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Hospitality & Tourism

Chinedu Rita Rosa Simple Guide to African Food and Wine Pairing



Chinedu Rita Rosa, Founder at Vines by Rosa (Source: Roger Das)

It is not rocket science, but most of us are in great distress when it is time to make a choice of wine, especially when it comes to having dinner with friends or worst of all, your husband is inviting colleagues or his boss over to your house and you want to pull out all the stops to impress and give them a dining experience that they will be talking about in the office for the coming weeks ahead.

In Nigeria, we are blessed with such a wide array of formidable cooking styles and different tastes, that I know the food is not the problem, but you do not want to serve your food with the wrong choice of wine, that will take away from the taste of your food instead of enhancing, so let’s dive right into sure ways of avoiding a mistake.

Food Categories and the Wine Match

Fatty and Oily food: We are a Nation of the best palm oils and most of the dishes in Nigeria consists of oils in one form or the order, so for a fail-proof choice, when cooking all those beautiful Afang soup, Egusi soup, Efo-riro etc, with of course all the orisirisi (Mixed meat) that goes with it. The choice is to have a wine, high in acidity and full-bodied to be able to cut through the fatty taste and cleansing the palete through the meal.

Pinot Noir: Because of its high acidity, medium tannin, and careful use of oak maturation, this wine is perfect for an
amazing dinner that will enhance the Nigerian dining experience: It is quite easy to find and all you need to do is decide if you want Old-world Pinot Noir eg: Bourgogne/Burgundy AOC, or premier Crus like Pommard, Nuits-Saint-Georges etc.

New World: Californian (Santa Barbara, Sonoma etc) Chile: Casablanca Valley, Australia (Yarra Vally & Mornington
Peninsula) or New Zealand (Martinborough, Marlborough and central Otago. And of course in South Africa where the beautiful region of Walker Bay produces some amazing Pinot Noir.

Spicy/hot/Chilly: Call it whatever you want but this is the heat that puts African food on the map and as my mum would say “that drives our never-ending energy” Because of this burning topic, I have two suggestions.
If you do not like the burning sensation in your mouth while eating a heated meal, I will suggest a Low alcoholic wine with fresh and floral flavors, that will help reduce the heat but still increase the enjoyment of the food.

Champagne: The bubbles of champagne are important in heightening the taste of the spices, while the high acidity
level blends perfectly with the spices finally allowing the cooling effect of the champagne to appease the taste buds! A blanc de Noirs or Vintage champagne will get your dinner off to a good start….. Champagne Anyone!!
Riesling: Riesling is one of the best food wines in the world. Its balance of intense acidity, minerality, and fruitiness
makes it an especially good match for spicy foods and the mix of ethnic flavors. A cold bottle of Riesling will make your Asùn a perfect meal and balance the spiciness.

The slight sweetness of(Auslese) Riesling or if you are going for a Spatlese(Dry) will enhance the spice in your Asùn but also reduce the heat in your mouth, while the minerality matches perfectly with the smokiness of the roast meat and fruity flavor gives a satisfying finish.

Bordeaux Wines: The choices are endless here just make sure the balance of Carbenent Sauvignon/Merlot/ Cabernet Franc blend has more than 50% of Cabernet Sauvignon eg Haute Medoc, Saint Estephe etc. Chateauneuf-du-pape with its full body and high alcohol it can withstand the heat, other wines in this category are Cotes du Rhone (France) and Rioja Crianza or Grande Reserva (Spain).

HIGHLY FLAVOURED & Smokey: With the high use of smoked fish, crayfish and spices in our foods it is no surprise that the food will struggle to be a good match with wine, for let’s be clear Europeans did not know what spiciness meant till the ventured out of their lands and made wine according to their own taste, but here we are in the 21st century where food has traveled and now wines are made knowing that consumers come with different taste buds. So to get that Smoked chicken,Moi-Moi, obè àtà, àkara with some fried peppered snails “on point” you just need to follow this rule (food and wine must match in intensity to avoid one overpowering the other).

Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc: Vouvray is my top example of a Chenin Blanc, with its ability to make dry to sweet
wines, you can find anything you want in this grape variety. with its high acidity, stone fruit, and tropical fruit flavours thatare fabulous with a meal of Moi-Moi on its own, with roasted or oven-baked smokey fish or chicken which can be eaten with boiled yams and tomato sauce by the side. While a Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, Pouilly fume, Pessac-Leognan, Graves) will not shy away from a dish of Lobsters, Shrimps in a fisherman Okro soup, the herbaceous and floral and sometimes Aromatic flavors in this wine enhances the seafood platter which we definitely love in Africa.

Cabernet Sauvignon Single grape or Blend: With a full-bodied Medoc (Bordeaux, Malbec from France & Argentina, Pinotage Western Cape, South Africa Nebbiolo(Barolo DOCG or Barbaresco DOCG) Sangiovese(Chianti Classico and a Brunello di Montalcino DOCG) Italy. Are wines that will keep your dinner on a high note. Bitterness – It is the bittersweet taste at the height of African cuisine (Bitterleaf soup) Match bitter foods with white or neutral wines or reds with lower levels of tannin, simple examples are Chardonnay from Chablis AOC in France because it is not matured in oak, Pinot Gris from Italy.

SWEET: Nigerians are not typically sweet eating people but times have changed so to end your dinner on a sweet and delicious note you can make sure that you get a bottle of wine sweeter than your dessert, I personally love a good glass of Porto, which just mixes spice and sweetness to complement whatever dessert you are serving, but for more choices Sauternes France’s famous wine is made from overripe,noble rot, and hand-picked grapes, it is a luxury that is worth every kobo spent, Loupiac from France, Pinot Grigio from Alsace France, Porto Tawny from Portugal.

SALTY: We are talking of Most food now, the interaction of salt in your food is pleasant and it is also the same with
Wine. Salt makes the wine seem fruitier and softens the tannins in Red Wine, so in the light of this conjecture, most
wines will go with any salty food. Go with your pocket and decide whatever you are in the mood for as long as your salty taste is not mixed in a high degree with any of the above you can drink most wines with foods in this category.

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Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Hotel Ahmed Raza On Moving to Nigeria



Radisson Hotel Group General Manager, Ahmed Raza (Image: Supplied)

Ahmed Raza is an experienced operator with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry. Skilled in catering, hospitality industry, menu costing, property management systems, and MICROS. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Ahmed shares his experience on moving to Nigeria, the hospitality business, impact of Covid-19 and much more. Excerpts.


Alaba: Moving to Nigeria to work, what’s different?

Ahmed: I have been very blessed and fortunate to be able to see the hospitality industry in different places including Asia, the US and now Africa. Every country, every culture has a completely different style and something that makes it its own. I think the hospitality culture is definitely growing in West Africa. Being in Nigeria, it is a very hospitable country. Nigerians are very warm and friendly, they are hustlers and go-getters and bringing that and refining that service culture is something that is really starting to pick up here.

It is a huge service driven country and I have seen a lot more people wanting to engage in proper training and getting proper experience so that they are knowledgeable about what it is that they are selling so in time the service industry is going to match up with its international competitors. That is what I believe, we are not there yet, there are a lot of things that need to change and happen but the nice thing about it is that groups like Radisson Hotel Group are dedicated to implementing the proper training programs for its teams and staff.

Alaba: How is Radisson different from your previous experience?

Ahmed: Radisson Hotel Group is flying high in the hospitality industry. Today it stands as one of the largest hotel groups in the world, with more than 1,400 hotels in operation or under development. The Radisson brand stands out for me because it believes that people are at the centre of a successful hospitality business. The foremost way to be a responsible company is to have ethical business practices at the core of our culture. Our ethical standards can be seen every day in the way we treat all our stakeholders from customers and team members to suppliers and other business partners.

Alaba: Talking of this period of COVID-19 pandemic, how are you managing?

Ahmed: From the onset of the pandemic, it was clear to me that this was a rare and massive change. Along with the team we decided to focus on bringing positive results and understood that the only way of succeeding is to become agile and dynamic. We engaged with all our guests and bookers in a way of looking forward to the end of the crisis, building lasting relationships that would benefit the hotel in times to come.

