Between 24 and 28 January 2010, Chile will be at the center of world haute cuisine. The reason? The country will host the 2010 World Congress of the WACS, the World Association of Chefs’ Societies, making it the first Latin American country to organize the most important gourmet event in the world.
The Asociación Chilena de Gastronomía (Achiga) has been the WACS representative in the country since 1996 and it will therefore be in charge of organizing this great chefs’ encounter. “It will be the ideal opportunity to promote coexistence, do business, strengthen ties and to network,” highlights Achiga General Manager Jacqueline Rodriguez, who is directing the congress that will be held in the CasaPiedra events center in Santiago.
It is expected that over 400 foreign delegates will attend the event, all professionals from the gastronomy industry, from chef entrepreneurs to specialized journalists. “In gastronomy these days, traveling, observing and learning are necessary steps for a good chef’s development,” stresses Rodriguez on the importance of this type of event.
Rodriguez explains that it was a real achievement for the country to be chosen to organize the biannual WACS event, after the great efforts made to publicize Chile’s gastronomical wealth in the rest of the word. The first international congress that the Chilean delegation attended was in Ireland in 2004, but it was not until New Zealand 2006 that the country beat out another three competitors to host it: the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Czech Republic, and Sri Lanka.
As an example of what visitors of the 2010 WACS Congress in Chile could expect, at the 2008 encounter in Dubai, a delegation of eight Chilean chefs representing each of the country’s regions prepared a great selection of Chilean food: from traditional empanadas to sopaipillas with pebre and pastel de choclo. “Everything was very nicely presented, but at the same time traditional,” Rodríguez highlights. Chile’s participation was supported by the Agriculture Ministry and the Concha y Toro Vineyard, the largest producer and exporter of Chilean wines.
Another key factor for positioning Chile as the organizer has been the professionalization that local gastronomical industry has achieved. “There has been an incredible change in the last few years,” says the Achiga general manager. “While chefs used to be self-taught, today you can see a proliferation of very high quality chefs’ schools.” Currently diverse Chilean institutions, like INACAP, Duoc UC and the academy Culinary, offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in gastronomy.
The director of the 2010 WACS Congress Chile explains that the event will bring countless benefits: “First, we are going to make the country known to many people who do not know it. Second, we will give a boost to the Chilean gastronomy industry, as we can showcase high-quality products and in that way benefit Chilean exporters. In addition, we will be disseminating the country’s tourism benefits,” Rodriguez states.
In fact, to make the meeting a complete gastronomical and tourist experience, the organizers have also offered the participants a series of tours prior to and following the congress to get to know the diverse attractions that the country has to offer: from the glaciers of the Laguna San Rafael and the majestic Torres del Paine in Patagonia to the remote Easter Island and the geysers near San Pedro de Atacama, along with a route through the vineyards in the Colchagua Valley and the city-port of Valparaíso.