All about MENA 50 Best Restaurants, the debut of the Middle East & North Africa area

From the 5th to the 7th of February, Abu Dhabi, in the Emirates, celebrates the best restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa. Here are the programme and protagonists

Lebanese Kamal Mouzawak (Souk El Tayeb), winner o

Lebanese Kamal Mouzawak (Souk El Tayeb), winner of the Foodics Icon Award 2022, and Tala Bashmi (Fusions by Tala), Best Female Chef Award 2022, from Bahrein. We will meet them in Abu Dhabi, from the 5th to the 7th of February 2022 during the first edition of the MENA’s 50 BestMiddle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurant

The countdown to the first edition of the MENA’s 50 Best, the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurant has begun. It is scheduled in Abu Dhabi, in the Arab Emirates, from the 4th to the 8th of February. Four days that will peak with the celebration of the best restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa, a brand new area for the 50 Best Restaurants, the famous yearly list sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, which is once again in person since last September in Antwerp. This is proven by the rich programme of events open to the public that will precede the awaited ceremony and will transform the Emirates' metropolis into a stage for global fine dining. A rich schedule of culinary experiences, cooking demos, masterclasses, gourmet dinners and much more.

Among the others, Tim Raue from Restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin, n. 31 in the global 50Best, will hold a lesson on his signature dishes, Scampi with wasabi and Sanghachi mackerel revealing their secrets and tips. From Lima, Pia LeónBest Female Chef 2021, will present the products of Peru and the extraordinary biodiversity of the Andes. Straight from Bali, Will Goldfarb from Room 4 Dessert, the World’s Best Pastry Chef 2021, will prepare and reveal the secrets behind the three desserts that are pillars in his carrier. Another culinary event will see grill master Dave Pynt from Burnt Ends in Singapore (n. 34 in the 50Best 2021): in Abu Dhabi he will hold a barbecue dinner at BBQ Al Qasr: only meat and vegetables, in a spectacular setting. French chef Julien Royer from restaurant Odette in Singapore already twice at the top of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in partnership with LPM Restaurant will also participate. And then, Natsuko Shoji, best pastry-chef in Asia in 2021, will create a four-handed dinner with chef Yosuke Matsuoka from Tori No Su, the Japanese fusion restaurant inside the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers.

There will also be the classic #50BestTalks events, the forum that will bring to the Middle East some of the most important chefs. An afternoon of live interviews, presentations and discussions to explore how food can glue the culture of the Middle East, of North Africa and beyond. While we await the celebration of the best restaurants from the Middle East, the announcement of the Best Female Chef Award, won by Tala Bashmi created some uproar. Since September 2017 she's been at the helm of Fusions by Tala, inside the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain, after learning all the secrets and the strong identity of Middle Eastern cuisine from her father, who also passed her a deep knowledge of local raw materials. An authoritative voice in the modern cuisine of Bahrein, today Tala is appreciated for her passion and capacity of offering significant culinary experiences, experimenting with ingredients and techniques used all around the world, and including them into the country's traditional dishes.

The first edition of MENA’s 50 Best will also reward chef Kamal Mouzawak, winner of the Foodics Icon Award, a prize given to remarkable figures in the food industry in the MENA region. Born to a family of farmers, he's passionate and respectful of his land and its different regions, with its varied ingredients, the basis for its local cuisine.

Considered as the most important food activist in Lebanon, Kamal Mouzawak is the founder of the first agricultural market in Beirut, Souk El Tayeb, which supports small farmers and producers and sustainable farming, to preserve the food and traditions that join the many communities of his country. Over the past 18 years, Souk el Tayeb has evolved and changed: from a weekly farmers' market to a real food movement, with educational programmes in local schools and culinary festivals to celebrate the culinary heritage of Lebanon. This also resulted in an exchange that puts Lebanese farmers in contact with international investors. And of course there's Matbakh El Kell, a project born as a response to the emergency that resulted from the catastrophic explosion that recently hit Beirut.

Peruvian Pia Leon and Virgilio Martinez are also awaited

Peruvian Pia Leon and Virgilio Martinez are also awaited

In the first restaurant of Mouzawak, Tawlet Beirut (which means “table”), each day a cook prepares a menu with dishes from her region, so that clients become aware of the diversity of Lebanese food traditions through home cuisine. Ever since Tawlet Beirut opened in 2009, Mouzawak has launched five more restaurants, offering jobs to women from all over the country.

So we only have to wait for the award ceremony, on the 7th of February, when they will announce the choices made by 250 experts from 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, who will nominate the 50 best restaurants, together with a series of special restaurants, up to the very Best restaurant in 2022. Let the countdown begin.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Dal Mondo

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Elisabetta Canoro

Professional journalist, consultant at Identità Golose, deputy editor at The CUBE Magazine and contributor at AD Architectural Digest italia and Panorama. Author of Guides and books edited by WhiteStar and Marco Polo

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