Saudi Arabia: ALMA new frontiers

As Italian Cuisine high education school, one of ALMA’s missions is to spread beyond the borders the culture, the knowledge and the technique that make Italian food an excellence, a unique and, as stated on the UNESCO’s candidature, a likely World Heritage Site. This goal is obtained always through education, not only delivered to young aspiring Italian and international Chefs, but also to professionals of the food and beverage sector from all over the world who wish and seek to know our cuisine and all its secrets and subtleties.

This is the background against which the relationship between ALMA and Saudi Arabia is built. In this context, the Culinary School of Colorno has been engaged for a series of activities related to the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World. Among the organizers, there  were: the Royal Protocol, the Saudi governmental institution that deals with protocol and royal ceremonies in the Kingdom, Sitaf, the premium reseller of food and ingredients of the highest quality for the entire KSA and the Culinary Arts Commission, a governmental body aimed at supervising and classifying Saudi and international restaurants, dishes and chefs for research and study purpose,

The Saudi programme of events suggested the magnitude of every detail: “Dinner Incredible”, a project that brings together 12 starred chefs determined to get to know every year new cultures, traditions and flavours with the idea behind the “Food connecting people”. Between Gala dinners and buffets, this format has generated a series of top level satellite events, with ALMA’s being one of them. The event took place on 23 November in the fabulous setting of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

The event “Meet the Excellence & the Italian Taste Competition” delivered the great Italian spirit to an audience made of guests of the Kingdom, international institutions and journalists broadening the prospects of growth and collaboration between Italy and Saudi Arabia. In continuity with the candidature of Italian Cuisine as UNESCO World Heritage Site and under the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Riyadh and the Italian Trade Agency, this initiative was aimed at bearing the gastronomic culture and greatness of Italian food, especially that of the Italian Food Valley.

Giuliano Fragnito, deputy ambassador of Italy in Riyadh, explains: “The Italian Embassy in Riyadh has enthusiastically welcomed ALMA’s project as it has contributed to further strengthen a culinary and cultural bridge between Italy and Saudi Arabia, creating a fertile terrain to share gastronomic and cultural experiences and foster the professional growth of Saudi chefs, under the guidance of worldwide renowned Italian chefs. The ongoing evolution in Saudi Arabia, as framed in the Vision 2030 is a precious opportunity to further bolster Italy’s projection in the country.  The recent candidature of Italian cuisine as UNESCO Heritage Site, greatly appreciated by the Saudi public also thanks to the event organized with ALMA, is an all-Italian model that can provide useful ideas also for the development process underway in the Saudi Kingdom”.

After a Masterclass dedicated to risotto, where ALMA Chef Valerio Cabri proposed a recipe created to replicate the colours of the Saudi flag, the event “Meet the Excellence & the Italian Taste Competition” featured 8 young Saudi chefs compete in an original contest meant to replicate as close as possible Chef Cabri’s recipe. The winner won a week of one-to-one lessons at ALMA’s headquarters.

Andrea Sinigaglia, the School’s General Manager, in conversation with Chef Daniele Chiari, Manager of the Royal Protocol, outlined the scenarios of collaboration between the Saudi Arabia and Italy. “The awarding of the 2030 Expo to Riyadh – explained Mr. Sinigaglia – confirms Saudi Arabia as a global destination for everything related to tourism. The country is opening up to the world, there is an enormous desire of Italianness and a need for professionalism. ALMA has been active for over a year through collaborations both with institutions and schools, under the auspices of the Italian Embassy and the Italian Trade Agency. We are planning a 2024 full of great initiatives in terms of education and culture, and, above all, training of professionals as we are already doing in our school in Colorno. Furthermore, we are also engaged with the Emilia Romagna region in a big project in the Asir region, in southern Saudi Arabia. The project was created because our own region, especially the Food Valley, was taken as a model of gastronomic identity”.

