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JANUARY 2018

TIME FOR TEA

Connecting F&B professionals with industry knowledge

Executive chef Ilker Cifti from Rixos Premium Dubai is in the hotseat

How Dilmah is putting ethics first when it comes to tea

TURKISH DELIGHT

Out the

Gate

How Hari Nayak and the team at Masti are changing the rules


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

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What's Cooking?

Appointments

January 2018 // Issue #036

Contents 28 Chef Q&A

48 Time for tea

10 //

WHAT’S COOKING? AED4.6 billion worth of deals struck at SIAL Middle East; Greenhouse signs major deal with ICCA; Giffard hold tropical cocktail workshop

22 //

COVER STORY How Hari Nayak and the team at Masti are changing the rules

28 //

CHEF Q+A Executive chef Ilker Ciftci at Rixos Premium Dubai

30 //

TIME FOR TEA Merrill and Dilhan Fernando from Dilmah Tea in profile

36 //

IN PROFILE Cluster executive chef at Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views Adam Tracey

January 2018 Catering NEWS ME

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January 2018 // Issue #036

Contents Director Rabih Najm Rabih@bncpublishing.net

40 //

GULFOOD PREVIEW We look ahead to the key industry event taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre

50 //

SPILL THE BEANS Jennifer Pettinger-Haines Managing Director, Middle East, for Bench Events

CEO Wissam Younane Wissam@bncpublishing.net Editor Patrick Ryan Patrick@bncpublishing.net

Sales Manager James Stead james@bncpublishing.net Contributor

Marouane Al Mandri Art Director Aaron Sutton Aaron@bncpublishing.net Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon Mark@bncpublishing.net Photographer

Hayder Al-Zuhairi

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Chef focus

58 40 Event preview

Spill the beans

For all commercial enquiries related to Catering News ME contact All rights reserved Š 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 UPP

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Catering NEWS ME January 2018


E ditor's L etter

Catering for an action-packed 2018 patrick ryan Editor @ThatPaddyRyan

t’s a new year and all the indications are pointing to a 2018 that’s every bit as hectic and action-packed as the 12 months we have just experienced. That is why it is imperative that you don’t miss a single beat from the world of catering here in the Middle East. By reading Catering News Middle East you are already ensuring that you stay on top of events as this year is going to be bigger and brighter than ever for the team here. We can’t wait to share a host of surprises and announcements with you in the coming months. In this issue we preview a number of events that are simply too important for anyone at the heart of the catering sector to miss out on. If you are in the catering business in the Middle East, then you will be at Gulfood in March. It’s as simple as that really. We speak to some of the key players from the event and it is already shaping up to be one that you cannot miss. We also hear from Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, managing director of Bench Events who is organising the Global Restaurant Investment Forum – again this is an occasion that is among the first to be marked on industry calendars. For our cover story this month we are chatting

with Hari Nayak, the internationally renowned chef who is planning on bringing a taste of new India to Dubai at La Mer’s Masti. Nayak is promising to bring a social dining experience to Dubai like no other. From speaking to him it’s clear this is not an idle boast – he is determined to change how we view Indian food… one bite at a time. In big business it is easy to forget about the little guys. That is why it is refreshing to hear the views of Merrill and Dilhan Fernando, the father and son team behind the Dilmah tea empire. They have placed emphasis on ethical trading, ensuring that those at the bottom of the chain are not forgotten about. They also talk about their new partnership with the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) as they launch their new school of tea. It is a fascinating piece that serves to remind us how the tea trade is still very much a vital part of the F&B industry. Well that’s about it from me for now. I will leave you to enjoy the rest of the magazine and I look forward to seeing you for the next issue. Kind regards, Patrick Ryan

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Events

AED4.6 billion worth of deals struck at SIAL Middle East Organisers of SIAL Middle East have confirmed that deals worth AED4.6 billion were recorded at the eighth edition of the three-day exhibition – boosted by an increase in participants which attracted more than 26,000 visitors and experts from the food, beverage and hospitality industry. Thamer Rashid Al Qasemi, chairman of the organising committee for SIAL Middle East, said the results underlined SIAL’s regional and global position as the fastest growing business exposition strengthening the local food economy. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the exhibition concluded on 14 December by honouring the 600 exhibitors that took part in donating the UAE Red Crescent’s Preservation of Grace initiative. The exhibitors were awarded certificates of appreciation in recognition of their 10

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

participation in the initiative which was launched by ADFCA in line with country’s the Year of Giving, and saw roughly 30 tonnes of food exhibited at SIAL Middle East donated to charity. Al Qasemi said: “The introduction of the Red Crescent’s Preservation of Grace programme was to help promote the Year of Giving initiative both locally and internationally, as well as to introduce a culture of tolerance and giving.” Believing SIAL Middle East to be a crucial event for industry professionals, Al Qasemi said it is the key component to addressing ways to narrow the gap between supply and

demand across the region, by providing innovative and diverse alternatives to meet the needs of the consumer. He said: “By hosting SIAL Middle East over the last eight years, the emirate of Abu Dhabi has demonstrated its exceptional potential in organising largescale international events and exhibitions, and its excellence in their management to compete with similar global events. “The results of this year’s edition show the emirate’s leadership in adding value to the events it hosts and organises. SIAL Middle East has become an ideal platform for international companies operating within the

food and hospitality industries, and is a driving force for entrepreneurs to expand their projects and investments.” ADFCA has already begun its preparations for the ninth edition of SIAL Middle East in order to maximise return for exhibitors and to increase the number of visitors in line with the agenda of Abu Dhabi’s activities. Co-located with SIAL, the Abu Dhabi Date Palm Exhibition is set for a significant expansion in terms of space and number of exhibitors in 2018. Al Qasemi added: “Expanding the Abu Dhabi Date Palm Exhibition stems from ADFCA’s enthusiasm to develop the date palm sector in the country and to provide local producers with an opportunity to build new partnerships that promote the Emirati dates worldwide, enhancing the national economy and develop date palm industries.” One of the highlights of SIAL Middle East was the victory of Emirati citizen Ibrahim Al Mallouhi who took home the top honours in the prestigious National Competition for Preparing Coffee.


