The 5th edition of the annual Hospitality and Food exhibition, Horeca Kuwait, has successfully grown in popularity over the years, devoted to showcasing the latest innovations and concepts in Food & Beverage, embracing gastronomic talents and creativity, and revealing the most recent trends and progress in the country’s hospitality sector. Bringing together an array of local and international exhibitors, the event drew in a great number of chefs from across the region, who successfully put Kuwait on the culinary map once more!
Since 2015, the exhibition has risen from 190 participants to over 250 this year, consisting of local and international exhibitors, elaborate food displays, and a great number of chefs from all over region.
“Five years ago, we started Horeca in Kuwait with only 35 exhibitors and less than 100 participants in the food contests. Today, we have over 60 exhibitors and sponsors, and over 250 participants in the competition, as well as over 6, 000 visitors,” says Mohammed Najia, General secretary for Kuwait Hotel owner Association and the Director for Horeca Organization Committee and Delegue of Chaine des Rotisseurs.
The types of exhibitors included the best from regional and international restaurant and hospitality suppliers, manufacturers, food and drink producers, and catering equipment.
Najia added that people have expressed great interest in the field of hospitality, which is growing tremendously at a fast pace in Kuwait. “For Kuwait, this means there is a sector that is emerging which can aid economic growth. There is a need to showcase what is in that sector. Hospitality is a lifestyle, after all,” he continues.
Nabila Al-Anjari, General Manager of Leaders Group (the licensee for HORECA Kuwait), stated, “Each edition of Horeca Kuwait is getting better and each one marks the beginning for greater ventures and endeavors in the world of food and hospitality. I wish to congratulate the individuals who have maintained the level of performance and excellence throughout the years.” She continued, “The show has grown incredibly, with many new categories, bigger stands, new exhibitors, and people have become increasingly aware. A lot of new Kuwaiti entrepreneurs are penetrating the market and many young Kuwaiti chefs are also surfacing.”
Recognized as a networking hub, the exhibition is the ideal business avenue where exhibitors meet to identify business opportunities and expand their networks. Antoine Obeid, Regional Managing Director of the Kuwaiti –based Farmland General Trading CO. and gold sponsor of the show commented, “Year after year we are in the same sharing concept and spirit, where we meet with all the chefs and other people in the hospitality industry.”
With each new edition, Horeca Kuwait has showcased quality products, innovative branding design concepts, and consumer engagement techniques that tell a unique brand story and create a lasting impression with attendees.
Marketing Manager of Al Yasra foods and golden sponsor for the third consecutive year, Gebran Charbine has witnessed an increasing number of visitors and many new innovative specialty items, in addition to easy-solution products for chefs, purchasers, managers, and restaurant owners. “I see a lot of creativity inputted this year, especially the booths and this can help attract the right market for your brand,” he says. Gebran further conveys that for Kuwait, this means that there is a growing business in the food & beverage and hospitality sector that can drive to bring in tourism and expand the country as one of the global leaders in the hospitality industry.
Adding to that, Operations Manager for MN Al Hajri holding Haagen-Dazs, illy, and Dilmah Tea Lounge has witnessed various developments in terms of food operations. “It is nice to bring everyone in a single room where everybody has their own identity that presents the best of them and draws you in to their products. The food & beverage industry is the biggest thing in Kuwait, and everyone can benefit from these activities that can add value to the consumer and the brand.”
Ali Maghnie, executive manager for Mabrook Hotel Supplies, said, “Kuwait is a small market but its apparent that people are investing in their booth design and always trying to create something new.”
Khaled Sharaf, Operations Manager for Zalatimo Sweets Company and one of the exhibitors at the show, commented, “This is our second year in Horeca Kuwait and we are introducing a new franchise that will be existing in Kuwait soon. In this edition, I have certainly noticed improvements in the culinary activities and the product range. It has been an ongoing pleasant experience.”
The live culinary show reveals some of the very best talents in the country’s gastronomy scene encompassing new culinary horizon. Joining to participate in the live culinary show for a panel of nine international culinary judges from Italy, Germany, France, Lebanon, KSA, and Egypt, chefs from around Kuwait enter the highly equipped kitchens where they passionately work to surprise the expert judges with their savoire-faire as viewers cheer them on.
