You may never get to eat dinner at the exclusive Myers Park Country Club, but you have another reason to wish you could:
Scott Craig, the club’s executive chef, won a gold medal in cold-food preparation on Monday at the International Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.
Considered the most prestigious culinary competition in the world, the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung, also known as the International Culinary Exhibition, involves more than 1,500 chefs from 52 countries and is held every four years. Professional teams, regional teams and individuals compete for bronze, silver and gold medals
“It’s huge,” Craig said Tuesday from Germany. “It’s the largest culinary competition on the planet. You can spend your entire career as a chef and never win gold.”
Craig isn’t the only Charlottean in Germany. Brian Campbell of Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus is one of five members of the American regional team, which won a silver medal this week. Craig also is being assisted by two JWU apprentices, Lydia Ross, the daughter of Charlotte ice sculptor Gary Ross, and Drew Hostetler. In addition to Craig, five U.S. chefs from around the country won gold medals.
“It’s crazy over here,” Craig said. “We’re all working out of different kitchens, whoever would put us up.”
Getting to the Culinary Olympics takes almost as much practice as reaching the athletic Olympics. Craig trained for 18 months, and was supported by the country club as well as food companies such as Southern Foods and Sysco. For his competition, he had to prepare six appetizers and a platter of cold foods for eight.
(Click here to see Scott's photos from the Culinary Olympics)
For a look at the kind of work going on at the competition, go to Craig’s blog, ifyoucanstandtheheat.blogspot.com, where he’s been posting pictures of sugar sculptures and chocolate creations.
“It’s such a massive project,” he said Tuesday. “You’re flying with trunks and trunks of equipment and food. Just the crackers for your platter take months and if you break one, you’ve wasted all that work.”
After all that, what’s next? Before returning to Charlotte next week, Craig and his wife, Leah Craig, plan to make a side trip -- to Paris, of course.