As an Italian – Chef Chiari added –  I could only choose a distinguished school as ALMA to carry out the projects of the Saudi government. Next years’ objective is to train our chefs on Italian cuisine, beginning from the basic courses and gradually introducing higher  training. In this, ALMA is a partner whose experience and reliability are  undisputed”.

On the sideline of the projects presented, ALMA has also introduced its new Arabic language web site, to reaffirm the will to continue over time this successful partnership.

The celebrations included a Sitaf-organized exhibition of 20 producers selected for their quality and uniqueness of their products, from caviar to truffle, olive oil to pasta, and ended with a Gala Dinner organized by ALMA chefs, Royal Protocol, Ritz-Carlton Riyadh and EuroToque Association.


Defining Saudi cuisine without mixing it with Arab cuisine in general is not a simple. We could actually distinguish it three large regions: Mashreq, the East, made up of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Maghreb, the West, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, as well as Sudan and Egypt, which in a way connect East and West. Saudi cuisine features many rice-based dishes and the most important one is Kabsa.  It is Saudi Arabia’s national dish, made with rice, lamb, chicken camel meat or fish. According to tradition, it is served on a single plate and shared. There are various recipes to prepare Kabsa. In many the chicken is cooked a part from the rice (usually Basmati), or removed from the sautéed mixture and broiled in the oven. An ancient recipe prescribed grilling the meat in the mandi: a covered pit. In coastal cities, the rice is cooked in the water used to boil the fish.

by ALMA’s professor Fabio Amadei, teacher of history and culture



The dish was designed as homage to the colours of the flag of the Saudi Kingdom, inspired by the chromatic imagery of green and silver. In terms of ingredients, the rice is the centrepiece, as one of the most famous ingredients of the Italian gastronomic tradition and at the same time, it makes reference to another similarity for the recipe, Saudi’s real cultural heritage: the Kabsa, the single dish most widely popular in these regions and based on this cereal.

INGREDIENTS for 4 servings

  • Carnaroli rice 300g
  • Red prawns,12
  • Flat leave parsley 50g
  • Celery 160g
  • Leeks 300g
  • Carrot 200g
  • Bay leaf,1
  • Black peppercorns, 10
  • Water 2Kg
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 60g
  • Lemon, 1
  • White onion 40g
  • Garlic clove, 1
  • Silver leaves, 4

Separate the parsley leaves from the stems, remove only the main part of the stem. To prepare the stock, chop celery and carrots in slivers about 5mm thick cut the leeks in 1cm thick rounds.

Put all in a stockpot with 2 litres water, bay leaf, the whole peppercorns and the parsley stems. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add heads and shells of the prawns, bring back to boil and leave to infuse, away from the heat, for 15 minutes. Filter through a fine mesh strainer and keep warm. Cut the prawns tails in half by the length and set them on a sheet of baking paper with some olive oil. Cover with parchment paper and flatten as carpaccio. Shape the preparation to fit in the serving plate you selected and keep in the fridge until serving. For the parsley sauce, lightly roast the garlic in olive oil until golden.

Add the onion, cut in thin slices, and sauté until transparent. Put in a tall glass and add the parsley leaves, the extra virgin olive oil and some water, then blend to a fine smooth mixture. For a lighter sauce, remove some of the garlic; dress as desired. Toast the rice on medium heat with some EVOO until fragrant.  Add the hot stock, dress and cook al dente; let rest for a few minutes. Emulsify with the parsley sauce, grated lemon zest and the hot stock, if needed.

Dress as you like and add some of the lemon juice. The preparation needs to be smooth and well emulsified. Place the carpaccio at the centre of the plate. Cover with the risotto, nicely spread and evenly flattened. Complete with a silver leaf and serve immediately


Do you want to receive the most important updates? Subscribe to the newsletter.

Other news

This site uses cookies to send you advertising and services in line with your preferences. By reading our cookie policy, in the browser you normally use you can withdraw your consent to all or some cookies, for example preventing third parties from installing cookies on your PC. If you want to know more click on more info. You will always find our cookie statement at the end of this page. By continuing the use of the website you consent to the use of cookies. The message on the banner will be hidden.