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The premium catering company expands to Abu Dhabi and opens its first restaurant


Chef Paul Lupton wants to shift the focus from Pierchic’s stunning sea views to its creative culinary offer


As controversy surrounds the clean eating craze, Catering News explores its benefits and dangers

Connecting F&B professionals with industry knowledge January 2017

On the web Keep up to date with all the latest news, features and much more on our website.

10 What's Cooking?

16 New places

January 2017 // Issue #024

Contents 28 The business

34 Chef Focus

10 // WHAT’S COOKING? Dubai hospitality and design events to expand internationally in 2017; Flip International introduces Food Truck Co.; Deliveroo launches in Abu Dhabi 16 // NEW PLACES Farrokh Khambata opens progressive Indian restaurant, Jaan at The Penthouse 22 // COVER STORY With another Lock, Stock & Barrel in the pipeline, five franchise deals looming and a coveted US brand under its belt, Solutions Leisure Group is taking no prisoners in 2017


28 // BIENVENUE CHEZ CHARLES Why the premium catering company is expanding to Abu Dhabi and opening its first restaurant 34 // SEA CHANGE Pierchic head chef Paul Lupton wants to shift the focus from the restaurant’s stunning sea views to the creativity and dynamism of its culinary offer

January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


January 2017 // Issue #024

Contents 38

Managing Director Walid Zok Director Rabih Najm CEO Wissam Younane Group Publishing Director Diarmuid O'Malley Senior Sales Manager Nick Clowes

Editor Crystal Chesters

38 // OUT OF THIS WORLD Chefs from the region’s Japanese restaurants discuss their preparations and innovations 42 // FOOD TRENDS With controversy surrounding clean eating, Catering News explore the benefits, pitfalls and future of the trend 52 // MARKETPLACE This year’s trends in water and the latest innovations and products from the brands available in the Middle East

Art Director Aaron Sutton Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon Photographers

Audrey Hastings Neville Hopwood Hayder Al-Zuhairi

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52 For all commercial enquiries related to Catering News ME contact T +971 50 55 97339

42 Food Trends


All rights reserved © 2014. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Catering News ME and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by Catering News ME. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Printed by Raidy Emirates Printing Group LLC


Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Editor's Letter



Crystal Chesters Editor

Cover evolution


nce more we find ourselves at the start of a new year, which means reflection, resolutions and setting new goals and objectives for the coming twelve months. If I were an F&B operator, one challenge I would set myself would be to come up with a truly innovative concept. How many restaurants in the region offer sharing dishes? How many have burrata, truffle fries and fois gras on their menus? How many look just like Zuma? Of course, opening a new concept is a balancing act. While the homegrown brands tend to play it too safe and end up blending in with their next-door neighbours, the international brands often come in all-guns-blazing with a fanfare of celebrities in tow, but forget one vital ingredient: the customer. Solutions Leisure, our cover story this month, is one player that saw what was missing and created products that truly resonate with the market. The entertainment

specialist has undoubtedly proven itself to be one of the region’s strongest F&B innovators, with a raft of successful brands such as Lock, Stock & Barrel and Q43, which have taken the Dubai nightlife scene by storm. Innovation is a word banded about across many industries, but perhaps food and beverage is the most competitive sector when it comes to really standing out from the crowd, given that new restaurants and bars are opening on a weekly basis. This year will be no different, with plenty of new outlets in the pipeline. As the economy continues to pose challenges, there will be no room for lazy, copycat concepts: those who make it this year will be the innovators. Hopefully, we can look forward to some big success stories – and at least a few things we’ve never seen or tasted before. Happy New Year and all the best for 2017. Kind regards Crystal

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Catering NEWS ME January 2017

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What's cooking?

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Dubai’s major hospitality and design events to expand internationally in 2017


ubai hospitality and design events, Index Design Series, The Hotel Show and Middle East Stone will expand internationally in 2017. Organisers, DMG Events, have launched new shows in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Indonesia and the Philippines. Andy Stuart, vice president of DMG Events’ Design and Hospitality Division, commented: “2017 promises to be an incredibly exciting year for our entire event portfolio. Dubai – our base and the home of our ‘mothership’ shows, which themselves will grow significantly next year – is a place synonymous with innovation, creativity and building cities of the future. It makes us proud to say that our events are part of its story. “Our ambitious international expansion plans mark the latest chapter in that story. Moving new shows into South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Philippines and Indonesia allows us to provide direct gateways from Dubai to lucrative global markets, creating excellent opportunities for UAE businesses seeking to explore new territories and further strengthening our much-loved brands.”


Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Index, which this year celebrated its 26th edition, will launch in Qatar and Indonesia, while 17-year-old The Hotel Show will expand into South Africa and the Philippines. Meanwhile, Middle East Stone will establish itself as Stone and Surface Saudi Arabia. Tony Crinion, portfolio direc-

tor of the DMG Events Design Portfolio, said: “The inaugural Index North Africa concluded in Morocco to great success earlier this month. Index Indonesia and Index Qatar will open in October and November respectively. “These are markets which we identified as having thriving

design industries with excellent emerging designers and brands, making them both hugely attractive propositions to our brand and our trusted, entrepreneurial exhibitors.” The Hotel Show Dubai, colocated and The Leisure Show Dubai, have both been rebranded as they head into their 18th year. Ray Tinston, portfolio director of the DMG Events Hospitality Portfolio said: “As we move further into the international arena, we have used this as an opportunity to revitalise our brand in consultation with the industry we serve.” Taking place in September 2017, the two hospitality events will become part of the newly announced Dubai International Hospitality Week, a venture with the Dubai World Trade Centre. The fifth edition of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia will open in April 2017, followed by launch events for The Hotel Show South Africa in June and The Hotel Show Philippines in August. Tinston added: “With each experiencing a tourist boom, these are now some of the world’s most active markets for hotel construction.”

What's cooking? Competitions

UAE regional selection process for Diageo World Class underway


he regional selection process is underway for the 2017 edition of World Class, an annual bartending competition hosted by Diageo Reserve to find the world’s best bartender. Now in its eighth year, the regional leg of the competition, World Class UAE, offers a platform for the country’s bartenders to learn, grow, and test themselves against their peers. Bartenders from across the UAE have been invited to showcase their talents via a series of regional challenges taking place from November 2016 – March 2017. Winners of the first two challenges will be announced on 15 January, with winners of the third challenge to be revealed in April. The regional winner will be announced before Ramadan and will go through to the global final in Mexico, taking place in the second half of 2017. Thirty-seven bartenders have already stepped up to the UAE challenge, and have

been tasked with creating cocktails using coffee. Each of the bartenders’ serves are currently being showcased on their menus. Sigrid Sarv’s cocktail at Weslodge Dubai is ‘The Danish Crown’. Served from a hops tap, the beverage features recycled coffee grinds. Tony Bykov from Catch Abu Dhabi has dissected the tasting notes of a cold brew coffee and reinforced these with blackberry, citrus, dates, raisins and sake. The 2016 finals, which took place at The One Hotel in South Beach Miami in August, saw 56 bartenders from around the world represent their countries in a bid to claim the title of Diageo World Class 2016 Global Champion. France’s Jennifer Le Nechet was crowned the world’s best bartender at the global final 2016. The 2016 UAE representative was Laura Duca, formerly of Boca in DIFC and now working at new Nikkei restaurant, Aji, on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


What's cooking?

In a nutshell: Tullamore DEW John Quinn, Tullamore Dew brand ambassador visits Dubai to promote his triple distilled Irish blend

What’s your career background? I began my career in the malt business in 1974 working with the Irish Distillers Group. I have worked in a variety of roles including production, production planning, domestic sales Ireland, marketing and international business development. How did you become brand ambassador for Tullamore Dew? I was appointed global ambassador in 2011 by Wm Grant & Sons, who had just bought the company. They appointed me to advocate and educate the world on what makes Tullamore different from all others. What makes Tullamore Dew unique? TD is a triple distilled, triple blend of grain, malt and pot still Irish beverage. It is distilled using bourbon barrels, Irish whiskey barrels and sherry casks for maturation, which makes it unique in the world. No other Irish blend is made this way. How popular is the brand in the Middle East? TD came to the UAE market in the late 1990s, and has a new-found popularity here. Customers and bartenders alike are enjoying its differentiating factors and can see the flexibility it offers either as a very smooth beverage in its own right, or as a particularly suitable ingredient for cocktails. How will you promote the brand further in the Middle East? While the product is already available in some Middle Eastern markets outside of the UAE, we will focus on rolling it out to new countries in the region, one at a time. 12

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

What's cooking? Events

Arabian Travel Market introduces Global Halal Tourism Summit


he first ATM Global Halal Tourism Summit will take place at Arabian Travel Market on 26 April 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Rolled out as part of ATM’s line-up of special focus events, the summit will feature three interactive seminar sessions covering the big picture, halal destination strategies and how to sell halal travel. The sessions will be led by Muslim travel industry experts, Faeez Fadhlillah, cofounder and CEO, Salam Standard and Tripfez and Nabeel Shariff, founder and director of Serendipity Tailormade and Luxury Halal Travel. Fadhlillah, an expert on halal tourism, will chair the panel at the opening session: Halal Tourism – The Big Picture, during which he will present his report findings. He will be joined by other key industry speakers to analyse how the Middle East benefits economically from Muslim travel as well as the sector’s true inbound and outbound potential. He commented: “The Global Economic Impact of Mus-

lim Tourism report by Salam Standard reveals the Muslim travel sector is a major contributor to global GDP, generating millions of jobs in the tourism, travel and hospitality industry worldwide, and the UAE is one of the top international countries leading the development and promotion of Muslim-friendly tourism infrastructure.” The second session will delve further into the successful marketing strategies of some of the world’s leading halal-friendly destinations, from Halal certification, services and amenities, to online tools, apps and promotional efforts designed to raise awareness of their halal credentials. Wrapping up the inaugural summit, the final session will address effective sales strategies to capitalise on ways to leverage the domestic and outbound boom in Muslim travel demand and what trends travel professionals are noticing in terms of booking decisions. Arabian Travel Market 2017 will take place 24- 27 April at Dubai World Trade Centre.


Deliveroo launches in Abu Dhabi


eliveroo has launched its second regional outpost in Abu Dhabi as it celebrates one year of operations in Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, the team has secured partnerships with Jazz@Pizza Express, Cafe Bateel, Cinnabon, Magnolia Bakery, Hanoi and Taqado. General manager of Deliveroo UAE, Anis Harb said: “It has been an exciting year for Deliveroo in the UAE culminating in our expansion to the nation’s capital, Abu Dhabi. “We pride ourselves on the transparency of our service where you can track your order at any time with an average 32-minute delivery time or less. The roster of premium partner restaurants here in Dubai and already in Abu Dhabi offers the best choice to our loyal customers.”

