Episode 8: Going for Gold with Gert Klötzke
In this episode, Ragnar talks with Gert Klötzke. Chairman
of Worldchefs Culinary Competition
Committee and culinary competition gold medalist, Gert has spent over a decade
mentoring the next generation of competition talent.
Adviser for the Nobel Foundation, Honorable Doctor at University of Umeå,
to Sweden Chef of Year – in
the world of Swedish cooking, Gert has few peers. And with a number of Culinary Olympic and
World Cup gold medals under his belt, this Certified A Judge has arguably
written the rulebook for
culinary competition scene.
Gert was Sweden’s team manager at the Culinary Olympics in 2000 and 2004, where Sweden was Overall Winner, and at the Culinary World Cup in 1998 and 2002. He was the competition trainer for the National Culinary Team of Finland, 2nd overall at the Culinary Olympics 2016. And yes, he’s on a Swedish stamp.
With such an illustrious career, we asked:
Did competition help him achieve such great heights? He says yes. “Competition does help you
in your career. If I look back through the Swedish team, many of the competitors
from the team are running star restaurants, they’re all well known… If
you really want to be serious to go into the restaurant business, and you want
to go to be a successful head chef or restaurant owner, competition does help
A big part of that is feedback, says Gert.
Today’s judges should be equal parts watchful critic and tactful mentor.
Having competed before, they can give valuable feedback to help competitors
improve their skills. “It has to build them up
for the next competition. Make sure they learn from it,”
“You have to be aware
that you’re cooking for judges. They are your guests and
they’re looking at everything. So it’s more complicated than usual guests.”
The role of judges has changed, with giving
feedback being a departure from culinary competitions of the past. “In the eighties and
nineties, you really didn’t get any feedback. And you didn’t know why
did you get a gold or why did you get a bronze.
You had no
idea. The way we’re going now – make sure to give
good feedback. That’s really important. It’s the only way you can improve
yourself as a chef.”
As a competitor, team trainer, and judge,
he’s gotten and given a lot of feedback. He’s also seen a lot of mistakes. Most,
he says, are completely avoidable with basic preparation and training. His
advice: read the rules, practice, and pay attention to gloves. “Think about foodwaste,
plastic waste. Make sure you cook perfectly. Every movement has to be really a
Judges Gert Klötzke and Stafford DeCambra with watchful eyes, in action at the IKA Culinary Olympics 2020.
Gert says he’s made just about every mistake you can. Recalling one of his own greatest mishaps in the competition kitchen, he was able to rebound and still bring the team to the top of the podium in the Hot Kitchen category. With training and practice comes the power to overcome obstacles and keep your cool. “You need to be open for the solutions and you should never panic. There’s always a way to get out of it.”
Seeing a responsibility to teach the next
generation what he’s learned, Gert has developed a specialized Competition
Seminar to help competitors reach their full potential. For the first time
he’ll hold it online so that even more chefs can join.
In the 3-day Introduction to Competition
Standards webinar, Gert covers common pitfalls and best practices for success.
learn what the judges look for, and how to
“It’s for anybody who wants to go into the competition, because if you do it right from the beginning, you can be really sure you will be on the top. It’s also mentality. You have to put time into it and you need to have goals. ‘I want to win.’ I think that’s it,” says Gert.
Gert and his
Introduction to Competition Standards class in Paris, June 2019.
The Introduction to Competition Standards
seminar can benefit judges, too. “I think before we even start with an idea to do a judging seminar, you should do this [Introduction]
first, and then you get a lot of experience. You’re much better prepared
to do the judging seminar.”
Whether you’re looking to optimize your
training or get the fundamentals necessary to be a stronger judge, 3 days with
Gert will make you more prepared for whatever comes at you, at work or in the
“Improve your quality as a chef and your own future
will get better… Be an expert in your
profession,” says Gert, “otherwise, it would be boring.”
To register for the Introduction to Competition Standards webinar with Gert, click here. Worldchefs is offering the seminar at a reduced price of €50, normally €250, so don’t wait! You’ll receive a Certificate and digital badge, too.
Want to learn more about becoming a Worldchefs Certified Judge? Visit www.worldchefs.org/Application-To-Become-A-Judge.
Gert continues to advise several teams in Europe, and he’s an active judge at competitions all over the globe. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again at Worldchefs endorsed competitions soon. Keep an eye on our event calendar, and stay connected with a free Worldchefs online account.
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