Wh at' s c ook i n g?

Partnerships

Greenhouse signs major deal with ICCA

Greenhouse Foodstuff Trading has announced a major partnership with the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) Dubai. Greenhouse Foodstuff Trading will be supporting ICCA by providing quality products for all their trainings, and also by sponsoring events and exhibitions. In return, ICCA will promote Greenhouse’s brands and products in their day-to-day operations and in events. A spokesperson for Greenhouse said: “By dealing with our products, the future chefs will

have a hands-on learning skills and techniques on most of Greenhouse’s top brands. In addition, the partnership goes beyond products supply, it is the elevated longterm relationship that can bring a world class culinary experience to the food industry. “By endorsing ICCA we are embarking together on a path of growth for the development of food service industry. The expertise provided by Greenhouse & ICCA will together take us to a new step where we could provide better solutions to the food service industry.”

Greenhouse Foodstuff Trading is renowned across the region for top quality food products and ICCA is a world-renowned institute with accreditation from City & Guilds London. “ICCA Dubai prides itself in providing truly world-class training facilities, taking the learning experience to the next level and providing students with the opportunity to seamlessly integrate and effectively deliver to international industry standards,” said the spokesperson.

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W hat's cooking?

Education

Giffard hold tropical cocktail workshop

Syrup manufacturer Giffard held a special tropical cocktail workshop last week in Trader Vic’s, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Catering News Middle East was on hand at the event where we caught up with Leo Leriche, MEAI manager Gifford… How important are events like the Tropical Cocktail workshop? It is very important to train people about Giffard quality and how to mix drinks. The tropical workshop was about exotic and tiki cocktails…and it was also about fun. What are the latest trends in the industry at the moment? Premiumisation is reaching into the market and end users are willing to try drinks that are less sweet but have more flavour. Giffard is focusing now on the art of flavour. How does Giffard’s offering differ from everyone else’s? These are authentic syrups that have been made in France since 1885 with no artificial flavours or preservatives. They are made with home made sugarbeet. Can you tell me about your company’s plans for the next 1218 months? Giffard will offer more flavours with over 70 syrups available while SAFCO will organise more events to provide support to professionals. What would you say your most popular product is right now and why is it resonating with the industry? Giffard sauces toppings have been recently launched in UAE and we received a great response. The flavours include dark chocolate, salted caramel as well as strawberry and red berries that can not only mix with drinks but also with pastries and ice-creams to name but a few. 12

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

Investment

Investment could reach a record high in 2018 The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 (AHIC) is forecasting significant opportunities for hotel investors targeting the Middle East in light of new data from MEED Projects, which predicts that more than US$14bn worth of hotel construction contracts will be awarded in 2018. According to MEED Projects, the online projects tracking service, the value of new hotel investments in the MENA region could hit a record high in 2018. Ed James, director of Content and Analysis at MEED Projects, said: “After a relatively subdued 2017 up to end of November which has seen US$5.45bn worth of new hotel construction contracts awarded, the value of hotels due to be awarded next year is more than US$14bn. “This total would comfortably exceed the US$8.5bn awarded in 2016 and the previous record of US$11.9bn awarded in 2015.” James added: “On the back of its forecasted performance, investment in hotels will comprise about 7 per cent of the total US$200bn scheduled projects spending in the MENA region next year, making it one of the most important construction subsectors. “On a country basis, the UAE will be by far the largest market, with an expected US$8.4bn worth of contracts, followed by Saudi Arabia at US$1.9bn and Qatar at US$1.7bn.” These figures will be discussed at the 14th edition of AHIC, which will be held from 17-19 April 2018 at the purpose-built AHIC Village in the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in part-

nership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and Co-Founder of AHIC, said: “These new figures are exciting for the Middle East hospitality investment community, which gathers annually at AHIC. With oil prices now trading significantly higher than the January 2016 lows, we expect to see signs of recovery and stability in most regional economies.” He added: “There is still enormous potential for hotel development in this region, particularly as the industry seeks to diversify and we foresee significant growth in the mid-market and serviced apartments segments, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. With ‘Focus on the Future’ as our theme for AHIC 2018, the programme will include conference and networking sessions that tackle how to capitalise on these opportunities and maximise returns for the years ahead.” AHIC 2018, which promises to further knowledge, deepen existing relationships and forge new ones among the leaders of the hospitality investment community, will attract around 800 hotel investors, major developers, leading financiers, and Clevel hotel executives to attend three days of content, networking and events.


Wh at' s c ook i n g?

Appointments

New executive head chef for Mövenpick Hotel JLT Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers has appointed Balveer Balkissoo as its new executive head chef. Balkissoo has worked for the Mövenpick Resorts & Spa Mauritius for over five years. “Chef Balveer’s skill and talent has already lead to significant changes during his first weeks with us. He wakes up with new ideas everyday and his enthusiasm will play an integral part in elevating the experience of our guests.“ said Daniel Kaan, general manager of the hotel. “As a dedicated supporter of creativity in food and beverage myself, I see the hotel’s food and beverage offerings soaring forth with a talent as rare as this.” As Executive Chef, Balveer oversees the hotel’s in-room dining, events and three dining venues including the award winning Nosh restaurant and ubk – urban bar & kitchen.

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New openings

New Opening

B’dou Café launches in Dubai B’dou Café has opened in Dubai’s City Walk with the promise of a traditional Bedouin experience, combined with contemporary cuisine. We wanted to create a space that lets expats and locals alike discover and experience true Bedouin hospitality. Our café is a tribute to the region’s heritage, culture and traditional values. As you enter B’dou Café, you’ll be welcomed by a modern yet ancestral Arabian atmo-

sphere that pays homage to the land’s forefathers,” says Diyar Al Asalah Holding Co, owner of B’dou Café.

“We also pride ourselves on our extensive coffee offerings crafted by our baristas from different parts of Arabia

& the world. We take pride in our B’dou Signature Coffee Blend as well as our Heritage Collection, where guests can taste authentic Saudi & Emirati Gahwa.” They added that B’dou Café’s interior design is a manifestation of Arabia, and blends the perfect balance of glamour, sophistication and heritage, with elements of leather, raw hide and natural textures to create an exotic space.

