Jonathan Bell is pictured in the Belfast MET Culinary College kitchen with one of the biggest celebrity chefs in the United Arab Emirates, Alexio Pasquali.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell today joined five chefs from top Dubai hotels as they took part in a ‘larder challenge’ with Northern Ireland chefs at Belfast MET Culinary College.
The event, organised by Invest Northern Ireland, was part of a programme to showcase Northern Ireland’s unique food and drink heritage and the pure, natural, quality of our produce.
Over 40 local companies submitted products which the chefs used to create a Year of Food & Drink Tasting Buffet. The producers of these ingredients then had the opportunity to meet the chefs who used their produce and also network with buyers from key retail and foodservice outlets in the Middle East. The ‘larder’ was stocked with products including salmon, cote de boeuf, striploin, lamb, cheeses, chutneys and jams.
Jonathan Bell said: “This larder challenge and networking showcase is an exciting opportunity for influential chefs and buyers in Dubai to sample the quality of our local products for themselves.
“The Northern Ireland food and drink industry is making a big effort to showcase the pure, natural, quality of local food and drink. Invest NI and Tourism NI have thrown their collective weight behind the initiative and have arranged one to one meetings with buyers and site visits to producers. This direct contact will help build on the international reputation of the local products already exported to the Middle East and support our producers to leverage new sales.”
Commenting on the experience, Ben Tobitt, Head Chef Jumeriah Restaurant Group, said: “It has been inspiring to meet the passionate producers of Northern Ireland’s award winning food and drink and to get hands on with some of the finest ingredients.”
Harry Robinson, Belfast Met Curriculum Area Manager, School of Creative and Services Industries, said: “Belfast Met are delighted to host events such as the Larder Challenge in partnership with Invest NI and DETI. This event has provided our students with a fantastic opportunity to experience and participate in an event that features such a high calibre of professional chefs, and see first-hand how they work and interact in a culinary environment.
“The year of Food and Drink is an exciting time for our College as more high profile events will be coming to the College throughout the year, which will offer our students with more opportunities to practice their culinary and creative skills in a live environment.”