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Bahraini chef on global food show

Manama, July 12, 2014

A Bahraini chef has become the first Gulf national to host a show on the Food Channel, a report said.

Villa Mamas founder and head chef Roaya Saleh aims to export Bahraini food and culture to the world through her kitchen, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Her show, Villa Mamas, airs on the network later this year.

She told the GDN she aimed to use the reality show and her video recipes as a springboard to launch international branches of Villa Mamas.

"In the next four years, I want to have branches in Istanbul, London and New York," she said.

"Just under a year ago, I came across Julie Klein, who had produced a show in South Africa. I immediately said I wanted to do it because I want to place myself in people's consciousness.

"If I had simply opened a shop there without this, people would take longer to accept it. But if they've already been exposed, they will be encouraged to try it."

However, Saleh said her main ambition was to showcase Bahrain to the world. "Bahraini cuisine has not been given its right chance," she said.

"People in the West think that tabbouleh, fatoosh and hummus is Arabic food. They don't realise that is the kind of food from Lebanon, not the Gulf."

She added that Bahrainis often cook Italian or other international dishes instead of local delicacies.

"Why are we making pasta or risotto? Why aren't they cooking our food too?" she asked. "By looking at the recipes and the videos we are making, a good cook can do it easily. An amateur might find it difficult, but it's doable."

Saleh said she felt the weight of the responsibility of being the first Gulf national on the network. "I feel more responsible and more worried than I otherwise would," she described.

"I really just want to represent Bahrain in the best way possible, and I want to be accepted. There are huge barriers erected here for entrepreneurs, but people appreciate those who go abroad and come back with experience."

She explained that she did not want to explore the option of an Arab cooking show because they did not cater to her intended audience.

"I wanted to do this in a more international manner," she said. "I want to transport our food culture to the world and expose expats, who live in Bahrain to the cuisine."

She said she expected machboos to be one of the main courses that will prove popular.

"Machboos is a little like paella, so I imagine people will like it," she said. "But people also like simple breakfast dishes, so we're making a video about eggs and tomato for breakfast."

The Food Channel has a viewership of between 12 and 15 million people throughout the world. Saleh has also signed with the syndicated iFood.tv, which has 25 million viewers. – TradeArabia News Service




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