Casino chef molds gold
Published 3:20 am Monday, November 17, 2008
By By MaryClaire Foster
Imagine spending months preparing for the Olympics; the long hours, the sore muscles, the anxious and eager anticipation and then having everything you have worked so hard on placed in someone else’s care.
This is what Stafford DeCambra went through when he shipped his five chocolate sculptures to the culinary Olympics in Germany ahead of him.
DeCambra, the corporate executive chef for PCI Gaming, competed in the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung International Culinary Art Competition, also known as the culinary Olympics, in mid-October bringing home two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
The culinary Olympics is in its 22nd year and brings in approximately 2,000 chefs from around the world to compete in the four-day event.
To qualify for the competition, DeCambra participated in culinary events around the U.S. and was one of a few select chefs chosen by the American Culinary Federation to compete.
Originally from Hawaii, DeCambra’s gold-medal winning entry “Hawaiian Dancers” was inspired from his island heritage.
His other sculptures, a Mardi Gras jester, twin oriental dragons and an American rodeo cowboy all won medals.
One of the most challenging aspects of the competition was the transportation of the sculptures to Germany.
The sculptures, made from a combination of animal wax, animal fat, beeswax and cocoa powder, had to be specially shipped to ensure minimum damage.
DeCambra and his team arrived nine days before the competition
DeCambra added that one sculpture had melted some.
Competitors were allowed to enter the exhibition floor daily at 5 a.m. for finishing touches making for “grueling” days according to DeCambra.
DeCambra said competing in the Olympics and winning was unlike any other experience he has had and well worth the intensity.
DeCambra competed as an individual, but was accompanied by several others who helped with preparations. He dubbed his support system “Team Alabama.”
DeCambra gave credit to Bernard Urban, a long time friend and former member of the U.S. National Culinary Team, for motivating him to compete in the Olympics.
In appreciation for Urban, DeCambra gave him his silver medal.
DeCambra also credited his fianc/e, Donnah Baptist, for helping him do so well in the event calling her his “support mechanism.”
As for winning, DeCambra said he was elated.
DeCambra called the experience “humbling” and was appreciative to see the work of so many other chefs and form relationships with them.
In a statement, PCI Gaming’s President and CEO James Dorris said, “We are extremely proud of this world-wide recognition of his talents and are thrilled that he is coming back to Atmore a real hometown hero.”
Now back in Atmore, DeCambra said he is eagerly looking toward the future of Wind Creek Casino and Hotel.
In anticipation of the opening, DeCambra is planning to create another sculpture with a Native American theme to celebrate the big event.