Contest of young chefs called first step to world culinary fame

This is the Costa Rican team of young chefs who will participate in the international competition next week. Editora Revista Apetito photo

Some in the culinary business see gastronomic tourism as a goal to rival the other reasons that attract visitors here.

As a start, the country is hosting a contest involving chefs from 16 countries who will prepare plates to demonstrate creativity, innovation and culinary techniques, said the Asociación National de Chefs de Costa Rica, which is sponsoring the event. It is called the Copa Culinaria Mundial Junior and it is under the auspices of the World Association of Chefs Societies.

The demonstration of chef talent takes place Tuesday through next Thursday at the Centro de Eventos Pedregal in San Antonio de Belén. Chefs are not the only attraction. The larger event is the Expo Hoteles y Restaurantes where some 100 companies in the hotel and restaurant business will be showing their wares. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Organizers predict up to 250 separate stands by participants.

In addition to the competition among chefs, the expo will be the setting for a contest of baristers, the experts who prepare special coffee drinks. These participants have to present an original drink. This is the fifth edition of the contest.

Costa Rica is not known for world class cuisine, although the Costa Rican Embassy in Paris put on a show for residents there several years ago.

Eka Consultores, the organizer of the restaurant and hotel show, said that Costa Rica has a variety of interesting dishes and more than 5,000 restaurants. The firm said that a survey of 50 restaurants determined that 90 percent think that Costa Rica could become a culinary tourism destination.

The survey was published in the magazine Revista Apetito.

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