Upfield Professional, the Foodservice division of Upfield behind the brands Rama Professional, Flora Plant™ and Violife® sponsored the first ever vegan category at this year’s Emirates Salon Culinaire.

The competition took place across the UAE with the winner announced on 5th April in Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. Emirates Salon Culinaire, running on its 24th year, is a series of culinary competitions, open to professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers to showcase their culinary skills judged by prominent chefs worldwide.

As an official sponsor, Upfield Professional launched the vegan category referred to as the Flora Plant™ Four Plates Vegan Dessert Category. This new category aims to promote the use of plant-based dairy alternatives in cooking and baking to help local chefs and bakers meet increasing demand for plant-based food. All entries used Flora Plant Butter and Flora Plant Cream and among all these innovative desserts, Chef Reina Joanne Marasigan from Etihad Airways won the first place prize.

“This is the first time Upfield is sponsoring a competition at the Emirates Salon Culinaire. With plant-based or no-allergen options becoming more popular than ever across the UAE, we felt it was the right time to partner with such an influential competition. Chefs and hospitality business owners look to the Salon Culinaire for inspiration for new ideas and we hope the dishes created by chefs in the vegan dessert category will give them the confidence to use more plant-based food in their menus,” says Chef Marwan Abidaoud, Upfield North Africa and Middle East Corporate Lead Chef.

Further, Emirates Culinary Guild President and World Association of Chefs Societies Assistant Vice President, Chef Micheel Uwe commented, “We recognise the increasing demand now and even bigger opportunity in the future for plant-based or vegan dishes. We’ve had a vegetarian category before, but this year marks the beginning of 100% vegan category in Salon Culinaire. We are excited to open this new category with Upfield because we as chefs, need to be prepared for this growing need from our customers. I am happy to see amazing entries for the four plates vegan dessert category. If you compare them with other desserts, you will not be able to tell the difference. This means vegan dishes are not as limited anymore and can be as creative and delicious as non-vegan desserts.”

Etihad Aviation Group Pastry Chef and category winner, Chef Reina Marasigan noted that in the vast culinary evolution, customers are now more cautious and selective of what they eat hence they need to be equipped with ingredients that can help them serve a variety of options including vegan. Chef Dinesh Atapattu, also of Etihad Aviation, further affirmed that Flora Plant Cream is a perfect solution for any cream-based application and is easy to use with no difference in taste when compared with dairy creams.

Available to buy in local retail stores nationwide, Flora Plant™ is one of Upfield’s latest product innovations and is the only 100% plant-based cream and butter without any allergens available in the UAE and across the Gulf. Flora Plant Butter and Flora Plant Cream are vegan, dairy free and gluten free with a rich and creamy taste and which consumers can use 1:1 in baking and cooking. It is made with plant-based oils and has no artificial flavors or preservatives. Flora Plant™ also has 50% lower impact on CO2 emissions than dairy and takes half the carbon dioxide, requires two thirds less land and half the water to produce. Flora Plant™ also comes packaged in 100% FSC certified parchment paper which is plastic-free, making it a more environmentally responsible choice for consumers looking to reduce their imprint on our planet through sustainable foods, without sacrificing taste.

As part of the launch of Flora Plant™ into the UAE market, Upfield is also working closely with hospitality businesses to help them cater for increasing numbers of diners looking for plant-based options. The company has recently launched a collaboration with Movenpick Jumeirah Lakes Towers’ Urban Bar & Kitchen [u]bk restaurant to create two vegan recipes using Flora Plant butter and cream. ‘Flora Plant Vegan Apple Tart’ and ‘Flora Plant Vegan Truffle Pasta’ are both available for diners to try from [u]bk’s menu from April 3rd.

Upfield is set to announce more partnerships with their customers to expand and support their plant-based menus with Flora Plant™, and soon with its range of 100% vegan, allergen-free cheese alternative from the award-winning global brand Violife®.

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