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Look: UAE chef spends 6 months creating salt and sugar carvings, wins 4 medals

For chef Sameera Madushanka Dahanayaka, winning a gold medal is a breeze – he has already snagged 30 in various competitions. However, his recent triumph at the 26th IKA Culinary Olympics in Germany is the most remarkable one.

Representing the UAE national team, the Sri Lankan wowed judges in both pastry and culinary art categories at the event.

He earned two gold medals in salt carving and two in sugar carving, showcasing his exceptional skills. The UAE national team secured 27 silver medals, highlighting their culinary prowess.

The chef from Mister Baker named his salt carving ‘The lost city of dragon riders’ and ‘Together one dream.’ The sugar carving was of a ruler sitting on his majestic throne named ‘The Emperor.’ To participate in the competition and carve his pieces, Sameera worked overtime. “It took me more than six months to make these art pieces. I worked on these pieces for the competition before and after my office hours,” said Sameera.

“For the sugar artistic piece, I had to powder sugar, add other ingredients, and harden it based on the required shape. Post the construction of the entire structure, it was then shaped and smoothened with sandpaper,” said Sameera.

However, the intricate salt structure required much more time than the sugar artistic piece. “In the salt artistic piece, the salt granules are powdered, mixed with corn flour starch, water, and other ingredients, and then given the desired shape, and I had to look at it every day,” said Sameera, adding that these pieces can be preserved for over four years.

The competition featured 1,500 chefs from 70 countries, with a panel of over 60 international experts, including renowned chefs like Jerard Mendis and Uwe Micheel.

“This is the top competition I participated in, and grabbing gold is a big achievement. I am so happy to have won for the UAE,” said Sameera.

Six years ago the Sri Lankan moved to UAE and worked in several places. He currently works at Mister Baker as a cake decorator. “I started my journey in culinary art in 2015. I visited UAE 6 years ago; since then, it has become my second home. Being a resident here, I have been getting enough opportunities to participate in top-level competitions.”

Tushar Fotedar, director at Mister Baker, said, “Chef Sameera's achievement reflects his dedication and skill and brings immense pride to Mister Baker, the UAE, and the culinary community. We congratulate chef Sameera on this exceptional accomplishment and look forward to continued success on his culinary journey.”

Fuelled by his dedication to culinary mastery, Sameera is now gearing up for the upcoming Culinary World Cup set to take place in 2026. After his achievements and gold medal wins, he is pumped up to represent UAE again.