F&B feature: QCP’s 3rd roadshow

Two days of networking and product demonstrations during at the Qatar Culinary Professionals' third Corporate Roadshow

Qatar National Import and Export showcase.
Qatar National Import and Export showcase.

The Diplomatic Club in Doha played host to a busy gathering of chefs and suppliers as the Qatar Culinary Professionals (QCP) met for their annual roadshow on 6 and 7 March .

The QCP, established in 2014, is a not-for profit organisation representing professional chefs working in the foodservice industry in Qatar and providing them with training, education, support and access to reliable supplies of high quality products and services.

There are currently 750 chefs among the QCP’s growing membership, of whom 350 work at executive level, and 55 corporate members from the local supplier community.

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QCP chairman Baran Yucel, who is also head chef of Sukar Pasha, spoke to Hotelier Qatar on day one of the roadshow. “This is the third edition of the QCP roadshow,” he said. “It was our baby, and now our baby is getting bigger. I was so happy not to be able to find any car parking when I came here in the morning. It is clear evidence that the show is successful.

“The most difficult thing for chefs is that they are so busy. Every day is fully occupied by their business. But once a year they have a chance to see, try and taste new products.

“This is also a great opportunity for them, for purchasing managers and general managers, to interact with producers and suppliers.”

This year’s roadshow ran over two days instead of one, as previously, to give more people the chance to attend. And it was an altogether bigger event with 47 exhibitors (up from 35 in 2016). “There were a few other companies which we couldn’t find space for,” said Yucel.

David Sosson, president of the QCP, said: “This is for the corporate partners who have supported us throughout the year. These guys are helping us to develop the QCP, so we organise this roadshow once a year to present their products to all the chefs in Qatar.”

Sosson said he doesn’t like to consider any ‘us and them’ mentality between chefs and suppliers, explaining, “This is a very relaxed and friendly environment and a platform that gives suppliers access to a wide range of chefs’ opinions.”

He added that many of the corporate members are now getting to know each other and sharing best practices — in a spirit of co-operation rather than competition — because of their involvement with the QCP.

Hotelier Qatar spoke to some QCP Corporate Roadshow exhibitors to discover their business objectives.

One of these was Maher Chukir, category manager, Qatar National Import & Export Co, who said: “QNIE has been in Qatar for 53 years. At the roadshow we are exhibiting our foodservice range — for chefs, restaurant and F&B managers. It’s our third time doing this roadshow and we are very happy that this year it will be running over two days, not one.” He continued: “We are the largest exhibitor here and today we have seven stands, with products in the following categories: meat, seafood, bakery, beverages and coffee, organics and healthy eating, dairy and foodservice solutions.”

Chukir added: “We are particularly excited about launching the Starbucks retail range into foodservice. Starbucks RTD cold drinks are being distributed within retail by our sister company Arla Foods, but we are now selling them for foodservice. We have the product listed in the Sealion Beach Resort as a flagship showcase project.”

Chukir concluded: “And you can expect to see it around all the swimming pools this summer.”

Mohammed Jabeer, Marketing Manager, Bakemart

“We have been a corporate partner with QCP since they started the organisation. And they give us an excellent platform to demonstrate our products to F&B professionals.

“We are fresh and frozen food manufacturers in Qatar, Dubai and Bahrain, and we are here to demonstrate the benefits of frozen bakery items and products.

“We have the Vienoisseries range, artisan breads, bread rolls and sandwiches. We also have our pastries range. The product comes frozen and the chefs can finish it off at their end. When they have particularly busy times or when they have events we can deliver an 80% finished product. And they just need to do the garnishing. It is very easy to do.

“We supply to three to five-star hotels, plus restaurants, the big coffee shop chains, the airlines and Qatar institutions.”

Hooman Neshan, Al Badail International, Director, Commercial Projects

“We were the first company to bring Argentinian beef to Qatar, less than two years ago. We have been extremely successful and already have the product with more than 180 customers in Qatar.

“It comes in both fresh and frozen. Fresh is flown weekly from Buenos Aires by Qatar Airways. It’s a premium product — and you can find it in the Ritz Carlton, Sheraton and a lot of high-end hotels over here.

“Some of our competitors have started bringing in Argentinian beef, but we are still the major importer. And we are expanding to Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.

“In Argentina, it is illegal to give cattle antibiotics and hormones. We also have some organic beef and 90% of our product is grass fed — so it has one quarter of the cholesterol of beef that is grain fed. It is a more natural diet.

“All our product is UTM — under 30 months. This was established in the UK after the mad cow disease outbreak. BSE is now non-existent, but in any case, it would be impossible to find it in UTM cattle.

“We are trying to bring to Qatar the same quality of product you’d find in Harrod’s Food Hall. There are a lot of expats and Qataris who are well travelled and are looking for that kind of top-quality.”

Alexander Hildebrand, Member of Board, Luxury Trade & Marketing Group

“This is our first year at the QCP Corporate Roadshow — it was a great opportunity to be here and showcase our furniture, equipment and our new coffee blend, because you get all the chefs from Doha at one event.

“We started our business with rental equipment and furniture, especially for events and the hospitality industry. We do a lot of rental, but recently we have had more enquiries to buy our lovely equipment. So we started last year to provide sales as well.

“For loose furniture in a hotel or restaurant, it’s usually the GM or an interior designer who makes the buying decision. But for catering and banquets, it is usually the chef.

“We know from our 15 years of experience in Europe that the hospitality industry has special needs in terms of quality and resilience, and we are trying to bring that now to the Qatar market.

“Regarding consumables and collaterals, in Europe you have plastic, recyclable and organic products. That’s what we are now bringing to Doha. People here are starting to ask for organic things. A lot of these chefs have international experience and they bring this knowledge with them. And we can deliver these things within their budget.

“Most of our products are sourced directly from Germany, where we have a very complicated recycling system. So it is a great advantage for us that we have this experience. We tell people that they can have a better quality product or recyclable products, as well as sustainability, for the same price.

“We are competing mostly with products from China. They often have a nice design but the quality is sometimes ‘different’.”

Adrian Pollard, Associate Vice President, FSL (Food Specialities Ltd — Representing Chef Works

“It’s been a busy show — very well put together, with good quality leads. People want to be here, not for free samples, but for real business. We’ve been involved with QCP for a couple of years and we get very good support for Chef Works. They have impressed me with the organisation and the network they are putting together.

“Primarily, these are uniforms for chefs but also for front-of-house staff. There are new urban ranges for which we get a lot of interest. It’s not traditional white anymore. We’re seeing colours coming in and new designs — a little bit more cool and funky.

“Chef Works has come in at the start of this trend. White will always be available for the traditionalist but Chef Works recognises a good range is needed for the ‘hipster’ market. For example, they have these cool Manhattan driving hats — which I love. They are changing people’s perception of the chef, and giving them more of an identity. They can chop and change their look. A lot of chefs are now expected to come out of the kitchen and meet their customers. It’s not just about cooking the food. So, there has to be a personality there. Chefs have always decided on the food. Now they can choose their work wear too.”

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