The four finalists of The Dates Connection traveled from Ammam, Riyadh, Dubai and Bassano del Grappa to meet at the prestigious restaurant Don Lisander in the heart of Milan, to define the winner of The Dates Connection.
A jury faced the challenge of assessing four dishes of high quality and creativity, finally choosing Chef Sanjay Thakur as winner of a tight contest in front of Chef Grant Marais of Gates Hospitality. The jury was composed by Chef Daniele Chiari of Saudi Arabia Protocol; Chef Antonio Danise, Manager of Nazionale Italiana Cuochi; Mr. Andrea Sinigaglia, Director of ALMA Scuola Internazionale della Cucina Italiana, and Mr. Saad Alyahya, Director of the gourmet food trading company Ejan in Saudi Arabia.
Chef Thakur is well known in the international scene also for his Guinness Record, having opened the highest pop up restaurant on the Himalayas in 2015.
Conceived by TUTTOFOOD and HOST Milano to explore the potentiality of using of dates as an innovative ingredient in the modern cuisine, not only in the Middle East but also in Italy, The Dates Connection has been an authentic culinary journey that links the Middle East with Europe, reaffirming the international standing of these two top Italian shows.
The journey started in July 2022 with the support of key stakeholders in the Middle East and Italy: the Jordan Restaurant Association, the Jordan Chef Association, the UAE Restaurant Group, the Emirates Culinary Guild, The World Association of Chefs Societies and the Italian Chef Federation. Over 80 chefs based in the territories involved took part in the competition, as evidence of a wide interest in the exploration of the possibilities that dates have as an ingredient in all kinds of recipes.
The involvement of the National Center for Palms and Dates of Saudi Arabia, official sponsor of the competition, was key for the success of the event. They also participated as exhibitors in TUTTOFOOD for the first time, introducing to a large public of professional buyers a selection of Saudi dates, of which the country has over 300 varieties.
Through this competition, TUTTOFOOD and HOST Milano are effectively building a bridge between culinary cultures promoting the introduction of innovative and healthy ingredients in the contemporary international cuisine.