New Opening

Alloro Ristorante comes to Wyndham Dubai Marina Hotel

Alloro Ristorante has opened for business at Wyndham Dubai Marina Hotel. Chef Matteo Rizzello, the speciality chef of Alloro Ristorante, said he draws his inspiration for the menu from a number of traditional culinary practices in an attempt to show the UAE the innate hospitality and passion of the Italian spirit, such as lamb ossobuco, eggplant 14

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

parmigiana and ragout di manzo. Restaurant and bar manager, Sam Graham said: “We are excited to introduce Alloro Ristorante to Dubai, in particular to our local Dubai Marina residents. From my years of experience in the restaurant industry, I know how important it is to create an atmosphere that mirrors the spirit of the cuisine and concept.

“With this in mind, Alloro Ristorante will be a homeaway-from-home, buzzing with a welcoming and energetic ambience that will allow our guests to relax and enjoy a fuss free Tuscan feast, set against the background of a jazz fusion soundtrack.” A spokesperson added: “Reminiscent of afternoons well-spent basking in the sun,

enjoying well-natured loud banter with a jazz fusion in the background, Alloro Ristorante is inspired by a team of foodies that believe ‘There’s a little Italian in all of us’. “Serving an exceptional taste of Tuscany on each plate, guests can expect to feel at ease while indulging in the generous portions of the authentic taste of Florence.”


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New openings

New Opening

McGettigan’s comes to Al Ain

The first McGettigan’s branch in Al Ain has opened at the Danat Al Ain Resort. The award-winning Irish bar and restaurant in the UAE opened its door on 4 December and more than 200 guests including influential guests from the Irish community, regular patrons of the hotel, 16

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

and representatives from Danat Hotels and Resorts and the team from McGettigan’s welcomed the arrival of the popular bar in Al Ain. Ahmed Margoushy, general manager of Danat Al Ain Resort said: “McGettigan’s is a popular Irish bar and we all know the success of the brand

internationally and in the UAE, with various locations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. It is famous for its great food and drinks, live music and sports. “The opening of McGettigan’s in Al Ain will offer residents and visitors a place to relax after a day’s work, catch

up with friends for a drink or celebrate with families. We welcome you to the new McGettigan’s and we look forward to seeing most of you in the coming days.” The new McGettigan’s is located in the part of the resort that was formerly known as the Horse & Jockey.


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Appointments

Appointments

Atlantis, The Palm appoints new general manager Atlantis, The Palm has appointed Timothy Kelly as general manager and senior vice president, operations. Directly reporting to Serge Zaalof, chief operating officer for Atlantis Resorts & Residences, Kelly will oversee all operations, strategic direction, management and continued growth of Atlantis, The Palm. This also includes additional responsibility for all administrative, retail, food & beverage, banqueting & special events, marine & waterpark, and recreational services. Zaalof said: "With a wealth of international experience in the general management of public and privately owned integrated hotel, restaurant, and resort operations, the appointment of Timothy Kelly supports Atlantis, The Palm’s continued commitment to enhance and redefine the guest experience. "Timothy has obtained exceptional operational expertise with a proven history of excelling within leadership roles and we look forward to supporting him in continuing this journey with Atlantis, The Palm." With over 25 years of international experience, Kelly joins Atlantis, The Palm from Wynn Resorts where he managed multiple property portfolios in Las Vegas, Macau and Cotai as well as being instrumental in the successful opening of Wynn Palace Resort and Casino in Macau in 2016. Prior to joining Wynn Re20

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

sorts, Kelly was the vice president of Hotel Operations at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he managed all brands in the portfolio with 6,760 rooms consisting of MGM Grand, West Wing, Skylofts, Mansion and The Signature Residences. Kelly was the first representative of Forbes Travel Guide Service Advisory Committee, repre-

senting the Asia-Pacific Region, on five-star luxury service and maintenance standards. He was also appointed to the Nevada Hotel Lodging Association Board of Directors for six years, lobbying the state legislature on bills that would support the integrated resort industry. In addition, in 2009, Kelly was recognised with a Lifetime Membership by Les

Clefs d’Or International®, for his work and support of concierge services worldwide. Kelly graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 1993, with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration and is expecting to receive his Master of Hospitality Administration (MHA) from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2018.


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Tastes from

New India

Named after the Hindi word for mischief, La Mer’s Masti promises a social dining experience to nourish and entertain. Award winning restaurateur, chef and author, Hari Nayak, explains why the new venue is on a mission to change Indian food, one bite at a time. Words by Melanie Mingas

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he hidden histories of its most defining dishes makes Indian the original fusion cuisine – the samosa hails from central Asia, the kebab from Turkey, and tikka masala was invented in Scotland. Influenced by yeas of colonialism and cultural exports, today, Indian food across, and beyond, the country is as diverse as the languages and geography within in. In principle, Indian food incorporates six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and sharp – but the features don’t end there. From the ayurvedic properties of the chosen spices and herbs, to the prevalence of vegetarian alternatives, the healing properties of Indian food are well documented. They are also well catered to, with Indian food represented around the world. In Dubai, a number of high profile names have arrived over recent months and, according to legend, London has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai. The problem is they all serve the same food. Two years ago, chef, author, restaura-

teur and consultant Hari Nayak embarked on the creation of a concept that would redefine the country’s national cuisine on the global stage, while providing a facelift for the image of India and its national dishes in the process. The result is Masti, where despite serving one of the world’s favourite national cuisines, every item on the menu is original to the restaurant. Set within La Mer, the seventh destination developed by Dubai Holding’s Meraas, Masti is the first of a new generation of beachside licensed restaurants in central Dubai, and will be joined by a variety of original, local concepts, as well as international names, as the area develops. Named after the Hindi word for fun and mischief, Masti plays with the flavours and concepts that define Indian food, while using simplistic (and often very non-Indian) cooking techniques, including a charcoal oven. According to Nayak, the kitchen features bespoke equipment designed to support cooking methods that have “never been done before”.

