Globetrotter and past SA Chefs President Martin Kobald is set to represent South Africa on the global stage in his new role as Vice President of the World Association of Chefs Societies. We chatted with Martin about the position and what he hopes to achieve as Vice President of an organisation that represents over 10 million chefs worldwide.

Martin’s journey to this moment has been a long one. He’s been involved in the World Association of Chefs Societies in a variety of different positions for the past 14 years, and took his first steps towards the presidium five years ago, when he ran for the position of president. It was a position that the late Dr Bill Gallagher encouraged and supported, however the timing wasn’t right and Martin withdrew from the race, deciding to tackle the next campaign differently. “When I decided to run again for the World Chefs Presidium, I met with Thomas Gugler in Istanbul, saying ‘I have something I want to chat with you about.’ Thomas replied, ‘I’ve also been meaning to chat with you…’ Turns out, we were on the same page about running for the Presidium – I decided that running for the Vice President position would best suit me now as there are less travel requirements and I still want to focus on my business, MLK Food & Beverage Consulting and ChefMLK School of Cooking”

Martin and Thomas, who hails from Germany but is based in Saudi Arabia, began to assemble the global dream team of chefs that would later clinch the Presidium. Taking up the role of Secretary General Canadian Cornelia Volino, and Uwe Micheel from the United Arab Emirates as the Assistant Vice President. 18 months before the election, the team made the announcement that they were running for the Presidium, began to lobby countries for their support, and the rest is history! When it comes to what the team would like to achieve over the next four years at WorldChefs, one of Martin’s key goals is to give voice to the smaller associations around the world. “Smaller associations tend to get neglected,” says Martin. “We decided that while the Culinary Olympics was taking place, I would visit Cambodia as, with Thomas, Uwe and Cornelia at the Olympics, there was enough representation.”

“My main mission while I was there was to bring together the two different associations that existed in Cambodia, as World Chefs can only recognise one association. We succeeded, and I felt that having a WACS representative in Cambodia, to spread the message of WorldChefs, get involved as a judge in their culinary competition, and to just generally lend support, was important and necessary.”

“World Chefs has so many roles to play – we’re an umbrella organisation with 108 member countries and an estimated 10 million chefs as members,” says Martin. “Some of those roles, though, are to synchronise efforts and streamline education across the globe through training the trainers and standardising training. We also want to share knowledge and culinary art through competitions, making sure that the culinary competition standards are the same throughout, so that the playing field all over the world is even. It’s a long list, but we’re eager to continue the good work that has been done by the chefs that came before us.” There are exciting things on the cards for the new Presidium of WorldChefs, and in South Africa we’re sure to benefit through having South Africa’s hospitality industry represented on the global stage.