Deliveroo users can pay and track the order’s progress from purchase to delivery, via both web-based and mobile app technology. Deliveroo originally launched in 2013 in London and partners with premium restaurants that do not typically deliver, offering customers a range of new choices. In Abu Dhabi the service covers areas in the north including Al Reem Island, Qasr Al Bahr, Al Nahyan and Al Markaziyah. In the South Deliveroo will cover areas including Al Bateen, Al Mushrif, Al Musallah, Al Karamah and Al Khubeirah with further expansion planned in the upcoming months. The service will be available throughout the week between 11am and 11:30pm with free delivery for a limited time. January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


What's cooking?

Countdown to Host 2017 begins

New launches

Flip International launches Food Truck Co.


Host 2017 has begun the official countdown for the 40th edition of the horeca exhibition, set to take place from 20 – 24 October 2017 at Fiera Milano. Showcasing foodservice and coffee equipment, the show already has 1,300 companies confirmed, 42% of which come from outside of Italy from 47 countries globally. There will be more than 1,500 hosted buyers, with new names and a more

complete technological mix. More than 500 international exhibitors will attend, with the 2017 show putting an additional focus on the US, Canada and the Middle East. Four new exhibiting countries have been added: Serbia, Liechtenstein, Egypt and South Africa. The best represented country at the show is Germany, with 80 companies, marking a 40% increase on 2014 figures.

Ras Al Khaimah hosts inaugural investment forum Ras Al Khaimah Finance & Investment Forum (RAKFIF), a new platform for uncovering business investment opportunities in Ras Al Khaimah, took place on 13 – 14 December at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Ras Al Khaimah. The forum brought together industry and government experts with regional investors and financiers to highlight investment projects in the

emirate and provide a platform for information gathering, networking and commercial opportunities. The key economic sectors of hospitality and tourism, real estate, manufacturing and production, and infrastructure (ports, airports and utilities) were explored via a series of panel discussions, breakout sessions and plenary sessions, with 300 delegates in attendance.

ZonesCorp Joins Abu Dhabi Food Security Alliance UAE industrial zones developer and operator, ZonesCorp joined the Abu Dhabi Food Security Alliance at SIAL Middle East 2016, which took place in December in Abu Dhabi. The move comes as part of ZonesCorp’s efforts to help improve food security and diversify the economy of the UAE 14

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

capital. ZoneCorp will support the Alliance by encouraging local agriculture and livestock farming with a series of initiatives to be announced in 2017. The organisation has also created an enlarged and specialised ‘Food Zone’ designed to cater to the needs of a wide range of food producers.

&B management and consultancy company Flip International has launched Food Truck Co., a new series of food trucks. Already three vehicles have been introduced, with a total of eight to launch in the first quarter of 2017. Co-founders Jamal Wick and Amjad Barakat said: “We have been monitoring the success of the food truck industry in the US market for the past few years and, as experts in the local GCC market, felt we were perfectly positioned to translate this knowledge to the regional landscape. “We’re seeing the food truck phenomenon really building momentum now in the UAE and across the GCC, and we’ve been encouraged by the initial response to the soft roll-out of our first three concepts. Our vision is to leave a legacy in the

F&B industry by creating unique and edgy concepts, while setting the benchmark with the highest quality street food.” In the soft launch phase are Sir Loin & Sons, a gourmet ‘meatery’, offering high quality meats and US inspired burgers, accompanied by a sixmetre long, custom-built Texan smoking rig. Go Nuts is a dessert-only truck, offering Nutella pizzas, giant cookies and ‘Savage Shakes’. El Cubano, gives a playful and flavourful twist to authentic Cuban street food, with Cuban sandwiches, empanadas and churro bowls. Food Truck Co. has a weekly presence at Ripe Market and Sir Loin & Sons and El Cubano feature at the Food Truck Jam. Meanwhile, Go Nuts has a permanent location on The Boardwalk, Palm Jumeirah.

What's cooking? Franchising

Alghanim Industries brings US brand Slim Chickens to MENA region


lghanim Industries has signed a master franchise agreement with Slim Chickens to bring the fast-casual restaurant brand to the Middle East and North Africa region. Founded in 2003 in Arkansas, the move marks Slim Chickens’ first venture outside of the United States. Alghanim Industries chair-

man Kutayba Alghanim commented: "We are committed to expanding our portfolio by partnering with one of the most pioneering, value-based consumer companies in the world, and we look forward to introducing the Slim Chickens concept to consumers across the Middle East. “Alghanim Industries has a proud track record of developing successful businesses with huge growth potential that meet the needs of the region's expanding consumer base." The brand specialises in high quality, fresh chicken and offers hand-breaded and grilled chicken tenders and wings paired

with handmade dipping sauces. The first MENA-region Slim Chickens restaurant is expected to open in Kuwait in March 2017. This will be followed by a brand rollout across the region. Alghanim Indutries, based in Kuwait City, Kuwait, owns and operates more than 30 businesses in 40 countries across the MENA, Turkey, India and South East Asia. Today, its portfolio of 300 brands includes a number of US partners, such as General Motors, Ford, Mars, Whirlpool, Wendy's and American Express. Slim Chickens CEO Tom Gordon said: “Alghanim Industries' legacy of providing

high-caliber customer service and first-class products made this a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our brand. Over the past months we've learned about the company, the people and the values shared between our two organisations, and our alignment couldn't be closer." Alghanim Industries is expanding its food and beverage portfolio, which began in 2013 with a franchise agreement with UK-based Costa Coffee, the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world. In 2015, Alghanim Industries acquired the rights to develop US-based Wendy's restaurants across the MENA region.

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January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


New places

Jaan at the Penthouse Well-known chef Farrokh Khambata has opened progressive Indian restaurant Jaan at The Penthouse at Sofitel Dubai Downtown

OPE N 14 O ING DA ctob TE: e Che HEAD C r 2016 f Fa H EF rr RES okh Kha : TA m MA URAN bata She NAGER T zad Mar : olia

Please describe the concept of Jaan at the Penthouse?

Jaan is a progressive Indian restaurant and lounge, and is Dubai’s first Indian restaurant with an international look and feel where the diner is king. The restaurant features current renditions of Indian cuisine, with sophisticated, approachable sharing dishes. With excellent service and an energetic, interactive atmosphere, the venue features a 90-seat restaurant and 60-seat bar, an open kitchen and communal dining options that further augment the warm, inviting atmosphere.

The f acts

What is interesting about the beverage offer?

The signature items include a Mumbai egg delicacy featuring salmon kejriwal, an egg cooked sous vide at 75 degrees, smoked jwala mild

Indian chili mayo and ikarami. In addition, we serve a popular street food from Kolkata: jhaal muri ceviche with yellowtail amberjack, Indian mangosteen and jhaal muri. Our Big Bang Theory is the signature dessert and can be served with chocolate, mango and wild berries.




Turkish kebab restaurant and steakhouse Günaydın, which has more than 40 locations in Turkey, has opened its doors in Downtown Dubai. With views over The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa, Günaydın offers a wide range of authentic kebab dishes, meatballs and burgers and traditional desserts such as Kunefe, Katmer and Baklava. The 800m2 space features an open kitchen and seats 124 diners inside and on its terrace overlooking The Dubai Fountain. LOCATION: Souk Al Bahar, Dubai OPENING DATE: 5 December

Cuban-themed lounge bar, Cubano Lito, has opened at Ibis One Central. The vintage lounge bar serves authentic Cuban dishes, cocktails and cigars, and a live band provides the entertainment with salsa and rhumba music. Fitted with Cuban décor, the space features an antique jukebox, a Cuban cigar lounge, and an outdoor terrace. Thirty cocktails are listed on the beverage menu, while bar snacks include mariquitas con limón (crispy plantain slides served with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette). LOCATION: Ibis One Central, Dubai OPENING DATE: 17 November

The 5,000ft2 1762 Stripped is a two-storey venue featuring an in-house bakery, a retail corner with home décor and kitchenware, and a food lab, which will host educational sessions. In addition to 1762’s deli items, the new 1762 Stripped brand has an à la carte menu and updated breakfast options. With raw wood tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and exposed concrete floors, 1762 Stripped reflects the brand’s signature industrial style, and has an outdoor dining area as well as indoor seating. LOCATION: One JLT, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai OPENING DATE: 28 November

What are the signature items on the menu?


Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Our creative team of mixologists have incorporated molecular gastronomy methods into our signature drinks, and we serve spirits in unique, funky flasks. Our cocktails include

New places The Smoking Cosmo, a smoked version of the classic beverage, served in our signature pipe.

Who designed the interiors and how do they reflect the concept?

Indian architect firm Neterwala and Aibara designed the interiors. The company has created concepts for clients in India and internationally, and I have worked with them previously for my restaurants in London and New York, which are known for extraordinary aesthetics that represent the culture and cuisines of the restaurants.

Fire cracker roll bidi bomb

The Big Bang Theory Dessert

How will the venue compete on the Dubai marketplace?

Jaan at the Penthouse features a John Lennon-inspired wall.

Dubai is now an international city, and it’s no walk in the park to compete in this market. That said, I’ve always been up for a challenge and my answer is simple: by treating the diner like a king. I feel that Dubai lacks a truly progressive Indian restaurant with international interiors, so I feel that Jaan can fill this niche. I’ve spent the past months experimenting with the best ingredients from the Far East, Europe and Asia to create a new dining experience, and I can’t wait to see Dubai’s reaction.

The Smoking Cosmo




Barilla, the Italian company behind Barilla pasta has opened two restaurants in Dubai in partnership with Al Futtaim Group. Marking the brand’s first ventures outside of the US, the venues promise to offer authentic Italian cuisine at affordable prices, with pasta, pizza, Italian desserts, sandwiches, salads and soups on offer, while gluten-free options are also available. The restaurants are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and mark the first phase in a Middle East roll-out for the brand. LOCATION: Dubai Festival City and The Outlet Village OPENING DATE: 1 December

Enab Beirut, a Lebanese restaurant brand, has a cozy atmosphere with Beirut-inspired wall prints, mismatched seating juxtaposed with bright, solid colours, vintage bird cages and potted plants, reflecting the features of a typical Lebanese home. The menu comprises traditional Lebanese items, such as salads, cold and hot mezzes and grills. Enab Beirut venues are open in Lebanon and Cairo, with the City Walk branch marking the UAE debut for the brand. LOCATION: City Walk 2 OPENING DATE: December 2016

Italian restaurant, Ricetta, is headed up by chef Alex Sebastianutti, who serves up authentic Italian recipes, such as gamberi piccanti (spicy shrimp), ossobucco alla Milanese (Milanese braised veal), provola affumicata (smoked provola) and agnello e broccoli (lamb and broccoli) using fresh, Italian ingredients. Featuring mustard yellow walls, red and white checkered tablecloths and black and white posters depicting scenes from Italy, the venue reflects the ambience of a traditional Italian trattoria. LOCATION: Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai OPENING DATE: December 2016 January 2017 Catering NEWS ME



“It takes time and a lot of coaching to break down all the individual perceptions and emerge with an international team behind you”

Stirring the melting pot

Russell Clamp, cluster executive chef, DoubleTree by Hilton Riyadh admits that cultural diversity is his biggest challenge and opportunity Describe your first ever role in the F&B industry?