Borrowing from the vibrant aesthetic of what Nayak terms “new India”, décor is colourful, playful and tuned to maximise a backdrop of uninterrupted Gulf views. The lounge style bar features low seating and a menu of cocktails and bar bites, while the a la carte restaurant extends onto a beachfront terrace. Nayak explains: “The whole idea was that we wanted to do something fun. Typically, Indian restaurants tend to be the same cuisine, so we wanted to do something completely different, not just with the food, but in the whole ambience. In the whole menu approach, we have taken the flavours from India and given them new life, in the cooking styles and methods. We have used a lot of new ingredients to enhance and do something different with the cuisine itself.” One such innovation is the overriding emphasis on sharing, which echoes in everything from the seating arrangements to serving sizes, in a nod to Arabic and Levantine food culture. As a re-

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sult, the entire menu is based on small plates and sharing dishes. Nayak elaborates: “We are very unique and that puts us in a whole new segment. People love to try different things and we hope to bring people in and give them something unique, and also give a fun ambience so they will come back to try more things.”

A game of two halves

Drawing on a lifetime split between Manipal and New York, Nayak’s inspiration draws on his experience as a classically trained Indian chef and the innovations learned in his adopted home of New York, bringing more than a dash of his own personality to the food he creates. Growing up in India, Nayak embarked on his path to culinary esteem at the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration in Manipal, Karnataka, India, in 1994. From there he joined ITC Hotels as a kitchen executive trainee before moving to New York where he studied at the International Culinary Insti24

Catering NEWS ME January 2018


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tute of America, graduating in 1998 as an Honour student. Travel has also played a part, with Nayak quick to recall the new ingredients and techniques he learned in such countries as Mexico and Peru. He recalls: “My training is very Western, as is my approach when I cook Indian food. The way I look at ingredients is different although the core flavours remain true to Indian. So, that’s what we kept in mind when designing the menu.” Nayak has trained under the likes of Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelson and Albert Adria, also working as an apprentice of Alain Ducasse. Yet, Masti isn’t the first project in his international portfolio. Nayak authored the best-selling cookbooks Modern Indian Cooking and My Indian Kitchen: Preparing Delicious Indian Meals without Fear or Fuss, utilising the same auteur’s touch of combining simplistic techniques and traditional flavours. Two further books are in the pipeline. As a trained pastry chef, one of his best known ventures was the creation of America 's first ice cream patisserie, Halo

Fete, in Princeton, New Jersey. He explains: “The inspiration for me is my journey – I grew up in India and lived there half my life and the other half in New York. There is a mix of cuisines and the menu has developed with an influence of different cultures, cuisines and ingredients. We’re bringing that into Indian and trying to have a little fun with it.” Masti’s signature dish of the moment is a slow cooked lamb croquet with Kashmiri spices, creamed English peas and wasabi, described by Nayak as “a new way of presenting lamb in a bite size portion”. He says: “It takes two days to cook the lamb, but it’s eaten in one bite.” Other innovations include a tuna tartar chaat, combining refreshing, ceviche style raw tuna – a fish rarely served in India – with the authentic, light texture of chaat. Nayak interjects: “Every single dish you see on the menu is something that has never been done before. We have never followed any rules and that is why the name has to be mischief. “The whole approach is about disre-

garding the rules but making sure the end result is tasty and delicious. We stay true to that. We make a fun experience and a lighter approach. When you go to an Indian restaurant it’s heavy and saucy, but we changed the whole outlook in designing this menu,” he continues. While the food is no doubt the main event, the beverages at Masti will bring a flavour of their own. Featuring a gin room, extensive cocktail menu and lounge-style bar with sweeping Gulf views, Masti’s strong focus on the social side of dining will no doubt help it gain reputation among its target market. Nayak comments: “The whole menu has been designed so it isn’t just about the food – there is a whole list of foods and beverages that are going to be paired. We are trying to do something different so let’s see how it goes.”

Setting the scene

Masti has the potential to carve a special place in Dubai’s F&B scene. With the power to appeal to the UAE’s second and third January 2018 Catering NEWS ME

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generation Indian expats just as much as its first (and non-Indian) expats, the venue will no doubt become a landmark on the emirate’s bustling social scene. The challenge post opening will be to create a guest experience that translates and endures – The UAE is a fast-paced destination for hospitality businesses and its audience as discerning and fickle as ever. However, Nayak has a plan to survive despite this – by making a name for Masti beyond its USP. The first year is on track to be a rollercoaster of flavours, experiences and new encounters, as Nayak and his team prepare to rewrite everything Dubai thinks it knows about “Indian food”. As for year two, time will tell. The focus for now falls on the menu and establishing a loyal clientele that will come back for more – a key concept at a restaurant where every dish is unique to the venue. The initial menu took almost a year for the core team to develop, including several tastings and trials, and the final 50-dish line-up is already evolving. 26

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

As Nayak concludes: “When you are doing something new of course it is going to evolve – this isn’t my final menu. “In Dubai there is so much out there. Restaurants open and they close, but we are here to stay. We want to do something exciting and it’s not going to get

boring – it’s not just about creation. We have studied how to cook, we have new methods of cooking, so it’s going to be exciting and hopefully people will want to come and taste the food. That’s what we are trying to do.”


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W hat's cooking?

Turkish Del igh t

Executive chef Ilker Ciftci at Rixos Premium Dubai reveals why you should be excited about the work being done by him and his team… 28

Catering NEWS ME January 2018


Q+ A

my own kids therefore I can’t point out any particular dish.

Can you describe the concept of your restaurant?

Our restaurant is created to reach a broader clientele with its casual and lively atmospher, while caterer simply carried the mission of bringing high quality autantic Turkish cuisine and hospitality with passion and dedication.

What were the major challenges in getting to this point?

Sourcing local ingredients from central Anatolia has been a challenge, however yet we have created a channel to get best quality of products from Turkey.

