5 minutes with Thomas A. Gugler, president of WACS

5 minutes with Thomas A. Gugler, president of WACS

Thomas A. Gugler dreamed of becoming a chef from the tender age of two. Today, the Worldchefs president and VP of culinary at Catrion, KSA, is at the pinnacle of his career. 

In your opinion, what’s the key to culinary excellence?

The key to culinary excellence begins with a robust and intensive apprenticeship. As well as offering ample training opportunities across all culinary segments, with a minimum of five to six months spent in each section. Furthermore, the commitment to going the extra mile, dedication and motivation are crucial. Additionally, self-drive, readiness for challenges, the ability to absorb criticism and a willingness to embrace corrective measures during shortcomings are essential qualities.

Aspiring chefs should actively seek diverse experiences in various industry segments. For example, they must work in hotels and restaurants, as well as fast-food establishments and hospitals. This breadth of experience opens up limitless possibilities.

How do competitions contribute to the growth of aspiring chefs and the culinary industry as a whole?

Competing adds another layer to the working environment, providing valuable experience amid immense pressure and tension. Exposure to new environments during competitions broadens horizons. As a celebrity chef and role model, there is an obligation to inspire young chefs through tips. In addition to doing on-the-spot training, masterclasses and mentorship. Additionally, teamwork is crucial, enabling chefs to support and learn from one other. Witnessing elevated outcomes fosters enthusiasm and motivation, encouraging continuous improvement.

With 750 diplomas, awards and honors from national and international cooking competitions, which accomplishment holds a special place in your heart and why?

Every award and recognition is special to me. Notably, achieving the title of the most outstanding master chef globally in 2022 was significant. Moreover, my 40-year involvement with the Culinary Olympics at IKA, including 10 consecutive participations and roles as a participant, national coach, and Worldchefs president, creates a lasting legacy. Special events, such as my inaugural Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg in 1986 and experiences in 189 countries are memories I will cherish forever. Significantly, my career owes much to mentors in Germany, especially in Bad Woerishofen.

As president of Worldchefs, leading over twelve million chef-members globally, what are some initiatives that you are most proud of?

In my eight-year presidency, I navigated challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Gaza conflict, showcasing resilience and leadership. Additionally, I conducted numerous webinars and motivational sessions, providing global support to culinarians. Despite these difficulties, we successfully organized two Worldchefs congresses in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, fostering knowledge exchange and friendship. Moreover, I placed a strong emphasis on equality and unity, launching initiatives such as “Worldchefs without Borders,” dedicated to charity-driven activities. Prioritizing the enrollment of new countries in Worldchefs. Furthermore, I promoted diversity were key goals, and I take pride in fostering a harmonious culinary world.

How do you feel about being a role model?

I feel honored that hard work, self-drive and humility have made me a role model for young and motivated culinarians worldwide. It energizes and motivates me to support them globally. Furthermore, I take pride in being seen as an inspirational mentor and idol.

Your positive view on the increasing numbers of Arab chefs and their evolution in the culinary industry is inspiring. How do you think this trend contributes to the evolution and diversity of the culinary scene in the Middle East?

During my tenure as continental director for the Middle East and Africa, I worked to increase membership, successfully bringing 15 new countries into the organization. Furthermore, the recent surge of interest in cooking in the Middle East is promising, with chefs now motivated to represent their countries on a global scale. Additionally, the modern fusion of East meets West and the blending of global artisan touches with local traditions are recognized as key factors contributing to success in the culinary scene. Lastly, having served the Middle East and Africa for 23 years, the journey fills me with immense pride.

In your opinion, what are the latest culinary trends shaping the industry?

The latest culinary trends involve a combination of local, ethnic food with a global, artisan touch. Furthermore, this movement is driven by young and motivated culinarians proud to showcase their vision and mission. Moreover, the global chefs network facilitates the creation of new and modern trends. Additionally, I am proud to be a chef, contributing to people’s health and happiness through good food.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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