My very first was when I was 13 years old as a pot washer for the kitchen in our local village pub every Sunday lunchtime. There was an Irish head chef called Dermot, and when I saw him flying around the kitchen hurling pans everywhere one minute, then turning into a funny, gentle, smiling person beaming over a beautiful plate of food the next, I thought he was one of the coolest people on the planet. Now working in Saudi Arabia at the DoubleTree Hilton Riyadh, I’ve learnt quieter techniques for working alongside a colourful array of cultures, which I love.

Who has inspired you most in your career?

Alain Ducasse. After following his work and philosophies about food for many years, I got the chance to attend a chef’s table with him at Restaurant Le Louis XV. His passion for quality ingredients, and how these are reflected in the finished dish, was inspirational.

How do you view the F&B scene in the region?

In Saudi Arabia, things are moving in many directions at the same time. Concepts and food styles considered the norm in other parts of the world are only just beginning to emerge and gain acceptance here. Fast food is very popular, and historically in many Arabic cultures the quality of a meal was judged 18

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Work Experience

September 2014 - present: Executive chef, Hilton Hotels, Riyadh February 2013 - September 2014: Development chef, Spirit Group, UK January 2011 - February 2013: Chef de cuisine, Luffenham Golf Club, UK

by the quantity of food presented or served. However, DoubleTree by Hilton Riyadh is beginning to see a growth in demand for à la carte options, and an appreciation of the art on the plate. This transformation is very slow but definitely on the way.

What is the biggest challenge of your role?

My biggest challenge is cultural diversity, both in terms of staff and customers. If I

walked into a busy restaurant in the middle of Spain I would find a lot of Spanish people eating and a kitchen full of Spaniards cooking and this would also be the same in Melbourne or Bombay or Houston, or Beijing. But in the hotels of KSA, there is a very wide diversity both back and front of house, especially in Riyadh. Kitchen staff of different nationalities have opposing ideas of how to prepare different plates, but soon the team begin to gel and they start learning from one another. It takes time and a lot of coaching to break down all the individual perceptions and emerge with an international team behind you. This cultural diversity follows through to the customers: I must ensure I offer a range of dishes acceptable to the diverse nationalities I have staying.

What is the best aspect of your role?

Creative thinking. Taking a blank space whether that is a plate, a room or even an embassy garden and pouring my ideas all over it. The cherry on the top is when you stand back and see that space filled and admired by others.

If you could work in any restaurant in the world, which would it be?

The Waterside Inn, Bray on London’s River Thames. I would also nip over the road to do some part-time work in The Fat Duck – Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant. However, Saudi Arabia is where the really honest food is cooked and delivered.

Talent Chef de cuisine joins Sofitel Abu Dhabi

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche has appointed Gari Abdel as chef de cuisine. Most recently Abdel was executive sous chef on the pre-opening team of Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts in Dubai. Prior to this, he headed up the kitchen at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa and was part of the pre-opening teams for Sofitel properties in Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Jeddah. In his new role, Abdel will promote the recently introduced menu at Grills@Chill’O.

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek welcomes Thai chef Heights appoints F&B director Chef Pitak Srichan has joined Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara in Abu Dhabi as Thai chef of signature restaurant, Pachaylen. Having been with Anantara Hotels & Resorts for four years, chef Srichan previously held the same role at Anantara Layan Phuket Resort, where he managed the operation of Dee Plee restaurant. In addition to overseeing kitchen operations in the Abu Dhabi hotel’s fine-dining Thai restaurant, chef Srichan will look after the ‘Spice Spoons’ Thai cooking classes.

Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights has appointed Jose Rocha as director of food & beverage / culinary operations. With a career with Hyatt Hotels spanning 30 years, most recently Rocha, who comes from Mexico, was executive chef of Hyatt Regency Dubai. In his new position, Rocha will oversee the culinary and F&B operation, including six restaurants and bars and banquet facilities. Rocha has worked with Hyatt Hotels in Mexico, Egypt and Dubai.

+971 (0)4 3884773

“Because we give a fork..!”


January 2017 Catering NEWS ME



Authentic Ethnic

Capturing the mood of the UAE market through retail and quality food provenance


ood and beverage outlets in the UAE are contending with a busy marketplace as new venues open daily, tempting customers to try the latest and greatest. We are all focused on attracting new guests but more importantly retaining a loyal fan base, and that is no easy feat. There are several go-to-market strategies depending on the business model, which vary from deals and discounts to events and strategic partnerships. All of them have a part to play. By bringing Lebanese concept, Al Falamanki, to the UAE, our aim was to tap into the growing “Authentic Ethnic” trend, which looks set to define 2017. The responsibility for bringing a culinary concept to a new market is as much about showcasing a way of life, as it is about highlighting quality, local producers. This will define a brand concept and encourage a loyal customer following. There is a strong culture of dining out regularly among the local Middle Eastern population, expats and tourists who regularly travel and are familiar with different cuisines from around the world. Excitingly, the UAE is also a popular destination for intrepid Western and Asian tourists, many of whom are seeking out the 'real' culinary experience. Delivering the true ethos of a menu relies on sourcing quality produce with authentic provenance. It may be harder to achieve this in the UAE than in the concept's local market, however the effort 20

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

will set a restaurant apart in a crowded marketplace. From our research, both in the industry and among our own guests, we have seen demand for a retail strategy that drives footfall and reinforces brand loyalty. The majority of our suppliers are small, local producers from across Lebanon, many of whom create ingredients exclusively for Al Falamanki. With the success of the brand, comes the responsibility to give back and so we have replicated this aspect of the Beirut cafe here in Dubai. It showcases and sells products under the label of the producers, allowing these businesses to gain access to the end consumer directly. The retail element is not just a sales function. It is a natural extension of the concept since we believe that Falamanki is not just an F&B outlet but rather a way of life; a true, Lebanese experience and somewhere guests can reconnect with their roots. Retail is an additional way to reinforce this feeling, this homecoming, whether you are part of the Lebanese diaspora or simply a patron wishing to take a slice of Lebanon home with you. Competition in the F&B industry is fierce. In the UAE, people can quickly follow the newest, shiniest opening in town. However, if a restaurant can develop an authentic environment that envelops the guest, sparking memories of home or a past trip, this “Authentic Ethnic” will surely drive customer loyalty.

Al Falamanki's retail outlet

About the author Mario Haddad develops restaurants in Beirut and Dubai. His portfolio comprises Le Sushi Bar, Al Falamanki, Mario e Mario, Junkyard, The Jasmine Room and Sushi Xpress. Haddad launched Beirut concept Al Falamanki in Dubai’s Jumeirah earlier this year and recently added a retail store, which offers traditional Lebanese products.

No Preser vatives | No Palm O No Hydrog il Gluten Fr enated Fats ee | Lac tose Free

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Cover Story

Locked Down

With another Lock, Stock & Barrel in the pipeline, five franchise deals looming and a coveted US brand under its belt, Solutions Leisure Group is taking no prisoners in 2017. Crystal Chesters reports


y the end of 2017, Solutions Leisure Group, the three-yearold Dubai-based entertainment company, will have nine operating venues, and looks forward to doubling its turnover and staff numbers with an additional 45,000ft2 of floor space in Dubai. The company’s portfolio comprises homegrown brands, Q43, Asia Asia and Lock Stock & Barrel, in addition to franchises of Karma Kafé and Melbournebased seafood concept, The Atlantic, which opened in Souk Al Bahar last month. Next year, the focus will be on ramping up the portfolio “hard and fast”, says Solutions Leisure managing director Paul Evans, who confirms plans for the company’s most successful brand, Lock, Stock & Barrel, to open in May 2017 at the upcoming Rixos The Walk, located on Dubai's JBR Walk. The second LSB, says Evans, will be double the size of the original at 20,000ft2. “It’s an evolution of what we’ve already done in Dubai. Lock, Stock & Barrel is an evolution of Q43, and the second one will duplicate the original with the same design elements and music,” Evans explains. One differentiating feature of the new venue will be an adjoining casual, food-

focused concept, with an “urban street carnival feel”. Evans explains: “It will be Lock, Stock & Barrel the sequel with another very large food component bolted in. This will be a very interesting not-seen-inDubai food component with alcohol, multiple cuisines and live music. It will allow people to pop in, have a bite to eat, drink a cold beverage, and be home for 10.30pm – it will be slightly more casual, not a fullon party.” In addition to the company’s plans to expand organically in Dubai, Evans has his sights set on conquering the international market and has already received requests for Lock, Stock & Barrel franchise deals in Las Vegas, New York, Melbourne, London and Hong Kong. However, even for Evans this could prove too ambitious. “It’s early days and we need to find the right people. From a capacity point of view, it could be challenging to do five licenses in one year, but if we have great partners, why not?” The plan is to take the Asia Asia and The Atlantic brands into Saudi Arabia in 2017 with the same partner, in addition to expanding Lock, Stock & Barrel abroad. “It’s our intention to get anywhere between three and five international licenses across The Atlantic, Asia Asia and LSB brands

January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Cover Story “It’s our intention to get anywhere between three and five international licenses across The Atlantic, Asia Asia and LSB brands opened in territories around the world”

opened in territories around the world next year.” Keeping a tight rein on partners, particularly when it comes to the Lock, Stock & Barrel brand, is another concern for the team. “We adore that brand,” Evans comments. “We’re not going to be a licensing company that gives you a manual and you see us once a year to collect the cheque. We’ll design it for you, we’ll recruit the team, we’ll get the band for you, we’ll drop in the GM, the assistant manager, the bar 24

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manager and the DJ and then when we think you’re ready to take over we’ll take a step back. We’ll be in the licensee’s venue every single day for the first six months.” And while expanding the company’s homegrown brands is hugely important to Evans, he is also very proud to unveil Solutions Leisure’s signing of the famous STK restaurant brand in association with The ONE Group – a deal the company has been pursuing for three years. STK offers a modern twist on the American steakhouse con-

cept with locations in major cities throughout the US and Europe. Solutions Leisure has plans to roll out two STK venues in Dubai in 2017. STK Dubai will be located at The Address Downtown Dubai hotel on Emaar Boulevard with 240 seats, including 100 on the outdoor terrace overlooking Burj Khalifa, while the second venue, the 160-seat STK Beach, will be located next door to the new Lock, Stock & Barrel at Rixos The Walk. “They are super-hot; everyone in the

Cover Story

land wants to sign with them and so we’re over the moon. It takes us to another level from what we’re doing with our homegrown brands. We’re now able to execute internationally-renowned brands,” comments Evans. “We are excited to have been the group chosen to roll out this top end brand. It shows the amazing growth of Solutions Leisure in only three years in Dubai, the hard work and grit from all our team is really paying off. It’s the perfect marriage of brand and operating partner.”

