International Culinary Olympics (IKA) and
The American Natural Foods Culinary Olympics Team
The Best of the Best
Every four years, thousands of the world's top chefs and confectioners compete in the International Culinary Olympics held in Germany. Officially called the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) for the past 100 years, the event is known as the culinary "Olympics" because the competition tests chefs in much the same way the sports Olympics do. The event began as a local cooking contest in 1896 at the Frankfurt fairgrounds which remained the location of all the competitions until 1996 when the competition moved to Berlin, and now the gastronomic paradise of Erfurt.

International competition sharpens individual culinary skills, demonstrates a country's cuisine to the world and allows chefs to see how they compare with foreign counterparts. Team members share camaraderie, train together and learn from each other. More important than individual accomplishment is the ultimate mission: to update and improve the cuisine in the teams' country, region or organization.

The purpose of the competition is the assessment of chefs' and pastry chefs' abilities and performances. The public is thus offered a practical demonstration of the latest developments in culinary art, while the next generation of young cooks will be stimulated to further efforts. A well educated consumer is vital for the success of the restaurant sector and imperative to any country who survives on Epicurean tourism.

The American Natural Foods Team
Chef Ron Pickarski, of Boulder, Colorado, is the Founder/Director of American Natural Foods Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation which financially supported the American Natural Foods Team to compete at the International Culinary Olympics in Germany between 1980 and 1996.  With the support of his team, Chef Ron won seven medals (gold, silver, and bronze) with only plant-based vegan foods being used to compete along side traditional meat-based dishes.   Starting with the year 2000 IKA competition, it became mandatory for all national culinary teams to create and present a vegetarian program in addition to their traditionally non-vegetarian presentations.

The future mission of American Natural Foods is to develop vegetarian culinary competitions in the US to creatively focus the culinary genius of American Chefs on the development of Vegetarian cuisine.
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