Explain the menu concept in your own words

Our menu concept stands on tradition and freshness includes flavours from all around Turkey and Eastern Mediterranean. We combine all these points with a pinch of international touch. We brought specialized chefs from Turkey which are mastered in their particular cooking fields, such as pide, kebab, baklava etc.

What advice would you give chefs starting out in this region?

My advice would be firstly understanding the cultural differences and expectations of the clients in order to become successful and stand out.

What experiences/ influences do you draw on for your menu creation?

I have developed my cooking skills in some of the top properties and restaurants over 20 years including Turkey and abroad in many different countries. I am experienced in Middle East as well thus currently I bring all these experiences reflecting the menus I create here at Rixos Premium Dubai.

What is your hero dish/ signature item on the menu?

All the dishes I prepare for my menus are well thought and worked on, prepared with vast experience and passion, they are like

øe ôNÉa ¿ƒàjR ⁄É©dG AÉëfCG ™«ªL

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Canakkale yayla tomatoes from Turkey.

How do you see the menu evolving going forward?

Culinary trends are changing and elevating each day, to keep up with the trends in addition maintaining the tradition, neutrality and freshness would be the key in the future.

What are your plans for 2018?

My aim in 2018 is to promote the quality we are offering in our restaurant Turquoise and to be recognized one of the best restaurants of Dubai.

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The Business

The healing power o f ( e t h i ca l ) t e a Around the world, 70,000 cups of tea are consumed every second, but demand has commoditised the industry. On a mission to help people rediscover tea, Merrill and Dilhan Fernando are putting producers back in the driving seat and educating the hospitality industry on the science behind the perfect brew. Words by Melanie Mingas hose who drink tea know of its healing properties – from reducing stress to forging friendships – it is even claimed the high concentration of antioxidants can have epigenetic properties. In China, where it is believed tea was invented 5,000 years ago, different teas are brewed and served in different vessels to enhance the flavour, aroma and delicate nuances of each taste. In India, where much of the world’s tea is produced and consumed, local tea makers, known as chai wallahs, serve spice infused brews on the street. In the United Kingdom, a country where more than 60 billion cups are enjoyed each year, it is prepared with milk and sugar and guzzled at any time of the day and night. Yet, due to the pressures of meeting global demand, tea has become a toxic industry with far fewer healing properties. Since the 1800s, mass production has been necessary to achieve the economies of scale that first propelled the drink beyond the elite circles of aristocracy and royalty. However, this has slowly consolidated the industry, with only a handful of major companies accounting for more than 80% of the global tea trade. To achieve the low price per bag, farmers are squeezed to produce high yields for low returns. According to a report led by Oxfam and the Ethical Tea Partnership, tea pickers in Assam, India, earn $1.30 day. The legal minimum daily wage for an unskilled worker in Assam is $2.64. Similar figures were report from other major tea producing nations. Ceylon tea, known as some of the fin-

est in the world, is native to Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, where tea production contributes around 2% of GDP. The first official tea estate was established in 1872, with the first public tea auction held in Colombo in 1883. The industry boomed and, by 1965, Ceylon was the world’s largest tea producer, but the money didn’t follow. In the 1950s, Merrill J Fernando was recruited as a taster by British estate owners, making him one of the first Ceylonese to learn the art. Working on the tea estates, he was expose to the harsh realities of the local industry – the back-breaking work, the long hours and, in many cases, no pay. He vowed to change it, and four decades later, Merrill launched his own tea company, Dilmah, the first brand of tea, coffee or cocoa owned by its producers. Named after

his sons Dilhan and Malik, the brand remains in the family to this day with Dilhan in the role of CEO and all tea still ethically sourced. Merrill says: “Even though tea is the healthiest and most consumed beverage in the world after water, it has become a commodity in the hands of two or three international traders, who work only for profit. “This is the trouble with the industry. Their only concern is with profit – and how do you get extra profit? By squeezing the producer. The trouble with the industry is that there is nobody who is really aware of the pain of farmers and workers.” Merrill is considered the world's most experienced teamaker. He has pioneered the concept of single origin tea since 1988, when Dilmah bucked industry trends to declare its

January 2018 Catering NEWS ME

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T he Bu siness

Mine is a loan voice, but people are beginning to listen. I have given 66 years of my life just to fight the cause of exploited farmers.” commitment to authenticity, quality, variety and, above all, ethical tea production. At the age of 87, Merrill continues his mission to ensure Dilmah’s business is dedicated to human service, with all profits retained in Sri Lanka and shared among workers. By essentially eliminating the middleman, Dilmah delivers a better quality product with a higher profit margin for those at the source. Merrill explains: “The fact is, none of the people running those large tea companies visit the tea plantations – they are traders, they don’t know what is happening there. So, mine is a loan voice, but people are beginning to listen. “I have given 66 years of my life just to fight the cause of exploited farmers. At Dilmah, we have de-commoditised tea, lifting its image, improving its goodness and bringing a better price to the producers.” Despite this, Merrill rejects Fairtrade the label. His movement gained pace as Fairtrade started to educate the west on exactly how the profit from certain items dwindles through the supply chain, yet he was ahead of the curve. With Merrill previously referring to the label as “marketing spin”, Dilmah’s official response to why it doesn’t carry “Fairtrade” status, is because the movement “fails to address the industry’s fundamental weakness”. The success of Merrill’s business model has enabled him to cascade support to the wider community through the MJF Charitable Foundation, established 2003. Today Merrill is recognised as a philanthropist across the business world, with the trophy cabinet to match. 32

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

MJF donates a minimum of 10% of all Dilmah’s pre-tax profits to fund projects in nutrition, education, care and support to differently abled children, youth and elderly people. In 2007, Merrill also established Dilmah Conservation, an organisation that extends the work of MJF to deliver positive environmental and cultural interventions. He says: “When you buy our tea it’s money well spent. The money goes back to the country and every sip of tea brings hope to the workers, farmers and their families and children and we hope to leave this a better world. That is my passion.”

