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International Cook-off in the Works

Organizers might not contemplate striking a gong or shouting “Allez cuisine!” (French for “Go kitchen!”) at the event, but on Sept. 5, an unprecedented cooking contest will begin in Costa Rica.

Although the three-day cook-off will not bear much resemblance to the Food Network hit show “Iron Chef,” which challenges contestants mostly in areas of speed and creativity, it will measure a set of general cooking skills for 12 professional chefs, according to one of the competition’s five judges, Edgar Alvarez, executive chef at the Barceló San José Palacio hotel.

The first Central American “Maestro Culinario” (Culinary Master) Professional Cooking Competition will be Costa Rica’s first international chef competition, judged by renowned national and international chefs, event coordinator Alfredo Echeverría told journalists at a recent press conference at the Barceló San José Palacio.

“For us it is very important to transmit the importance of this event. It is the first competition of its kind to be organized in Costa Rica,” said Echeverría, executive director of HRS Consultants, a group that specializes in the service industry.

Among its goals, the contest aims “to contribute to the improvement of cooking quality in the region,” which has been achieved by chefs worldwide through participation in competitions, he explained.

According to Echeverría, the contest will help scout out cooking talent in the country.

“It is perceived and known that great talent exists in the country, but maybe it hasn’t been discovered yet,” he said.

Cooking experts of all ages and nationalities may register online, free of charge, by July 24, and may submit supplementary documents by e-mail, fax or in a sealed envelope (see box).

Among other requirements, potential competitors should have worked in a kitchen for three years and be working as chefs at a hotel or restaurant.

Chicken is the theme of the competition. Preliminary rounds to select the 12 contestants who will dispute gold, silver and bronze medals, and a first prize that has yet to be determined but could involve an international cooking experience, are scheduled for July 29-30 at the Inter-American University in Heredia, north of San José.

Maestro Culinario will take place at the annual Hotel and Restaurant Expo (EXPHORE), set for Sept. 5-7 at the Pedregal Conference Center in San Antonio de Belén, northwest of San José, near the highway to Alajuela. For information on the expo, visit


How to Register

Complete the online registration form at, where you can obtain a full list of requirements and additional info. Submit any supplementary documents by e-mail to, by fax to 225-7611, or in a sealed envelope to the HRS Consultants office, 25 meters southwest of Rotonda del Farolito in the eastern San José neighborhood of Barrio Escalante.



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