‘Practice, practice, practice’
The fifth edition of Young Chef Olympiad 2019, one of the largest culinary competitions in the world, travels to Bengaluru this week and we catch up with one of the judges, chef Scott Baechler to know more about his journey
His Instagram profile has just five words — “Butchers Blue, always an apprentice.” His Facebook profile image, however, answers an all-important question, “How do I achieve a higher mark as a culinary student?” His answer is a whole lot of common sense and the bottom line, as he says, is, “Practice, practice, practice.”
Taking him back in time I ask him to recollect his early days and if he always wanted to be a chef. “As a young boy, I told my mother (Larraine Baechler) that I wanted to become a chef. I am not sure she believed me. My mom was thinking perhaps ‘next week a fire man, or a policeman’. But my grandmother (Valma Miller) from Ontario was a great cook and caterer. Both of these strong women shaped my career and influenced me through great food and the bonding of family over food,” says chef Scott Baechler.
Earlier, he worked as executive chef at The Four Seasons Whistler, Canada, and is a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) certified professional. He is also the International Judge and a member of Culinary Team Canada and is currently a culinary instructor at Canadian Food & Wine Institute, Niagara College.
As one of the judges of the International Young Chef Olympiad, he says, “Every competition is similar yet different. Sanitation, organisation, discipline, creativity and a well-balanced dish cooked properly and elegantly presented is what I am looking for.”
Having served meals for celebrities including the likes of Halle Berry, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip early on, he admits that it can be intimidating as a young cook. “But with more experience you realise you are chosen because you have a good reputation with food. Halle was a darling and sweet, she ate very simple and clean, and was very appreciative. The Queen’s visit was a two-day event with high security, sadly I never got to meet her,” he reminisces.
Being in the business now for over 23 years, he understands that there is a constant need to reinvent himself and says he is influenced by other chefs. “And food is a cycle — ebb and flow, almost predictable,” he adds.
Unsurprisingly, the chef has been the recipient of several awards including his lofty achievement of being Certified Chef de Cuisine. However, he knows that these are only steps to move ahead. “Accreditations to me are simply a snap shot in time. A goal you worked towards. I cannot sit on it and just say, ‘Well, I am done’. It is important to set new goals, so you keep moving forward,” he says.
His family and colleagues inspire him. “I follow many in the industry I admire. Clean beautiful plates with fresh ingredients are always an inspiration,” says the chef. Currently, he is finishing some courses and setting up new goals in a five-year plan. “Stay tuned,” he says and we are certain he is once again upping the ante.