By Mudassir Raja
The scene was set at Antica Pesa at Marsa Malaz Kempinski. Besides the seaside in the open, Chef Massimo Malantrucco exhibited his expertise in preparing different Italian dishes for members of Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA).
The guest of honour on the occasion was Aisha Alfardan, vice chairwoman of the QBWA. Also present were Pasquale Salzano, Italian ambassador to Qatar; Palma Libotte, founder and chairperson of Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar; and other members of Italian community.
The chef has flown in especially from Rome to Doha to attend different events related to the ongoing Italian Cultural Day from November 20 to 27. The two-hour-long masterclass saw Chef Malantrucco prepare two dishes, gnocchi glassati and sweet ricotta. The guests took keen interest in the preparation of the Italian dishes, which were also served to them for tasting.
Gnocchi glassati is a dish that contains potatoes, flour, steamed red turnips, cheese, gorgonzola, goat milk, and salt. Sweet ricotta is made of almonds, cow ricotta, sugar, strugeonn fish gelatin, agar and water.
Chef Malantrucco is very well known in Italy. A TV celebrity, he graduated from Rome State Hotel School in 1986. With his years of experience of working with different restaurants, the chef is now a teacher, trainer, and consultant in his field. He has also written many books on Italian cuisine and has been a presenter on TV cooking shows.
Talking to Community, the chef said, “Qatar is a beautiful place. The people here are very nice. The skyline is very beautiful. I have been here only for two days and have not seen much of Doha, [but] I will stay here for a week and will see many places.”
In his opening speech, the Italian ambassador welcomed all guests and the chef on the occasion. He thanked the QBWA members for sparing time to attend the masterclass.
He said, “This event is part of Italian Week that is taking place in Qatar until November 27 and includes an array of events related to fashion culture and wellbeing. Our week is a spin-off of the Italian Cuisine Week being promoted worldwide by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Development.”
Ambassador Salzano further noted, “The Italian week shall continue with a Supreme Dining Experience at Marsa Malaz Kempinski. There will be fashion and art exhibitions, and a very interesting seminar on the Mediterranean diet at Katara. Mediterranean diet has been recognised by Unesco’s heritage programme and [world renowned expert] professor Calabrese will illustrate on Wednesday (tomorrow) the benefits of the healthy diet.”
“As a grand finale, we have scheduled a concert of classical music with soprano singer Silvana Froli, conducted by Jacopo Sipari di Pescasseroli at Qatar National Convention Centre on November 27,” he said.
The ambassador said that the events are being organised in co-operation with I.C.E.–Italian Trade Agency and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.
“As Italians, we are passionate and creative. Our cuisine is a pure expression of both of these features that combined generate the sophisticated skills to assemble the generous variety of ingredients that the Mediterranean climate offers into delicious recipes,” he said.
He added, “Our culture has many common traits with the Qatari one: it is family centred and we share the love for food, fashion and beauty. We talk loud using body language, but mainly we talk from our hearts.”
“I am pleased to meet the QBWA representatives today as I believe that Italy offers many opportunities for them to develop bilateral business relationships in the field of fashion. Our sophisticated fabrics, leather, jewellery, and skilled craftsmen can be all considered for private labelling joint ventures,” the ambassador said.
“I have learnt that many Qatari emerging designers are successfully conducting or starting businesses in the region and I wish for them to foster connections with the Italian market,” he noted.
He said, “I firmly believe that women can really shine in business as they are more understanding and persuasive by nature and have great instincts for making the best use of opportunities. Furthermore, women are good at multitasking. They are expected to be good wives, caring and loving mothers and determined businesswomen at the same time.”
The ambassador said, “The multitasking skills are also a distinctive feature of chefs and that is why we consider them like artists in Italy.”
Palma Libotte of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar told Community, “The QWBA has agreed to organise an evening with Italian and Qatari chefs at the ambassador’s residence to share recipes as a cultural exchange.”
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