HORECA 2013: A Titillating Start on Day 1

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The 20th annual HORECA event at BIEL started off yesterday with a bang! At 4 PM the doors opened to the biggest and most exciting exhibition in the hospitality and food and beverage industries. It’s a great place to meet and great in a public, positive space that lets professionals show off what they’ve been up to and check out the competition. New products, services and ideas are all on display, and it’s this kind of environment that helps companies improve and keep their competitive edge.

After an official opening ceremony things really got under way. The anniversary event featured over 385 exhibitors as well as lots of interesting and innovative competitions and interactive events that gathered crowds and entertained the passers by.

 What went on:

In one corner of the exhibition space, several events were taking place at regular intervals: the Art of Service Competition, Lebanenese Bartender Competition,  as well as the Beverage and Wine Lab, sponsored by Fattal. Participants went through a series of trials and answered questions for the first competition, which was judged by several expert jury members from the industry. Later in the day the Lebanese Bartender Competition tested the skills of some of Lebanon’s best bartenders, and the crowd loved watching them make drinks and seeing the judges faces as they analyzed the resulting beverages. The Wine Lab was hosted by Mr. Najib Moutran, a wine expert who explained to a crowd about the age old drink, and how to drink it. These events will also go on in the coming few days as well.

Several other contests were taking place throughout, including the National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contest. In another corner of the hall was the Hospitality Salon Culinaire, which had several different live cooking competitions by major hotels and restaurants. One of them was the Prunelle Junior Sandwich Making Competition. Another was the Live Junior Chefs Competition, which was a lot of fun to watch. Some of the most talented rookies in the field cooked up a storm! There was also an international jury judging the Live Seafood Competition and the Live Meat Dish Competition.

A Display Competition was held for the Best Open Showpiece and Themed Celebration Cake… There were some deliciously good looking cakes on show!

At the Meeting point and its recruitment zone, experts and consultants discussed new concepts and ideas, making it a great place to find jobs and advertise job opportunities.

In the Atelier Gourmand & Culinary Heritage section, chefs from various backgrounds were given the chance to discuss and prepare specialty dishes. The chefs included Chef Ibrahim Hannawi from Le Phenicien Restaurant, making an awesome Fish Frikeh, Bechara Rahal and Chef Tony Youssef from Keyrouz Bakery preparing healthy meals, and Maya Kanaan from M De Noir, who made a fantastic Dulcey Chocolate with Valrhona chocolate. 

Floral Symphonies brought a dose of decorating to the event, with beautiful flower displays of local florists. At the Librairie Gourmande you could take a look at all the books you can possibly imagine on culinary arts. And since none of us likes to eat standing up, Chairmania let people check out the latest chair designs for all kinds of hospitality venuesby famous galleries and designers.

Who was there:

From the super-technical to the deliciously inviting and everything in between, the 385 stands at HORECA kept everyone busy. Most of the stands offered a taste of their products, so guests flocked from booth to booth to get bites and drinks of the best delicacies. Everything was presented beautifully – cookies in pretty jars, and food on nice trays with interesting presentation. Some presentation got really creative – there were a couple of ladies in drink-adorned dresses, walking with cocktails attached to the dress, and inviting guests to take a glass.

Many gathered around the wine exhibitors to sip on various white, rose and red varieties and listen to stories of how and where they are made, as well as beverage stands to sample some amazing cocktails. The giant Diageo stand in the middle of the alcohol section was essentially a mini replica of a popular Lebanese clubbing experience – the rooftop bar. Guests climbed on top to be treated to delicious snacks and cocktails. The Chopin Vodka stand featured women dressed in historic dresses, while the giant Poliakov space across a giant wall was almost like a nightclub. XXL attracted gusts to their stand with colorfully-dressed presenters who eagerly served passers by. The Gabriel Bocti stand also had an inviting “bar” where guests could sit down and enjoy a drink.

Chocolate kababs at the Snowie stand were a big hit, as was the ginormous selection of ice cream at Pregel (along side the equipment used to make it). Lots of other sweets stands were extremely tempting and in fact, impossible to resist. Servers were constantly refilling trays to keep up with passers by snacking on the yummies.

Passing by the Lavazza stand, as well as other coffee producers, you get a whiff of coffee that wakes you up, and an array of enthusiastic baristas offering to make you a cup.

There was a stand for NGOs working with rural women to produce delicious local food products. And tons of stands with local and international foods and drinks, from cheeses, french fries, rice (offered cooked with sauces), cookies and snacks, nuts and fresh and bottled juices. Italia Pavillion had delicious cold cuts on display, as well as cute chocolate coins that were given out to passers by. Cold cuts and some amazing cheeses were also available at the EAM stand, where you could also get a drink with your tasty treats. A local Duck farm had a crowd gathering around their fantastic hors d’oeuvres.

Universities exhibited, offering passers by an idea of their hospitality programs. Also various hotels were present, many decorated beautifully, such as the Le Royal stand covered in white draping flowers. The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism as well as Middle East Airlines also participated.

The HORECA event continues today, as well as tomorrow and Friday so don’t miss it!

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