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Cream of Europe Chef testimonials on using European cream in their desserts

Connecting F&B professionals with industry knowledge

June 2018

A look into the evolution of delivery in the region P 4 0 - We visit Badia Farms, the GCC’s first indoor vertical farm

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


June 2018 // Issue #041


16 28

What's Cooking?

What's Hot?


52 Case Study

Features 08 //

WHAT’S COOKING? Announcing The Leaders In Hospitality Awards 2018 Saudi Arabia/ Pasta over Plastic at BASTA!/ Nakheel’s Lifestyle Destination The Pointe To Open In Q4

16 //

WHAT’S HOT Three New Venues At Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas/ Fairmont Dubai set for new Sports Bar/ Sharjah gets a slice of Freedom

20 //

CHEF FOCUS Chef Atul Kochhar on having an outward, ingredient-driven approach to cooking.

28 //

TALENT From royalties to hospitality, the Moroccan chef at Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre speaks about her journey as a chef.

June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


June 2018 // Issue #041

Contents 34 //

COVER STORY We speak to the managing director, UAE and Oman for Talabat and the director of operations, Zaatar w Zeit on the growing delivery market in the region with case studies from Sugarmoo and Spoonfed.

40 //

THE BUSINESS Badia Farms, the GCC’s first indoor vertical farm is changing the agricultural scene in the region growing a range of micro greens for commercial kitchen.

46 //

Director Rabih Najm CEO Wissam Younane Editor Mahak Mannan Group Commercial Director

Samer Alloush

OUT OF THIS WORLD We highlight the best Mexican venues in Dubai.

Sales Manager James Stead Contributor

Marouane Al Mandri Art Director Aaron Sutton


Marketing Manager Mark Anthony Monzon Photographer

Hayder Al-Zuhairi


Out of this world: Mexican

PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates P +971 4 4200 506 | F +971 4 4200 196

56 40 The Business


For all commercial enquiries related to Catering News ME contact T +971 55 776 4670 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


Catering NEWS ME June 2018


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E ditor's L etter

Mahak Mannan Editor @MahakLFC

Back to basics

he summer is upon us which means every sector in the region is likely to quiet down for the next few months, including the food and beverage business. A lot of residents tend to escape the heat and travel back to their home countries which means an automatic decline in footfall within the industry. Let’s face it, competition is fierce and the target audience is not big enough to fill the seats of all the venues in Dubai which means restaurants go all out on their marketing to make their offerings stand out. This attempt to stand out in the market really needs to be looked at, as it is taking away from the real essence of food, commonly known as taste and flavour. Everyone wants to introduce that wow element in their dishes and unfortunately there are times when so much importance is given to this element that the taste element gets lost in between. I have spoken about the importance of creating a full experience for guests and also how important the interiors and design is in attracting the crowd, however the real essence of grabbing your audience should come through your food and not because you have the biggest burger, the most expensive gold plated dish, or that oozy chocolate dessert that looks great on Instagram in a slow motion video. While the above mentioned instances are

important for any marketing campaign it is equally important that you talk about and sell the taste and flavour too. Sell the ingredients, the cuisine, the spices and how the dish is going to feel once someone bites in to it and that will hit your customers in the right spot. What is the point of having a great campaign and drawing in numbers but no return guests because you may have provided a great experience but not very good food. However, if you concentrate more on the food and build your campaigns around that, guests will come back. I speak from experience, nail that flavour and watch word-ofmouth do its magic. Of course every venue needs marketing campaigns to go out to the audience, but it needs to be done right. Coming to this issue of Catering News ME, you will be able to have a glimpse into the growing delivery market in the region featuring Talabat, Spoonfed, Sugarmoo and Zaatar w Zeit in our cover story and also get an exclusive look into Badia Farms, the GCC’s first indoor, vertical farm in The Business section. This issue also focuses on all things pastry with chef testimonials using Cream of Europe under the In Focus section and we also team up with Fairmont, The Palm and Elle & Vire for a product case study. Until the next edition, happy reading. Kind regards, Mahak Mannan

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Catering NEWS ME June 2018




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W hat's cooking?

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What's cooking?

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Nakheel’s Lifestyle Destination The Pointe To Open In Q4 The AED800 million waterfront dining, retail and entertainment attraction aims to bring more lifestyle options to Palm Jumeirah. The Pointe, Nakheel’s 1.4 million sq ft leisure development on Palm Jumeirah, is nearing completion and will open towards the end of 2018, the master developer has announced. 8

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman, Nakheel, said: “We are moving ever closer to opening one of the most eagerly-awaited destinations in Dubai. The Pointe is an iconic, must-see attraction offering remarkable lifestyle experiences for residents and tourists. Inspired by the heritage and culture of the Emirates, it will be a stunning, vibrant and unique

addition to Dubai’s dining, retail and entertainment scene.” Managed by Nakheel Malls, the retail arm of Nakheel, The Pointe will feature unique concepts from around the globe with over 100 dining and retail outlets on offer. Its centrepiece will be a fountain show that can be viewed from The Pointe’s waterfront dining spots.