Radisson Hotel Group was the leading chain in developing Safety Protocols in order to prepare for guests to return. This association with the Swiss-based SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company, led to a full review of the best health and safety practices. The outcome was the 10-step and 20-step protocols that ensure that all aspects of wellbeing and safety of both the staff and guests are the primary focus of what we do. Those tools gave us the confidence to put go-to-market strategies that resulted in additional business for the hotel, increasing our market share substantially.

Alaba: What is the extent of the impact COVID-19 has on the hospitality sector in Nigeria?

Ahmed: These are uncharted waters; we have gone back to the times of Ebola. Although this was mainly localized around the West African region but with a phenomenally higher fatality rate of over 90% compared to Covid of around 10%. The hospitality and aviation industry were the first and have been the worst hit so far. This is mostly because the industry is primarily involved in the provision of accommodation, transportation, entertainment, food, and other services to individuals who move from place to place for business and pleasure. Restriction of movement was one of the first steps taken to combat the virus, and then the eventual closure of borders and domestic travel.

In fact, it is estimated that travel will decrease by 40-50 per cent after the pandemic restrictions are removed. It is also important to note the shift of the pandemic epicentre from China to Western Europe and US which are the hotel’s industry’s major source markets and therefore the economic impact to the sector is far reaching. Keeping in view the fact that the total contribution of tourism in Nigeria to the country’s GDP is 35%, it accounts for huge economic and social losses from this sector alone.

Alaba: Radisson Blu Victoria Island has just carried out refurbishment, how much of a game changer is this for you

Ahmed: The hotel has rolled out a comprehensive strategy of innovation and renovation concentrating on the safety of the guests to accelerate the anticipated recovery from the pandemic. Radisson Blu Anchorage Lagos has embarked on an ambitious renovation exercise to the tune of a substantial investment with the sole aim of guaranteeing the safety and convenience of guests during and post the coronavirus pandemic. The rooms are wearing a new colour, blends meant to continuously brighten the mood of guests while the gym and the pool have been redesigned with modern equipment for guests’ pleasure.

Alaba: How do you sustain this position?

Ahmed: Through continuous improvement – innovation transfers across the brand e.g. Hybrid Meetings, Carbon neutral meetings, training, strong marketing and PR machinery.

Alaba: What is the percentage of Nigerian guests that come to your hotel?

Ahmed: 75% – to be confirmed

Alaba: With vaccines on the horizon, how hopeful are you for normalcy to return?

Ahmed: Our typical customers are the top corporates looking for personalised experiences and service. We like to call this a rollout of the micro-vacation. With vaccination rates being up, the domestic leisure travel segment is breathing life into Nigeria’s hospitality industry, we are on the road to full recovery. There is a lot of pent-up demand, especially in the luxury segment of hotels. For example, we are seeing extremely high demand in Lagos for leisure, our rates have not dropped. For domestic travellers, we are offering flexibility in their booking dates and a wholesome, future-ready experience tailored to the ‘new normal’ that we are all faced with today.

Alaba: In your projection, what direction will the hospitality business be taking in 2022/2023?

Ahmed: It is important to remember that the hospitality sector is no stranger to crisis. Our industry has survived countless challenges and periods of economic downturn, and COVID-19 is no exception. Industry experts predict that the industry might begin seeing a rebound in typical demand within 18 to 24 months. Understandably, hotels will be expected to adopt heightened cleaning standards moving forward, as cleanliness will be a critical factor in a guests’ decision to book a hotel room.

Secondly, technology. Love it or hate it, the hospitality business cannot ignore it. Hospitality providers will need to serve guests in a significantly more connected way, striking the right balance between automated solutions and human interaction. So much change. And so much of it is driven by the most important person in hospitality: the guest. Every brand operating in this dynamic and innovation-friendly market wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alaba: What is your favourite local meal, any special hobbies?

Ahmed: Suya and Pepper Soup anytime of the day, I have a great passion for Tennis. Currently play at club level to unwind from the daily routine.

Alaba: What legacy do you want to leave after your time here?

Ahmed: There is no doubt that the success of this hotel, and customer satisfaction is the best legacy I would like to leave behind.



