February 22, 2024

Gulfood youth-X brings Emirati talent to the fore with career-changing opportunities

Top local talent given chance to shine under supervision of Kasdi Dahari, Executive Chef, Hilton Palm Jumeirah

Young, aspiring Emirati chefs were given their time to shine in the first-ever edition of Gulfood Youth X, a new dedicated programme at the show to empower young talent in the F&B industry, at Gulfood 2022, the 27th edition of the world’s largest annual F&B sourcing event at Dubai World Trade Centre.

Gulfood teamed up with global hospitality brand Hilton, and Dubai College of Tourism to launch YouthX with the first edition focused on young Emirati culinary creatives. Following a strong competition, four finalists: Nazpari Azari, Meera Eisa Alnaqbi, Abdulla AlShawab, and Sara Mohamed Alshehhi went head-to-head at Gulfood.

The finalists were put through their paces in a live kitchen environment and were mentored by Kasdi Dahari, Executive Chef, Hilton Palm Jumeirah, who trained a team of young chefs to seven gold medals in the 2021 Chefs’ Table Competition. The quartet were faced with a judging panel featuring culinary titans for the chance to win a career-changing opportunity with Hilton.

After a hotly contested final, Meera Alnaqbi was crowned the inaugural Gulfood YouthX winner. Meera’s reward for her winning performance is a trip to join Deni Srdoč, Executive Chef at the Nebo, at the Hilton Costabella Resort & Spa in Rijeka, Croatia. Meera will spend two weeks working with Chef Srdoč and his team at the Michelin-star restaurant.

“Participating in the YouthX challenge as an Emirati woman was inspiring and empowering to help me advance my future in the culinary world,” said Alnaqbi.

“The Gulfood YouthX platform is important because it is a showcase of what it is like to work in the culinary and hospitality industries, both of which are important here in the UAE. We support the pillars of tourism and gastronomy with a sustainable workforce, so that also involves getting young Emirati’s exposed to culinary and hospitality with the hope that they fall in love,” commented Emma Banks, Vice President, F&B Strategy and Development, EMEA, Hilton.

The remaining three finalists were awarded with a 25% scholarship for training at Dubai College of Tourism.

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