Caterer Middle East Update - March 11, 2006

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  March 6, 2006

More food, more chefs, more business at Gulfood|~|CommentL.jpg|~||~|If you are a chef or work in food and beverage, and you were in Dubai at the end of last month, then chances are that you were attending the Gulfood hotel and equipment exhibition at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. This year’s show proved to be the biggest, and most international, in the event’s eleven-year history, proving just how buoyant the Middle East’s food sector is at present. It is also an indication of the growth expected from this sector in the near future. Dubai alone has up to 40 hotels scheduled to open in the next couple of years. And at a conservative estimate of three outlets per hotel, that’s an additional 120 restaurants set to enter the market, all needing to equip kitchens, interior design restaurants and source new food suppliers. Gulfood’s international participation is also indicative of food trends across the region. Australia, Argentina, Germany and France all had strong national delegations at the show. Mirroring this, international cuisines are also making it big on menus in the Middle East. Yalumba, the new Australian restaurant at Le Meridien Dubai, opened its doors at the end of last year, while German outlets, such as Hofbrauhaus at the JW Marriott Dubai, continue to hold favour with a large German expatriate population. The Gulfood event, which was sold out by early 2006, grew by 15% over last year, and welcomed exhibiting companies representing over 65 countries. Most exhibitors at the show seemed pleased with the overall response, and the general consensus was that both the number and quality of visitors surpassed last year’s event, proving once again that Gulfood is the leading event in its field for the Middle East market. Chefs were also given the chance to showcase their skills, as this year’s Emirates Salon Culinaire, organised by the Emirates Culinary Guild, attracted more chefs than ever. Over 900 culinarians stretched their creative muscles in ice carving, wedding cake decoration and menu preparations. Boecker Food Safety, hygiene judges for the Salon Culinaire, also claimed that this year’s competition was the cleanest ever, which seemed more than fitting as Gulfood also welcomed the region’s first food safety seminar. Now that the flurry of Gulfood is over, suppliers, chefs, and food and beverage managers are working hard to consolidate on the contacts made. A number of deals were signed at the show, but it is now, in the months following the event, that real business will be done.||**||

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