“Lived Reality in the Community Catering Kitchen” The "Team Vienna" from Austria won a silver medal with their vegetarian "scallop" dish.

The Community Catering competition had been extensively revised for the IKA/Culinary Olympics 2024. We spoke to Thomas Wassink, Chairman of the Jury for Community Catering Teams at the IKA, about the challenges of the new tasks and culinary trends.

Interview Aina Keller Photos IKA/Culinary Olympics  

Thomas WassinkMr. Wassink, this time the Community Catering Teams were asked to cook plant-based dishes at the IKA. What combinations and preparations were on show?   

I particularly remember the creative and varied overall presentation on the plates. The teams combined the plant-based components very well and worked with different textures, colors and shapes. The overall interplay and especially the color coordination were well received. It was clear to see that the teams had addressed the issue of seasonality and accepted the challenge of giving typical winter vegetables such as celery or onions an extra twist. Nuts were roasted, high-quality oils and fresh herbs were used to further enhance the ingredients.  

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Vegetables in focus for the community catering teams.

What could be observed with the protein-rich add-ons? Which components were particularly on trend and in what quantities?   

This time it was all about seeing the protein-rich components as side dishes, so to speak, and arranging them around the main plant-based ingredients. When it came to non-animal add-ons, chickpeas, lentils, beans and chia seeds were used creatively. Fish and meat included everything from salmon to poultry. The calculation of the individual weights on the plate required rethinking in every case. Previously, meat was the heaviest component, but now it was the other way round – not all teams had understood or translated this correctly, so that sometimes “old ratios” were still found on the plate.  

The task was not only to challenge and encourage the choice of ingredients, but also the working techniques. How varied was it in Stuttgart?   

According to the rules, it was allowed to bring fermented or smoked vegetables into the kitchen, which some teams successfully implemented. The preparations of the French team, for example, stood out positively. With great support from MKN, they were able to digitize their cooking programs in the original appliances beforehand and had them easily imported onto the stick at the start of the competition. We also saw some sous-vide preparations and even the use of a 3D printer in the kitchen. The team had used this modern technology to create beautiful chocolate ornaments. Unfortunately, the use of such an additional device was not authorized. But, who knows, perhaps this can be taken as inspiration for future competitions. 

K04 Fachinterview Conference Food
Conference Food at the IKA 2024.

Speaking of the future: In addition to the balanced lunch, the IKA 2024 was also about creative conference catering for the first time. What food trends were presented to the jury here, what snacks do you remember?  

The rules were extended to include the task of preparing a total of three different conference catering items for 24 people, each weighing no more than 40 to 45 grams, which were to be served cold and eaten with cutlery. It also had to be light, healthy and easily digestible. We saw great combinations, for example with taco shells or pita, primarily with vegetables and again with different textures. The snacks were all very pleasingly presented on the colorful porcelain provided by RAK. The positive feedback we received from the teams was that this type of snack catering is already a practiced reality in the kitchens and that the expansion of the competition is a good step for the future. 

Thank you!

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