Quali-tea crusade

Single origin tea is described as a revelatory taste experience, with all leaves picked from the same estate to capture

and enhance the garden’s unique tastes. In the case of Dilmah teas, only the first two leaves are picked from the plant – vibrant, tender and with the highest concentration of antioxidants – to ensure a light, smooth flavour. The quality indicators in single estate tea echo many of those used to grade grape beverages, from terroir to intensity, and the soil condition, heat and humidity of an estate all have bearing on the crop. It’s a serious business. Dilhan explains: “Within Sri Lanka, on a relatively small island you have terroirs and micro terroirs in different valleys. For example, in the east, there are certain intensities and exposures to light. Further north in the valleys, there is greater exposure to wind so the plant photosynthesis is differ-


The Business

ent. Then, at the bottom of the valley it is shaded. What this means is that you are presenting nature in a very unique way.” However, to achieve its cost efficiencies, industry-produced tea is blended, changing the composition of the flavour. Observing this, Dilmah isn’t just on a mission to reverse the impact of commoditisation on farmers, the company is also on a mission to reverse a global decline in quality. Marking 30 years in the business in 2018, Dilmah has launched a Silver Jubilee Gourmet range, first announced five years ago. Adopting the same handpicked approach, the range includes Blood Orange and Eucalyptus, Mandarin and Marzipan Pekoe and Pure Darjeeling Singe Region Tea. Dilhan continues: “Each cup of tea has about 13 hand picked leaves and buds, January 2018 Catering NEWS ME

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T he Bu siness

which means the art of the tea picker and the quality of their work reflects on your experience. If they have taken too much stem – the third or fourth leaf – you get bitterness. “The art of the tea picker is critical because it expresses nature. We call ourselves tea makers, but nothing we do will change now nature created the leaf, we just select the best part. When you look at a single region or single estate tea, as these are, you will find that it represents the unique geography and climate of the area.” The anniversary range is only the latest step in the plan. At the end of 2017, the Dilmah tea lounge debuted in the Middle East, at the Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre, with a menu incorporating the principles of Tea Gastronomy and Tea Mixology, along with food pairing. Explaining the guest experience, Dilhan 34

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

says: “We want people to reconnect with what tea really is. During afternoon tea here, you will enjoy various dishes that our chef produces and they are paired with different teas. Taking that into gastronomy, goes beyond natural luxury because tea can dignify food in a very special way. When you finish your meal, tea emulsifies fat and helps digestion. Tea also helps the body process sugars so after crème brulee it resets the balance of sugars and keeps you feeling good. We have signature chai, different mocktails, all designed to respect tea as a core ingredient.” Elsewhere, Dilmah’s School of Tea, takes the message of quality behind the scenes to the hospitality industry. Dilhan adds: “We help professionals understand what tea is really about –the influence of terroirs, nature and the health benefits. Then, when you take that to mixology and gastronomy,

it really takes things to the next level. You can use tea as a jus, marinade, to lighten or smoke flavours. People talk about superfoods and, if you prepare tea properly, it has 10 times the antioxidants per serving of broccoli. It’s a serious health beverage” Regardless of the audience, the message is clear: single estate, guilt-free Ceylon tea, has the power to cure many problems. As Dilhan concludes: “We want people to reconnect with what tea really is. If you really consider what tea offers – not only is it uniquely healthy due to the natural goodness and antioxidants, tea is an affordable luxury. You can drink it at home for a few cents per cup, you don’t need another 50% off. Whatever the brand is, to deliver that saving, they cannot use the same harvest techniques, sustainable agriculture and biological containment, that we do. Our investment is in the quality.”


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C hef F ocus

The heat is on Cluster executive chef at Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views Adam Tracey explains why Firelake is going to be one of the hottest spots in Dubai…

Tell us about the concept of your restaurant?

Born in Minnesota, FireLake Grill & Cocktail Bar combines the best mid-west traditions of open-flame cooking and the art of cocktail creation. Here it’s all about the flavour of the flame using the same techniques practised for centuries: as many of our dishes as possible are wood, flamecooked or smoked, our cocktails are barrel-aged and our beers hand-crafted!

What were the major challenges in getting to this point?

Of course we have had the normal challenges of an opening; finding the right people, getting the right equipment, managing design and fit out and getting our operating equipment delivered and in place! We then have to bring together the menu creation for food and drink, engage our people in detailed training and start to deliver the right message through press and social media!

Explain the menu concept…

The concept is casual modern American with a touch of locality! The culture and style of the food is deeply rooted in North America but with touches that are closer to home. We have made use of regional flavors where possible so expect to see lots of smoked and flame grilled dishes coupled together with locally inspired ingredients such as sumac, coriander, chickpeas and yoghurt. The menu has been designed with sharing in mind, using simple flavors with skilled, gutsy cooking, creating food that people want to eat…

What experiences/ influences do you draw on for your menu creation?

Travelling and eating in restaurants that 36

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

are a similar style to yours is always inspiring and something I love to do… We have done a lot of research locally in what works and what doesn’t and together with my time spent travelling in the US we have created an authentic but approachable dining experience. When we look at developing menus we start with a base idea and evolve it from there… Sometimes a small change, a different way of cooking, small touch on a dish or particular use of an ingredient stimulates an idea and that’s all it takes to put together the right offer

What is your hero dish/ signature item on the menu?

We think the sticky lamb ribs with smokey

guajillio chilli, the US Omaha Prime steaks served on the bone and our coal roasted lamb rump with charred hispi cabbage, sumac yoghurt & pomegranate are going to be the stars!

What advice would you give chefs starting out in this region?

Take your time and learn your craft! One of the biggest challenges in the region is over promotion, chefs desire to progress is usually financially driven and the result is that you have Chef De Parties’ and Sous Chefs who don’t have the ability to effectively do the level of role that they have. My advice is to work for reputable compa-


C hef F oc u s

The culture and style of the food is deeply rooted in North America but with touches that are closer to home. We have made use of regional flavors where possible so expect to see lots of smoked and flame grilled dishes coupled together with locally inspired ingredients such as sumac, coriander, chickpeas and yoghurt. �

January 2018 Catering NEWS ME

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C hef F ocus

Firelake interior

nies that can put a training and development plan in place for you, move around to gain experience rather than additional money, show passion and enthusiasm and learn everything you can, your career will take care of itself from there!

worked to reduce our quantity of suppliers and creating bigger inventories to enable us to work more closely on supply and cost.

