9 September 2015 – The 2015 edition of the annual Asia Pacific Forum (APF), which took place from 6 – 9 September, concluded with much celebration and was a resounding success.
The 4-day event was hosted by China Cuisine Association (CCA) in the Huaxi Village and Yangzhou provinces. The theme “Bonding Asia Together” was more than appropriate as a record-breaking number of representatives from 25 countries (with 85 participants) turned up.
The countries included Australia, Cambodia, China, Cook Island, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam. It was also attended by Worldchefs representatives – Charles Carroll (President), John Clancy (Education), Otto Weibel and Gary Farrell (Competitions), Jenny Tan (Worldchefs Asia Office) and Willment Leong (World Chefs Without Borders).
Vice President Bian Jiang of CCA said, “We are proud to host this event. We believe this will open a door for Chinese chefs, and we hope to have more chefs visit China; and to share Chinese cuisine with the rest of the world.”
While the APF is usually only a one-day affair, the CCA went all out to show their hospitality with a fantastic programme over the four days:
The highlights include:
Known as the No. 1 Village of China and located north of the Jiangyi City, the delegates were warmly welcomed by the Mayor and treated to an elaborate gala dinner featuring fresh produce from the region, as well as spectacular performances by the award-winning Huaxi performing troupe.
The next day, young chefs from the Worldchefs Young Chefs Club teamed up with young chefs from Huaxi Village. They visited the local markets and were paired up to create dishes on the spot – a fun activity to bridge cultures. These dishes were judged by a panel of chefs, including Asia Continental Director Rick Stephen and Vice President Bian of the CCA.
The chefs were also divided into groups and were hosted by local Huaxi villagers in their own homes, offering them an eye-opening opportunity to taste the authentic home-cooked meals.
Yangzhou, a city with 2,500 years of history and a rich gastronomic heritage, was the next stop.
Upon their arrival, Worldchefs President Charles Carroll and Asia Continental Director, Rick Stephen, were given a VIP welcome at a press conference by Mr Zhu, Mayor of Yangzhou Municipal, the Vice Mayor, officials, President Jiang Jun Xian of CCA.
The APF meeting that kick-started on the second day in Yangzhou turned out to be a fruitful day of presentations and discussions.
President Charles Carroll updated on the new developments at Worldchefs, such as the introduction of more full-time staff at the head office in Paris. He also encouraged the delegates to support the Worldchefs sponsors in whatever ways possible, before ending by reassuring delegates that he has no agenda and his actions are only to serve the members of Worldchefs.
Willment Leong, Chairman of World Chefs without Borders, also updated on the recent fund-raising initiatives for Nepal, as well as future plans to have every single Worldchefs member around the world donate US$1 to create a collective fund for disaster relief. Otto Weibel and Gary Farrell also shared the upcoming changes of the Global Chef Competitions, which aims to be more cost efficient and allow more teams to participate. Jenny Tan from the Asia office presented on the Worldchefs Congress in Thessaloniki 2016, highlighting key features members can look forward to, such as keynote speaker Herve This (founder of molecular gastronomy). John Clancy also touched on the introduction and development of education and certification programme.
Sponsors, such as Electrolux, Nestle Professional, Seafood from Scotland, Dilmah Tea and Unilever also presented information about the companies and products.
One of the highlights was a very special lunch prepared by Chef Da Dong, a renowned masterchef known for his Yijing cuisine. For this lunch, he brought in his teams from Beijing and Shanghai, creating a very elaborate degustation experience.
A trip to Yangzhou would not have been possible without showcasing the intrinsic culinary craftsmanship. Known for Huaiyang cuisine, demonstrations on the traditional ‘wensi tofu’ – a technique where a piece of tofu is sliced into silken strands, as well as a symposium by known masterchefs and a roundtable discussion were also key features of the programme.
The bonding of Asia was most apparent on the last evening. Chef Zhou, a well-known masterchef from Yangzhou, took on 4 disciples from Worldchefs who are not from China as his disciples – a privilege as this is the first time in the last 35 years he has deemed to accept more disciples. The intention is for him to share his knowledge of Huaiyang Cuisine. Likewise, Asia Continental Director Rick Stephen also accepted 4 disciples from China, with the promise to impart his knowledge of Western cuisine to them.
Charles Carroll, President of Worldchefs shared, “We have received so much hospitality. This is the first and biggest Asia Pacific Forum to take place in China and together, we will develop the chef profession to the next level. Together, we will celebrate the better good that chefs can do to make the world a better place.”