Chef and UAE Farmer Team Up to Press Emirates’ Home-Grown Produce Case at Gourmet Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, 8 February 2010: 

A French chef and an Emirati farmer are teaming up to launch a powerful advocacy for the use of home-grown UAE products within the country’s food and beverage industry.
Didier Gusching, Executive Chef of the five-star Kempinski Hotel in Ajman and Khalid Butti Al-Shamsi, Owner of Mazaraa Organic Products will press their case at an industry forum on Arabian hospitality at Gourmet Abu Dhabi – the 15-day culinary extravaganza.
The two-some will spark lively debate when they challenge the forum in their presentation ‘Sourcing Local Arabic Product: Does Anything Worthwhile Actually Grow Here?’
“This will be a presentation by two local pioneers who have proven, against incredible odds, that it is possible to grow and raise an incredible array of foodstuffs in the United Arab Emirates,” explained Thomas Norberg, Chief Operating Officer of the UAE’s Al Ghurair Group who is leading the forum. “Taking two totally different approaches, Khalid and Chef Didier have made the impossible, possible – sustainable, organically grown foods from the sands of the desert. These two gentlemen will present their stories: one of a garden that started in the grounds of a hotel to make the pathway to the employee housing more attractive, and the other as the dream of a Sheikh to allow the people of the UAE to enjoy the pleasures of fresh, healthy organic food.”
The dual presentation is to be following by a tasting of over 50 different locally grown organic foods.
Khalid Al-Shamsi operates the first organically certified farm in the UAE some 15 kilometres east of Abu Dhabi International Airport.
“Khalid is literally growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock from, and on, the sand,” explained Norberg. “According to the season, he is able to produce over 100 different types of fruits and vegetables and, with plans for a dairy in the near future; the sky is the limit for this local pioneer.
 “Chef Gusching, meanwhile, is a champion of organic and sustainable food products in the UAE being best known for his work at the Jebel Ali International Resort where he pioneered a bio garden project to grow herbs and vegetables in a garden he designed and built in the hotel’s grounds.”
The Gourmet Abu Dhabi Industry Forum – Arabian Hospitality will be held at the Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel, one of Abu Dhabi’s leading leisure and business venues, on February 16. Admission is free but reservations are required.
“Hospitality is an integral element in the DNA of Abu Dhabi yet many food and beverage professionals know little of its origins and how the concept can best be delivered for business returns and destination authenticity,” explained Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which organises Gourmet Abu Dhabi. “This forum has been organised to educate and inform and to shed greater light on a value we need to enhance and preserve.”
Gourmet Abu Dhabi runs from February 5 with a host of activities including chateau dinners, a gourmet safari, a gourmet golf experience, Arabian feast and a series of free-to-attend masterclasses by some of the world’s finest and most noted masterchefs. The event’s star-studded cast includes masterchefs from the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia who between them boast no less than 23 Michelin star.

For more information on Gourmet Abu Dhabi, please log on to: or call 800 555 (within the UAE).

For reservations, please call: +971 2 4181 401.