UAE-based chef in Sodexo Sustainable Chef final

Published on : 10/30/23
  • Ruperto Gargarita, representing Sodexo MEA, is one of eight regional champions through to the final of the Sodexo Sustainable Chef Challenge 2023.


    Ruperto Gargarita, representing Sodexo MEA, is one of eight regional champions through to the final of the Sodexo Sustainable Chef Challenge 2023. He is currently Chief Cook Continental Cuisine at one of the prestigious international defense clients we serve.

    The Sustainable Chef Challenge brings together culinary talent from Sodexo catering services around the world, to showcase innovative plant-based dishes and demonstrate how they can drive a more sustainable future.

    This means in addition to flavour and originality, judges are also looking for sustainable creativity – such as the use of ingredients that might otherwise be overlooked, discarded, or wasted. Dishes also have to be made using ingredients and techniques that could be easily replicated globally.

    The competition

    Now in its second year, the Sustainable Chef Challenge is part of Sodexo’s ongoing efforts to promote and raise awareness of sustainable eating. Last year’s winner, French chef Dominique Dörr, took home top honors in Germany, where the inaugural competition was held.

    By bringing plant-based ingredients to the fore, Sodexo hopes to positively influence people’s health and reduce our collective impact on the environment.

    This contest is designed to promote plant-based recipes that have low CO2 emissions. All the dishes in the competition are certified by third-party Sodexo partners Eaternity and WWF, who evaluate the sustainability credentials of all the dishes entered.

    Why it matters

    Agriculture alone is responsible for around a third of all greenhouse gases, yet we are all too aware that without farmers, there is no food – so we want to do our bit to create balance.

    This is why we are extremely mindful of the sourcing choices of all our catering services. Our supply experts choose local seasonal produce wherever possible, and work collaboratively with local farmers and producers at our client sites.

    What is sustainable catering?

    Sustainable chefs try to work in a way that makes a positive impact on both the environment and society in general. The principles involve:

    • Reducing waste

    • Cutting pollution and emissions

    • Minimizing impact on the environment

    • Improving employee safety and health

    • Lowering energy and water consumption

    • Advancing diversity in hiring

    • Promoting a greater range of healthy products 

    The regionals

    For this year’s Sustainable Chef Challenge, each of Sodexo’s regional HQs selected a competitor to represent them in the contest – the eight finalists were then called to a global cook-off.

    The final eight will face-off at the RATIONAL headquarters in Germany from November 14 – 15, 2023. There, all the finalists will be given the opportunity to showcase their skills and present their chosen sustainable menus.

    The finalists

    Ruperto Gargarita will be representing the Middle East throughout the contest. Speaking of his culinary skills, Ruperto says: “I am always open to new ideas and challenges. For me, it’s flavor first – food is never really judged with your eyes, but with your taste – flavor is everything.”

    For his first dish, Ruperto will serve one of the Arabian peninsula’s most famous dishes, the kabsa [makbūs]. His version of the pan-fried lentil and sweet potato frittata uses a careful balance of spices and ingredients to create a symphony of flavors.

    Ruperto’s second dish is a classic mahalabia (Middle Eastern milk pudding) with a twist – his take is a creamy nutty, almond milk-based dessert with nuts & raisins. The dessert is 100% plant-based, with zero dairy, and bound with agar powder (a seaweed-based product), and flavoured with soaked raisins & crushed nuts.

    In the finals, Ruperto will join Sam Blackburn of the US, Markus Menzel of Germany, Ricardo Fontana Machado of Brazil, Sharon McConnell of Northern Ireland, Nagesh Morajkar of India, Éric Tomasso Tomasso of France, and Rodrigo Antonio Cartes Valdes of Chile. 

    Announcing the finalists, Lloyd Mann, VP of Culinary at Sodexo, said: “This competition is a dynamic platform where Sodexo chefs will compete to showcase their culinary expertise, creativity, and authenticity.”

    Best of luck

    Sodexo MEA is delighted to have Ruperto representing the UAE, and we wish him every luck in the final. We are so pleased to see him representing the region and its culinary traditions, all while highlighting the vital importance of sustainable food. 

    We wish Ruperto every success in the finals, from all of us here at Sodexo MEA.

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