Every month we put one of our partners and his or her organisation ‘in the spotlight’. This month it is Saskia Balmaekers, the new chairwoman of Maastricht Culinair.
1. Why did you choose the position you have now?
After twenty years I have returned to the South of the Netherlands. I travel to Italy regularly for my blog, Ciaotutti.nl, but I also wanted to do something in Maastricht to quickly feel at home again in this city. My initial idea was to write about Maastricht, when I was asked to become chairwoman of Maastricht Culinair. How could I resist? It is the perfect way to connect to the city and to help profile the city as a culinary destination.
2. What are the most recent developments within your company?
I have only started very recently, on January 1st, and we are right at the phase of making new ideas. In our first meeting we have made a list of ideas and suggestions that we will implement first.
3. Which challenges are you facing?
My biggest challenge will probably be in finding enough time and creative energy. Maastricht already has a beautiful culinary image, which means that local entrepreneurs have been working very hard. It might be a bit difficult to find time to develop new ideas, when one’s own business naturally comes first.
4. What have you achieved, of which you are most proud?
Nine years ago my brother Hans advised me to start my blog about Italy. Currently, it is a successful business; the website has 200.000 unique visitors per month. During the past nine years I had to figure everything out myself, I was a bit of a digital illiterate before I started. Now I know exactly what works and what doesn’t, how to connect to followers, which social media to use and how to use them. And I love sharing all this knowledge with the Maastricht Culinair members and the organisation as a whole.
5. What do you do when you are not working?
As a business owner, I work most of the time. Especially because my work is also my biggest hobby. A day doesn’t go by without writing. I travel to Italy very regularly for new inspiration and I answer hundreds of emails with questions from my readers. If there is any time left, I love going to the movies, reading (about Italy a lot of the time), I love cooking (pasta and risotto are the big favorites) or go out for a meal and just relax. Sometimes that’s for work, now that I ahave some catching up to do in Maastricht.
6. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?
After our recent first meeting, I hope that we can position Maastricht as the perfect congress location and culinary destination for all delegates.