Which restaurants do you view as your peers?

Everything is available here now and we haven’t struggled in terms of sourcing, and that’s a real positive for the UAE. Because of the import heavy nature in this part of the world, the cost of produce is always a challenge and we, of course, want to have the best quality ingredients on our plates and to be able to sell dishes at a competitive price. This again comes down to relationships with suppliers, working closely with them on new and innovative products and allowing them to gain an understanding of what your needs and specific requirements are.

Maine Oyster Bar & Grill, Claw BBQ and The Hide at the Madinat.

What suppliers do you work with?

Chef Middle East have helped us to source US prime Omaha beef, we are working with Fresh Express for fish and seafood and we are taking local greens and herbs from Greenheart Farms. The most important thing is creating working relationships; we have actively 38

Catering NEWS ME January 2018

What are the most challenging items to source?

How do you see the menu evolving going forward?

The key for me in evolving the food offer is listening to what our customers are telling us! We have to react to this and position ourselves to compete in a very busy market. The key is keeping a sense of fun and occasion to our dining experiences, delivered in the right environment. We obviously keep a keen eye on global food trends and want to have dishes on our menus that people recognize, but ultimately if nobody wants to eat them then we also need to understand that. We feel that we have put together a great food offer at FireLake and we see that evolving seasonally, with us also adding in a great bar menu in 2018…

What are your plans for 2018?

We have put together a great calendar of food, drink and entertainment for the launch and for the rest of 2018…. Watch this space!


NATURALLY INSPIRING

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© MONIN - February 2017 - Serving suggestion

Sweet and tangy with a hint of acidity, Le Fruit de MONIN Pineapple perfectly captures this vÀՈ̽à Ìi˜`iÀ yiÅ° Ƃ`` > ë>Å œv Ã՘ň˜i >˜` exoticism to a daïquiri or a lemonade with this ۈLÀ>˜Ì>˜`ÛiÀÃ>̈iy>ۜÕÀ° "   V>«ÌÕÀià >˜` i˜ˆÛi˜Ã ̅i y>ۜÕÀà ̜ ˆ˜Ã«ˆÀiiÛiÀÞVÀi>̈Ûi«ÀœviÃȜ˜>°


Gulf ood preview

G ul food meg a sh ow to co ns o l i d at e UAE ’ s l ead r ol e i n gl obal f o o d agen d a

The first major global food industry event of the year will showcase thousands of new-to-market suppliers, innovative channels to market and benchmark global commodity prices‌

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Catering NEWS ME January 2018


Gulf ood Preview

The 2018 edition of Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade event and the first major international food industry trade show of the year, will further strengthen the UAE’s lead role in setting the global food agenda, according to the exhibition organisers, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Citing the long-established reputation of Gulfood as a key driver in fostering innovation across the local, regional and global food and beverage supply chain, DWTC officials revealed on-site sales generated by 95,000-plus buyers and visitors at Gulfood 2018 - which runs from 18-22 February - will contribute heavily to a global food market expected to generate revenues of USD3.03 trillion by 2020, according to Research and Markets, a Dublin-based market research company. With the global food market due to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5 per cent from 2015 to 2020, the UAE food and beverage market alone is anticipated to reach a valuation of AED82 Billion (USD22 billion) by the end of the decade, according to Euromonitor International. “In attracting the Middle East’s largest trade industry audience, generating huge transactional volumes every year on the show floor, and setting global foodstuff commodity prices, Gulfood is the region’s premier food and beverage industry platform – it underlines Dubai’s leading role in the global food sector,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC. “With regional investment in food production on the rise, international manufacturers see the Middle East as a lucrative market for their products. In this dynamic climate, Gulfood continues to empower the global food and beverage community as an unmatched trading and knowledge platform that offers unrivalled market overviews and insights to industry professionals.” The bright forecast for Gulfood 2018 follows hundreds of major deals struck and initiatives launched at this year’s event, including US Beef regaining eligibility to ship beef products to Saudi Arabia, a USD31 million market. US January 2018 Catering NEWS ME

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Gulf ood preview

exhibitors at the show reported on-site sales of USD85.5 million with forecasts of a further USD722 million in direct sales as a result of their participation, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS). The FAS also recruited 47 potential food and beverage suppliers - with a network spanning Asia, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East - to service US exporters at Gulfood 2017. In the UAE, Dubai-based gourmet snacks specialist Hunter Foods signed a lucrative deal with Chinese importers, while the Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Meteorology (ESMA) hosted the pioneering Global Halal Industry Platform. Following a successful debut in 2017, Gulfood 2018 will continue its sectorised approach to further increase accessibility and trading potential. Tens of thousands of finished food and beverages will be featured in halls dedicated to eight of the biggest commodity trading sectors: beverages; dairy; fats & oils; health, wellness & free-from; pulses, grains and cereals; meat & poultry; power brands and world food. With the pulses, grains and cereals and fats & oils sectors already close to being sold-out amid unprecedented demand, the meat and poultry sector is also tracking strong sales two months before the show. “For United States red meat exporters, Gulfood has a well-established reputation as the premier marketing event in the Gulf region,” said Philip Seng, President & CEO, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). “Over the years, Gulfood’s footprint has expanded considerably and it’s now a key venue for exporters looking to grow their business in emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Europe.” New to the 2018 event is the Gulfood Discover Zone, where exhibitors will be able to apply for recently-launched products to be showcased in an exclusive and interactive lounge. The Gulfood Discover Zone will also feature a dedicated area for companies that have never conducted business in the MENA region before and are using Gul42

