Catering expo features burgers, baristas and bloggers

BEIRUT: HORECA, Lebanon’s biggest food and beverage trade show, opens Tuesday afternoon to offer a new menu of events covering trends in the international and local food industries.

“The first function is to bring what’s new for the industry players, to discover new ideas to find new products. This is the major role of HORECA,” said Joumana Salame, managing director of Hospitality Services, the trade show’s main organizer.

Burgers, bloggers and baristas are three new additions to this week’s program, which is open Tuesday to Friday, from 3-9 p.m. at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure center

Lebanon’s culinary heritage remains one of the country’s greatest unifiers and attractions. This year’s expo has attracted between 30-35 special guests from abroad, Salame said, a major feat considering the security situation.

One of the major players in the local industry, Hospitality Services has picked up on some of the big food movements, such as the growth of gourmet burger outlets. HORECA will host a three-hour battle for the best burger Friday.

“Burgers are also a trend that are picking up. ... You have so many new burger places more in the bistro-style that are coming to the market and it’s interesting to discover new tastes.”

With no consensus among the city’s food writers about where to get the best burger and with new joints popping up every couple of months, the lighthearted competition should settle – at least for a moment – the long-running search for the best bite.

Complementing HORECA’s annual bartending and cocktail shows, baristas serving up fancy coffee drinks will show off their tricks in a competition this week.

Local food bloggers will also come together in a new panel discussion aiming to highlight their growing voice in the local food and beverage scene.

Wine experts and diplomats are among the new guests this year. Organizers have invited a panel of international sommeliers and wine writers to taste and critique Lebanese wines. Delegations from the Dutch and French embassies have also joined the rows of stands to highlight their own national culinary heritage.

The show has expanded its presentations by local chefs to highlight local culinary talent, including cooks from the Lebanese Army, who will go head-to-head in HORECA’s competition kitchens.

In response to a global movement for locally sourced ingredients, the trade show has grown its corner dedicated to local producers, Salame said. “There’s a clear trend from trade associations to promote and support local farmers,” she said. “This is an international movement, and it is coming to Lebanon.”

Over the past year, Hospitality Services has worked with similar organizations in the region to launch editions of HORECA around the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia and Jordon.

“It’s something very special ... to reward innovation and reward creativity,” Salame said. “We promote Beirut as a capital of taste in the region.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 01, 2014, on page 2.




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