Interview: World Gourmet Society President Matthias Baur

As the countdown continues for the leading food and drink event in Turkey, WorldFood İstanbul, we spoke to Matthias Baur, the founder and president of the World Gourmet Society, about WGS, Best Video Contest and why WorldFood Istanbul was chosen as the local partner of the contest.

  • What role does the World Gourmet Society (WGS) play in the industry?
We bring people from the culinary world together and give them the recognition they deserve. Chefs, home cooks and food lovers can share Food Moments with the WGS community to earn points and climb through a belt system, inspired by judo, to become a black belt in Fine Dining or Casual Dining. The more active they are, the more points they collect – and the more their reputation grows in the global gourmet community.
  • How did the WGS Best Video Contest come about?
We used to run a virtual food festival, inviting chefs to create special menus for their restaurants. Although successful, the festival didn’t have a very high public profile and was therefore rather limited when it came to raising awareness of the chefs and their work. As a result, we decided to change the format to a video contest. Videos can quickly become viral and be seen by everybody everywhere, so there’s a much wider reach.
  • What do you look for in participants’ videos? What are the most important criteria in presenting a plate in a medium such as a short video?
I look for videos that showcase great food and allow the chef’s personality to shine through. The most successful entries tell a story, are entertaining and authentic.
  • Why do you think influential and/or up-and-coming chefs should participate in the contest?
They should participate because they get to show their skills to a large and influential audience. Our judging panel includes high-ranked chefs and food critics from all over the world. We also show the videos to our culinary community of over 50,000 food enthusiasts and professionals. A chef would never normally have the opportunity to reach such a global audience.
  • What should Turkish chefs keep in mind when creating videos for the contest?
Turkish chefs should be proud to showcase food from their home country. Turkish cuisine is full of great recipes and dishes and I hope we will get to see this in the entries. What’s more, it’s important that the videos have a professional feel, are entertaining, and tell a good story. Last year, the videos from Italy set the bar high in terms of quality and entertainment value.
  • Contest finalists become WGS members. What are the benefits of membership?
All chefs who submit a video get WGS membership. As a member, you can create a personalised profile page detailing your culinary expertise and can contact and exchange ideas with likeminded food lovers from all around the world.
  • How do you think international events such as WorldFood Istanbul, which is a local partner of the contest, serve the industry on a global scale?
I think the event is enormously important in bringing the food world together. Not only did your team execute a fantastic high-quality event in Istanbul, it also acted as a great link between Turkish chefs and the WGS Best Video Contest. In this way, your team has enabled Turkish cuisine to be shown to the world and enhanced the reputation of Turkish food, too. Your team has done an amazing job and I would like to say thank you for this.
WorldFood Istanbul 2019 is at TUYAP between 4-7 September. Don’t miss the most important gathering of the food and drink sector in the region. Register to attend for free today.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.