At the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai and Emirates Flight Catering’s eco-friendly approach is a “source local, think global” vision. We look into how caterers will work with participating countries to serve up international cuisine at the exhibition.
Picture this: Fresh produce from a vertical farm served to millions at Expo 2020 Dubai. While it may sound dreamlike, it’s reality for the sustainability-driven exhibition, which will collaborate with Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) to provide delicious and diverse culinary choices while showcasing the future of sustainable gastronomy.
The tie-up will introduce visitors to a world of tantalising up-and-coming cuisines at Expo Culinary Experience restaurants. Operated by EKFC, the eateries will embrace authentic recipes from participating countries – enabling diners to sample global flavours, ingredients and foodstuffs they may have never considered before stepping through the Expo 2020 gates.
“With 50 million meals expected to be served during Expo 2020, both quality and sustainability are crucial to our aim of creating an exceptional – and delicious – World Expo, while also contributing to a more sustainable future for us all. Expo 2020 and EKFC share this strong commitment, and we look forward to exchanging knowledge and ideas,” says Gillian Hamburger, senior vice president, Programming at Expo 2020 Dubai.
On last month’s United Nations’ Sustainable Gastronomy Day, Expo 2020 and EKFC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that sets out a shared vision for the largest event ever staged in the Arab world. This forms part of a broader collaboration which puts the planet first – with Expo 2020 and EKFC innovating together to advance Expo 2020’s Sustainability subtheme and create lasting positive environmental impacts.
“At Emirates Flight Catering, we’re constantly looking at innovation and ways to improve our productivity, product and service quality. We’re committed to bringing our customers the freshest and highest quality food possible by adopting the latest technology into our operations,” says Saeed Mohammed, chief executive officer of Emirates Flight Catering.
“Our ‘farm to fork’ concept not only secures our own supply chain of locally-sourced, fresh vegetables, but it significantly reduces our environmental footprint as well. We’re delighted to collaborate with Expo 2020 to provide millions of visitors with a truly memorable gastronomical experience,” adds Mohammed.
EKFC is set to launch a series of F&B locations across the Expo site’s three thematic districts. Fine dining restaurants will feature rotating menus and a monthly star chef from its extensive network, while Grains and Greens will offer gourmet sandwiches, bowl creations and sharing platters. Meanwhile, La Patisserie will provide sweet treats and coffee in an elegant atmosphere, and Deli2Go will be serving up simple and fresh bites that can be enjoyed on the move.
EKFC’s 130,000 square foot vertical farm, located next door to the Expo 2020 site in Dubai South, will produce 2,700 kilos of herbicide- and pesticide-free leafy greens every day, using 99 percent less water than outdoor fields. A proportion of its output will go to Emirates-operated outlets and various other pavilions at the Expo during the 173 days of the event.
In light of Expo 2020’s wider environmental commitment, every F&B vendor that collaborates with the exhibition must sign the Food Ethos – a document designed to push forward sustainability and wellness through local sourcing, as well as the use of organic produce and environmentally-conscious packaging. The Food Ethos also promotes affordability, setting standards for accessibility by encouraging vendors to account for allergies and intolerances.
F&B providers are also encouraged to meet more ambitious targets in areas such as food and packaging waste. This could include donating excess food to the UAE Food Bank or implementing technologies to track and reduce waste.
EKFC, which is one of the world’s largest airline catering companies, diverts a wide range of materials from landfill through a comprehensive recycling programme and uses sustainable materials throughout its operation. As part of its ‘farm to fork’ policy, EKFC works directly with suppliers to best source the right ingredients and reduce food miles while actively supporting SMEs in the local market. EKFC is sharing these best practices with Expo 2020.
The outlook is positively green. A foodie’s paradise, Expo 2020 Dubai is set to welcome visitors from every corner of the globe to discover mouth-watering dishes, creative gastronomic experiences, future-shaping food tech, old classics, new favourites, street bites and gourmet delights across more than 200 F&B outlets.
“We want to inspire visitors to try new flavours at Expo 2020, whether it’s a cuisine they know nothing about or a clever twist on a popular dish. The F&B programme supports Expo’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Food connects people with culture, and what better way to enjoy the company of others than by sharing delicious cuisine and fresh experiences together?” says Darren Tse, director of F&B, Programming at Expo 2020 Dubai.
There will be options to suit every palate, with 50-plus cuisines to try across an area equal in size to seven football pitches and almost 300,000 meals served every day throughout the six-month celebration that begins on October 20 2020.
Visitors will get a taste of robotics, and augmented and virtual reality seeing how technology will change how we prepare and order food. They will also discover the creative merging of flavours and cuisines, exploring how food connects people and cultures.
Furthermore, much-loved local restaurants and talented up-and-comers will be introduced to an international audience, while UAE-inspired cuisine and traditional dishes from the wider Arab world will be enjoyed in a food hall setting.
A whole new world of opportunities for the F&B industry is opening up and the entire world is eagerly waiting to become a part of it, and share input for a more sustainable future.