11:00: It's day three of Gulfood and ITP Business Publishing deputy managing director Matthew Southwell and editorial director David Ingham are en route to the show, stopping to ask the team where's best to visit. We recommended the Caterer stand of course, as well as the Salon Culinaire 'culinary competition' live cooking stations in Zabeel hall, see photos from yesterday's cook-off here.
Speaking of Salon Culinaire, Caterer's Charlie says she's excited about round two of the awards ceremony taking place tonight!
11:15pm: The theme of day three is food safety. Dubai Municipality's director general and senior official Hussain Nasser Lootah addressed the topic bright and early this morning at the launch of the 7th International Food Safety Conference and the first Middle East IAFP Food Safety Symposium 'The future of food safety'. We'll bring you live updates on the news and trends in the area of safety as the day goes on.
In the meantime, you can find out more about neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority's safety measures in this recent Caterer feature: 'PHOTO DIARY of an Abu Dhabi restaurant inspector'.
11.54am The Convotherm team has kicked off the day with live cooking demonstrations showcasing the new digital touch pad technology on the ovens. It's the best stand to taste melt-in-the-mouth pastries and hot pizza - make sure you pop by at lunchtime! It's in Zabeel Hall, opposite the Caterer stand.
1.14pm G-Rack is demonstrating its brand new flexible bar system for indoor and outdoor bars. If you want to set up a stationary or mobile bar, it will provide the fully-integrated frames to fit standard equipment. See them on stand Z-E130 in Zabeel Hall.
130pm: Sous chef artist Chamila Jayasingha from Atlantis has done extremely well in the Salon Culinaire awards. He won two gold medals - in the Best Showpiece and Chocolate Showpiece categories - and one bronze medal. The bronze was for his Live Ice carving for which he got his inspiration from X Men! Read more here.
3pm: Just back from the 'Food to fork' conference by Meat and Livestock Australia regional manager Lachlan Bowtell. Unfortunately the exporter has seen the "worst January in 10 years from a sales point of view". Bowtell put this down to several reasons, including the weather: "It's very cold, tourism's down and people are staying at home instead of dining out. I never thought I'd say it's cold in the Middle East, but I was in Saudi Arabia and it was four degrees at night." The other key challenges outlined have been the Arab Spring. The company found itself stuck with 450 tonnes of meat produce sat in a port in Egypt during the worst of the clashes. "It's cost a lot of Oz exporters a lot of money", he says. Plus volatile exchange rates and shortages of supplies are causing problems for exporters worldwide, according to Bowtell. On the upside, Meat and Livestock Australia saw its beef exports to Middle East countries grow by a staggering 107% in 2011.
315pm: A shout-out to Mohamed and Yemi on the Manitowoc stand for keeping the Caterer team fuelled with great coffee!
4pm: Caterer's chats with suppliers at this year's show have uncovered a range of industry issues, but one in particular is at the forefront: payments - or lack of them. One supplier said it is owed AED 10 million by an Abu Dhabi hotel, after more than a year of none-payment, the hotel management and the supplier came to an agreement to renegotiate the amount to a more affordable AED 3 million, yet today - months later - the supplier still hasn't seen a dirham of what's owed. Are you a supplier in a similar pickle? Today's the last day for you to get issues such as this off your chest in the completely anonymous Hotelier Middle East Supplier Survey 2012, the results will be covered in the March issue of the magazine. The survey will take five-to-10 minutes to complete. Click here to have your say!
5.10pm: SPOTTED! Maurizio Roberti, head chef at soon-to-open Riva, Dubai, shopping for Italian produce in the Italian pavilion. He was disappointed with how few exhibitors had suppliers. Also spotted shopping for German equipment, the chef in charge of operations for Amador restaurants. He's recently opened Amador in Park Rotana Abu Dhabi - look out for more on this restaurant in the April issue of Caterer.