12 April 2014
The 8th annual Al Qasba Food Festival hosted by Sharjah's premier tourist, leisure and family destination Al Qasba has come to an end after 17 days of exciting cooking competitions that involved celebrity media professionals and renowned sportsmen and artists, alongside a diverse range of entertaining events and educational lectures that benefited the visitors.
The 17-day culinary festival also saw enthusiastic competitions between employees of government departments and bodies, and other cookery contests between families.
The cooking competitions for celebrities were well received by visitors who enjoyed seeing their favourite Emirati artists and media professionals preparing traditional dishes, desserts and beverages for the audience in interactive shows amid an atmosphere of fun and the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd.
Meanwhile, the culinary competition between government employees offered them a rare chance to be away from daily routine of work and demonstrate their skills and abilities in preparing delicious dishes.
The family cooking competitions reflected the spirit of cooperation and harmony between each family's members, with family spirit soaring as fun family cooking battles ran with a competition between two families every day. Members of each competing family rivalled their counterparts in the challenging family contest to prepare the most delicious dishes for the audience and draw the admiration of the Judging Panel, which crowned only one family with the festival's prize after finals involved 16 families
The festival's management allocated a cooking competition for media professionals, who were divided into two teams where each team rivalled the other in displaying their skills in preparing delicious dishes. The sense of humour and spirit of fun prevailed over the competition as journalists could not distance themselves from media and news.
The ice sculpture and fruit carving displays by international chefs saw a huge turnout of audience who admired the chefs' mastery in showing their artistic skills in turning the large pieces of ice into creative artworks. Some of the competitors carved flying hawks, inspired by the Emirati environment, while others carved fish and sea creatures, inspired by the rich bounty of marine life in the UAE.
In the Vegetable and Fruit Carving, orange and green pumpkins were distributed to chefs who created smiling children's faces of the visiting children. Other chefs created hawks from the orange pumpkins.
The 2014 Food festival also featured a number of lectures on the different foods, and herbs that are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in the treatment of illnesses. The lectures focused on how to treat common diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure and obesity, by using vegetables, fruits, grains, and spices readily available in markets and at homes.
Other activities also included the "Pizzaro Young Chef’s Academy" which gave children the opportunity to learn how to prepare Italian food by chefs with vast experience.
The Culinary Festival furthermore featured the UAE Green Festival, which aimed at promoting green initiatives and encouraging people to adopt a better way of life through activities surrounding the benefits of fresh and organic products and a green food menu as well as eco-friendly cooking methods.
A number of top Arab and foreign chefs who are skilled in preparing a mix of international dishes participated in the food festival, most notably Chef Manal Al Alem, TV presenter and celebrity chef and author of several best-selling books on cooking.
Other participants from the Arab world are Celebrity Chef Amro Fahed Al Yassin, a senior member of the Emirates Culinary Guild, and executive chef Tarek Ibrahim, who has graced many reputable kitchens and lecture halls over the past three decades.
Among the renowned foreign chefs who participated in the festival was Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who was on the judging panel for Master Chef India Season 3 and who has published over 150 book titles.
Other foreign chefs also included TV presenter and celebrity chef, Marta Yanci, who was said to be “a master of under-dressing and matching dominating flavours with softer options and flavouring them subtly” by Time Out Dubai in 2013. Other creative chefs were multiple award-winning Chef Dermot O’Flynn who has been in the industry for over two decades and adept food stylist for Michelin starred restaurants and tapas extraordinaire, Chef Marco J. Morana.
Al Qasba is one of the most prominent cultural, leisure and tourist destinations in Sharjah and the region. It prides itself as an outstanding family destination with a range of activities that caters to all members of the family.
Al Qasba boasts a range of state-of-the-art facilities and tourist attractions including, among others, various restaurants and cafes, Masrah Al Qasba-Theatre, Multaqa Al Qasba-Conference and Meeting Halls, Al Qasba Business Centre, Kids Fun Zone, Al Qasba Musical Fountain, Eye of the Emirates and the Maraya Art Centre, and much more.