Saudi Arabia: Meet Renowned Italian Chef Igles Corelli

La Cucina Welcomes Legendary Chef and Creator of Modern Italian Cuisine

igles corelli

-Chef Igles Corelli to Host Celebration of Italian Cuisine at Riyadh’s top Italian restaurant in Al Faisaliah Hotel-

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15th April 2013:

Riyadh’s trendiest Italian restaurant located in the renowned five-star Al Faisaliah Hotel, La Cucina is set to welcome one of the world’s most celebrated chefs and a founder of modern Italian cuisine, to offer residents and guests of Riyadh a new and exclusive taste of Italy.

Chef Igles Corelli, a Michelin-starred chef, restaurant owner in Tuscany, bestselling author and recipient of many international awards, will host a series of unique and inspired lunches, dinners and interactive cooking classes from 21st– 25th April at La Cucina.

A native of the province of Romagna in Italy, Chef Corelli is one of the forefathers of what is recognised today as modern Italian cuisine.  Breaking away from the traditional presentations of Italian dishes favoured in old fashioned hotels and restaurants, Corelli proposed the use of local and seasonal ingredients to create dishes that burst with flavour and encouraged creative flair. Employing avant-garde technology years before it entered the kitchens of Europe, Corelli is a pioneer in molecular gastronomy.

La Cucina’s five-day celebration of gourmet Italian cuisine created by Corelli will include some of the master chef’s signature dishes using game, fish and wild herbs. Three-course lunches and four-course dinner menus will allow guests to savour the finest flavours and ingredients sourced from Italy and crafted by Corelli into culinary masterpieces. Participants in the chef’s cooking lessons conducted in the kitchens at La Cucina will earn a certificate of achievement personally signed by Corelli.

La Cucina, located in the renowned five-star Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel, has enjoyed a reputation for exceptional contemporary Italian cuisine since the day it opened, and is currently under the direction of talented Chef Marco Devicentis.

Erich Steinbock, Regional Vice President for Rosewood Hotels in the Kingdom, and Managing Director of the Al Faisaliah and Al Khozama Hotels said: “We are delighted to be hosting Chef Igles Corelli at La Cucina, and to be offering our guests an opportunity to enjoy truly unique and inspiring Italian cuisine from a world master. This will certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

To make a booking at La Cucina, call: +966.1.273.2222 or email: [email protected].  Al Faisaliah Hotel is owned by Al Khozama Management Company (Al Khozama) and operated by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.


About Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel

Riyadh’s most luxurious property opened at Al Faisaliah Hotel in May 2000. In a city that gracefully melds tradition with sophisticated style, Al Faisaliah Hotel defines the ultimate in modern elegance and prestigious location. The stunning hotel boasts the largest column-free banquet and meeting facilities in the Kingdom. With the introduction of dedicated 24-hour butler service, the 330-room and suites property has elevated the art of personal service to new levels. Perfectly suited to the discerning business traveler, Al Faisaliah offers spacious accommodations, technologically advanced in-room communications systems, five culinary venues, with “La Cucina” being the sixth addition, a state-of-the-art health club and easy access to world-class shopping.

About Al Khozama Management Company

Al Khozama Management Company (AKMC) was originally founded as the direct property investment and management arm of the King Faisal Foundation. AKMC is a property investment company, based in Riyadh, developing and investing in prime, modern properties and providing property asset management to third party property owners across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. AKMC owns Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama, and manages Al Shohada Hotel in the holy city of Makkah, as part of a larger portfolio. For more information on AKMC, please visit

About Rosewood Hotels & Resorts®:

Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® manages one-of-a-kind luxury properties in the world’s most desired destinations. Rosewood properties embrace the company’s A Sense of Place® philosophy, reflecting the history, architecture, scale and sensibilities of the destination. The Rosewood collection includes some of the most legendary hotels and resorts in the world, including Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek® in Dallas, The Carlyle in New York, Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, as well as contemporary classics such as Rosewood Sand Hill® in California, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende® in Mexico, and Rosewood Tucker’s Point in Bermuda. Rosewood also offers Sense® spa – featuring treatments reflective of the location’s culture and natural environment – available exclusively at select properties.

Saudi Arabia: The Effects of Westernisation on Dietary Habits in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

saudi diet


Contributed by Lily Lowton for American Bedu blog

The modern people of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are descendants of ancient nomadic goat-herding tribes whose traditions have filtered down through the centuries but are becoming diluted by western culture and influenced by rapid economic development. The traditional diet in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabiaconsists mainly of food readily available in rural areas; unleavened bread made with barley flour, chicken, lamb, spices, yoghurt, milkand dates. Diet is strictly governed by Islamic tradition and it is forbidden to eat pork or consume alcohol in Saudi Arabia. Islamic principles are unlikely to be diluted by western culture but aspects of diet not related to religion are changing rapidly in the region and continue to do so. Meat is consumed in larger quantities than it is the western diet and must be prepared according to Islamic principles and tradition. Tea and coffee are the preferred drinks but this may change as western influences increase.

