Maldives chefs win gold at Chinese ‘gastro-diplomacy’ culinary competition

Three chefs representing the Maldives have won Gold Award at a major culinary competition in China.

Ibrahim Naeem and Mohamed Niyaz from Hulhule Island Hotel (HIH) and Fathimath Jeehan Saleem, spouse of the Maldives ambassador in China, participated in The Belt and Road Gastro-Diplomacy YinYin Cup, which was held at the National Convention Centre in Beijing on Tuesday.

Naeem and Niyaz won the Gold Award from the Professional Individual category, while Jeehan won the Gold Award from the Embassy category. They received over 90 percent of marks in their respective categories, according to the Maldives embassy in Beijing.

Jeehan with her trophy. PHOTO/ MALDIVES EMBASSY IN CHINA

Over 200 chefs from 35 embassies in Beijing participated in the competition, with a public announcement of the winners made at the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium. The chefs used their own ingredients to showcase the best food products of their countries.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (also known as the One Belt One Road initiative) refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.

Maldives is party to the initiative and participated in the recently concluded Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation as well. Through the initiative, the Maldives hopes to court more Chinese investments and increase the number of Chinese tourists to one million per year from the existing 400,000.

China has maintained its position as the single biggest source market despite falling numbers over the past year. In 2016, the Maldives welcomed 324,326 visitors from China, which was a 9.8 percent drop compared to the previous year. China has continued its downward spiral this year as well with a 9.5 percent drop in Chinese arrivals in March.

The latest win by Maldivian chefs come days after another three chefs representing the Maldives won silver medals at HOFEX 2017, Asia’s leading food and hospitality trade show. Chef Ahmed Fatheen from Bandos Island Resort, and Chef Indra Kumar Limbu and Chef Ismail Nasser from Hulhule Island Hotel (HIH) won the medals.

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