The final day of FHAM 2022 was marked with a visit from H.E President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who toured the exhibition, taking the time to visit each stand, the competition areas and the culinary exhibition, where he posed for photos with the competitors and members of the CGM and organising team.
The event was a welcome opportunity for suppliers, and hospitality workers to meet, rekindle friendships, make new ones and participate in competitions with their peers for the first time since the pandemic.
The weather presented challenges which organisers and competitors rose above, demonstrating a resilience and flexibility that the hospitality profession is known for. High winds, stormy conditions, and heavy periods of rain resulted in registration awnings blowing over and transportation difficulties.
Showpieces that had been painstakingly created over countless hours, delicate petite fours, fresh ingredients, decorative flowers, dishes, and other paraphernalia had to be transported by rough seas or stored in hotel rooms with less than perfect temperatures, before dodging deluges of heavy rain to transport them safely to the competition areas. Last minute repairs called for ingenuity and a calm practiced hand to ensure the final touches were as perfect as possible, providing the judges with difficult tasks.
Visitors and stall holders were equally challenged, waiting for drier periods of weather before transiting to and from the exhibition site. The numbers emphasising how much the hospitality industry had looked forward to the event, also drew visits from the High Commissioners and Ambassadors of Pakistan, Japan and Sri Lanka during the three days.
Exhibitors from over 60 companies participated in the event exhibiting an array of products and services to the discerning establishments of the tourism industry. The combined event also served as a platform for individuals to showcase their passion and learn from an enviable panel of judges, across concurrent competitive events of the International Culinary Challenge, Barista Competition, Mocktail Competition, and Housekeeping Bed Decorating Competitions.
Visitors were enthralled by the showmanship and flair of the talented bar tenders and barristers at the competition area in the main exhibition area, whilst chefs and housekeepers created intricate designs in the opposite arena during the Dress the Cake and Bed Decorating competitions.
The culinary competition endorsed by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), Chef’s Guild of Maldives and the Chef’s Guild of Lanka, CGM and CGL enticed over 500 entries from resorts, hotels, guest houses and local businesses, plus a strong delegation from the Chefs Guild of Lanka and students of the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies (FHTS).
The international judging panel was complemented by both seasoned and rookie local judges, underlying the depth of talent the Maldives has in the culinary field as both educators and mentors. Chief judge, Chef Uwe Micheel, Assistant VP of World Chefs Association and President of Emirates Culinary Guild advocates that competitions are about three things: having fun, making new friends and learning. Participants learn throughout the competition process, making it an invaluable training tool.
At the awards ceremony, held at Hotel Jen on 31st August, Chef Uwe Micheel praised the quality and standard of the dishes both in taste and plating, remarking that the dishes were the highest he had witnessed in the Maldives to date. He also noted that several familiar faces had moved from the competition arena to that of mentors and judges which had no doubt helped the rise in standards.
The standard of the Maldives hospitality industry was further emphasised by chief guest, Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom during his address, where he stated that the Maldives attracted the very best of chefs who demanded a variety of quality ingredients, which was paving the way for a move towards Gastronomic Tourism. Dr Mausoom also mentioned that the pandemic had accelerated the growth of many small businesses and the appearance of home chefs, whom he looked forward to seeing compete at future events.
The awards for the 21 categories were presented by notable judges, principal sponsors and category sponsors with prize winners gaining medals, tokens, hampers and cash awards in recognition of their achievements.
Students from FHTS achieved silver in the Young Chef Competition, whilst Best Maldivian Chef was awarded to Chef Ahmed Mazim from Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. Chef Aminath Hameed from the Ritz Carlton scooped the award for Best Maldivian Pastry Chef and Adaaran Prestige Vadoo won the converted title of Most Outstanding Culinary Organisation, with an impressive haul of 13 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze.
With the competitive spirit firmly re-ignited, sights are now set on the next culinary challenge which will be held at Hotel Asia from 9th to 12th October.
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