Meet the team

A new 20,000ft2 Lock, Stock & Barrel will open in Dubai’s JBR area

PAUL EVANS MANAGING DIRECTOR Having started his first venture in Egypt 15 years ago, Evans has built, owned and operated over 25 food and beverage outlets, including two of the world’s largest brands in dance music – Ministry of Sound Red Sea and Hed Kandi Beach Bar. Winner of the Leaders in F&B Awards 2016 ‘F&B Heavyweight’ title, Evans is the creator and founder of Solutions Leisure Group.

SACHA DANIEL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Daniel’s career in the hospitality industry began aged 17 at a chef school in Paris. He later joined Planet Hollywood where he was responsible for the opening teams for franchises around the globe. Daniel’s next venture was with world-renowned Gaucho Grill, and right before his move to Dubai, he was the GM of the famous Cocoon on Regent Street, London.

FREEK TEUSINK CREATIVE DIRECTOR Prior to launching Solutions Leisure Group, Teusink worked for several years as a professional sound engineer and consultant. Having gained experience opening venues in the Middle East, Holland and the Caribbean, Teusink met Evans in Egypt where both entrepreneurs were working in the nightlife industry. Teusink is Solutions Leisure’s main lead when it comes to the design of all venues.

SPENCER HARTWELL SALES & MARKETING DIRECTOR Hartwell’s career began in the retail sector with sportswear giant JD Sports. A move into retail property sales saw him relocate to Dubai in 2004, heading up the sales force for Select Property LLC. On his travels to Egypt in 2010 with Select Property as regional sales manager, Hartwell met Evans and Teusink and joined Solutions Leisure Group in 2011.

While plans are already confirmed for an Abu Dhabi STK, the team will assess the response to the region’s first openings before moving forward with more. Evans comments: “We’ll see how it executes; it’s all very well how it goes in Vegas, but we need to know how it will go in Dubai and if we can operate it at the same level. Does the market receive it as well as it receives our other concepts?” The resources required to accomplish Solutions Leisure’s ambitious expansion

plans will see the company almost double staff numbers from 450 to 800 by the end of next year, with a restructure already underway in preparation. “You can’t just grab anyone you want,” explains Evans. “You’ve got to build the team to operate that level of turnover and we’re already busy with it. We’ve doubled our sales and social media team and operationally we’re splitting the group into a bar and a restaurant division and promoting internally,” says Evans. Two general managers of Lock, Stock & Barrel January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Cover Story

“They are super-hot; everyone in the land wants to sign with them and so we’re over the moon. It takes us to another level from what we’re doing with our homegrown brands. We’re now able to execute internationallyrenowned brands” will become area managers for the bars division, while the general manager of Asia Asia will take the helm of the restaurant division and two assistant managers are being promoted to general manager roles. Recruitment is also underway for extra chefs and back-of-house roles. While expansion is a key item on the 2017 agenda for Solutions Leisure, Evans – who has been working in the F&B industry for 15 years and has owned and operated more than 25 F&B outlets – understands the importance of maintaining standards in his existing venues. “The second you stop being busy, people will catch you and you’ll become irrelevant,” he says. “We’ve seen it in different venues we’ve had over 20 years. You have to put more dedication into a three-year-old venue than a one-year-old venue.” Evans’ ambition is simple: for Solutions Leisure to be recognised as the number one operating F&B company in the Middle East, which he says is “nothing to do with money”, but rather how many people want to come to the venues. “We didn’t come here to make money; we came here to make great venues so that people would say, ‘you guys are different’. If you do that, guess what? You’ll end up with money. Not one of our venues is ever designed with a PNL, which drives our investors crazy. Instead we say, ‘this is how it will look and feel and we reckon 20,000 – 50,000 people per month will enjoy the experience and they’ll all spend AED 100 – 400 per month’. “That’s a lot of money; we’ll be fine!” 26

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Solutions Leisure opened Melbourne-based seafood concept, The Atlantic, in Souk Al Bahar in December

Scottish Baked Scallops at The Atlantic

The business


Chez Charles C

harles Boghos began his career in marketing and business, confessing “I had nothing to do with F&B”. A food and wine enthusiast, however, Boghos would source unique, high quality European ingredients for personal use and dinner parties and following several complements from his guests, he decided to explore his passion further. In 2012, Boghos resigned from his job and launched Chez Charles. His marketing expertise did not go to waste, however. In fact, marketing has been a key aspect of the successful positioning of Chez Charles as a premium catering company. “It’s very important,” Boghos tells Catering News during an interview at the company’s Business Bay facility in Dubai. “Marketing is much broader than visuals and designs. It includes product development, distribution, pricing, positioning – the whole strategic plan.” However, for a business to be successful, the product must follow through on the marketing message, says Boghos, and for Chez Charles, this message is quality. “You have to build substance behind your claims and positioning, which is what we do. We’ve played a lot on quality, which is our main motto across the board. It starts with the quality of ingredients, the people, the skills we have on board.” Chez Charles began as an online gourmet store, a website where customers could buy high quality ingredients and have them delivered the following day. This was fol28

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Charles Boghos, CEO and founder of Chez Charles discusses the premium catering company’s expansion to Abu Dhabi and its first restaurant opening

lowed with a private chef offering, then barbeques and lamb spit roasts, which became so popular that the company couldn’t meet demand. September 2015 marked an important milestone therefore, with the opening of Chez Charles’ central kitchen, warehouse and offices in Business Bay. “This is when we became a fully-fledged catering company,” comments Boghos, explaining that Chez Charles now caters for up to 1,000 people, with events ranging from canapé and cocktail parties to plated gastronomy dinners, corporate events and

weddings. “We can do everything and anything, as long as it doesn’t compromise the quality,” he says. Boghos isn’t a chef himself, but rather “the pickiest and most detail-oriented customer”. His team of 40 comprises 15 chefs, two of whom – Sylvain Gohier and Jérémy Degras – come from Le Quartier Gourmand, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Burgundy, France. Explaining how he convinced the chefs to join the Dubai-based catering company, Boghos says: “When you share your story

The business

“We’d rather stay where we are; we have no plans to be good for everyone and will remain targeted at a premium market. We are a catering company and don’t want to become an event company that does food” with passion, and when you explain to people that share the same passion, and you’re on the same frequency and have the same aim in life then it’s easy to join forces – and that’s what happened. I think we’re the only catering company that has two Michelinstarred chefs on board.” Boghos and the chefs brainstorm the menus together, but Sylvain and Jérémy have free rein to develop them further. “We create the spirit of the menu and then it’s their call to change items, develop items – they have my full trust.”

The chefs share Boghos’ passion for quality, with ingredients sourced from Europe – and France in particular – depending on what’s in season and what’s available. “We know people and work very closely with local suppliers we consider business partners, they get things for us,” says Boghos, highlighting Fernando Pensato olive oil among his specially selected premium ingredients – “We know the estate and production; it’s an oil that sits on most Michelin-starred tables of France”. Some of the better-known suppliers on

the books are Promar Trading and Wet Fish, while beef is of the finest quality Black Angus or Wagyu from Australia. “We don’t use lower grades; it’s all about quality, quality, quality,” he reiterates. Demand is growing on the back of Chez Charles’ reputation for quality, and the company had the most successful start of a season yet in the third quarter of 2016, reveals Boghos. “Demand is coming in non-stop, which is great. When you build your credibility in the market everyone that wants to do something comes to you, naturally.” January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


The business

And while Chez Charles has nine trucks and a warehouse in Ras Al Khor, which can be utilised for large events, Boghos is keen to maintain the company’s premium status by limiting the size and scope of its services. Boghos explains: “For events of 4,000 – 6,000 people, you need different logistics and capabilities. We can work it out if we have enough lead-in time but this type of event is usually not very high quality compared to what we do. We’d rather stay where we are; we have no plans to be good for everyone and will remain targeted at a premium market. We are a catering company and don’t want to become an event company that does food,” he says. Instead, Boghos’ strategy for expansion is moving into new markets and sectors while maintaining his focus entirely on a high-quality food and beverage offer. Having completed the required paperwork, the team is now ready to cater to the Abu Dhabi market, which opens doors to a number of new opportunities, but equally comes with logistical and staffing challenges. “Going to Abu Dhabi means time spent on the road and restrictions on the number of events you can take on, so it’s a compromise, but then you just have to make a judgement on the right events and 30

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

“Going to Abu Dhabi means time spent on the road and restrictions on the number of events you can take on so it’s a compromise but then you just have to make a judgement on the right events and the right number” the right number. We juggle and plan in a way that doesn’t impact any other events we do and we’re currently recruiting for that,” says Boghos, revealing that down the line, when required, a catering facility will open in the capital. Another major project in the pipeline – and one that will significantly diversify the company’s business – is the opening of a 500m2 180-seat restaurant located in Dubai Design District (D3). Scheduled to launch in February, the contemporary French brasserie will be “human, normal and approachable” says Boghos. “It’s a place you feel good, a place where you can go every week because you’re hungry and don’t feel like cooking at home.”

The pricing strategy for the venue has been “well studied” and Boghos looks forward to offering an affordable menu by utilising resources across the company’s verticals. “We won’t have a premium pricing strategy because of our capabilities between catering and the restaurant, our purchasing power and ability to plan ingredients. People are tired of spending AED 700 or 800 when they go out. With all due respect to these restaurants, very few have high quality ingredients; they just make you pay,” he says. And explaining why he decided to move into the realm of restaurants, he admits “it was the normal expansion of the brand itself”. Going forward, the restaurant element will be just as important as the catering division, with more outlets to open both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “It will go handin-hand,” says Boghos. “It’s a separate operation, but one complements the other. Our pipeline is full in the next three years. We have a lot to come both in terms of catering and restaurants.”

