Wednesday October 6, 2021
Trabocchi’s cafeteria-style Mogadishu restaurants serve everything from wood-fired pizzas to local lobster. Photograph courtesy Maria Font Trabocchi.
Mogadishu (HOL) - Bancroft Global Development, a DC-based private military contractor that receives tens of millions in state department funding, partnered up with one of DC's most successful restauranteur's to provide staff in Halane with fine dining options.
According to a profile in the Washingtonian, Maria Trabochhi, the co-proprietor of high-end Washington eateries Del Mar and Fiola, was approached by Bancroft in February 2019 to open two cafeteria-style restaurants and a pair of bars in the vast militarized Mogadishu complex known as Halane.
Trabochhi's DC establishments, which she owns with her ex-husband, are popular with the US capitol's political elite.
"They were clearly impressed by the way we do business and the way we treat our people, and I think they liked my personality in terms of how I deal with any VIP and client," Trabocchi says. "I could easily then adapt to whatever circumstance or different type of personalities we might find in Africa."
The Halane complex is Somalia's version of the Green Zone. It is home to high-flying diplomats, foreign journalists, military personnel and international humanitarian staff. Locals have described it as a classic 'tale of two cities' which divides the temporary foreign workers from the nearly 3 million Mogadishu residents - three-quarters of which survive on less than US$2 per day.
Trabocchi's restaurant serves sous-vide steaks, plates of pasta, wood-fired pizzas, gourmet burgers, and local lobster.
The profile says that while Trabocchi "isn't feeding hungry locals," she is still contributing to Somalia by "helping the helpers."
The irony of opening a luxury restaurant in a country where millions of people face food consumption gaps was not lost on several people who criticized the move online.
"Good news, the NGO cartels and armed mercenaries operating out of Mogadishu's international airport now have access to luxury Italian cuisine," one Somali user commented.
It is unclear how much Bancroft, which receives tens of millions annually from the US State Department to recruit and train soldiers and peacekeepers, has compensated Trabocchi, a hospitality consultant for Hard Rock Hotels, for her services.
Trabocchi says that she plans to open a full-service fine-dining restaurant in Halane in the near future.