Hotel Asia 2014

Hotel Asia Exhibition & International Culinary Challenge 2014 organized by Maldives Exhibition & Conference Services Pvt. Ltd (MECS), was held from 8 – 10 September 2014.  The annual exhibition organized by MECS stands out as the most visited event of the Maldives Hospitality & Tourism Industry. The Exhibition was held at Dharubaaruge, Male’, in the Capital City of Maldives.IMG_0673

 Scattered across the Indian Ocean, lies the Islands of Maldives, a world-renowned destination for luxury tourism. Today the country takes pride having plenty of the world leading luxury resort hotels, looking into the future of the Maldives, the tourism industry looks promising, with an already established luxury tourism sector with more upcoming development projects. Resorts, hotels, safaris (cruise vessels) and the thriving guesthouse industry makes this a very interesting place to showcase world-class hotel suppliers.

 Hotel Asia Exhibition & Culinary Challenge provides the perfect setting for all industry stakeholders with an opportunity to explore new products in the global market and to upgrade their outstanding services to new heights. The exhibition is the best place for suppliers to showcase infrastructure related facilities, furniture, furnishings and tableware, food & beverages, catering equipment and services and health and leisure equipment.

 According to Mr Husnie Rauf, the General Manager of MECS, this year they had over 140 exhibitors from 32 different countries making this a truly international event.  The main sponsor for the Exhibition was Fantasy Pvt. Ltd, Maldives. Fantasy is a premium quality food supplier servicing the luxury resort industry of the Maldives. Their range of premium quality exclusive brands include Komplet, Elle & Vire, Aldia, Bonne Maman and many more.

 Hotel Asia Exhibition & International Culinary Challenge 2014 was the biggest exhibition organized by MESC on all aspects, as they made history with the most number of participants for both the exhibition and culinary challenge. Unfortunately they apologized, as they had to turn down many interested participants due to the limited availability of space at Dharubaaruge, the biggest convention center in the capital city of Maldives.  According to Mr Husine Rauf, with the growing number of interested exhibitors and competitors, their biggest challenge is a space to organize this event for the coming years.10-1465

 This year’s exhibition consisted direct exhibitors from Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Singapore, China, United Arab Emirates and France. Also many other international well-known brands were displayed with local distributors. This year’s exhibition was visited by more than 80 resorts and by other major stakeholders of the industry.

 Upon registration, visitors could enter the exhibition with a simple visitor pass and from the moment of stepping into the convention hall of Dharubaage lobby, you could feel and see the true colors of a busy exhibition going on at full swing. Visitors could enjoy the attractive décor of stalls displayed by various exhibitors. This was a place for visitors and interested buyers to get to know more about the products on display.  Exhibitors we keen in passing information, giving out product brochures and product samples. New forms of technological solutions, interesting food products and cooking demonstrations were taking place at the halls of Dharubaage for three whole days. This was a place for the hospitality industry professionals, business owners and chefs to gather and meet the distributors, ask questions and make business.

 Concurrently to the exhibition, the Hotel Asia “International Culinary Challenge” was held from the 7 – 10 September 2014 on the same venue. A record 498 category entries were made making this the biggest gathering of Chefs in the Maldives. The Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge is the biggest and the most prestigious competition held within the Hospitality Industry of the Maldives. This is the 10th International Culinary Challenge, first was held in the year 2002 with only 40 entries.This year’s competition demonstrated local and international chefs staging a line-up of world-class competitions. Top talents including chefs, bartenders, pastry chefs & F&B service staff from over 50 Maldivian resorts and beyond showcased their artistic culinary talents vying for the esteemed medals over 4 days in 19 different categories.

The categories included within 2014’s competition are, Dress the Cake, Novelty Cake, Fruit & Vegetable Carving, Desserts, Bread & Pastry Display, Creative Spring Rolls, Creative Salads, Young Chef, Pasta, Maldivian Dish, Hot Appetizers-French Connection, Team Challenge, Honeymoon Cakes & Iced Mocktails.

Hot Cooking categories included, Hot Cooking Lamb, Us Potato Fry, Poultry, Seafood and Beef. Best Maldivian Chef was awarded to Mr. Ahmed Usman from One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives, Most Outstanding Chef was awarded to Mr. Ibrahim Naeem representing Hulhule Island Hotel, Maldives, and the Best Culinary Establishment was awarded to One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives. At the end of the International Culinary Challenge, four Scholarships were announced to participate in showcase cooking at Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore & Malaysia. The Exhibition Organizers would fully sponsor 2 or 3 chefs to each country to represent Maldives.

Alan Palmer who is also the Project Director & Chief Judge of this competition, presided over the panel of judges of the International Culinary Challenge. Alan Palmer is a World Renowned Chef & Honorary Life Member of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), along with a panel of 14 internationally certified, award wining chefs and globally recognized professionals from the culinary world.  The certificates issued at this Culinary Challenge are highly recognized worldwide and are treated as a major achievement in the eyes of the participants. Since the very first International Culinary Challenge, which was held in the Maldives, Alan Palmer has participated in developing the competition, helping Maldives create remarkable professional chefs.10-1898

In our short interview with Alan Palmer, who has 18 years of teaching experience in Africa, Switzerland and Singapore, stated that the biggest challenge faced by the competitors is the tremendous hurdle of logistics and the transfer of fresh ingredients to the competition venue. To help the competitors, organizers provide the cooking meat or seafood so that they could bring the rest of the ingredients on their own. Logistics has become a major obstacle especially for categories such as the Novelty Cake. Alan Palmer also highlighted the fact that sometimes competitors tend to neglect basic competition rules that result in loosing points, however the judges need to judge accordingly to the standard of rules as this is a major international completion.  He also stated that he is very happy that the competition has put some of our local chefs on the road to fame for their culinary talents and that he looks forward to see more youngsters joining the industry and wished to create more awareness among parents to encourage their young ones to explore the culinary world.

The Main Sponsor for the International Culinary Challenge was Best Buy Maldives Pvt. Ltd, (BBM). Over the years BBM has acquired the exclusive distribution of many world-class brands. BBM takes pride in being with the Hotel Asia Exhibition & International Culinary Challenge from day one. While their main focus is promoting their products, BBM has always supported and encouraged the Culinary Industry of the Maldives working closely with MECS with regularly sponsoring the exhibition. BBM makes use of the International Culinary Challenge to excite the chefs to reach their dreams. According to their Director & CEO, Mr. Mohamed Mazloom, the 2014 Exhibition was an overall success to BBM as they had the opportunity to introduce several new products to the market and the turnout and feedback from visitors was excellent.

Unmistakably, Food & Beverage is one of the biggest revenue-generating components within the hospitality industry of the Maldives. As the Maldivian resort hotels are operated on a one-Island, one-resort concept, it is highly unlikely for professional chefs to get an opportunity to taste the culinary work of other chefs working within the industry. However, the International Culinary Challenge is one occasion where all the professional talents working around the Maldives flock together, making this competition the Mecca for a local culinary showcase. For a decade, this event has been the only opportunity for local and expat chefs to taste and experience the work of others in their field. The competition is a true learning experience for every participant.10-1316

The Hotel Asia Exhibition & International Culinary Challenge 2014 was a remarkable experience for exhibitors, visitors and for the competitors of the culinary challenge, as this was a great opportunity for industry experts to get themselves updated regarding the latest trends and technology within the industry under one roof.  The exhibition organizers are proud to announce that they have been officially endorsed the No.1 Hospitality Event in the Maldives by the Ministry of Tourism of Maldives.  The organizing team extends their sincere appreciation to all their valuable sponsors for their stinted support in making this year’s event a complete success.