Food and culinary skills could be utilised to enhance relations among people and introduce them to each other's culture within a warm atmosphere, pointed out American chef William Dissen, who is visiting Doha as part of the Qatar-USA Festival which concluded Monday, within the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture.
Dissen talked about the importance of culinary diplomacy in promoting friendly and peaceful relations among people and enhancing understanding and appreciation of the differences.
He explained that he and his colleague and compatriot, chef Saif Rahman, came to Qatar sponsored by the US embassy in Doha as part of the American Chef Corps programme by the US Department of State.
The initiative started as private-public relationship with the State Department to take American chefs abroad, creating culinary diplomacy to introduce the US culture to the world.
Dissen expressed his views regarding sustainability, reducing food wastage and using the locally available ingredients to give dishes the desired distinctive flavour of the local surroundings and culture.
He also expressed admiration for Qatari cuisine, which he was introduced to during his short stay in Doha.
"I loved Qatar since I landed here as everybody is welcoming and ready to help,: Dissen said. “Qatari people are generous and we have enjoyed their immense hospitality and openness to receive and entertain their guests.”
“There is a lot of diversity in the food industry in the country that reflects the diversity and harmony of the different people living in the country from around the world," he stressed.
Dissen and Rahman are of the view that the Qatar visit gave them new experiences and would inspire them to add new recipes and flavours to their kitchens.
In particular, they highly appreciated the uniqueness of Katara – The Cultural Village and Souq Waqif, with the multiple food outlets.
They also enjoyed a trip through the sand dunes.
Dissen, who used some locally produced vegetables in a number of live workshops, appreciates the challenges of the farming industry in the country.
However, he said that there is a promising future for the agriculture production due to the use of sophisticated methods, including hydroponics.
Among his interest is the promotion of sustainable fishing practices and preserving marine life for the future generations.
He believes that Qatar is exerting praiseworthy efforts in this field.
Rahman said that while cooking live in front of an audience, the conversation enabled to get to know the local culture better while introducing his culture.
"We would certainly tell our friends and family back in the US about how amazing and welcoming Qatar is, and we are looking forward to any opportunity to come again and spend more time," Rahman said, while Dissen nodded in agreement.
They both stressed that judging by what they have seen, Qatar will certainly organise one of the most successful and amazing FIFA World Cup in 2022.
They hope to be able to take part at such a major international event.
Regarding business opportunities in Qatar in food industry and catering, they both affirmed their desire to work out some partnerships with local business.
They further stressed that there are many opportunities in the field and that these should be further explored.