There are many different varieties of bread in the traditional diet, the most common being Fatir which is a barley-flour flatbread eaten with most meals. A traditional blend of spices known as Hawayij and consisting of peppercorns, caraway seed, cardamom seed, saffron & turmeric give Arabic cuisine its distinctive flavour and aroma. Chicken is widely consumed and makes up a large proportion of the traditional diet. Lamb is also popular but tends to be the meat of choice for special occasions and family celebrations. It is rare to find a vegetarian in Saudi society but, with the massive influx of westerners into the region, that fact is likely to change. Western influence and rapid economic development, especially in urban areas, will lead to a continued move away from traditional cuisine and the possibility of more Saudi citizens adopting western attitudes towards food. Rural areas tend to be more traditional and remain largely untainted by western culture but this is also likely to change.

Changing diet

Following the discovery of oil in the region in the late 1930s and the rapid growth and development of the Saudi economy since that time, the diet of the people has changed and continues to do so, mostly in urban areas, where populations have become more cosmopolitan and the influences of western cuisine are causal to a shift away from traditional foods for younger generations. Fast food restaurants are becoming common-place in the cities and the food they serve is dramatically different from traditional Saudi cuisine. Nutritionists are worried by this shift as disease related to the consumption of westernised foods is rapidly on the increase. In recent years the incidence obesity in Saudi adolescents had increased due to a shift away from traditional foods & an increase in the consumption of saturated fats, sugar and carbohydrates. The rapid development of the economy in the Kingdom has brought with it a more modern lifestyle in young Saudi Arabians who are increasingly following a more sedentary way of life than their ancestors were used to.

Health considerations

In 2006 a study carried out by The Saudi German Hospitals Group amongst adolescents in Jeddah discovered that almost half of those studied were overweight. The study concluded that this was due to a move towards western cuisine and a tendency towards a more sedentary lifestyle much like their western counterparts. The study recommended the promotion of a healthier lifestyle within the age group studied as a counter-measure against future incidences of diabetes and other diet-related diseases. There can be beneficial effects on health due to western influences; a possible increase in vegetarianism could result, however, extremes in diet, be it towards an unhealthy increase in consumption of carbohydrates and saturated fat, or towards extreme diets promoted in the western media can lead to problems. Balance is required in diet to promote a healthy population and less strain on health resources.

It is clear that the influence of western society upon Saudi Arabian lifestyle has had mixed effects, both detrimental and beneficial. Diet is one of the areas in which the effects on Saudi culture are marked and obvious. Younger generations in urban areas are affected most as their exposure to non-traditional influences is much greater. Globalisation will continue to dilute the differences between cultures the world over, however, there are some aspects of society, governed by strong tradition and religion, which will stand up to this apparent shrinking of the world and preserve the identities of countries such as The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: The Bi-Cultural Hostess


It is always a pleasure to receive queries and requests for posts from American Bedu followers.  Today’s query comes from a Westerner who is in a relationship with an Arab.  Her partner frequently has his friends come over to visit and sometimes stay with them.  She wants to know how to be a good hostess.

Arabs take great pride in demonstrating their hospitality.  No guests are turned away whether expected or not.  The best dishes will be prepared and offered.  The host and hostess will never give any indication whether they have another commitment or not.  While they have their guest, the guest receives the full attention.

It is always important to offer drinks and refreshments to guests.  In Saudi Arabia, it is common to first offer a guest water and then follow up with a selection of fresh juices.  Many Saudis will also start out with sweets before offering anything more savory.

I had a tendency to combine both Western and Saudi cultures when hosting guests.  I would always offer something to drink but usually have a variety of choices on a tray, to include water, fruit juice or soft drinks.  I’d also mix up the “finger foods” too.  I’d like to have several platters with selections that offer a sweet tray, vegetable tray, mini sandwiches or something simple like mini-pizzas.

In Saudi Arabia it’s not a bad idea to keep items on hand which can be prepared easily and quickly in the event of unexpected guests.

While guests would enjoy their drinks and finger foods, I’d coordinate and begin preparations for a meal.  Usually I’d prepare a basic kupsa (chicken and rice dish) with a traditional Arabic salad.  Lasagne is also a popular and easy dish to put together for unexpected and hungry guests.  These are also dishes that both Westerners and “Easterners” like to enjoy.

If you are not a quick cook or prepared to cook, then it is okay to slip to another room and place an order for delivery.

One of the biggest cultural considerations to remember when entertaining Saudi or other Arab guests is to make sure that whatever you offer does not contain any alcohol or pork products.

In addition to providing appealing food and drink, the hostess is generally expected to serve and attend to the needs of guests.  If the guests are staying overnight then their room(s) should be prepared with fresh sheets, flowers and perhaps one basket with appetizing snacks and another with a selection of toiletries.  Fresh towels and face clothes should be either in the room they are staying in or clearly designated for them in the washroom.

