x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Abu Dhabi chef takes part in Beijing culinary event

Stacie Overton Johnson talks to Nelly Grossi, who was surprised to find out she'd been invited to a charity event in China along with chefs with international reputations.

The Swiss-born chef Nelly Grossi, 21, in the kitchen of Spaccanapoli at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
The Swiss-born chef Nelly Grossi, 21, in the kitchen of Spaccanapoli at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

In a bid to showcase rising female culinary stars, the Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace is hosting a gastronomic event featuring 11 of the top women chefs around the world – and it’s all in the name of charity.

Included in the elite list of chefs is Abu Dhabi’s Nelly Grossi, from the Italian restaurant Spaccanapoli in the Crowne Plaza hotel.

The event, held from June 23 to 28, will feature cooking classes, degustation dinners, a gala dinner and a charity reception, with all proceeds going to help build new schools and help young school dropouts in poor areas throughout China.

Others invited to the event are the Michelin-starred chefs Sofie Dumont from Belgium, Francesca Simoni from Italy and Cher D Harris, an American chef who was crowned Pastry Queen 2014 at the Ladies’ World Pastry Championship.

Grossi says she was surprised to receive the invitation. “I’m shocked,” she says. “How do they know me? I’m surprised to be with these big names.”

But Grossi has earned her place among those names. For 18 months, she’s been quietly making a name for herself inside Spaccanapoli’s kitchen. She was recently promoted to chef de partite – at only 21 years of age. She has earned respect and praise from her colleagues and the Crowne Plaza’s general manager, Ivor Prestwood.

“It is a unique opportunity for Nelly to demonstrate her skills and passion next to very experienced and internationally renowned lady chefs,” says Prestwood.

Mina Bi, the marketing communications manager at the Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace, says Grossi was chosen to attend the event for good reason. “Chef Grossi is very young, but already making her mark compared to lots of other chefs who took years to make their path.”

Bi says the event is the perfect platform to celebrate notable female chefs: “Every one of them is a shining star and demonstrates female power in the kitchen, which people always assume is a male-dominated industry.”

Grossi will be preparing dishes throughout the event for VIPs in China. The main course she’ll prepare will be her own creation: veal tenderloin served with foie gras scallops and truffle sauce.

“I’m nervous. It’s the first time I’m invited to an event like this,” she says. “People here are very proud. I’m proud.”