From Monday, November 21 to Sunday, November 27, 2016, Jeddah experienced a full week festival of the original Italian Cuisine, brought to Jeddah by the Italian Consulate with the collaboration of IBG.
“Our aim is to promote the philosophy that Italian lifestyle is simple but exclusive,” said Elisabetta Martini, Consul General of Italy in Jeddah.“We want to promote our brand, but we also want to promote our philosophy of having a healthy diet, as it is very important when it comes to places like Saudi Arabia where people suffer from diabetes and obesity.”
The opening of the festival – which was sponsored by Saudi brands Sharbatly Fruit and Saudia Airlines — hosted special guest Chef Marco Martini from Rome. Chef Marco is owner of The Corner restaurant, and in 2013 was named the best emerging chef in Italy.
The opening event was dedicated to Italian Street Food, with more than 300 guests, all enthusiast Saudi food lovers: the Italian Cultural Section became the set-up of an original Italian Piazza during the traditional village yearly celebrations, with many small kiosks illuminated at party, offering Italian street food specialties prepared for the occasion by the chefs from Hilton, Park Hyatt, Intercontinental and Rossopomodoro. More kiosks were run by Sitaf, (Italian gastronomy food importer), Italian Mall (Italian table and kitchenware), Manuel supermarkets and Sharbatlyfruit.
Among the many visitors who attended on the first day was HE Matthias Mitman, the Jeddah-based Consul General of the United States. “Italian food is very popular in the United States” he commented, “and I think it is going to be very popular with Saudis as well.
I think food helps open people’s minds up to different tastes, different experiences and they have a better appreciation of other cultures when they sample and try their foods.”
Several social media celebrities made it to the opening day, including members of Foodies KSA, a Saudi Arabia-based group of food lovers who review restaurants, share recipes and healthy tips, and cover food events. Baraa Al-Khateeb (food consultant and photographer at the Food Links Magazine, known for giving English lessons on Instagram and Snapchat by the name of ‘Teacher Muhammed’) said he thought the Italian Cuisine Week was a “brilliant” initiative. “I think the place was fantastic, the food was amazing… I have had the chance to try new dishes and some new pasta recipes,” he said. “In my opinion, Italian food is the best on earth and today’s experience proved my point!”
Mrs. Al-Khateeb stressed that, despite the language barrier, food and music can bring people together — something seen later in the evening with a musical performance by pianist Vincenzo Provenzano and singer Azad Iqbal.
The Italian Cuisine continued throughout the week with different events having chef Martini and the delicious Italian recipes as protagonists: three exclusives cooking lessons for amateurs, meetings with the international chefs working at the prominent restaurants and hotels to share professional knowledge in preparation of the Italian menus that all the involved restaurant were offering during the week, visits to supermarkets and food related stores.
Chef Martini had also the occasion to propose his most innovative preparations at the special Gala Dinner held at the Italian Cultural Section on Wednesday, 23 for the members of Chaine des Rotisseurs, the relevant international gastronomic association who was also sponsor of the initiative.