Team Europe wins Gulfood International Culinary League

Francesco Guarracino of Roberto’s led Team Europe to success
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Francesco Guarracino led Team Europe to success in the first Gulfood International Culinary League.

It was billed as a spectacular culinary battle on a global level and the inaugural Gulfood International Culinary League didn’t disappoint, with four continental teams of renowned chefs going saucepan-to-saucepan in a 60-minute kitchen showdown to crown the first-ever champions.


The teams representing Americas, Asia, Africa-Middle East and Europe had 60 minutes to prepare a three-course menu highlighting the diversity of dishes and flavours from their respective regions and impress the high-profile panel of judges.

Team Europe, led by Francesco Guarracino, executive chef, Italian Group and corporate executive chef, Roberto’s restaurant in DIFC, turned up the heat on the competition, and wowed the panel who assessed the teams on preparation skills, techniques, use of distinctive flavours and ingredients, presentation and taste, to take the honours.

Chef Francesco and his team, comprising chef Giovanni Cortese and chef Danilo Valla produced a three-course menu, which included one starter “Stella di mare” comprised of red prawns tartare with lime and blackberry; one pasta dish called “pasta e patate” consisting of mix pasta with potatoes, scamorza cheese and sea urchin and a dessert “la pera” with ricotta pears and strawberry to take the inaugural title, to the delight of the winning captain.

“Gulfood is a great platform for us to show and share our passion for what we do, and live cooking contests allow us to really thrive, deal with the pressure of producing quality food against the clock is after all what we do day to day in our restaurants,” said Guarracino.

“The Gulfood International Culinary League is an exceptional addition to the Gulfood programme and it is an honour to be able to call ourselves the first-ever champions. Congratulations to my team and all the chefs who took part and displayed their tremendous talents.”

The contest attracted a high-calibre of entries with Team Asia captained by Saradhi Dakara, head chef at Maine Oyster Bar and Grill in Dubai’s JBR district; Team Americas was guided by chef Roberto Segura, founder of Waka Restaurant at the Oberoi, Business Bay, Dubai; Team Africa-Middle East was captained by renowned TV chef Manal Alalem.

The judging panel comprised leader industry figures Heinz Beck, a 3-star Michelin chef; John Gray, director of culinary operations at Grupo Meshico; chef Tomoo Kimura San, a Michelin-star chef and sushi master chef; and chef Talal Jaradat, executive chef at Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa.

Gulfood 2019 is a trade event open strictly to business and trade visitors. The show enters its final day on 21 February and is open from 11am-5pm. For more information, visit

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