A brilliant CAI team conquered Thessaloniki

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In the period 17-20 February 2023, a team of chef instructors and students from the Culinary Arts Institute at Varna University of Management took part in the 12th Culinary Competition of Southern Europe, which was held in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The prestigious event is organized every two years from the Chefs Association of Northern Greece in collaboration with Thessaloniki International Exhibition and Congress Centre, HELEXPO and is supported by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).

In a fierce competition with participants from Greece, Serbia, Turkey, Cyprus and North Macedonia, our culinary masters impressed the jury and the audience and grabbed medals in all categories in which they participated. Moreover, the Cup for Student Chef of the year also travelled back to Varna to adorn the showcase of CAI achievements.

The undisputed winner with three gold medals was Alexander Alexandrov – a 1st year student in the Gastronomy and Culinary Arts programme. He uncompromisingly beat all the contestants in the Vegetarian Dish, Sustainable Seafood and Poultry categories and deservedly won the Young Chef of the Year 2023 title. In the first category, Alex impressed the international jury with his dish “The duck nest” – Sous vide duck egg, rye bread soil, fried vegetables, cheese mousse and glazed asparagus. In the Sustainable Seafood category, the young chef presented “The sea breeze catch” – Seabass mosaic with poached fennel, red lentils, fresh fennel salad, fish skin chips, lemon velouté and green oil. The top of his presentation was the “Quail variations” dish, namely quail with Jerusalem artichoke espuma, croquette, Jus sauce, celeriac ravioli and Jerusalem artichoke tuile.

Chef-instructor Kaloyan Kolev grabbed the silver medal in the “Restaurant dessert” category with a cake with walnuts and linden honey, panna cotta with lavender honey and lavender, biscuit with linden honey, espuma flavored with walnuts and lavender honey, sparkling sugar and sea buckthorn cream and jelly. The main emphasis in the dessert was the Bulgarian honey, and the concept aims to direct attention to the wider use of this unique and useful product, as well as to the topics of stimulating honey production and protecting bees, which are extremely important for the environment.  

In the team competition, our students Andonia Filumena Tsarvenkova, Dimitar Paskov and Lyubomir Mitev did a brilliant three acts performance, and their concept was a reflection of love and care for the nature. Their menu included a starter “By the Lake” – cured and smoked Rainbow trout with Jerusalem artichoke espuma, Sour Yoghurt sauce, compressed radishes, fresh sprouts and black garlic Aioli; main course “In the fields” – spinach-wrapped lamb loin with chicken mousseline, spearmint and pomegranate reduced lamb sauce, truffle Kachamak, honey-glazed carrots, spinach purée, and sautéed Shimeji mushrooms and dessert “In the forest ” – Dark chocolate oak with creamy chocolate truffle mousse, mint moss, apple tuile, and berries coulis.

The entire team of the Culinary Arts Institute also received a special award from the Organizing Committee, namely a decorative branded plate, a symbol of the competition.

Once again, the CAI students and chef instructors impressed not only with the quality, taste and plating of the prepared dishes, but also with professionalism, creativity, hygiene in the kitchen and above all cohesion and team spirit, for which they received the admiration of the organizers, jury and guests of the event.