Early this month ICCA hosted the 3rd National Chaine des Rotisseurs young chef competition organized by Chef Daniel Hiltbrunner, Conseiller Culinaire Honoriare, for whom it has been a much longer journey and involvement with this young chef competition. It’s yet another career milestone for Chef Daniel and we spoke to him about his journey so far as he completes 15 years of service in the position of Chief Judge for this prestigious competition for young chefs.
SR: Congratulations on another successful competition held here at ICCA. It has been a bit of a milestone this year, isn’t it?
CD: Thank you very much and yes it has been a bit of a special time for me as I have now completed 15 years as one of the jury members for the Chaine competition.
SR: 15 years is a long time, how did it all start?
CD: Well, it started even before I became a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. At that time my friend was Vice Conseiller Culinaire in Brisbane and he had asked me to help him the competition to which I happily agreed, and the following year we organised the competition together. Later, in 2004 I became a professional member of the Bailliage of Brisbane.
SR: So what is actually a Conseiller Culinaire?
CD: In the Chaine we have positions for certain jobs and functions like in most associations or clubs. The Vice or Conseiller Culinaire has to be a working chef and this position is in charge of putting together the menus for the dinners of the Chaine so that they are up to the industry standards. The person in this position is also in charge of organizing the young chef competition.
SR: Could you please tell us a bit about the competition?
CD: The competition was created by the Swiss Conseiller Culinaire Arthur Bolli in 1977 to cook a 3 course meal for 4 persons out of a mystery box. The competition starts at a regional level, proceeding to the national and international levels. This means the best chef from the national competitions will then represent their country at the international competition.
SR: Which competitions did you organise or judge in the last 15 years?
CD: In the beginning, I used to organize the regional competitions in Brisbane and Melbourne but after me rising to the position of Conseiller Culinaire I organized the national competition for Australia. So far I have judged 10 international competitions and with this year’s one in Frankfurt, it will be my 11th.
SR: I guess Australia kept you very busy.
CD: Yes especially when I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne as Melbourne had not held a regional competition for some time so I had to start right from scratch. The regional committee there was not particularly supportive of the competition so it took a lot of effort to get that mindset changed as the competition is very important for young chefs. During that time I also created a handbook for Australia to run the competition on a regional level as well as national level. When I left Brisbane my successor didn’t have much of an idea about the competition, so I had to come up with something that they could refer to. And, that’s how I came up with the handbook to streamline the competition with templates for all the judging sheets and certificates, as well as the requirements for hosting and the costs of running the competition.
SR: Any highlights over these 15 years?
CD: Oh plenty, otherwise I wouldn’t have been doing it for such a long time. Along with giving such a great opportunity to the young chefs the other highlight for me is the great camaraderie with the fellow judges and the organizing committee at the international competitions. For the events, we would be travelling to cities that we might have never visited before, but keep in mind that this is not a paid position so wherever we go and whatever we do as judges we do it because we love what we do.
SR: Many thanks for taking a moment to speak to me about the Chaine competition and congratulations again for making this happen for young chefs over the last 15 years.