GTCO Food & Drink 2024: The Thrills, Razzmatazz And Side Attractions

By: Okosun Dennis

The GTCO Food and Drink festival has come and gone, but the thrills, glitz, glamour and the razzmatazz will continue to linger in the minds of some Nigerians and foreigners that attended the three days event in Lagos.

Food was in abundance, all kinds of delicacies mixed with different flavours sending irresistible aromas that rattled noises as they turned and twisted several times uncontrollably.

The international chefs that graced the 2024 GTCO Food and Drink festival added panache to the much-anticipated annual food fiesta. It was quite an attractive scenario with beautifully decorated foods, snacks and cookies in an exquisite ambience.

The large retinue of youths that thrung the venue at Plot 1, Water Corporation Drive, Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos was massive. The sights of young lads biting off sumptuous cookies, gazole ice cream cups, were exhilarating.

At a point, the intensity, the verve and energy by vendors, contractors and the crowd that masqueraded the venue gave a positive effect of how penetrating GTCO Food and Drink festival has made among Nigerians and international spectators.

From Uche Annie Uzoka’s Masterclass taking the kids through culinary moments of preparation to Aldo Zilli with his energy in the kitchen loomed large as the audience cheered him as he smartly walked onto the stage for the 4th Masterclass on Day 2 in the 2024 GTCO Food and Drink Festival: Promoting Enterprise.

Aldo Zilli is an award-winning celebrity chef who specializes in regional Italian cuisine. With the topic: “Beyond Pasta: A Holistic Approach To Italian Cuisine,” he held the audience in the masterclass spellbound as he rattled them with dazzling questions that made the crowd rack their brains to unravel the questions while he gifted them a book authored himself.

With a dash of quality, the experienced chef took the audience through one of the most hilarious, engaging and audience-participatory Masterclass with the theme: “A Celebration of Authentic Flavours.”

Born in Alba Adriatica, Italy, he learned cooking from his mother and attended catering college. Aldo founded and led several acclaimed London-based restaurants, including Zilli Fish, known for Italian seafood.

As an author with 10 books, including autobiographies and cookery books, he brought a lot of experience to bare. Renowned for his vibrant personality, Aldo frequently appears on TV and radio as a presenter and chef, notably as a judge on Celebrity Masterchef. In 2019, he won Celebrity Hunted on Channel 4, raising money for Stand Up to Cancer. Aldo Zilli was honoured as ‘Best Chef 2022’ in the Best Restaurant Awards.

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Despite the economic downturn that rattled so many homes, reducing their purchasing powers, GTCO has lived up to expectation, galvanizing change in terms of culinary taste, making of cookies and the number of attendees.

In the seventh edition that wind up recently, the festival has given enormous quality gastronomic experience, by recognizing the world’s biggest culinary chefs, endearing thousands of food lovers and entrepreneurs to diverse African dishes, traditional delicacies that kept mouths yummy!

At every corner at the GTCO Centre, one is practically embarrassed by display of flavours, authentic African, Nigerian delicacies with intimidating aromas that kept one salivating or asking for more.

In his statement in the 2024 edition of GTCO Food and Drink Festival, the Chief Executive Officer, Guarantee Trust Holding Company, Mr Segun Agbaje says it all.

“Food is a universal language, spoken in a thousand dialects. Food has a way of bringing people of all cultures together, whether it’s over a traditional home cooked pot of our favourite soup, or friendly banter over delicious jollof rice, families and friends from all over the world come together to entertain, celebrate and share stories over the authenticity of food.

He further stated that, “Over the years, we have come to understand that sharing a meal isn’t just about sustenance; it’s a journey through cultures, and we are privileged to experience these flavours and authenticity first hand.

“Here at the festival, we are delighted to bring to our customers, exhibitors, and food lovers from across Africa and beyond, the 7th edition of a festival that is a celebration of not just food, but of the assortment of cultures and traditions that make African cuisines so unique.

“Our vision for curating this consumer-focused event remains unchanging, particularly in light of the pressures that individuals and businesses are facing at this time.”

However, during the Day two, it featured Gale Gand on the topic: Mastering Creamy Chocolate Desserts: Authentic New Orleans Creole Food with Bunny Young; Structure of Thai food through “Jaew” with Bo & Dylan; Aldo Zilli with Beyond Pasta: A Holistic Approach To Italian Cuisine and Robin McBride on the topic: Uncorking your wine potential.

On the last day, 28th April, 2024, the Day 3, topics like Southern Coastal Cuisine by Lisa Brooks; Indian Cuisine by Maunika Gowardhan on the topic: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking; Mexican Cuisine, Mestizaje, and Culture with Angel Vazquez; Je ne sais quoi – The Classic French Masterclass with a Twist by Jean Christophe Novelli; The Art of Whole Hog BBQ, an exciting class with Ryan Mitchell, and Exploring the Role of a Food Writer and Critic in the Culinary World by Tom Parker Bowles constituted excellent conversations at the closing masterclasses.

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