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Dubai, UAE, May 10, 2016 – The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre  welcomed award-winning chef, TV personality and author Roger van Damme, as a special guest for its Succeed Through Service program, designed to help children in the local community to imagine futures not previously envisioned, aid career exploration, and learn valuable life skills.  The program is part of the luxury hotel company’s global youth engagement program, and its Community Footprints social responsibility commitment.

Year 12 students from Dubai International Academy attended an interactive two-hour session with the innovative patissier of Antwerp’s Michelin-starred restaurant ‘Het Gerbaar’. Widely regarded as the ‘king of desserts’ and the ‘godfather of molecular pastry’, van Damme shared his unique approach to culinary innovation before treating the group to a masterclass on sugar craft and the delights of cooking with chocolate.

“As the name suggests, Succeed Through Service is all about helping young people to thrive, and inspiring them do their best”, says Lothar Quarz, General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC.  “And who better to inspire students and open their minds to the immense possibilities ahead of them than a chef with Roger’s enthusiasm and passion? The students had a wonderful time and left feeling excited about the future”.

Relishing the opportunity to put on aprons and chefs hats, the students delighted in putting van Damme’s specialist techniques to the test, first turning their hands to creating edible diamonds followed by sugar spirals, cookie vermicelli, and putting the finishing touches to chocolate coated crème brûlée lollipops, before being treated to one of van Damme’s unforgettable desserts.

Student Freya Paghdiwalla, aged 17, said: “I love baking but, after coming here, I have genuinely found a new meaning to life. I never realized that there was so much you can do with chocolate and sugar. It was so nice to learn so many new things and I cannot wait to try it at home.”

Pratibha Rao, Principal of Dubai International Academy adds: “At Dubai International Academy, our singular challenge is to prepare our students for leadership roles in a world where change is the only constant. This includes guiding them through the first steps of career exploration, igniting their imagination and encouraging them to look at things differently as they become lifelong learners. The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC’s Succeed Through Service program perfectly complements this focus, and the unique opportunity to learn from such a revered culinary craftsman was very special opportunity”.