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The business

Bulldozer Group Bulldozer Group was busy in the Middle East in 2016 with the opening of Uzbek restaurant, Eshak, the refurbishment of Toko and the signing of Novikov in Saudi Arabia. Co-founder Alexander Orlov catches up with Catering News to discuss plans for the year ahead

How have Bulldozer’s concepts been performing in Dubai? Our concepts are very successful. We opened the first Toko three years ago, and then opened Novikov, Cipriani, and Sass Café, so we did it step by step and now we’ve decided to refurbish Toko. What is the objective of the Toko refurbishment? The objective was to create a more colourful atmosphere and design. We have also changed the food concept and the menu, adding more pan-Asian and Chinese dishes. We’ve introduced a dim sum section and have brought in very experienced Chinese dim sum chefs who prepare it in front of guests at the new open kitchen. Following the refurbishment, Toko has become more sophisticated and we have lowered our prices. What new design features have you introduced? We have changed everything! We brought in completely new furniture from Europe and China so we have a totally different concept now, which is very colourful and comfortable. We also have a new, sophisticated terrace. Tell me about your latest Dubai opening, Eshak? Eshak, which opened in December, is a very popular concept we have brought from other countries; we already have it in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The concept is a mixture of Arabian food with some Uzbek dishes, which are also very tasty and interesting. They are very similar to Arabic dishes with rice and meat. The venue also has a market in its entrance, with fruit, vegetables and other foods on offer. The inside is very colourful, with big sofas and chairs, 32

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Toko was relaunched in November 2016 with a panAsian menu and colourful fit-out

Uzbek restaurant Eshak

so it is a comfortable place to spend time, smoke shisha and eat. Eshak has 80 seats inside and 100 seats outside. What items will be on Eshak’s menu? Chef Mahmoud Efranjiey, who is at the helm of the kitchen, will offer dishes including pilafs, kebabs, veal and lamb dumplings, baklava and chak-chak. What are your plans for expansion? We want to develop Eshak in this region; in the Emirates and in some other countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran,

and we have signed a new Novikov in Riyadh, which is set to open in September. We also want to see how the re-launch of Toko goes and then maybe we will develop it. Do you have any new concepts in the pipeline? Next year we’re going to open Crab Market, a seafood and crab kitchen. The outlet is currently under construction in DIFC. We may also develop our Japanese concept Tanuki. We have more than 50 of them across the US and Russia, so we are negotiating bringing this to Dubai.

The business

About Bulldozer group Bulldozer Group is a Dubaibased investment and brand management hospitality company headed by Evgeny Kuzin, Maxim Vlasov and Alexander Orlov. The group specialises in introducing the Middle East to international hospitality brands and since its inception in December 2011, has opened Movida, VIP Room, Downtown Toko, Sass Café, Novikov, Cipriani and Socialista Lounge in Dubai.

Eshak is styled as a “choyona”, an authentic Uzbek eating house

“We want to develop Eshak in this region; in the Emirates and in some other countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran” Alexander Orlov Toko interior

January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Chef focus

Sea change

Pierchic has long been known as one of Dubai’s most exclusive restaurants, however recently appointed head chef Paul Lupton wants to shift the focus from the stunning sea views to the creativity and dynamism of the restaurant’s culinary offer. Crystal Chesters reports


iven its location at the end of the pier at Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, surrounded by 360-degree sea views, including the best vantage point in town for the Burj Al Arab, Pierchic has always been a restaurant for special occasions, and this is something that head chef Paul Lupton does not refute. “We’re a destination restaurant,” says Lupton, who joined the team in June 2016. “You pay for the location; it’s a unique venue throughout the whole world so we make the most of that.” That said, Lupton would like people to come to Pierchic not just for the views, but for the food. With nine years’ experience in the region, having worked previously with St. Regis Abu Dhabi and prior to that with Gary Rhodes for a decade, Lupton is convinced he knows what the market wants and emphasises 34

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the creativity and quality of Pierchic’s culinary offer. “We’re not a restaurant where the chef faxes a menu across every two years. We are the creative force behind this restaurant,” he tells Catering News. “I did my training in London, but I’m a homegrown Dubai chef. I’ve been here 10 years almost and I know everyone on the market; I know the suppliers really well. “One of the great things I bring to this restaurant is my innate knowledge of the market and the creativity I’ve developed through years of working at some of Dubai’s best restaurants and five years in the best restaurants in England. We’re doing something special here and I want people to come and experience it – and not just for their birthday or for a proposal.” Prior to Lupton’s arrival, Pierchic’s menu hadn’t been up-

Chef Focus

“I’m changing the menu regularly so that the chefs are learning new items and are passionate about every dish. We never rest on our laurels and leave a dish on the menu just because it’s nice”

dated in a while – not since 2014 when three - Michelin-starred chef Laurent Gras was brought over from Chicago to work with ex-head-chef Rosalind Parsk on the development of a menu to fit with Pierchic’s extensive refurbishment, which unveiled a contemporary new look and feel. However, according to Lupton, the previous menu wasn’t quite right for the market and nor was it practical for catering to the volumes of diners Pierchic draws in each evening. “People vote with their feet and the Dubai market just want something piping hot and something they can enjoy that’s tasty. Generally speaking, they’re not three-Michelin-star diners,” says Lupton. “If you’ve got a small 40-cover restaurant it’s fine, but if you’re doing 250 covers a night it’s not.” Lupton spent the first few months of his new role cleaning up the kitchen, streamlining processes and training his staff in preparation for peak season. “Once I got that foundation in the kitchen and the guys respected me, they were willing to follow me on the journey January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Chef focus of what we’re doing here. It’s been about getting the chefs to trust me and understand that I’m here for their benefit to create something amazing.” He then set to work overhauling the menu and reinforcing the focus on seafood with a number of new dishes inspired by the ocean. Some of his signatures are Risotto Nero with cuttlefish ink, baby squid and gremolata and the Pearl by Pierchic dessert, the concept of which is a white pearl inside a cage, surrounded by driftwood. Explaining the move to make Pierchic more seafood-focused, Lupton comments: “Some restaurants can be a Jack-of-alltrades. Here we’re a resort where if you want meat, you go to The Hide; if you want seafood, you come here. We can be flexible to guest requests but we focus on seafood and try to be excellent at that. Hopefully we succeed!” While he is required to do tastings with Jumeirah Group’s head office to sign off on any menu changes, in general Lupton is delighted with the freedom and flexibility he enjoys at Pierchic. “I can change things straight away whereas in previous properties it could take six months to change a menu,” he says, explaining that he updates the menu every two weeks. “It’s great to be in a restaurant where we have that sort of flexibility and dynamism, where we can act on seasonality and guest feedback. I’m changing the menu regularly so that the chefs are learning new items and are passionate about every dish. We never rest on our laurels and leave a dish on the menu just because it’s nice.” Another luxury of Lupton’s new role is the strong reputation of Pierchic on the Dubai market. Having worked in venues where driving footfall was a challenge, the chef is enjoying focusing purely on the food. “I’ve worked in restaurants where it’s been a struggle; you’ve had to create business, drag people in. But here, they just come to us and it’s great to be in a restaurant where you can make money, you can use nice products, we’re not struggling to make food costs.” That said, Lupton recognises an important balancing act: since the restaurant’s refurbishment two years ago, the team has been trying to make the atmosphere more accessible. “I think it’s definitely become more casual. The market has changed; fine dining is still alive but people like to be relaxed when they come for dinner. We don’t

“I did my training in London, but I’m a homegrown Dubai chef. I’ve been here 10 years almost and I know everyone on the market” 36

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Chef Focus want to be a stuck-up place; we don’t want to be stuffy,” he says. Rather than lowering the prices, the strategy is to manage yields with promotions and offers. For example, during summer, Pierchic hosted Shellabration, a six-week-long programme showcasing seafood dishes from around Europe’s seafood festivals, and this will run again in 2017. The team has also introduced a destination lunch from 12.30pm - 3pm Saturday to Thursday, priced at AED 199 for three courses. Meanwhile, to drive in more footfall in the early evening, a three-course sunset dinner is available Saturday to Thursday from 6pm – 7pm for AED 350, including a glass of champagne. However, Lupton admits that ultimately, there is no real motivation for Pierchic to lower its prices significantly when demand is so high, and he believes this is justified by the quality of the ingredients used. “We buy the best of the best; we import it and sell it at the premium rate it deserves. We buy the best Chilean seabass you can get, the best Canadian lobsters and vegetables imported from markets in France. It’s a great position to be in as a chef,” he says. “It’s difficult because Dubai is a price-sensitive market and we don’t want to be known as an expensive restaurant, but we have the opportunity and the custom here already. People come back to us again and again.”

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January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


What's cooking?

Out of this world

JAPANESE Catering News speaks to the chefs from the region’s Japanese restaurants to discuss preparations and innovations

How popular is Japanese food in the Middle East? Hugh Sato Gardiner: Very! Japanese food is very popular in the region and it has evolved into a mainstream cuisine choice for diners. Most people will factor Japanese cuisine into their regular dining routine, especially as it can adapt to any diet. Reif Othman: Indeed it’s popular, not just in Dubai but all around the world. Nevertheless, a good Japanese restaurant is hard to come by in the Middle East. We don’t have many people that understand the true art of Japanese cuisine and restaurants are not using the best ingredients to showcase what Japanese cuisine is all about. I guess it comes down to a lack of education on both sides – the provider and the customer. Herve Courtot: It’s very popular! I would say it’s one of the best-known cuisines in the UAE and you can find a wide variety of Japanese restaurants across the region. Most of these, however, are fusion Japanese and nothing very original.


Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Gohei Kishi: Japanese food is certainly a popular choice. However, it would be naive to say there is no competition, with popular franchises enjoying many successes. Japanese food has been embraced in the region since it is essentially a sharing cuisine, much like traditional Arabic mezze. It is also suitable for vegetarians and diners opting for lighter choices. On social media, Japanese is also more visually pleasing than other foods. How have you adapted Japanese food to suit local tastes? Hugh: Forget formality and tradition; the focus must be on acceptable taste. For example, we often twist a traditional sashimi dish with hard aromatics and a soy vinegar. Reif: The diners in Dubai are not very adventurous; they will eat dishes they are comfortable with when they travel. I have tailored our menu to their taste buds using cooked proteins, sweet flavours, tempura proteins, a kick of spice and plenty of mayonnaise.

Out of this world

Hugh Sato Gardiner corporate chef, Okku Dubai

The Chefs

Nobu interior

The terrace at Ramusake

Reif Othman director of culinary at R.A.W. Galadari Holdings & Absolute F&B Facilities Management (Play Restaurant & Lounge)

Herve: We have some great Arabic-inspired sushi rolls on the menu, including a crunchy cucumber and white asparagus mutabal flavoured roll, a Moroccan shrimp tanjine-style roll and a falafel and tahini pickle roll. Gohei: Over the years, I have learned to adapt the taste of my dishes to suit the palate of the environment I am catering to. It is a great misinterpretation that Japanese food is heavily seasoned; in fact, this is a western take on the cuisine. Traditional Japanese food served in its natural environment is subtler and more refined. For example, a Japanese dish catering to

the Middle Eastern market is Ramusake’s cheese and truffle gyoza, which is a traditional dish but with non-traditional ingredients. The cheese and mushroom duxelles seasoned with ponzu sauce and served with shaved black truffle are delicious, despite not being Japanese. This dish essentially showcases the merging of two cuisines – Japanese and British – however it doesn’t come across as a misplaced menu item. I endeavor to preserve the integrity of the dishes and how they are supposed to be served and prepared, and I add and enhance where necessary to cater to the unaccustomed palate.

