UAE Chef Carves His Way to Gold at Culinary Olympics: Sugar, Salt, and Sheer Dedication


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For UAE chef Sameera Madushanka Dahanayaka, gold medals are nothing new. With an impressive collection of 30 already on his shelf, he’s no stranger to culinary acclaim. However, his recent triumph at the prestigious 26th IKA Culinary Olympics in Germany holds a special place amongst his achievements.

Culinary Olympics

Culinary Olympics

Representing the UAE national team in the Culinary Olympics, Sameera wasn’t just a participant; he was a showstopper. His exceptional skills in both pastry and culinary art categories wowed the judges, earning him a staggering four Culinary Olympics gold medals – two for his intricate salt carvings and two for his mesmerizing sugar art. This remarkable feat not only brought him personal glory but also highlighted the UAE’s rising culinary prowess, with the national team securing an additional 27 silver medals.

Sameera’s creations were marvels of edible artistry. His salt carvings, titled “The Lost City of Dragon Riders” and “Together One Dream,” depicted fantastical landscapes and inspiring unity. His sugar masterpiece, aptly named “The Emperor,” showcased a majestic ruler seated on his throne, embodying elegance and power.

But this path to the Culinary Olympics gold wasn’t paved with ease. Every intricate detail, every delicate flourish, was a product of sheer dedication and countless hours of work. “It took me more than six months to create these art pieces,” Sameera reveals, elaborating on the painstaking process. “I worked on them before and after my regular hours at Mister Baker, the bakery where I hone my skills as a cake decorator.”

Culinary Olympics

The meticulous effort was even more pronounced with the salt carvings. Unlike the malleable sugar, salt demanded greater precision and meticulous attention to detail. “For the salt pieces,” Sameera explains, “I had to powder the granules, mix them with specific ingredients, and shape them carefully. The challenge was constant; I had to observe them daily to ensure their perfection.” But his hard work paid off, resulting in stunning creations with a shelf life exceeding four years.

Facing fierce competition from 1,500 chefs from 70 countries and judged by a panel of renowned culinary experts, Sameera rose to the top. “This is the pinnacle of my competitive journey,” he exclaims, brimming with pride. “Winning the Culinary Olympics gold for the UAE fills me with immense joy and gratitude.”

Culinary Olympics

His journey began in Sri Lanka before blooming in the UAE six years ago. “This country has offered me numerous opportunities to showcase my skills,” he says, acknowledging the positive impact of his adopted home. His talent didn’t go unnoticed at Mister Baker either. “Chef Sameera’s achievement is a testament to his dedication and passion,” says Tushar Fotedar, director at the bakery. “We are incredibly proud of him and his contribution to the UAE’s culinary landscape.”

But Sameera’s hunger for success isn’t satiated. Fueled by his passion and recent Culinary Olympics triumphs, he’s already setting his sights on the next challenge: the Culinary World Cup in 2026. With his dedication and talent, there’s no doubt that Sameera will continue to carve his culinary legacy, one masterpiece at a time, leaving a sweet (and salty) taste of success on the global stage.

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