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Culinary students cook for a spot in Germany’s IKA Olympics

By Admin User on December 15, 2022

While the torch remains unlit, NAIT’s culinary program is building its student team in preparation for the 2024 IKA Olympics cooking competition in Stuttgart, Germany. 

“It’s very exciting. To compete is fun, but you have to push hard to win,” said Jose Paez, a NAIT culinary student. 

Students make a classic burger meal into a dessert during a shift at Ernest’s Dining Room. NAIT NEWSWATCH/Angela Kazmierczak

“Students that persevere and are able to meet the criteria of the skillsets, they get selected [for the competition]. It speaks to the student’s stamina, dedication and mental toughness—qualities that will be tested at the actual competition,” said Chew. 

“It’s scary but a good experience. Even though we’re pushing, we’re having fun and trash-talking in a good way,” said Paez. 

With as many as six categories in the IKA Olympics, organizers estimate that over 1,800 world-class chefs, including military cooks and national teams, such as Team India and Team Sweden, will participate. The NAIT Culinary Team sets to perform at the three-day event in the Junior National category and collaborate with Team Canada and Team Alberta in the other categories. 

In the Junior National category, students need to meet and execute the following tasks

  • be 25 years of age or younger,
  • prepare a three-course meal for 60 people and
  • create hot and cold dishes, buffet-style, for 12 people.

Each category requires a different set of criteria. Still, it remains the same: contestants must manage their time, practice cleanliness, pair ingredients in a unique way and artistically present the food. A jury of experts will then critique the teams’ performances and decide who places for bronze, silver and gold. 

In the kitchen, a culinary student tweaks a meat marination. NAIT NEWSWATCH/Angela Kazmierczak

Former chefs from the United States explain that it’s a competition that requires testing recipes and researching ingredients months in advance. As for the selected NAIT students, they will host gourmet dinners, lead product demonstrations and research recipes for businesses to fundraise trip money and help them prepare for IKA.

“Everything’s hard, from designing the menu, preparing it to executing it—especially the executing part is so hard,” said Paez.

The NAIT Culinary Team has previously competed in several international competitions, setting and bringing home a record number of medals from Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. Chew’s optimistic that students will perform well in the IKA Olympics, and he hopes faculty and students support their fundraisers next semester as they prepare for the upcoming competition. 

How far NAIT students will travel:



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