Master chefs from all over the world will compete in the world's most prestigious cooking contest, the Culinary Olympics, known officially as the Internationale Kichunst Ausstellung, in Frankfurt, West Germany, in October.
Hundreds of chefs will submit menus reflecting cuisines from 25 countries, and scores of individuals will compete for first, second, and third places as well as individual gold and silver medals.
This year's US team, sponsored by Kraft Foodservice, includes four native Americans and, for the first time, a woman. For a nation that has always relied on foreign-trained chefs for its top kitchens, this new roster indicates the nation's growing interest in the culinary professions.
Relative newcomers to the event, the American teams have competed only since 1956 but have nevertheless achieved an enviable record of performance.
Four years ago in 1976 the United States tied with France for third place and brought back 28 gold medals as well. Switzerland won the Grand Prize in Gold for overall excellence and Canada placed second.
In 1972 Japan was the winner. Americans, however, won 17 individual gold medals, the best record of any team.
Chef Lyde Buchtenkirch, the first woman on the official team, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., where she is now an instructor. She has also taught at Johnson and Wales College, Providence, R.I.
Her specialty is garde manger, the preparation of cold foods, and she is especially proficient in making intricate bread sculptures.
This year's team of 14 chefs includes 4 who will compete as the official team with Ferdinand Metz, president and team manager.Formerly senior manager of new product development of Heinz U.S.A., Chef Metz is now president of the Culinary Institute of America.
Other members of the team, called alternates, will provide backup for the team. Both team members and alternate chefs also compete for individual medals. This group represents the American Culinary Federation, which selects and organizes the official US team.
Although many of the chefs on the team are foreign-born, their aim is expressed by their team captain, Ferdinand Metz.
"We are an American team because we feature American ingredients and American know-how," he said. Each year we have a few more American-born and trained chefs and we hope that in 10 years from now, there will be an entirely American-born team standing in our places.
Several other groups of American chefs will compete for individual medals in various categories, most of them for cold dishes.
One, a 10-member, privately sponsored group called the Eastern Seaboard Team, is headed by Franz Eichenauer, a research specialist for culinary arts at General Foods Corporation. Members are from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia. This group includes two women, Brigitte Dobrowsky, executive chef for Ravi Tikkoo, owner of Globtik Tankers, New York, and Constance Quan, Constance Quan Cooking School, Old Greenwich, Conn.
The team will be supported by a decorator, secretary, coordinator and two students from the New York City Community College. The chefs chosen for the team competed in order to qualify for this international competition.
The Minnesota team is made up of 7 Twin City area chefs of the Midwest Chef's Society. Members include Robert Menne, president of the chef's society, and Chefs Hans Gilgen, William Lyman, Hank Meadows, Charles Duberstein, Steven Schuster and Donald Violet.
This team has no commercial sponsor which means each member pays his own expenses for the trip to Germany. They plan to use regional foods from Minnesota in some of their entries.
Two members of this group have competed in previous olympic competitions in Germany and all have succesfully competed in culinary salons in American food shows in Chicago, Detroit and in the Pan American Olympics in New Orleans.
Another group represents the L. J. Minor International Company, producer of a line of natural food bases. Each member of this seven-man group will prepare a menu of 12 hot dishes typical of the country they will represent.
Socrates Z. Inonog, director of operations in the Culinary Arts Division of Johnson and Wales College, will prepare dishes based on Malayo-Polynesian-Filipino cuisine, while others of this group will represent the cuisines of the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Each country in the competition is represented by only one official team. Each will be cooking in glass-enclosed exhibition kitchens under demanding restrictions and conditions. These four-member teams are responsible for turning out 800 "native" meals, 200 each of four separate menus, in two successive days.
Since the event is meant to provide new ideas that can be applied to volume feeding operations, menus must be practical and economical as well as delicious. Taste, presentation, and originality is the basis of judging.
While this year's competitors are busy perfecting the group and individual entries for the competition, most maintain full-time occupations as owners, executive chefs, instructors, and pastry chefs at some of this country's finest restaurants, clubs, schools, and corporations.
The Monitor food pages will include articles about the trial sessions as well as the actual competition in Germany in October.m