Catering NEWS ME January 2018


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Gulf ood preview

food as a market-entry opportunity. Finalists for the Gulfood Innovation Awards, which also return in 2018, will also be showcased in the Gulfood Discover Zone. Another new feature is the Gulfood Start-up Competition, which is designed to foster further innovation in the food and beverage supply chain. Open to aspiring food industry professionals or students, the competition will reward sustainable development and sociallyimpactful ideas that are either disrupting the old ways of doing business, or promoting healthier and environmentallycorrect practices. “Gulfood Start-up promises to be the region's most influential innovation enabler for the next generation of food industry pioneers,” added LohMirmand. “The competition will connect impassioned food technology entrepreneurs from across the Middle East with the region’s largest food technology and product buyers.” With more than 5,000-plus exhibitors expected at the 23rd edition of the event, Gulfood 2018 will feature more than 120 national pavilions including first-time participants from as far afield as Estonia, Serbia and Slovakia. The show will also see hundreds of international heads of state, ministers, government officials and scores of national trade associations eager to ink lucrative bi-lateral trade agreements among tens of thousands of anticipated visitors. Gulfood 2018 will also see the return of perennial features including Halal World Food, the world’s largest annual Halal food sourcing trade show; the annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire; the world’s largest singleentry chef competition; and the Gulfood Innovation Awards, which recognise bestin-class excellence and innovation across the region’s food and drink industry. Gulfood 2018 is a trade event open strictly to business and trade visitors. The show is open 11am-7pm from February 18 - 21 and 11am-5pm on February 22. Visitors can pre-register for AED250 (USD68) at www.gulfood.com to save AED150 (USD40) on the on-site entry fee of AED400 (USD108). 44

Catering NEWS ME January 2018


Viewpoint

The connection game Frederick Sabty, vice president of Hospitality Solutions, Avaya International on how upgrading communications can empower employees and enhance the guest experience

A

s the popular Maître d'hôtel, Fred Sirieix, quintessentially described the art of service, “If you get the hospitality right, the food tastes better". This can also be said about the hotel guest experience. Once you get the hospitality right, a night in your hotel becomes much more memorable. For today’s hyper-connected guests, getting the hospitality right increasingly means delivering a digitalised experience. The opportunities to create memorable experiences before check-in, during a guest’s stay, and even after the guest has left the property are all owned by hotel employees - they just need to have the right tools to innovate. Based on findings from our recent GCC Customer Experience in Hospitality Survey, Avaya has determined three ways hotels can empower employees to deliver memorable experiences throughout their guests’ hotel stay. Facilitate communication beyond phone and email With GCC countries having some of the world’s highest smartphone penetration rates, it comes as no surprise that 89 per cent of GCC travellers say they use hotel mobile apps for a variety of tasks. Today’s travellers also prefer to book their rooms digitally, with respondents selecting online travel agents (OTA), hotel websites, and hotel apps as their top three preferred booking methods, emphasising the importance of supporting multichannel communications within the hotel booking process. Global OTAs such as Trivago and Hotels.com have already started to offer Arabic language platforms aimed at attracting this growing digital population of the region.

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Upgrade your in-room experience Many properties feature outdated inroom devices that are only capable of connecting guests to basic services, such as the hotel reception. Smart devices connected through the IoT, however, provide a much wider range of functions that enable guests to not only communicate better, but to control their environment, too. Today four in 10 hotel guests in the GCC expect to control in-room hotel amenities such as entertainment, lighting and temperature from their room phone. Beyond this, 36% of guests would like to use the phone to engage with hotel staff via chat and messaging apps, not just over voice. Integrate mobile into daily workflows Empowering hotel employees with unified communications and collaboration solutions on the go is one of the highest-impact drivers in building a superior guest experience. After all,

rarely do hotel employees stay in one spot, and yet they constantly need to be in contact with each other. The solution here is integration. For instance, putting a call on hold from a distressed guest, trying to locate a missing item, may be the only thing that a services agent with limited communications capabilities can do. Imagine if that guest is about to board a flight, and the agent has a limited amount of time to contact hotel security. Upgraded communications tools and mobile apps could simultaneously connect the guest with the security lead on the property, who in turn would find the lost item while the guest remains on the call or chat. Not only will this prompt the guest to leave a positive-review online, but the hotel will also grow their brand equity. This is what guests are willing to pay a premium for. Getting the guest experience right is vital, with 44% of GCC consumers saying they wouldn’t give a hotel a second chance in the event of bad service. Keeping Up For GCC’s hyper-connected guests, seamless service is a must if hotels want to boost their revenue per-available room (RevPAR) rates. Keeping up with the rapidly developing digital world and meeting the demands of today’s guests is more straight forward than it may seem. The goal should always be to greet guests at their convenience, personalize their stay and create unique moments they will recall when they need a place away from home. A significant part of that involves empowering employees to be agile and equipping your property with streamlined communications solutions.


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Spill the beans Jennifer Pettinger-Haines is Managing Director, Middle East, for Bench Events, organisers of The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF), the annual meeting place for the international restaurant investment community. Visit: www.restaurant-invest.com Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? I have been very fortunate in that putting together events such as AHIC & the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) has given me amazing access to people who are really, really good at what they do and I genuinely find their passion and drive inspiring on an almost daily basis. However, I have to say that Susan Harmsworth MBE, the Chairman and Founder of ESPA has always been my benchmark. She is such an accomplished entrepreneur and business leader. Early on in my time at Bench I spent some time with her and advice she gave me has always stuck with me. Now she is on the Global Advisory Board for Bench Events and I am looking forward to working with her in a more formal capacity.

Sp i ll t h e be an s

What is the biggest challenge of your role? The hospitality industry moves at such a fastpace that there is always so much interesting content I want to include in the programme but there is only so much time over the course of the conference. What is your favourite aspect of your role? Meeting such interesting people who are all excellent at their jobs and very passionate about what they do. Almost everyone I deal with is in the industry because they love it which I find incredibly inspiring. What personal ambitions would you still like to fulfil? I am determined to learn Spanish! Bench Events recently acquired 50% of the South America Hotel Investment Conference which last year held events in Cuba, Buenos Aires and Costa Rica. I would love to be able to work in these markets and take the opportunity to travel around the region. Pero mi espaĂąol es muy malo. 50

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Catering News ME - January 2018  
Catering News ME - January 2018  
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