Samaan Hilaal, Culinary Consultant of MCC Catering and Head of the Culinary Show expressed, “I am pleased to see how much the exhibition has developed, especially the growing number of category specialists and international judges of such high caliber and professional experience,” For a small country like Kuwait, Hilaal emphasized that he is impressed to see Horeca Kuwait growing and imposing a mark on the international culinary world with each new edition.
Chef Lucien Veillet, President of Academie Nationale De La Cuisine in France says, “I am here to support my colleagues in this mission and to support hospitality services in promoting exceptional cuisine. This is my first visit to Kuwait and I am surprised by the culinary techniques and mastery.” He continues, “My favorite has been the ice carving contest which made a very professional statement and it was impressive to see them in action. Additionally, the six-course competition was incredible. It was an interesting product exchange between chefs and I enjoyed the spirit of the exhibition.” Lucien concluded by saying that it would be a great pleasure to see the continuous progress in the next edition of Horeca Kuwait.
Lorenzo Cogo, an Italian chef from a small village called Marano Vicentino near Venice, and the first youngest owner of a one Michelin Star restaurant called EL COQ, remarked, “As a newcomer to the region, I find it a very interesting platform where I had acquired a good understanding of the standard and style of the food here and the opportunity to delve into the ingredients and culture. “I hope to infuse my experience here in to my cooking style back home,” he continued.
Youssef Akiki, Executive Chef of Burgundy Restaurant in Beirut says, “Whenever I smell any exhibition happening anywhere, it is great news for me. Horeca Kuwait is a great opportunity to mingle with other chefs and the concept of exchange is perfect. The exhibition has potential to grow even bigger in comparison to other regions, but in the end the great level of quality here overrules quantity.”
Akiki conveyed his surprise by the level of dishes coming out, especially the live meat show and sushi competition. He foresees that local chefs will have the opportunity to join the global judges one day and hopes that the show grows to become even more international.
Karim Fares, deputy general manager, for Food Choice co. expressed, “We were extremely impressed by the way the exhibition took place and the amount of attention it managed to garner. We wish to continue being associated with the event and hope the exhibition gets only better in the coming years.”
Karlheinz Haase, Certified Master Chef from Germany and former team manager of the German National Culinary team for 12 years, expressed, “I am stunned to see the talented young chefs demonstrate their skills on a live stage in front of people. This kind of arena allows chefs to experience added pressure to perform hard and show off their culinary abilities. We are in the middle of all the industry partners and a business arena of a very high standard that also serves as a good auditorium for the chefs.”
Chef Tareq, Certified Master Chef in Meat and Livestock as well as trainer of the Olympic Egyptian team, and Emirati team says, “I could see how immersed the chefs were in the culinary shows and they really put their heart into their work.”
He added, “For an exhibition that is still so young and in its infancy, it has exceeded compared to the rest. The quality has improved, contests have become more heated, and very soon the international judging criteria will grow.”
Each dish was an outstanding expression of innovation where each plate was transformed into a surprisingly inventive work of art. Chef Tareq was impressed by the chefs’ creativity to think outside the box, reinventing gastronomy in unconventional ways and coming up with new dimensions of plating dishes. He adds that the annual event is essential to Kuwait for renewing business relationships and creating invaluable relationships.
If one thing is clear, the events have given exposure to the quality of Kuwait’s developing hospitality and tourism sector, strengthening the country’s position in the international culinary world.
Dr. Ghassan Aidi, Chairman of Hospitality Services, Honorary President of International Hotels and Restaurants Association, and President and founder of Mediterranean Hotel and Restaurant Association says that the exhibition is 25 % bigger than when it first began. After five visits to Horeca Kuwait he shares that “there has been a surge of people, and more innovation which is very good for a country with a developing Tourism and Hospitality sector and there is a lot more room to build it up.” He continues, “This puts Kuwait on the touristic map as chefs demonstrate the culinary art and great quality of food in the country. There are a number of talented Arab chefs working in Kuwait and they can easily compete with the international chefs. Hopefully in the future I will also see more female chefs in this line of business.”
Horeca Kuwait continues to roll out new editions where creativity and ideas come to life, further leveraging the platform to enhance experiences in the ever-evolving food & hospitality industry.
To read the magazine article by me go to http://www.hospitalitynewsmag.com/en/event/swf/flipbook68/