Herve Courtot Chef de cuisine, Nobu, Atlantis, The Palm

Gohei Kishi Group executive chef, Mahiki facilities, Dubai (Ramusake)

January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Out of this world

Over the years, I have learned to adapt the taste of my dishes to suit the palate of the environment I am catering to. It is a great misinterpretation that Japanese food is heavily seasoned; in fact, this is a Western take on the cuisine.

Hero dishes Reif Othman

‘Rocky Punch’ maki rolls

- Gohei Kishi What are the key trends emerging in Japanese food globally and in the region? Hugh: Globally, Japanese food is being fused with different ethnic cultural tastes to create entirely new dishes and flavours. The outsourcing of Japanese ingredients is making the cuisine more accessible globally and therefore more accessible to all. Reif: Japanese cuisine is evolving with modern design, modern menus and newstyle sashimi. It is no longer cooked or presented in a traditional setting. Herve: The main trend we are seeing is demand for delicious yet healthy options. For Japanese cuisine, these come in the form of various grilled specialities served in a traditional Japanese way. Gohei: Japanese cuisine is constantly developing. Every chef will have their own take on traditional dishes, which makes it very interesting. The volume of Japanese restaurants enjoying success across different levels – from fast-food to high-end – also shows that chefs are developing different takes on the cuisine. Franchises seem to be capitalising on a larger market share compared to homegrown brands and many European restaurants are also employing Japanese cooking techniques and products. The worldwide market is definitely catching on, and adapting products to cater to the growing demand for Japanese food. What Japanese products/ ingredients do you find challenging to source? Hugh: Sourcing of live, fresh seafood has 40

Catering NEWS ME November 2016

Gohei Kishi

Soy Glazed Beef Short Rib

always been a challenge. Prior to 2016 in the Middle East, Japanese fish/seafood items were only available either frozen or fresh, but this year has seen the UAE import live seafood. Reif: I have a very good Japanese supplier who always try their very best to get what I need. Herve: We tend to use a few imported ingredients to achieve certain flavours and our signature Nobu taste, however there are also some great ingredients that can be sourced locally, which don’t affect the authenticity of the dishes. Ideally, we would like to increase our use of local fruit and

vegetables, however it can be a real challenge to source Japanese vegetables. Gohei: We can get almost all of the Japanese products required with ease. These often come with a premium price tag, but with Japanese food the quality has to be high. The main sourcing issue is finding qualified and skilled chefs, as Japanese cuisine is an art form that takes time to cultivate. Even after 21 years I am still learning and developing my skill set. How will your menu evolve over the next 12 months? Hugh: Hopefully, in a very positive and

Out of this world

Hugh Sato Gardiner

Yuzu Saikyo Miso Black Cod

Black Cod Miso

Herve Courtot

vibrant way. I am looking forward to stepping up the sushi and sashimi offering and the classic robata grill. Reif: I will stick to the classic dishes and reinvent them with my own version. Herve: A big focus for us is to bring to life the origin of the product for the guest so they actually understand a little about what they are eating and why it’s cooked and served in a certain way. Gohei: Ramusake was founded as an Izakaya venue, conceptualised as a social space where you can enjoy great, authentic dishes coupled with beverages that complement the food. The menu was

What’s your hero dish? Hugh My hero dish is our ‘Yuzu Saikyo Miso Black Cod’, a miso marinated Atlantic black cod. Reif We have plenty of hero dishes so it’s difficult to choose. For instance, we sell a lot of the ‘Pita Surprise’, with lightly seared Wagyu beef and truffle butter, and our ‘76 Hours’ – Wagyu G9 beef ribs, spicy goma dressing and spring onion salad. However, our best-selling Japanese dish is the ‘Rocky Punch’ maki rolls – rock shrimp tempura, yuzu tobiko and shrimp mayonnaise. Herve The Black Cod Miso is our hero dish and the signature dish for Nobu globally. This is the most popular main course ordered in the restaurant and we sell over 20,000 portions every year. Regarded as an international phenomenon, chef Nobu San’s black cod is at the heart of the success of the Nobu brand. Gohei My hero dish at Ramusake is the ‘Soy Glazed Beef Short Rib’, which is one of the most popular dishes at Ramusake. It requires me to apply Japanese and French techniques, which are not employed with other dishes. The dish is initially seared and cooked sous vide overnight to achieve a perfectly tender short rib that falls off the bone, and is finished on the robata grill with a soy sesame glaze and a spinach namuru relish that complements the flavours really well. I feel the dish reflects my personality as it takes interpretations from east and west, embodying multiple flavours, textures and techniques.

developed with sharing dishes in mind rather than for Japanese delicacies that would not be properly translated and embraced by the western palate. The likes of the ‘Takoyaki Omelette’ and ‘Kinoko Rice’, both of which are popular in their native Japan, are perhaps less established in Japanese restaurants outside of Japan. Nonetheless, at Ramusake we serve both in order to balance out the less authentic dishes. What is the future of Japanese cuisine in the Middle East? Hugh: Please fasten your seat belts....

Reif: It will be neutral throughout the coming years; the good restaurants will stay strong and the weak ones will close down. Herve: Japanese cuisine is still growing, but its future depends on the ability to source authentic, quality ingredients and experienced Japanese chefs in the region. Gohei: It’s difficult to predict because there are many factors impacting Japanese cuisine and the wider F&B sector. However, I believe the region’s consumers are now more educated, engaged and willing to try new dishes than they were five years ago. November 2016 Catering NEWS ME


Food trends

Coming clean

With controversy surrounding the clean eating craze, Catering News explore its benefits, pitfalls and future


he clean eating trend has been steadily moving into the global mainstream over the past years, with governments increasingly calling into question the safety of packaged food items and putting pressure on food manufacturers to reduce sugar and salt content and provide clearer labelling to help consumers make better choices. According to the experts, clean eating isn’t a diet, but a healthy and happy way of living. It means eating ‘real’ food in its most natural form, using organic ingredients where possible and cooking at home. George Ball, co-owner, Clean Living Company comments: “Clean eating, favoured by many health-conscious consumers, means following a diet that focuses on healthy, unprocessed and whole foods. “In order to follow this lifestyle, consumers must not only nourish their bodies by incorporating fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrains into their routines, but must also reduce their daily intake of sugar, salt and highly processed, packaged foods.” And while the conversation began in the supermarket, it has spread into the foodservice industry, according to Vivek Kashiwale, executive chef, Mint Leaf of London. “Consumers are becoming more informed about the dangers of processed foods and are incorporating clean eating into their diets as a means of eliminating unnecessary chemicals and additives,” he comments. “As supermarket shelves are loaded with more pre-packaged and processed foods, health-conscious consumers are demanding more natural alternatives. Now it’s transferring into the restaurant industry as consumers recognise the benefits of clean eating and a healthier lifestyle.” Some of the health benefits of clean eating include weight management, increased 42

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

Seaweed pesto is one of the clean items on Comptoir 102’s menu energy, enhanced mental wellbeing and an improved immune system. However, with over 26 million posts on Instagram tagged ‘#cleaneating’ and widespread media and celebrity endorsement of the trend, there is no doubt that image is another important factor linked to its popularity. Helen McLeod Dodd, nutrition expert for online wellness resource, www.enritsch. com, comments: “One of the main drivers is the rise in popularity with bloggers and pseudo health experts demonstrating glowing hair and skin and overall heightened wellness,” she says. “The unprecedented

popularity of clean eating is something people want to be associated with and achieve to be part of the club. It is thought of as good, and everyone wants to feel that way.” Gabriele Kurz, executive wellbeing chef, Talise Nutrition, Jumeirah Group, adds that “aspirational consumers are on the rise”, with more and more people buying into the benefits of clean eating to enhance their health and physical appearance. In response to this, Talise Nutrition has created menu guidelines based on clean eating principals for guests and members to suit a variety of goals. Kurz explains: “There are

Food trends

Talise Nutrition’s ‘Shape’ menu features dill marinated Scottish salmon with salsa verde, which has no added starch and contains raw salad, grilled vegetables and a raw sauce based on good fats only.

“As supermarket shelves are loaded with more prepackaged and processed foods, health-conscious consumers are demanding more natural alternatives. Now it’s transferring into the restaurant industry as consumers recognise the benefits of clean eating and a healthier lifestyle”

Emma Sawko owner of Comptoir 102 and Wild & The Moon

- Vivek Kashiwale, executive chef, Mint Leaf of London dishes for weight loss, shape, skin beauty and for body and mind balance. The guidelines include recommended food items for each aspiration, for example skin beauty can benefit from detoxification using beetroot and green papaya.” The question is whether consumers are truly educated on the benefits of clean eating or if they are simply following a trend. Critics argue that clean eating has gone too far, with packaged and processed foods now criminalised by health experts, the media and governments, which in turn is putting unnecessary pressure on consum-

Gabriele Kurz executive wellbeing chef, Talise Nutrition, Jumeirah Group

Maria Romeralo nutrition consultant, SHA Wellness Clinic ers and endangering the physical and mental health of vulnerable individuals. Rather than blanket avoidance of packaged and processed items, some experts simply advise more mindful eating. Emma Sawko, owner of Comptoir 102 and Wild & The Moon comments: “Eating clean today when most food comes processed, packaged and convenient, implies eating with a conscience. It’s about making a conscious choice; being mindful about what you put into your body. It’s also about aligning body and mind.” However, with the Middle East’s long working hours and the premiums that

George Ball co-owner, Clean Living Company

January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Food trends

Mint Leaf of London’s gold-sprayed, steam roasted Omani lobster served with asparagus and cherry tomato shell and a quinoa pulao.

