Old is Gold

President of Glasgow North & Bishopbriggs Rotary, Chris Sandford delivered a passionate and enthusiastic presentation to Ayr Rotary on Tuesday afternoon. His Old for Gold project which was established in 2005, is based on the values of Rotary, encouraging older members to pass on life long learned skills by engaging the young in the community. He told his audience of a school in County Wicklow where after a culinary presentation, he asked for recipes to be sent to him. Within a week he had 76 recipes from which a DVD was created and book published, attracting a substantial EU grant.

Chris took a team of chefs with various disabilities to the ‘Culinary Olympics’ in Stuttgart, Germany, just before the lockdown. COVID-19 may have forced the postponement of the Olympic Games and the Paralympics in Tokyo later this year, but just before the lockdown, the Culinary Olympics took place. And there was a Rotary presence! They were showcasing the talents despite living with a variety of disabilities including Down’s Syndrome, blindness, autism, deafness, physical and intellectual disability

Never since the foundation of this ‘Olympic’ competition has a team of chefs with disabilities taken part in a world class event – until now!

Representing Chris’s not-for-profit organisation, ‘The Culinary Ability Awards’ and supported by Rotary, they rubbed shoulders with some of the elite in world cooking from 70 countries. The chefs had five hours to prepare a menu based on roots for 120 guests.

And though the chefs, drawn from Scotland, Ireland, Italy and Germany didn’t win, they enjoyed an experience of a lifetime on the world’s largest hospitality platform. They competed in the ‘community chefs’ category against 29 teams and received a highly commended award. As there was only 12 months’ practice to prepare for the Culinary Olympics, rather than the luxury of the four years, Chris said were very satisfied with that result.

“But, going forward, we aim much higher with our culinary endeavours.” said Chris

The Culinary Olympics started in 1990 running every four years with the best chefs from each country taking part. They are excited about the next Olympics in 2024.

As a precursor to the Culinary Olympics, Chris is focussed on promoting cooking for all, and runs the Culinary Ability Awards, which is targeted at potential chefs with a variety of disabilities. The ‘Culinary Ability Awards’ is a registered not for profit organisation, funded by Chris and also donations, which he founded during the Rotary centenary year of 2005.

As part of the Culinary Ability Awards, they organise a competition to identify those with disabilities who wish to follow a career in the hospitality industry, through working with schools and other organisations. Some chefs are introduced to the organisation by their family and friends.

“The competition focuses on their abilities to work in the hospitality industry,” explained Chris, who has been awarded the World Association of Chefs’ ‘humanitarian award’ for his work with chefs with disabilities.

Past President of Ayr Rotary, Ieuan Isaac gave a worthy vote of thanks.

Chefs in a busy kitchen