SA Olympian of the Food World

Lindt Master Chocolatier, Arno Ralph, is one of the pastry chefs on the SA National Culinary Team. The team is training hard in preparation for the IKA Culinary Olympics, the world’s most prestigious cooking competition, which takes place in October 2016. We talk to Chef Arno, who trained at Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus, to find out more about his experiences and hopes for the future of the team.

What first drew you to the culinary industry?
The love of food and just seeing the potential of what you can do with it.

What does being a member of the SA National Culinary Team mean to you?
It’s a great honour and privilege to represent your country, and to share the experience with individuals who share the same passion as you do.

What is your favourite style of food?
Simple food that packs a lot of flavour.

What are your thoughts on molecular gastronomy?
No objection – there’s a time, place and market for it. It’s amazing what one can achieve with food, taking the abnormal and making it work.

Do you have a particular mentor that stands out, and if so, why?
Dimo and René Simatos played a big part in my career, pushing and influencing me to become a better chef. They helped me to strive for perfection.

What do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind as a SA National Culinary Team chef?
Stay humble and never get bored. Always look for ways to improve.

What do you hope to gain from the experience of competing at the IKA Culinary Olympics?
To get a global view on food. I want to learn from everyone and soak up the experiences.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to work and live, where would you go?
I would love to go to the USA or Australia.

Grass or grain fed beef?
Grass, more flavour.

When you're not in the kitchen, what do you enjoy doing?
I love music and jamming on the guitar with my girlfriend.

What do you think it takes to become a great chef?
Passion, drive, determination and great perseverance.

And finally, what or who continues to inspire you in your fast-paced, ever-changing industry?
Everything around you can be used as inspiration, especially in desserts – from fresh produce to fine art.