A certified Master Chef and global President of the World Association of Chefs Societies (W.A.C.S.), Thomas Gugler, is in Samoa.
On Monday, he met with members of the Samoan Culinary Association at Taumeasina Island Resort.
Based in Saudi Arabia, he is visiting several South Pacific countries including Fiji, New Zealand, Rarotonga and Samoa.
W.A.C.S. is an international professional organisation of chefs, with 110 member countries and the head office is in Paris, France.
President Gugler emphasised the need for young chefs to be educated and develop their cooking skills, using the preparation and cooking techniques their mothers and grandmothers used.
In particular, the importance in retaining the skills in preparing food from scratch and to not rely on convenience foods. Otherwise, these skills may be lost forever.
For the future of Samoa, he pointed out, it is important to develop local ethnic food and share this with the world.
Samoa, he said, should be proud of its cuisine and continue to develop it by growing more food locally, enabling chefs to highlight local products in exciting dishes.
President Gugler visited Tom Rudnick’s business, Healthy Me Hydroponics, and was very impressed with the hydroponic salad greens and herbs grown at the farm.
Equality is one of President Gugler’s aims for his time in office.
This means, all country members are treated the same regardless of the number of members and geographical location.
Developing countries and associations are being included at senior levels. The importance of having women represented at all levels is being actively promoted within W.A.C.S., with several high-level roles now filled by women.
Recently, W.A.C.S. partnered with Electrolux in supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on sustainability agriculture to end hunger. This agreement will benefit Samoa by having experts in instruct local growers in sustainable agricultural methods through the 'Feed the Planet' initiative created for the food service industry.
It is designed to familiarize the participant with the pertinent issues surrounding sustainability on a global, regional/local, and personal level including issues such as food, energy, water and waste.
Around the table discussion generated many ideas of support for the S.C.A. and young local chefs. Chefs Associations from wealthier countries are very keen to support local chefs. For example, in-country mentoring by expert chefs from Pacific regions including New Zealand and Australia of local chefs was discussed.
This mentoring would increase local chefs skills and techniques and follow up of the initiative is taking place over the next few weeks.
Work placements with restaurants, cruise ships and other culinary organisations throughout the world would expose local chefs to new cooking techniques, food combinations and innovative menus that they would not be able to gain here in Samoa.
Talks are already underway to ensure this opportunity occurs with support from President Gugler.
The highlight of the meeting was the presentation of a Presidential Medal by President Gugler to Chef Joe Lam, owner of Scalinis and President of S.C.A. Only 10 medals per year are awarded with the medal given to Chefs who are extraordinary in service to their community and hospitality industry.
President Gugler, commended Chef Lam on his dedication to the employment of youth in Samoa through the successful Grass Roots Cookery Traineeship. (G.R.C.T.) President Gugler was given by the Samoa Culinary Association, a locally crafted wooden mortar and pestle.
The afternoon finished with refreshments and a time for S.C.A. members to talk one-to-one with President Gugler before he flew to New Zealand in the evening.