The Foodie Festival of the Year: Don't Miss It!
If you’re any degree of foodie, the annual event to look forward to in Beirut is Horeca. Formed from the words Hotels, Restaurants, and Cafés, this exhibition is the largest in the Levant for the food service and hospitality industry, attracting hundreds of exhibitors, trade visitors, internationally-renowned chefs and food experts.
|The Loacker mascot! (instragram.com/horecaleb)|
The Biel Pavilion is transformed into a fair of sorts, organizing exhibitors into sections by common interest: (1) Food; (2) Beverage; (3) Coffee &Tea; (4) Maintenance & Hygiene; (5) Techzone; (6) Packaging, Catering, Supermarket & Laundry Equipment; (7) Schools & Universities; (8) International; (9) Furniture, Uniforms & Linens; and (10) Consultant & Recruiting.
To complement the stands, where visitors have the chance to explore products and services and interact with vendors, Horeca is hosting a variety of contests in which baristas, bartenders, junior chefs, and hotelier students compete neck to neck in front of spectators and judges.
|Bartenders' Competition (instagram.com/horecaleb)|
This will be the third Horeca I attend, and from past experience, it’s pretty entertaining! If you’re into gadgets and gizmos, this is your opportunity to play with the new toys in the industry. If it’s your palate you’re looking to pamper, then you’ll definitely get your fill of samples and treats, but beware: some exhibitors are stingier than others, and others set up shop strictly to sell (Shawarmanji is one of them).
I recall Taanayel Les Fermes being among the most generous: they hire out a large space, stocking and re-stocking their fridges with ice cream, yogurt, liquid yogurt and more. They also prepare fresh sajj manakish slathered with their infamous labneh baladieh.
Tony’s Foods, a purveyor of frozen Lebanese and Oriental foodstuffs like kibbeh balls, croquettes and samosas, was another highlight from last year’s visit. I also loved Krikita’s cones piled high with their signature roasted kernels.
Aim to indulge in happy hour (on the house!) from the innumerable wine, vodka, and spirits booths clustered together. Some of the brands offer delicious nibbles to temper the drinking.
|Chateau Kefraya stand (instagram.com/horecaleb)|
As for me, I’ll be making a beeline for the local wine labels (Chateau Qanafar, Musar, and Domaine des Tourelles count among my favorites). I’m also a sucker for Italian products like fresh mozzarella, grissini, pesto and olive oil. Prunelle can expect a visit from me—they have a selection of some of the best breads (and accompanying cubes of cheese) in the country.
Horeca takes place Monday, April 20, through Thursday, April 23, from 3 – 9 pm daily. Professionals gain free admission with a valid business card indicating their affiliation to the industry. Senior students in hotel management, nutrition, and food science are also granted complimentary access to the festival. For everyone else, the cost of entry is 50,000 LL. You can register for your e-badge here.