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Tri-Service Chefs join forces to win Double Gold

8 December 2016
2016 Olympic fever wasn’t just limited to Rio; Erfurt in Germany also held the mantle as Olympic Hosts for the IKA Culinary Olympics, where a total of 59 nations competed for glory.

In amongst it all were 12 of the very best Chefs selected equally from the Royal Navy/Royal Marines, Royal Air Force and Army competing as The Combined Services Culinary Arts Team (CSCAT).

Corporal Liam Grime from RAF Odiham captained the team at IKA Olympiade der Koche where the Erfurt exhibition hall transformed into the largest restaurant in the world, and more than 2000 chefs competed to become Olympic champions.

“It’s a privilege to lead such dedicated people from across all 3 Services” said Liam.

My day to day job at sea is very different, cooking in the most challenging and demanding conditions and I am very proud to showcase my skills on the world stage.

Leading Chef Hand Andy Durham

“This year we have an exceptionally talented group of chefs who not only give 100% dedication to their military role but also dedicate themselves to competing with CSCAT at the top level.”

After 2 years of meticulous planning, hard graft and determination, the CSCAT Regional Cold Table entry was finally revealed; a library themed presentation.

The table included an exquisite display of Petit Fours, hot and cold finger foods such as Goats Cheese & Calvados Mousse, a festive platter with Yellow Fin Tuna and Lobster, four sumptuous desserts and a five-course meal with Hay Cooked Poussin and Honey Pork Belly.  

Interest from the internationally acclaimed judges was instantaneous and after working through the night to ensure the table was revealed in good time, all the team could do now was wait.

Anti-Social hours and difficult conditions are no surprise to military chefs and the Olympics was no different; each day travelling to the Olympic venue from their Military Barracks in Paderborn nearly 300km away.

Indeed, the logistical challenges started long before competition day; the 20-hour transit to Germany in itself was demanding.  

Copious amounts of dry rations and frozen products were ordered, delivered and packaged with extreme care before the long transit, along with 3 tonnes of catering equipment.

“The preparation was certainly interesting!” said team manager of 2 years Flight Sergeant Richie Greenhalgh.

“Meticulous planning was required at every stage, from sourcing specialist ingredients in good time to ensuring vital equipment and work preparation areas are available to us throughout the competition.”

Finally after a nerve-racking wait, the Regional Cold Table results were announced; Gold in Pastry Arts and Gold in Culinary Arts. 

The team was naturally delighted: "You cannot capture that, you cannot describe that feeling, we’ve just achieved and I couldn’t ask any more from the team." emoted Cpl Grime after the presentation.

The team also went on to win Silver in the Regional Community Catering Challenge, producing a mouth-watering traditionally British themed 3-course meal and salad bar for 150 customers, receiving excellent feedback from diners and judges alike.

"Competing on the world stage at the IKA Culinary Olympics was exciting to say the least” said team member Warrant Officer 2 Andy Saupe (1st Regt Royal Horse Artillery).

“Sergeant Paul Henderson (Food Service Wing) and myself represented the British Army element of CSCAT which is an absolute privilege.”

Formed in 1997, CSCAT represents the Armed Forces in world-class national and international competitions and epitomizes catering throughout the UK Armed Forces.

Every member of the team has their day job too; they all work as full time military chefs spread across the UK and internationally so getting together to practice as a team is a real challenge. 

Leading Chef Hand Andy Durham is the sole Royal Navy chef to be a representative of the CSCAT at Erfurt: “The IKA Culinary Olympics only comes around every 4 years and to be part of an highly skilled chef team who produce first class food is amazing” he said.

“My day to day job at sea is very different, cooking in the most challenging and demanding conditions and I am very proud to showcase my skills on the world stage."

With CSCAT looking forward to its twentieth anniversary next year, the focus post Germany is on finding the next generation of rising military stars. 

Team Chairman, Captain Shaun Collins-Lindsay is enthusiastic about the new talent already emerging from within the military: “With a new team selection set to be confirmed in December all three military services will be competing nationally and across the world in 2017 and 2018.”

The Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg 2018 will be the venue in which these newly selected youngsters will showcase talents way beyond their years as they look to propel themselves in the senior team. 

Both the present, and indeed the future, looks bright for Culinary Arts in the UK Military.

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