ANDRE Kropp, executive chef at Henry’s Restaurant, the signature restaurant for the Henry Jones Art Hotel, has just returned from representing Australia and Tasmania in the International Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany. His team finished ninth of 36 teams from around the world.
A veteran of the Culinary Olympics, Kropp has competed four times – twice for his native South Africa, and twice for Australia.
‘‘ People ask me why I do it, and there are certainly elements of the event that are torturous, like having to prep everything from scratch with very little sleep in the 48 hours before competition,’’ he says.
‘‘ But the camaraderie of the team and the excitement of competition, and very tight deadlines, are terrific.
‘‘ Plus, as competitors, you learn through exposure to new techniques and culinary trends and ingredients from around the world that perhaps you’ve read about but never seen.’’
Kropp ( pictured) and the team exhibited 22 dishes in the cold table section of the competition, and then, for 110 guests and judges, a three- course menu consisting of a confit of cold- smoked Tasmanian salmon with wild fennel pollen, pea salad and citrus dressing; three cuts of West Australian dorper lamb; and a chocolate bar dessert filled with yuzu jelly and hazelnut mousse.
He described dorper lamb as a ‘‘ meatier, breed with beautiful tender, sweet meat’’.
The Swedish team won this year and Kropp said although we don’t hear much about the Culinary Olympics here, they receive huge coverage in Europe and the Scandinavian teams’ travel arrangements were also generously financed by their respective governments.
Kropp said apart from the competition itself, he enjoyed tasting an amazing array of German sausages, salamis and cold cuts, particularly as there was a parallel International Bratwurst Olympics running in Thuringer at the same time.
He also learnt that bratwurst should never be cooked in a pan but instead ‘‘ cooked slowly over an open fire where it can take on the smoke’’.
‘‘ And once again it came home to me just how much more respectful the Germans and Europeans generally are about their food than we are here,’’ he said.
‘‘ They don’t waste or throw away anything, from turning stale bread into dumplings to the uses they make of animal blood and offal and all the fat and trimmings that go to produce their sausages. And, for all that, they don’t appear to have the same obesity problems as we do in Australia.
‘‘ We’ve still got a bit to learn.’’