IKA/Culinary Olympics

Greatest culinary art from around the world

From 14 to 19 February 2020, the IKA/Culinary Olympics took place parallel to GELATISSIMO for the first time. In the Olympic year 2020, international teams of chefs competed over four days for medals at the Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre under the motto #takingpartiseverything. From 15 to 18 February 2020, GELATISSIMO visitors had the opportunity to watch almost 2,000 chefs from round about 70 countries live as they cook, to cheer them on as they prepare around 8,000 international menus, and then to enjoy the top-quality dishes from around the world.

The next IKA/Culinary Olympics will take place parallel to GELATISSIMO again from 2-7 February 2024.

Comments by participants

  • "I am taking part in the IKA for the first time as the Team Captain for Japan and am already very excited about the competition. Although the Olympic motto is 'Taking part is everything' – our objective is naturally to win the gold medal. We want to try and combine traditional Japanese cuisine with various other national cuisines such as French cuisine.“ (© DEHOGA Baden-Württemberg)

    Yasumasa Nishiyama from Japan

  • "I love challenges, that's why I am taking part in the IKA. It will be exciting to see what the rest of the world has to offer in the way of culinary delights. The IKA is a unique opportunity for us chefs to exchange knowledge and experiences. You never stop learning. It's not just about the competition – networking with colleagues is also extremely valuable." (© DEHOGA Baden-Württemberg)

    Carmelo Vadacchino from Canada

  • "It will be exciting to experience the next IKA at a new venue. I am Chairwoman of the 'International Chefs Day Committee‘ and, in my opinion, it is a new professional experience for us chefs to take part in the competition. There they will be able there to experience the entire spectrum of culinary skills and the future of gastronomy." (© DEHOGA Baden-Württemberg)

    Joanna Ochniak from Polen

  • "I am looking forward to meeting many international colleagues and being inspired by their creativity. However, the IKA is not just an exciting competition, it is also a great opportunity to encourage young people to pursue a career as a chef. The Junior National Teams include a large number of talents whom we can attract to our industry." (© DEHOGA Baden-Württemberg)

    Ronny Pietzner, German Team Manager

  • "I travelled to the draw in order to get in the mood for the competition and exchange information and experiences with colleagues. I am already looking forward to the IKA, after all it's the Culinary Olympics – the world's largest event for us chefs. I work for Unilever, i.e. in the area of community catering. I am taking part in the IKA for the first time and regard it as a good opportunity to develop my skills still further." (© DEHOGA Baden-Württemberg)

    Thomas Ekenes-Fosback from Norway

  • "We are really looking forward to the IKA – also because we have a new Finnish team. We want to strengthen our team through new experiences and ideas. A large number of different nationalities will be represented at the IKA – but food will bring us all together. We will bring traditional Finnish dishes to Stuttgart – everyone will then be able to experience Finland." (© DEHOGA Baden-Württemberg)

    Lemmikki Runskanen from Finnland

Teams from all over the world, gathered together for a unique competition: that’s the IKA/Culinary Olympics. In no other cooking competition do so many professional chefs measure their skills against each other. 

The teams apply to take part in the following categories:

Critical looks: the jury only awards points to the best creations

Chef’s Table, Restaurant of Nations, Live Carving: the whole spectrum of culinary arts will be demonstrated in different disciplines. The participants will be faced with a genuine acid test: they will show how concentration, precision and dedication produce creative compositions, every one a work of art in itself. In order to keep a cool head during the competition, the chefs train intensively – and have been doing so two years before the actual competition. Until finally every movement is perfect and the team members understand each other implicitly.

Individual style, the cooking tradition in their own country and the skills of the individual members: every team uses this as a basis to solve their assigned tasks in the competition. In addition to the overall creative performance, the members of the jury closely examine every detail. Perfection, precision and an excellent taste in the prepared food are not the only criteria here. Time management, work organisation and cleanliness in the kitchen, and the presentation of the food are also included in the judging.

The jury: the best judge the best

Critical looks over spectacles, meticulous notes on tablets: 60 jurors from the participating countries evaluate the performance of the teams and decide who wins gold, silver or bronze at the end of the day. The best are judged by the best during the IKA/Culinary Olympics.

Whether a menu or a buffet – in every competition discipline the participants demonstrate what true culinary art can achieve. They work with high concentration and always under the rigorous eyes of the omnipresent jury. Every individual plate must be perfect since the competitors do not know which one is judged. The results are ingenious ideas and creations which participants and visitors will still remember years later.