“One of the main drivers [of clean eating] is the rise in popularity with bloggers and pseudo health experts demonstrating glowing hair and skin and overall heightened wellness. The unprecedented popularity of clean eating is something people want to be associated with and achieve to be part of the club. It is thought of as good, and everyone wants to feel that way” - Helen McLeod Dodd, nutrition expert, come with imported produce, it can be expensive and time consuming to eat consciously. Maria Romeralo, nutrition consultant, SHA Wellness Clinic comments: “You need to dedicate some time to cooking and eating food consciously. One of the problems these days is that we don’t dedicate time to something as important as eating and preparing food.” Kurz agrees that the clean eating diet can be difficult to follow, particularly when travelling – since most airlines don’t offer unprocessed dinner options – and with friends who don’t share the same ethos. Meanwhile, McLeod Dodd believes that the rules 44

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

are too restrictive and can lead to guilt and giving up. “The main disadvantage is that long-term adherence is tough. Once you have consumed a ‘dirty food’, i.e. something out of a packet, something refined or with a drop of sugar in it, this can cause guilt, which in turn decreases motivation.” Ball adds: “Often natural, organic and good quality food comes at a higher price. In order to follow this lifestyle, consumers have to be aware that their weekly spend on food may increase. Also, consumers that aren’t so organised may find it difficult to prepare their meals in advance.” At the more extreme end of the spec-

trum, clean eating has been criticised for putting pressure on people who suffer from eating disorders. According to McLeod Dodd, those prone to eating disorders can “hide under the rules and regulations of clean eating quite easily”. Looking to the future, the experts agree that the clean eating trend will continue, although Kashiwale believes it will become “more exciting”, while in Sawko’s opinion, more traditional techniques will emerge. “Preparation processes such as soaking, sprouting and fermentation are slowly making a come-back on the food scene and we should see a real fermentation and pickling revival,” she comments. Meanwhile, for Ball, bone broth, “Hollywood’s new go-to health and beauty fix”, will become a central aspect of the clean eating trend in 2017. “Bone broth helps achieve a healthier gut, improve sleep quality, mood and complexion and build a stronger immune system,” he says. On the other hand, Mcleod Dodd believes that clean eating is dying out as bloggers and celebrities start to disassociate themselves with the negative aspects of the trend. Instead, she believes 2017 will be about embracing a more balanced diet, which doesn’t necessarily mean complete avoidance of packaged and processed foods. “The real science is catching up with the fake experts, demonstrating that many of the health claims are fabricated or based on a poor understanding of science, health and metabolism,” she says. “We should of course push for decreased sugar intake, more wholegrains, more fruit and vegetables, but also enjoy processed foods and treats as part of the balance, without feeling dirty.”

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Event review


A roundup of the highlights from the seventh edition of SIAL Middle East, which took place in Abu Dhabi in December

The seventh edition of annual food, drink and hospitality trade show, SIAL Middle East, which took place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 5 – 7 December, attracted record visitor numbers and witnessed the signing of deals worth AED 3.8 billion. Thamer Al Qasemi, chairman of the organising committee for SIAL 2016 said: “SIAL has witnessed unprecedented growth during the last seven years. In 2010 we had eight national pavilions, 7,200 visitors and floor space of 4426m2. Now, visitors have 46

Catering NEWS ME January 2017

grown to over 22,000; we have 30 national pavilions and floor space has more than trebled to 14,220m2, underscoring the appetite and strategic importance of the event. Show content is evolving to provide a broad overview of food trends and innovation, further highlighting the importance of the event.” Major-general staff pilot Ishaq Al Balushi, head of the Supply Department of the General Command of the Armed Forces signed contracts worth AED 763 million with the Army Officers Club, Abu Dhabi National Hotel Company Middle East, Al Wasita for

Catering, Emirates Hospitality Centre, Kelvin catering services, Army Forces Coop Association and FOODCO. Meanwhile, Jenaan Investment signed an MOU with the Sudanese Finance Ministry to establish the biggest date palm farm in the world, with a total of 221 million trees to be planted in Sudan over a 13-year period. Abu Dhabi Health Authority signed a contract with Etihad to introduce healthier, Weqaya-approved meal options to its staff restaurants. The Weqaya logo is the official mark of

Event review


The winners of inflight catering industry awards, The Mercurys 2016, were announced on Monday 5 December at Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri, Abu Dhabi. The 35th edition of the awards recognised the best inflight catering companies and covered categories ranging from airline meals and equipment, to beverages and food products. Etihad was recognised for its textured dessert in the Airline Meal – Premium Class category; Qantas won the award for Service Concept – Economy Class for its Qantas International Dining experience, while Qatar Airways’ Superfood Salad won the Service Concept – Premium Class. The Best Beverage award was scooped up by Italian coffee maker Caffe di Artisan, while best Food Product – Sweet was awarded to Lithuanian ice cream producer, AB Klaipedos and best Food Product – Snack went to UK supplier, Monty’s Bakehouse. The full list of winners is available on

healthy eating in Abu Dhabi and is only permitted on foods and in food outlets that meet strict requirements on preparation and ingredients. In addition to some major business deals, SIAL Middle East also hosted events and competitions on the show floor, with winners from across the world taking home accolades. Northern Irish food producer Mash Direct won the Innovation World Champions for its Crispy Vegetable Bakes. The competition received more than 150 entries. The Silver Award was presented to Al Ain

Diary for its Breakfast Milk, while Icelandic food company, Complete Global International Apoly Trade was awarded the Bronze prize for its Vikingur food supplement. Rounding out the show floor events, and organised by the Emirates Culinary Guild of Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the World Association of Chefs' Societies, La Cuisine featured over 1000 professional chefs competing in a variety of culinary competitions. These included the Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Young Chefs Challenge, launched in memory of one of the Emirates Culinary

Guild’s founding fathers, which was awarded to the Singapore team at the La Cuisine prize giving ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday 7 December. Commenting on SIAL’s expanding role in the region’s food and beverage industry, Fadi Saad, SIAL managing director, SIAL Middle East, said: “Innovation in the food industry is not only trending around the globe, it is accelerating thanks to the digital environment we all live in and it is an aspect that we have been keen to showcase.”

Tea time

Catering News showcases the latest tea and herbal products available in the Middle East


Ranfer Group

Sri Lankan tea manufacturer Ranfer Group offers four ranges of teas, which have been carefully selected to reflect the natural flavours of Ceylon Tea. These are: Ranfer Signature Range, nine Ceylon teas packaged in metal caddies; Ranfer Mystique Infusions, bio-degradable, silken pyramid tea bags with nine infusion blends inspired by women from around the world; Ranfer Christmas Tea blend, which evokes the flavours of Christmas; and Ranfer Ayurveda, teas inspired by the ancient healing remedies of Lanka. Ruvinika Kinigama, director, Ranfer Teas commented: “The range of infusion and herbal teas and the creatively designed packaging will catch the imagination of the discerning connoisseur of tea.” In 2017, Ranfer Teas looks forward to enhancing brand awareness through strategic alliances and partnerships in its key target markets. T: + 94 777 371611 E: W: /



2 2

Jafferjee Brothers

Distributed in the Middle East by La Marquise, the Jafferjee Brothers have two ranges: Jaf Tea (middle range) and Te Reval (premium line). Under the Te Reval brand, Jafferjee Brothers is launching a pre-portioned loose leaf tea solution. Each tea and tisane item will be packed into a 5g sachet, allowing for portion control and ensuring freshness. The brand’s specially produced glass teapot with plunger mechanism is designed to brew 500ml, while an hour glass tea timer helps determine brewing time. Created specifically for Asian restaurants, Jafferjee Brothers offers a special tea menu, which includes a teapot, tea cup and tea selection. Mufaddal Jafferjee, managing director of Jafferjee Brothers commented: “No other brand provides such a convenient and premium quality offering, which meets the needs of the food service operator and provides the guest with an immersive tea experience. Our pre-portioned loose leaf products under Te Reval elevates the guest experience.” T: +971 4 343 3478 E: W:


Catering NEWS ME January 2017



Unilever the mother company of the Lipton brand has recently launched its 100% rainforest alliance certified American product, Lipton fresh brew iced tea, in the Middle East. The tea blend is predominantly made from real Argentinian tea leaves known for their strong taste minus the bitterness associated with hot tea blends. Unilever marketing manager Islam Nadoury commented: “Fresh brew iced tea is on trend and adds lots of excitement to drinks menus. The product is unsweetened and hence can be tailored to match the tastes of western guest by adding a squeeze of lemon and some fresh mint, while Arabic guests enjoy peach or strawberry and ginger.” In 2017, Unilvever will launch its new tea machine, ‘Tea Fusion’, which offers a theatrical method for brewing tea in front of guests. The product will be exclusively on display at the Eurocoffee showroom in Dubai. T: +971 56 224 06 26 E: W:

Products: Tea 4



Basilur tea

Basilur tea, a Sri-Lanka-based brand, has introduced a range of healthy, detoxifying herbal infusions for the mind, body and soul. Offered in pyramid tea bags, with 15 to a carton, each pack is sealed in a foil pouch with zipper lock to maintain freshness. Moringa is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to fight infections. Meanwhile, Basilur’s Cinnamon tea helps lower blood sugar levels and reduce heart disease. The Tumeric tea is full of curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory compound, which helps calm the digestive system and toxin damage. A refreshing beverage to quench the thirst, Hibiscus is effective for lowering blood pressure, while Rosehip is rich in vitamin C. In 2017, Basilur will introduce more health-oriented herbal infusions and organic tea products with the same premium quality guarantee. T: +971 55 918 5400 E: W:


Ronnefeldt Tea

Supplied in the Middle East by 4 Corners, the new Ronnefeldt Teavelope Oolong has been introduced this month, increasing the number of available flavours in the Ronnefeldt Teavelope range to 16. Normally a speciality tea, it is unusual to find unflavoured Oolong tea in tea bags, and Andre Biedenkopf, director of sales at Ronnefeldt Tea is seeing increasing demand for this in the UAE and beyond. He comments: “With increasing numbers of Chinese travellers visiting the Middle East, Ronnefeldt Teavelope Oolong will be an essential item for guest rooms and F&B outlets.” In 2017 the company is also looking to introduce a full range of Ayurveda teas to its LeafCup and Loose Tea range. The teas have been created in partnership with the European Academy of Ayurveda and Biedenkopf expects them to be particularly popular with spas. T: +971 4 884 7248 E: W:

January 2017 Catering NEWS ME


Product news Relocation

TSSC moves headquarters to Business Bay


hermal foodservice and laundry company TSSC, has opened a new office in Prime Tower Building, Business Bay Dubai. The office was originally acquired in 2008, but plans to move in had to be put on hold during the global financial crisis, and the building was only completed last year. Having expanded rapidly and outgrown its previous office on Sheikh Zayed Road, the team at TSSC are looking forward to increased space, efficiency and an upgraded IT system. Commenting on the official opening of the new office, Rashid Bahar, business development manager, TSSC said: “The opening went well because all our friends in the industry showed up. More importantly, we were graced with the presence of our

founder Mr. Basil K. Bahar for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Due to a medical condition Mr. Bahar had previously been unable to experience the new office, which he was involved in acquiring back in 2008.” Over the coming 12 months TSSC plans to consolidate the move and transfer one department back to its Sheikh Zayed Road office, which is currently undergoing a refurbishment. Bahar added: “The plan is to work out all the kinks so that it operates like a well-oiled machine. However, we do plan to move one of our departments back to our showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road once it is refurbished. This will allow us to keep our finger on the pulse and more importantly, give us more room to expand further in the new office.”

