We are just weeks away from the ultimate chef showdown. 32 nations prepare to send their culinary wizards to Erfurt, Germany, this October. Toque-wearers’ that eat, breathe and sleep fine cuisine. And team South Africa has the hottest talent out the kitchen.

The IKA Culinary Olympics are the oldest and most prestigious global culinary competition; an event that, like the sporting Olympics, takes place once every four years. A grueling 4 years has been spent behind the scenes fine-tuning and perfecting the Olympic menu. Now team South Africa fly our flag high as they go for Olympic gold.

The South African Culinary Olympic Team bear the emblem “Masakhane” – which means let’s build each other. An extended invitation for the nation to follow their journey to the IKA Culinary Olympics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under their newly-launched hashtag #SAOlympicChef.

Team Manager Heinz Brunner emphasizes “A strong show of support and interest on social media by our fellow South Africans and foodies will give our team a tremendous boost towards bringing home the gold. Messages of encouragement should include the hashtag #SAOlympicChef.”

The South African National Culinary Team brought back a gold medal in the Hot Kitchen section in 2008 – the first gold to be won by South Africa in 16 years. In the same year, the South African National Culinary Team was awarded the official South African team status by the Department of Arts and Culture’s Bureau of Heraldry.

The chefs representing team South Africa are:

Henrico Grobbelaar -Team Captain

of Southern Sun, The Cullinan

The consummate creative, he is also a sturdy leader who has paid his dues. Sunday Times Chef of the Year 2009 and San Pellegrino International Young Chef of the World 2009. His enviable résumé lists positions including Executive Chef to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland 2010 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

After more than a decade in the industry, Henrico joined Tsogo Sun’s Southern Sun The Cullinan hotel in February 2016 as the Executive Chef.

Dion Vengatass

of Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

He will be leading the team in the cold starter in the Hot Kitchen and the tapas items on the five-course festive menu for the Cold Table

His specializes in classic cooking, with a twist. A hardcore patriot and self-studied chef he enthuses, ‘This is what I’ve worked for my whole career.

Blake Anderson

of 3SIXTY and Billy G, Montecasino

Blake Anderson is one of the country’s most renowned chefs with 13 years of experience and numerous culinary awards under his toque.

Blake oversees the daily operations of the Tsogo Sun flagship property’s five restaurants – including 3SIXTY Lounge and Billy G -to ensure their effective operation and high standards.

Trevor Boyd

of Michelangelo Hotel

Currently the Executive Chef at the Michelangelo Hotel on Nelson Mandela Square.

He knew he wanted to pursue a career as a chef, and so decided to be a chef during his compulsory national service in the South African Defence Force – a decision that set him on a path leading ultimately to him representing his country on one of the biggest world platforms.

Kirstin Hellemann

of Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Following her training at the South African Chefs Academy Kirstin has made an indelible mark on South Africa’s Culinary scene. She is the winner of the 2013 Unilever Junior Chef of the Year and Nestle Golden Chef’s Hat Award in 2014 and has worked at award-winning institutions such as the Burrata restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill.

Minette Smith

of HTA School of Culinary Art

Que the Pastry Queen. She embodies experience, innovation, and excellence.

The pastry component of the IKA Culinary Olympics now makes up 40% of the total score and as such, the South African National Culinary Team is focusing on pastry more than ever before. Fortunately for us, Minette is on OUR team.

Arno Ralph

of Lindt & Sprungli SA

Winner of the Huletts Sweet Young Chef Competition, and confectionary extraordinaire. He will be working on the petit fours and the dessert showcase piece – depicting South Africa’s rich mining industry made entirely from chocolate.

 The 2016 Culinary Olympics will take place from 22 to 25 October in Erfurt, Germany. The teams will have five-and-a-half hours to tantalize 110 guests with an exquisite three-course offering.

Okay team South Africa: Ready, Steady, COOK!