FHO expo is a battlefield for chefs, baristas

In the next three days — the best burger, the best chef and the best barista in the country will be named.
Whoever will emerge as winners will not only gain the respect of their peers but will add another feather to their cap.
All of these are happening at the Food and Hospitality Oman expo currently happening at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre where 400 businesses and brands are gathered not only to network but to showcase what they are all about.

Products from kitchen utensils to best variety of fishes and cold cuts come by the dozen in this gathering. With 18 countries participating, there are plenty of things to choose from. A foodie can call the expo an oasis of new products while for a restaurateur, it opens up a well of opportunities and development.
While business and networking are the main courses of the day, it is apparent however that the competitions are what hold people’s attention.
Hussein Daaboul, General Manager of the Business Unit of Al Jabal Trading, one of the main organisers of the Battle of the Burgers Oman, said that the competition running until October 17 will see a total of 18 competitors battling for Best Burger in Oman 2018 title.
“We have 18 competitors coming from various sectors of the Omani market — some are food truck operators and other comes from international chains. All of them specialise in burgers — that’s one of the eligibility criteria,” he said.
He added, “Since McCain is the sponsor, we added the twist to the competition. McCain provides different kinds of fries and as an expert on this, we challenge the participants to find the right pair of fries for their creation.”
“The criteria of judging include Speed of Service — they have to work within the time given; Innovation — how they mix their ingredients and how they put them together, and Cleanliness and Presentation — which is the overall look of the burger,” he explained.

Daaboul explained that the reason why they strive to have the competition is because, “For a very long period of time, people perceived burgers as a junk food. But I’d like to correct that notion because burgers are actually sandwiches.”
He said that the competition is an opportunity for burger joints to connect to their audience and hence drive growth while demonstrating their skills in preparing them.
For the Chef Competition, the organising committee members explained that participants will be competing in six different categories which include Three-tier Wedding Cake, Tapas Competition, Petit Fours, Live Cooking Mystery Box, Practical Butchery and Five-Course Gourmet Dinner Menu.
Two categories will be battled out per day with a total of 60 participants playing for all of the events.
The Head Chef organising the event explained that “it is the biggest chef competition happening in Oman and gives the participants and opportunity to showcase their skills and engage with their audience.”
“They will be judged by established and multi-awarded chefs in the country based on different criteria specific for their events,” Chef Hussein said.
The 6th Oman Barista Competition will start on the morning of October 16 and is open to professionals from the hospitality industry.
Competition organiser Ammar Ahmad said that “to excel at the competition, each barista must prepare one cup of the perfect espresso, one decorated cappuccino and one signature espresso-based drink all within the challenging time-frame of 15 minutes.”
He added that the participants are also required to “engage the audience and the judges while they prepare the drinks. They should also be able to explain their actions and selections while expertly operating the espresso machine.”
“We have more than 25 competitors joining the contest. They will all have points for different parameters. At the end of the competition, we will be able to declare who has to best prepared drink,” he said.
“The competition will be for 1 and a half day starting on October 16 and commencing on October 17. We will be awarding the winner and the first runner-up,” he said.
For details of the competition, visit www.foodandhospitalityoman.com.

YERU EBUEN & TITASH CHAKRABORTY