A chef who plies his trade at a Peebles hotel has been chosen to represent Scotland in what has been dubbed the ‘culinary Olympics’.
Robbie Penman, senior chef at Peebles Hydro Spa, has been named Scotland’s team manager for the event, the IKA Culinary Olympics, to be held in Erfurt, Germany, in October.
The show, which takes place every four years, was first held in Frankfurt in 1900 and is now regarded as the biggest, most traditional culinary exhibition and a Mecca for cooks and patissiers from around the world.
Robbie says that his team have been meeting up every two weeks since January, and that while there is still “a lot to work on” he is convinced that “We can really do Scotland proud.”
To that end, the team also entered the Welsh ‘Battle for the Dragon’, using the competition against English and Welsh teams to warm up for the main event.
“It’s a lot like the football,” says Robbie, “in that there’s a major tournament every couple of years. After this, there’s the Word Cup in Luxembourg.”
He is no stranger to success in the kitchen, having been named among the finalists for Scottish Chef of the Year three times. Robbie has also won gold medals at the 2007 and 2009 World Junior Culinary Grand Prix with the Scottish team.
“This will be a bit more intense, though,” he said. “Obviously, that was a youth tournament, and this, well the standard of chefs is much higher.”
The team of six Scots, with an eight strong back-up team, are aiming to showcase the best of Scottish hospitality and cuisine and will be cooking a carefully constructed menu which will feature Scotch Lamb as the main course.
As well as Robbie, who has been at Peebles Hydro for a year, the team features Orry Shand, head chef at the Chester Hotel; Bruce Lawrence, Entier Aberdeen; Darren Seggie, head chef at Stravaigin Glasgow and pastry chefs Andrew Mackay from the Turnberry Hotel Resort and Melissa Wood from the Andrew Fairlie Restaurant in Gleneagles.
The chefs will have their skills and nerves tested fully amid the frenzied atmosphere of the event, which sees nine kitchens running simultaneously.
In Germany they will be tested on a cold buffet, which will be judged as an exercise in presentation, featuring “a lot of sugar work and chocolate work,” according to Robbie, and a few days later a 110 cover set menu, which the team have already been working to perfect.