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Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Hotel Group announces a transition in its African leadership team



Radisson Hotel Group Bert Fol and Sandra Kneubuhler (Image: RHG)

Radisson Hotel Group announces a transition in its African leadership team with the appointment of Bert Fol as Regional Director for Africa, focusing on English Speaking Africa and the promotion of Sandra Kneubuhler to District Director for South Africa, in addition to her role as Country Director of Sales.

Sandra Kneubuhler, Country Director of Sales and District Director, South Africa.

Kneubuhler, a South African national, started her hospitality career in 2001, holding various positions in Zambia, Switzerland, Thailand, and Qatar before returning to South Africa. In 2005, she assumed the role of Corporate Trainee at the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, progressing within the group in roles such as Sales Manager, Revenue Manager and acting GM before launching the group’s Global Sales Office as the Global Sales Director: Africa, a position she held since January 2015.

Drawing on her extensive sales experience and local market insight, Kneubuhler joined Radisson Hotel Group in February 2019 as Country Sales Director for South Africa. Developing and leading the Group’s dynamic sales structure. Ever since Kneubuhler and her team have delivered exceptional results, especially during the challenging pandemic period.

In her new role, Kneubuhler assumes the additional responsibility of overseeing the operations for all Radisson Hotels in South Africa, working closely with the Group’s Regional Director for English-Speaking Africa, Bert Fol.

“Since joining the Group three years ago, Sandra has demonstrated through her passion for the industry remarkable results. Even when faced with the most difficult circumstances due to the pandemic. As a Group, we firmly believe in balanced leadership and developing our talent. And with a team player like Sandra who is powered by passion and forward thinking, it was a natural next step in her career progression which we believe will prove rewarding in every aspect. says Bert Fol, Regional Director, Africa, Radisson Hotel Group.

Bert Fol, Regional Director, Africa

Fol, a hospitality veteran with 30+ years’ experience in the hospitality industry, worked for some of the largest and most prestigious global hotel chains. Before joining Radisson Hotel Group in January 2014 as Cluster General Manager of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Bucharest and Park Inn by Radisson Bucharest. In addition to his role as General Manager, Fol also had hotels in Turkey reporting to him in his capacity as District Director.

Since 2017, Fol has successfully led Northern Africa and thereafter, the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa as Regional Director. Within his capacity as Regional Director, he will now lead the operations in English-speaking African countries.

“With Bert’s wealth of industry knowledge and his standout leadership qualities, he has made strides for the Group within numerous key markets. I have no doubt that he will be equally successful delivering results in his new area of responsibility.” said Tim Cordon, Area Senior Vice President, Middle East & Africa at Radisson Hotel Group.



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Hospitality & Tourism

Abuja Culinary School Launches The Tertiary and Secondary Education Culinary Art Project (SECA)



Abuja Culinary School Students and Facilitator (Photo: Supplied)

The Abuja Culinary School The SECA (Secondary Education Culinary Arts) initiative is a project that aims to train 1 million secondary and tertiary school students in Culinary Arts Education. This gives students across the world access to their comprehensive online lesson module consisting of lecture notes. And more than 25 learning videos of different dishes, including pastry, continental dishes and African dishes for a period of one year 100% free.

The Abuja Culinary School is on a mission to open up the culinary industry and its boundless opportunities to the young ones. It believes this opportunity will pique their interest in pursuing a career in Culinary Arts. and raise the next generation of food industrialists, food technologists, food designers and chefs. They also believe it will increase their students’ ability to earn an income. And raise a generation of thinkers who will proffer solutions to food problems and break new frontiers in the culinary arts industry.

As one of the top culinary schools in Nigeria, The School’s vision is to see the culinary industry in Nigeria, develop, impact, and uplift people. The importance of knowing how to cook like a true chef is rewarding health-wise and economically. The hospitality industry accounts for billions of dollars in revenue yearly. So, why not get a skill that helps you get a chunk of that money.

Do you want to become a skilled Chef, food technologist, food designer or food blogger, baker, a restaurant manager or owner? The Abuja Culinary Courses, ensure you get the right skills and culinary education that will set you apart from others. With different courses that are a good fit if you are joining the food and hospitality industry.

Register with this Link



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