The great competition between countries: when it‘s all about seeing your own country come out on top, even the most experienced chefs start to sweat.

  • Restaurant of Nations: a three-course menu for 110 people. The menus will be sold to the visitors and served at the table.
  • Chef’s Table: seven different dishes for twelve people – from dips and cold and hot plates through to petit fours. The visitors will enjoy the dishes right in the middle between the cooking boxes of the teams. A complete vegan course is also included.

Learning from one another and growing together when performing difficult tasks: participation in this competition is always both an honour and an opportunity for young talents up to the age of 25.

  • Restaurant of Nations: a three-course menu for 60 people. The menus will be sold to the visitors in the Restaurant of Nations and served at the table.
  • IKA Buffet: a buffet for twelve people. Comprises: cold and warm finger food, a hot main dish, seafood, game and desserts.

Which five-strong team will win? During the battle between the regions, visitors and participants will experience a competition with the air of a derby.

  • Culinary art: finger food and an exclusive menu.
  • Pastry art: artistic desserts and pastry variations.

The community catering teams are catering specialists. For the Restaurant of Community Catering their culinary skills will be in demand just as much as their organisational talent.

  • Restaurant of Community Catering: presentation of a lunch table including preparation, serving and correct calculation of ingredients and prices.

In this competition teams will cook using typical catering systems for armed forces. They will compose their menus using fresh regional products from a daily changing basket of goods.

  • Kitchen Battle: two armed forces teams each will compete against one another. The objective will be to ideally cater for 60 people.

Food artists and carving virtuosos will present edible works of art and sculptures made of vegetables, butter or chocolate.

  • Individual Culinary Art
  • Individual Pastry Art
  • Individual Classic Fruit and Vegetable Carving
  • Individual Live Carving
  • Artistic Sculptures

Whether a young chef or a master chef, taking part in the biggest international culinary arts competition is a great honour for everyone. This creates motivation on the hard road to Olympic victory: during many years of training the participants perfect their skills and sharpen their eye for ingredients and details. There is great ambition in the competition due to the history and importance of the IKA/Culinary Olympics. But a spirit of fairness and togetherness predominates – that‘s also what makes the IKA/Culinary Olympics so special.

Closing date for applications: Date has not been determined yet

Teams can submit their application in the respective category to the German Chefs Association (VKD) via the online module.

Draw: Date has not been determined yet

The teams and dates of the individual competitions will be determined in a draw organised by the VKD.

Competitions: Date has not been determined yet

As soon as the Olympic flame has been lit, the participants in the IKA/Culinary Olympics will only have one objective: to gain as many points as possible. The jury will judge the teams and individual exhibitors in each competition discipline.

The competitor scoring the highest number of points at the end of the day in the largest international culinary arts competition will be the stage winner of the day in the individual ranking. Several gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in each category based on the number of points. The competitors will only learn the exact number of points on the last day of the competition.

Prize presentations for the Olympic champions: Date has not been determined yet

The title “Olympic Champion 2020” will be awarded in the “National”, “Junior”, “Community Catering” and “Armed Forces” categories. A team will be crowned as Olympic Champion in every discipline.

At the end of the four days of competition, the total number of points in all disciplines will determine who will secure the top step on the podium as the overall winner of the IKA/Culinary Olympics in the senior and junior team categories.

The victorious regional team will be the proud bearer of the title “IKA CUP Winner”.

The German Chefs Association (VKD) acts as the supporter and organiser of the IKA/Culinary Olympics. Numbering around 9,000 members, the VDK is the largest group of chefs in Germany. The Association supports and advises its members on professional matters. It promotes young people and the development of the chef profession. 


The Baden-Württemberg branch of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) coordinates the Olympic villages and helps in the organization of the training kitchens and accommodation of the competitors. More than 12,500 entrepreneurs from the hotel and restaurants industry are organised in the Baden-Württemberg branch of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA). DEHOGA represents the interests of the hospitality industry towards politicians and supports its members by offering a large number of services.


As the new venue for the IKA/Culinary Olympics, Messe Stuttgart will answer all questions relating to organisation and infrastructure during the event. Messe Stuttgart is one of the largest and most modern event venues in Europe. It has a trade fair and congress centre with multi-award-winning architecture and ideal air, road and rail connections.