Kathmandu: Worldwide fever of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is at its peak with the quarter-finals taking place later tonight. The entire world is zoomed into the globe’s considerably the most popular sports event. The captivating global event, which takes place once in four years, is not only presenting football but a multi-verse euphoria.
Qatar – the host country, the first one to do so in the Gulf region, of the global sporting conclave is offering more than just soccer. The multi-cultural delights offered by the Middle East country in the event have imparted a message of advancing global diversity in unity. As argued, the gastronomic delights along with a high-class hospitality and offering of diverse cuisines to the foreign dignitaries have added cultural values to the World Cup. With this, Qatar has grabbed maiden golden opportunity to promote its food cuisine, culture and tradition across the globe.
Though the Himalayan nation Nepal is not partaking in any the tournament under-way in Qatar, it may be a proud moment to know that a Nepali national has become a centre of attraction in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is not however related to any genre of the sport of football but for a promising leadership in offering cuisine to the foreign dignitaries.
Binod Baral, a London-based Nepali chef and food researcher is leading a team that has already served dignitaries, from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to American actor Morgan Freeman and British football legend David Beckham during many games of the ongoing World Cup. And, he is preparing to serve many more dignitaries in the games that are to follow until the final on coming December 18.
Binod and his team came to Qatar two months ago to undertake food research and take over the important responsibility of developing the menu for dignitaries. “We initiated a preliminary research to identify the most favourite and frequent consuming dishes in Qatar,” he said. “It gave us some insightful findings that helped take empirical decisions and put them into action. Our team decided to focus our services, mainly around three food items, first Qatari cuisine, second Indian cuisine (most preferred) and third western food considering attendees from diverse cultures, traditions and tastes,” Binod shared.
Originally from Pokhara city of Nepal, Binod is heading research and development department and innovation kitchen at the World’s Best Gourmet Entertainment Group, (DO & CO International), an Austria-based multi-national company. The company was awarded the contract for carrying out food research and developing menu as well as catering cuisine services to the distinguished guests and attendees of the event. The official website of the company www.doco.com states that the company having three business segments – airlines catering, international event catering and restaurants is now providing its services for 76 airlines across the world.
Talking to the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), Binod said, “Qatar Airlines which is an official airline partner of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is one of the service-recipients of our company”. He further shared that he was handling around 1,100 staffs, including 550 kitchen staffs in the company to deliver food service throughout the global event.
After conducting the research, the team members had received training on Qatari dishes and flavour from Chef Aisha Al-Tamimi, a distinguished personality of Qatar who has also been serving cuisine to the crew members and passengers of the Qatar Airlines, Binod narrated. Her engagement as a trainer was how the host country was putting efforts to serve delicacies to the dignitaries being careful of their tastes and local Qatari flavor. It was also how to translate the research findings to action taking into consideration different tastes of the special guests.
“Then after, our team started preparing dishes. It also involved the process of dish preparation, development and workshop. The workshop included different set of activities such as how to present the food products, examine the taste and receive feedback for improvements”, he said while explaining rigorous research and development procedure.
“The menu was finalized only after the designated representatives of the Qatar government and the World Cup approved the quality and taste of the food products,” Binod said, adding that, “Being cognizant to the host country’s priority to promote local food and flavour, we had also placed focus to use local products such as local chicken, vegetables, beef and spices”.
“We were pre informed of the arrivals of VVIPs/VIPs/foreign dignitaries in the football tournaments. Acting on the information, our team prepared the cuisine accordingly and took the items to the stadium through chiller vans after maintaining locally and internationally-stipulated standards,” Binod explained.
He noted that they developed a country-specific menu and food items accordingly for the VVIPs/VIPs on the pre-scheduled date of their tournaments featuring their nations. “For instance, our team developed a menu and served fish and chips as British favourite dish when England or other European countries were featured in the tournament.
Likewise, we prepared Tagine with Cous Cous when Morocco was playing the tournament. For the dignitaries from Argentina or Brazil, we had served them with one of the best beef. We developed a menu of Saudi Arabia national dish Kabsa for Saudi Royals and other VVIPs/VIPs”, he informed.
After completing all security screening process, our team serve the food to the dignitaries. “We served foods and beverages to number of dignitaries, including Saudi Arabia Royal family members, Turkish President Erdogan, Indian Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar, American actor Morgan Freeman, British football legend David Beckham, and Arsenal football club manager Arsene Wenger in the opening ceremony of the World Cup on 20 November 2022,” Binod shared.
Binod is an established name in the culinary world as spice pundit and has so far earned his fame as ‘more than a chef’. In his twenty plus years of career in the culinary world, he has donned several hats from that of a writer, a charity worker, a food researcher, a food consultant, an entrepreneur, founder of many social causes, Goodwill and Brand Ambassador of product and organisations to name few.
He is a Global Goodwill Ambassador of UK nominated by Global Goodwill Ambassador (GGA) and a Co-Founder of MOMO & ROTI in London. He is also the Brand Ambassador of Gurkha Beer and is an advisor to Support Nepal UK, a charity-based organization registered with Charity Commission of England (https://www.supportnepaluk.org/about/).
“Food connects people, culture and country. Through my multiple engagements with this conviction, I am working to connect Nepal with the United Kingdom and rest of the world through cuisine, culture and philanthropy”, he said. Very indeed, he is promoting Nepal in the globe through food diplomacy. All in all, ‘Binod is born in Nepal, made in Great Britain Chef". As a recognized spice pundit, he is not only offering cuisine to the dignitaries in the FIFA World Cup but also expanding gastronomic delights in a multi-cultural milieu.