The arrival at the new TSSC office of Mr. Basil Bahar, TSSC founder

Lavazza launches new product range Coffee company Lavazza has launched its new ¡Tierra! Origins range in the UAE. The range comprises single-origin coffee varieties certified by Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organisation committed to fostering biodiversity conservation and promoting the rights and wellbeing of farmers, their families and communities. ¡Tierra! Origins varieties available are: Espresso Brasile 100% Arabica, with dominant notes of honey, biscuits and chocolate; Espresso Brasile Blend (70% Arabica, 30% prized washed Robusta) with hints of chocolate, dried fruit and bitter cocoa and Filtro Tanzania 100% Arabica, with aromas of flowers and ripe fruits; Filtro Brasile 100% Arabica, with tangs of cereals and honey. 50

Catering NEWS ME January 2017


Rational’s ‘All-in-2 concept’ to improve kitchen


uring two events in Dubai, Rational Group, a specialist in hot food preparation and inventor of the combi-steamer technology, presented the latest kitchen trends and its new All-in-2 concept, aimed at streamlining kitchen processes. The events – one focused on corporate catering and one on hotels – took place at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Dubai, with more than 30 consultants from the industry in attendance. Sascha Barby, head of Allin-2 Solutions, and Christoph Dilger, key account director hotels, Rational, shared their experiences in application and kitchen technology with the consultants. They discussed how the challenges of modern kitchen planning can be overcome with the new All-in-2 concept, which promotes the use of both the Rational SelfCookingCenter and the Rational VarioCooking Center as complementary eleSimon Parke-Davis, vice president for business development in Middle East, Rational International Middle East

ments in a kitchen set-up. According to Rational, the All-in-2 concept raises quality, profitability, and efficiency due to its intuitive operation, simplified and precise planning, optimised processes and range of unit sizes. It allows for faster production, uses fewer raw materials, reduces cooking losses and wastage, and saves energy and water, while providing good return on investment. The units feature automated cooking processes activated at the push of a button with a user-friendly control panel. Rational’s SelfCookingCenter and VarioCooking Center are the result of over four decades of intensive cooking and kitchen research. The company also simplifies the planning process for consultants, with informative resources and tools, accessible via web-based interface, Rational Portal, which is available to registered consultants at www.


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GRIF 2017 will host a celebration of the brightest and best of the industry at the 2017 Global Restaurant Awards through partnership with The Caterer. The Global Restaurant Awards are an opportunity for the industry leaders to get together and celebrate those organisations that have shown innovation, vision and leadership in their businesses and concepts. Recognising the brands that have really engaged with their consumers through social media, technology, design or sustainability. GLOBAL RESTAURANT AWARDS IN ASSOCIATION WITH




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This year’s trends in water and the latest innovations and products from the brands available in the Middle East


Iain Farrell, Middle East zone director for Evian Volvic International of Danone explains why his products are so popular with Middle East consumers

What is your best-selling water product?

At Danone waters, we carry Evian, Volvic and Badoit water brands in our premium category. The best-sellers are Evian and Volvic as both are well-loved by consumers who are familiar with the brands and their qualities.

What is unique about your brands?

Our brands stand out thanks to the natural and protected sources of Evian and Volvic. Evian is pure natural mineral water bottled at its protected source at the Cachat Spring located on the southern shore of Lake Geneva, in the town of Evian-les-Bains. This means the water retains its intrinsic qualities and is untouched throughout the bottling process. Every drop of Evian takes more than 15 years to filter through mineral rich glacial sands in the pristine French Alps. Volvic, is a natural mineral water that comes from the volcanic region in the heart of Auvergne in France. Volvic is created by rainwater that flows underground, and is filtered through six layers of volcanic rock where it gets its unique mineralisation. Volvic has balanced acidity and is also suitable for those who adhere to a low-calcium or low-sodium diets.

What is the most important feature of the perfect water product?

Evian and Volvic are both natural and come from protected sources, which are very important qualities of our brand. In addition to purity, presentation is also very important. Evian now comes in a sleek, signature label-free-look PET bottle, which symbolises its source – the French Alps. We have also just rolled out the 2017 limited 10th anniversary edition bottle featuring the design of the House of Christian Lacroix, the first designer of the limitededition bottle.

What are the latest trends in water?

We have observed a shift in consciousness for healthier drinks, hence there is more demand for bottled water. Apart from its hydration benefits, bottled water is also convenient, practical and provides good value. For Evian and Volvic, we continue to bring what our loyal consumers want – fresh, pure natural mineral water. 52

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Horeca Trade

Jad Asaad, marketing manager, Horeca Trade showcases S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna products

What is your best-selling water product?

Our best-selling water brand is S.Pellegrino natural still and sparkling waters. We have been official distributors of S.Pellegrino in the UAE for over 12 years now.

What is unique about the brand?

S.Pellegrino’s smooth and velvety taste enhances the flavours of food and wine. It is one of the lightest mineral waters and has a low sodium content. Bottles come in three formats: 1l, 500ml, and 250ml, both in glass and PET.

What is the most important feature of the perfect water product?

It is essential that a water product is as natural as possible, contains low sodium levels, and is exactly as advertised on the bottle. We also believe water should taste as pure as possible. Acqua Panna is the perfect example of this, as it is able to harmonise flavours without covering them thanks to its organoleptic qualities.

What are the latest trends in water?

Consumer perceptions of drinking water have changed over recent years. Consumers are more aware of the benefits and importance of drinking quality water, so they want to know where the water comes from, whether it is treated and its mineral content. In the Middle East there will always be a high demand for water due to factors such as the weather and lack of local resources.

T: +971 4 805 2000 E: W:


Monviso CEO Stefano Iorini introduces the Middle East to his exclusive Italian water brand

Waterfalls Brands

Sherod Walker, CEO, Waterfalls Brands introduces a British spring water bottled at an ancient source

What is your best-selling water product?

Our beautiful 1l Monviso bottle with an elegant design adds the finishing touch to a table.

What is unique about the brand?

Monviso 100% natural mineral water from Monviso Mountain in the Italian Alps has a purity unmatched by any other brand. Originating from Europe’s highest source at 2042m altitude and protected at 3.8 °C away from pollution and human settlement, Monviso is clearly the superior mineral water choice. The product is minimally mineralised and extremely light, with one of the world’s lowest sodium levels. Monviso’s composition makes it perfect for everyone, including infants, and it is safe for consumption in large quantities.

What is the most important feature of the perfect water product?

Monviso water is 100% natural mineral water, pure at its origin and bottled at source. Based on the European and Italian regulations in force, water can be defined as "natural mineral water" only if it has certain characteristics, which Monviso adheres to. The product is also very light, with a very low mineral salt content (49 mg / l). A water with these characteristics is not only safe to drink in large quantities, but also helps avoid physical fatigue, promotes diuresis and is recommended for controlling hypertension and kidney problems.

What are the latest trends in water?

People are becoming aware that health depends on proper nutrition and water is a basic element of this.

T: 04 2840662 E: W:

What is your best-selling water product?

Waterfalls Superior British Spring Water is our best-selling product.

What is unique about the brand?

Waterfalls water is drawn from a source as old as records exist where it is then bottled into a unique presentation featuring screen printed branding. The presentation of the bottle is key to the consumer’s perception of the elegant surroundings in which Waterfalls water is served. The glass bottle has been embossed with ceramic ink, which bonds with the glass, meaning that the label cannot be distorted or damaged in transit, storage, or by condensation. The water can also be presented on ice.

What is the most important feature of the perfect water product?

Exclusivity is important. Waterfalls water is not available through retail stores and is exclusive to our distributors who sell it to highend establishments such as hotels, restaurants and gourmet cafes.

What are the latest trends in water?

Consumers are more conscious of where the water is sourced.

T: +971 4 409 6890 E: W:

Spill the beans

The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri

Firas Fawaz, managing partner, The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri, explains why he brought the three-Michelin-starred Italian concept to Dubai as his first major F&B investment

The Artisan interior

Linguine served with clams and cured Sardinian bottarga menu has a selection of dishes catering to different tastes without compromising on the identity of our concept.

What key challenges have you faced in the first year of operations? What is your career background?

My career has always revolved around brand creation and development. Prior to this current venture, I was part of the founding team of a prominent group that creates, owns and operates multiple F&B concepts within the UAE. During my tenure, I helped them to create and introduce various concepts to Dubai.

Why did you decide to bring The Artisan By Enoteca Pinchiorri to the Middle East as your first F&B investment?

After being involved in the F&B sector in Dubai for a while, I noticed that there is a lack of dining experiences that truly focus on the food. I believe the market is saturated in the beverage and bar scene rather than the food sphere. We wanted to create a place that people frequent for superior food, with the ambience merely an extra bonus. We believed that three-Michelin-starred chef, Annie Feolde, would have the perfect experience necessary to penetrate the market and fill that gap. Consumers in our region appreciate good quality food and have a refined taste with many enjoying Italian cuisine, so we believe The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri offers exactly what they need. 54

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Steak tartar with a creamy white and yellow dressing

Please describe the concept of The Artisan By Enoteca Pinchiorri?

The Artisan By Enoteca Pinchiorri is a refined, casual concept, where we serve premium products in a chic ambience. Our aim with chef Annie, has always been to provide our guests with a true and unique Italian experience. It is worth noting that Enoteca Pinchiorri is one of the main pillars of the gastronomy industry in Italy; having such a brand in Dubai is a great addition to the marketplace.

How does it compete on the Dubai market?

The plan is not to compete but complete what’s missing. With so many options on the market, guests are educated enough to appreciate a quality-driven product in tandem with a non-pretentious concept. The

We have been open for the past five months, and so far, we have received extremely positive feedback. With several restaurants opening, people tend to have the impression that there’s no space for another addition to the F&B scene. When they try The Artisan By Enoteca Pinchiorri, they understand that there’s always space for a genuine concept with a solid culinary history.

What new features are you offering this season?

We are providing the option for guests to sit outside during the cooler months, which will cater for the many cigar lovers. In addition, we introduced the wine flight experience, whereby guests enjoy a mini grape tasting at the table while they sample our dishes.

What are your plans for 2017?

The plan is to extrapolate the concept to other cities in the world and be on the international culinary map and travel the world with The Artisan By Enoteca Pinchiorri. Currently we are working with the team in Florence spearheaded by chef Annie, to assess the opportunity for such expansion plans.

Products and services for the professional kitchen, created by chefs for chefs. Visit

Catering News ME - January 2017  
Catering News ME - January 2017