News from The USA

16 June 2020

By Master Chef Patrick Mitchell CEC, AAC, FWMCS

The Culinary community and the World Master Chefs Society sadly lost another great chef on 23 February 2020. The passing of Chef Karl Haas, CEC, AAC, FWMCS will be felt throughout the world. Over the years we have lost countless chefs, some of the elders of our trade that had given a lifetime of service and some that were much too young to go so soon. Chef Haas has had a significant impact on many individuals’ careers as well as on the industry worldwide. He was the USA Vice President and founding father of the World Master Chefs Society chapter here in the USA, as well as the State President for the Texas Chefs Association from 1975 thru 1979. Chef Haas was recognised as the Chef of the Year for the State of Texas in 1974. Chef Haas was a force to be reckoned with in his early years as he ran the kitchens of some of the most iconic hotels and clubs. He knew quality and expected the highest standards from his team and was able to get those results through firm yet supportive encouragement.

In 1984 Chef Haas decided there needed to be a regional team from Texas to compete in the IKA, International Culinary Olympics. He began the process of putting together a team from the Dallas area for the 1988 Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany. That team was so successful, he was asked to put together another team from all over the state of Texas for the 1992 Olympics, also in Frankfurt. Both teams brought back a multitude of medals! Unfortunately, I don’t recall the medal counts, but the teams competed all 5 days, each Olympics, with 4 full categories and multiple centrepieces each day! Every entry medalled with a combination of Gold, Silver & Bronze. The sessions Chef Haas put us through ensured each team member was ready to compete and win a medal on the international stage!

In 1991, during the preparation for the ‘92 Olympics, Chef Haas was contacted by Chef Jean Conil and David Evans of the World Master Chefs Society in London. He was asked if he was interested in putting together an international banqueting competition between the US and the UK, they would call it “The Golden Platter Competition”. Chef Haas could have easily said he had his hands full with the Olympic team, but he was never one to shy away from a challenge. He selected a separate team from the ’92 Olympic team that was already working together and began the process. He was managing two separate teams for two separate international competitions in two separate countries in the same year! One was a hot food team, cooking for 100 guests and the other was for a cold food (static display) competition. Can you imagine the organisation that requires? The banqueting competition was held in London in March of 1992 and the Olympics was in Frankfurt in October, 1992. Chef Haas’ USA team won that inaugural competition in London and then had the success of the Olympics later that year!

The competitions ended in the late 90’s but the USA Chapter that Chef Haas started has remained active to this day and competes or does cultural exchange events around the world in over a dozen countries thus far.

Patrick says, “Chef Haas would periodically stop by my kitchen for a visit. He would walk in the back door and say, “Let’s sit down for a cup of coffee”. We would visit and he would ask, “How are things are going?”, “How is the family?”, “Is the job going well?” Then he would ask for your help with a project, or to chair a committee or to run for an office in the Chefs’ Association. When Chef Haas asked you to do something, you never said “No”. No-one ever said “No”, you just didn’t do it! It wasn’t out of fear, it was something different. I think that was the magic of Chef Haas! He knew what people were capable of better than they knew themselves. We always had that trust in him, and he always had our backs!”

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