By Javier Picazo Feliu
Doha, Nov 2 (EFE).- When the ball starts rolling in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar will welcome some 2 million visitors from all over the globe to not only experience all the tournament’s actions firsthand but also to indulge in rich and diverse flavors at some of the world’s best restaurants.
While the culinary traditions in Spain, Mexico and Peru include pork and alcohol, these world-renowned cuisines had to adapt to the food peculiarities in Qatar, a Muslim country where some culinary ingredients are prohibited.
Wolfgang Puck, Pino Lavarra, Nobu, Alain Ducasse, Dani Garcia and Gaston Acurio are some of the acclaimed chefs that have found Qatar an open and hospitable country.
Frank Ponce, 32, is a chef at Acurio’s La Mar Doha. The restaurant is located in the Intercontinental Hotel in the Qatari capital.
Ponce arrived at this restaurant in 2018, but he has been working with Acurio since 2014.
His 13-year-long career began in his grandmother’s kitchen, from where he went on to specialize in Peruvian cuisine, as well as the best Italian and Japanese traditional food.
“It is a Peruvian restaurant, we offer seafood cuisine. But we have varieties of meat, lamb, a wide variety of dishes created after getting used to the Qatari market that is totally new for us.” Ponce tells Efe.
“We did not know how it was going to work, but in all this time that we have been, 4 years, acceptance has been very good. Traditional Peruvian cuisine has been taken to another level,” he says.
Causa Lima and classic cebiche are two of their most popular dishes but they have also handcrafted dishes specifically for the Qatari market.
“Gaston Acurio helps in creating dishes by giving ideas. We have a dish that was born here. The ‘chaufa middle east’, which is a classic Peruvian anticuchera sauce with ingredients from the Middle East,” he explains.
SPANISH HAUTE CUISINE
Spanish Michelin star chef Dani Garcia has also opened a restaurant in Doha, called BiBo. Santiago Guerrero, 43, has been in charge of the kitchen in the dine-in located at St. Regis hotel for three years
Their cuttlefish tapas, stew croquettes, potato omelets, patatas bravas, and oxtail brioches are all very popular in Qatar.
“The local guest comes because he wants to enjoy a taste from Spain. We want to represent Spanish food. They have traveled to Spain, many of them either have second homes in Spain or visit it every summer,” Guerrero says.
Like the rest of international restaurants, they face some difficulties finding the needed products in a country that imports about 90% of what it consumes, especially fruit and vegetables, given it is surrounded by desert.
“Part of the power of a cook is to adapt to what is on the market and with the thousands of dishes that we have in Spain, being able to adapt a little bit and bring those Spanish flavors without having to say ‘we can’t do this because we don’t have the basic ingredients,’ we adapt and do a little bit of calibration in the product that we do have,” he says.
There are essential products for their kitchen such as Arbequina olive oil, Almadraba tuna and Bomba rice, which are exported from Spain.
Since they cannot cook with pork in Qatar, BiBo Doha has been “able to make sausage with Wagyu (Japanese beef). A pinch of paprika, oregano and white vinegar are what the marinade is made of,” he says