International Chefs Day is commemorated annually on October 20 by Worldchefs.
Since its creation by the late Chef Dr Bill Gallagher in 2004, Worldchefs has been committed to using International Chefs Day to celebrate the noble profession, always remembering that it is the duty of chefs around the world to pass on their knowledge and culinary skills to the next generation with a sense of pride and commitment to the future.
This is an obligation and a pledge fully endorsed and practised by Capsicum Culinary Studio, South Africa’s largest culinary school, with six campuses around the country (Boksburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Rosebank).
This year’s theme for the International Chefs Day is Healthy Food for the Future, which focuses on ensuring a healthy planet for future generations while aiming to teach children about what impact food production and consumption has on the environment.
In light of this, we spoke to Mark Coombe (Pretoria Campus Principal), Ewan Johnston (Chef Lecturer at Rosebank Campus), Ann Nagan (Durban Campus Principal), Beryldene Bain (PE Campus Principal) and Ashton Robertson (Chef Lecturer at Cape Town Campus) and asked them what they admire about chefs, what the think is a chef’s main goal and what, for them, constitutes healthy food.
What do you most admire about chefs?
Coombe: Being a chef myself you have to have passion and dedication for the job. It is a tough industry and you need to have the dedication. This is what I admire about all chefs in the industry.
Nagan: I admire their creativity, passion, stamina and the constant drive to never stop learning and perfecting their personal culinary skills and techniques.
Bain: Their absolute sense of passion, natural creative spirit and can-do attitude. They are always willing and ready to jump in and get the job done.
What do you think is a chef’s main goal?
Ewan: To create an experience utilising the best of the best ingredients. Acquiring as much knowledge of food as possible. Working for the best chefs around the world to become the best of the best.
Robertson: To master their craft. You are never too old to learn, and 20 years into the game, I am still learning every day! Food is like fashion, it’s ever-changing, and if you rest on your laurels, you become stagnant, lose your passion and ultimately leave a demanding but very rewarding industry. Nothing is more rewarding than watching a client, friend or family member enjoy every mouthful of something you have created.
What for you constitutes healthy food?
Coombe: Healthy food is a balanced diet of the correct amounts of nutrition that your body needs to fuel itself over a 24 hour period. The good old phrase of, “you are what you eat” is very true. You must look after your body and eat what your body tells you to eat.
Ewan: All natural bright vibrant fruits and vegetables, grains and pulses. Good quality meats, poultry and fish. In adequate proportions. Good clean eating.
Robertson: A balanced diet. I don’t believe in cutting out carbs or fats or oils like so many diets demand. I live by the creed that everything is good in moderation, with moderation being the key word.
Nagan: For me, healthy eating a variety of foods is not about eliminating or restricting foods, but rather incorporating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy.”
Bain: My healthy foods include a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals. However, I also believe one should eat what they love in moderation and not deprive oneself of the finer things in life.”
Final word from Vanessa Marquis, Chairman of the International Chefs Day Committee: “During these uncertain times, we must boost our immune systems and teach both children and adults of the benefits of healthy food, which will help in the long run to fight off any future illnesses.
“We have a duty to prepare chefs worldwide to educate and prepare children for a healthier life through other means if they can’t in person – not even letting a pandemic get in the way.”
It’s certainly a message that Gallagher would have endorsed given that he was such an inspiration to many chefs around the world and because his wisdom and knowledge lives on in the many people he supported and mentored.
Anyone wanting to hone their cooking skills further should consider Capsicum Culinary Studios’ internationally recognised and accredited Chef 101 course. This top international digital learning platform guides users through culinary technique building blocks, giving them the ability to launch themselves into further studies, a career as a chef or become an amazing home cook. Chef 101 includes 20 cooking courses.