In most Eastern cultures, the guests are not expected to make up their beds.  This is due in large part that many have domestic help who see to these tasks.  If the hostess does not have domestic help, my recommendation is that she go ahead and make up the beds after guests.  Again, the key is hospitality and showing the guest they are always most welcomed.

Some houseguests will offer to help out.  The Saudi way is to politely turn down their offer.  If the guest is sincere, he or she will help out regardless.

I hope that these tips are useful and provide some insights into traditional Saudi hospitality.

Saudi Arabia: Should Customers Be Levied an Additional Charge for an Unfinished Meal?


One Saudi restaurant owner has posted signs within his restaurant stating that if any customers do not finish their meal, leaving food on their plate, they will be charged an additional fee.  The basis for his decision is seeing how much food has gone to waste yet knowing of food crisis elsewhere around the world.  Taking matters into his own hands, he now levies a “fee” for any clients who leave food on their plates.  The monies collected are put into a box and then distributed to differing charities.  The restaurant owner hopes that other restaurants will follow his example.

Personally, I do not have a problem with a customer paying a fee, especially if the client chose to leave food rather than request a ‘to go’ box.  At the same time, I can attest that many Saudi restaurants are very generous with their portions and understand why some individuals are unable to finish their meal.

There are poor everywhere, including in Saudi Arabia, who go hungry.  Sadly though, most countries (to include the United States) are prohibited by law from giving away excess food to the poor.  However, in Saudi Arabia and especially during Ramadan, many families would distribute excess food to poor families.

Leftovers are not a common practice in Saudi Arabia.  My own husband would have our leftover food distributed daily.  We lived in an all-Saudi compound which had third country nationals working for minimal salaries as drivers or compound maintenance workers.  These employees had their own “communal” lodgings and my husband would take the food to them.  This was not food directly from an unfinished plate but rather excess that was still from the original dish. They were always very appreciative of his actions.

I should also add that since hospitality is a high priority among Saudis it is customary for many families to also prepare additional food in the event of any unexpected guests.  Among some families, it would not be unusual for family members to pop in for a visit and they would be expected to stay for the meal.


Saudi Arabia: Are There Any Saudi Vegetarians?

vegetarian diet


Saudi Arabia has expatriates from all over the world working in the Kingdom.  As a result, there are a plethora of ethnic restaurants to include plenty of Indian restaurants which specialize in vegetarian foods only.

It is not surprising for there to be vegetarians among the expats and not limited to expats from India.  There are many vegetarians among the Western expats who make the Kingdom their home.

However, the typical Saudi is brought up on a diet which includes meat, lots of meat.  Most Saudi families have some type of meat or meat dish served with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  In fact, lamb is viewed as a staple in the average Saudi’s diet.

Many Saudis may enjoy vegetarian food but I know in all of my interactions with Saudis throughout the Kingdom, I never met a Saudi who proclaimed himself or herself as a vegetarian.  As a result, it has made me wonder…. Are there any Saudis who consider themselves a vegetarian?  If so, I’d like to know about.

I’d like to know what made a Saudi choose to become a vegetarian and how easy (or difficult) is it for a Saudi to maintain a vegetarian diet among family and friends.

Saudi Arabia: He’ll Sing for his Meal!


Qusay Today is another Saudi blog I like to follow.  On Qusay’s blog you never know what he may choose to write about next but always worth reading.

Most recently he posted a youtube video of a young Saudi who was hungry enough to sing for his meal!  This Saudi enjoyed singing his order at a McDonald’s drive through in the Kingdom.  What is also cute is that the individual taking the order (sounds like a gent from the Phillipines) sang right back to him.

What kind of a response do you think YOU would receive if you were to sing for your meal at a drive through?  Hmmmm….sounds like a fun way to put a smile on someone’s face and make a routine job more interesting.

Saudi Arabia: Kitchen is the Heart of the Home


So much of family life takes place in the kitchen regardless of what country or nationality one may be thinking about.  Saudi Arabia is no exception.  Families do gather round and share conversation in the kitchens while cooking together or waiting for those special dishes.

My Saudi mother-in-law and I do much of our bonding in the kitchen.  When I first arrived in Saudi I spoke little Arabic and she spoke no English.  However in the kitchen,  we were able to easily communicate as she prepared and showed me the favorite dishes of my husband.

In Jeddah, Goody Kitchen Academy also recognizes how special the kitchen is and provides classes in the culinary arts.  What also makes Goody Kitchen Academy unique is that the students are primarily Saudi women rather than expatriates thus illustrating the increased interest of Saudi women in learning additional culinary skills.

Goody Kitchen Academy’s mission has always been to help women live their dreams, become accomplished entrepreneurs and play key roles in the field of culinary arts.  For further information, it is well worth perusing Goody Kitchen’s web site.


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