over the years, the IKA has become a showcase that impressively documents developments in the professional kitchen over the decades.   

This is already your eighth IKA. Which highlight or moment from past IKAs do you remember most?   

Looking back, the most memorable moment for me was after the award ceremony at the IKA 2000. Siegfried Schaber († 2023), VKD President at the time, gave me a big hug and said “Thank you”. His face reflected the relief that everything had gone well. The IKA was being held in Erfurt for the first time. An important sponsor had dropped out at short notice, the timing was extremely tight and it seemed uncertain whether the IKA could take place at all. Siegfried Schaber’s palpable tension and the relief that everything worked out in the end make this moving moment unforgettable for me.

Showtime for Intergastra and IKA

Thomas Eberwein, Intergastra and Gelatissimo project team at Landesmesse Stuttgart  

Thomas Eberwein. Foto: Landesmesse Stuttgart GmbH
Foto: Landesmesse Stuttgart GmbH

This is your first time at Intergastra, not as a visitor to the trade fair, but as part of the project team. Among other things, you are responsible for various network meetings and the IKA/Culinary Olympics. What is the mood like so close to the start of the trade fair?  

Thomas Eberwein: The closer the trade fair gets, the more the anticipation grows. As a trained chef, Intergastra is like a big family reunion for me. In 2024, we are expecting thousands of colleagues from Germany and all over the world – a unique experience that I will now be able to experience from a different perspective. 

The IKA/Culinary Olympics is held in various categories. Would taking part in such a competition have been something for you?  

I have experienced a lot during my time as a chef, and I have also taken part in one or two competitions. But to take part in the Culinary Olympics, you need to have outstanding qualities. For me, every test, whether it’s the final exam at the end of my training or – on a completely different scale – taking part in the IKA/Culinary Olympics, is a personal challenge. Gathering the courage to face the challenge, encouraging each other, gaining experience – that’s the first victory. And so, in 2024, I will be celebrating every medal with my colleagues at the IKA/Culinary Olympics and rejoicing with the teams over every single victory, big or small.

Tickets for Intergastra

Host for the world’s largest cooking competition

Eva-Maria Rühle, Deputy Chairwoman of Dehoga Baden-Württemberg   

Ms. Rühle, you are the Intergastra representative on the board of Dehoga Baden-Württemberg. What role does the IKA/Culinary Olympics, which takes place at the same time, play for you?  

Eva-Maria Rühle. Foto: DEHOGA/Reiner Pfisterer
Foto: DEHOGA/Reiner Pfisterer

Eva-Maria Rühle: IKA and Intergastra complement each other perfectly: the IKA/Culinary Olympics is a special highlight for visitors to the trade fair and the unique atmosphere and international flair of the IKA have a positive effect on the trade fair. And conversely, our large industry trade fair naturally provides an ideal setting for the competition, because every competition also thrives on the public. As industry professionals, our trade visitors and exhibitors appreciate what the IKA/Culinary Olympics has to offer.   

What does the IKA mean for your association, Dehoga Baden-Württemberg?  

It is an honor for us to host the largest cooking competition in the world in Stuttgart – we have actively campaigned for this as an association. I am particularly pleased that our trainees, the students from Baden-Württemberg’s state vocational schools for the hospitality industry, can also be actively involved in the IKA as service staff. This is a great experience for the young people.  

How else is Dehoga Baden-Württemberg involved with the IKA?  

We help to arrange hotels with training opportunities for the teams in the Stuttgart region. And we are hosts ourselves. We are delighted that the National Culinary Team Germany will be preparing for the competition under optimal conditions at our Dehoga Academy in Bad Überkingen.

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