Located five kilometres out to sea at the tip of the island, across the bay from Atlantis The Palm, The Pointe is also home to a 1.5km promenade for residents and tourists to unwind complete with a cinema, children’s play area, supermarket, gyms, beauty salons, gifting concepts and a car park for 1,600 vehicles.

Wh at' s c ook i n g?


Announcing The Leaders In Hospitality Awards 2018 Saudi Arabia


The inaugural awards will be taking place in Riyadh in October and will celebrate excellence and innovation in the hospitality industry throughout Saudi Arabia. Wissam Younane, CEO BNC Publishing said: “There is so much happening in Saudi Arabia that it made perfect sense to extend the Leaders in Hospitality Awards there. “It is an exciting market with lots of thrilling new developments and it is only right that we celebrate this. While these have been challenging times for a lot of sectors, the sheer optimism and energy that is coming out of the Saudi Arabian market right now deserves to be celebrated.

“Great things are happening in Saudi Arabia.” BNC Publishing’s Leaders in Hospitality Awards have become a highlight of the GCC’s hospitality calendar. This is an historic occasion though as it marks the first time that a Leaders in Hospitality Awards has been held outside of Dubai. The highlights of the most recent awards ,which celebrated the entire GCC region, can be found on www.hotelnewsme. com along with the categories. To enquire about sponsorship opportunities contact or For more information about the categories contact mahak@

Pasta over Plastic at BASTA! Italian eatery BASTA! by celebrity chef David Myers have drawn their straw in the battle against plastic pollution. Since 13 May 2018, BASTA! has become the first restaurant in the Middle East to offer straws made entirely from pasta. Commenting on the initiative, Chef David Myers says: “Being someone who loves spending time in the ocean, I witness the consequences of our overuse of single-use plastic first hand. I like to think that by stopping the use of plastic straws, we are making a small mark right here in the UAE

in a fun and quirky BASTA! way.” Alongside the introduction of pasta straws in BASTA!, all three of David Myers’ Dubai venues will soon ban the use of plastic straws and replace it with more sustainable alternatives. Recent reports have shown that there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, with straws being a major contributing factor. The Unites States alone uses 500 million straws a day which is enough straw waste to wrap the circumference of the earth 2.5 times. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


W hat's cooking?

In A Nutshell: Marc Wirth, managing director, Sprüngli Middle East, explains the thoughts behind the Swiss chocolatiers expansion within the UAE. Tell me about Confiserie Sprüngli. The Sprüngli legacy began over 180 years ago in 1836 when David Sprüngli and his son Rudolf, established the Sprüngli & Son confectionery business in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1845, Rudolf Sprüngli founded the first chocolate production unit in the Swiss German part of Switzerland and played a big role in spreading the reputation of quality Swiss chocolate to other countries. To date, Sprüngli maintains its tradition of artisan-produced chocolates, Luxemburgerli macaroons & cakes. When did you launch in the UAE? In UAE, we have had a presence since 2008 but grew rapidly on a consumer level within the last two years with new boutique openings in The Galleria, on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi and in the newly launched Fashion Avenue in The Dubai Mall. One has to understand that Sprüngli products are only exclusively available in our own boutiques in Switzerland and the UAE, we do not franchise our brand. We decided to open our first shop abroad due to the high demand from our clients in the region and because the local market is very important to us. All the products sold in the UAE are still produced in Switzerland and are regularly sent by plane to Dubai. Tell me about the new venue in The Dubai Mall. Both of our boutiques, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are fairly new, where we used rich wooden materials and signature marble flooring. Both locations are embedded in a luxurious environment but customers 10

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

should not be afraid to step in because we are affordable luxury.

date pralines created especially for this region to the UAE.

What products do you offer? Customers can not only indulge in our delicious chocolate truffles and pralines, but can also discover the famous Luxemburgerli macaroon and have real Italian coffee. Many customers do not realise that we also offer croissants, cakes, ice cream and several other Sprüngli products; we always offer seasonal products as well. For example, this Ramadan we brought four different

What does the future hold for Confiserie Sprüngli in the region? We just opened in The Dubai Mall. Both boutiques & café are very well visited by customers living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi who know us from their visits to Switzerland. We are now creating more brand awareness and plan to bring new customers from the region who have not yet experienced the Sprüngli way of chocolates.

What ' s cooking?


Trader Vic’s Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Appoints New Head Chef

The tiki-bar has announced that Esteban Andres Gomez Coronado will overlook the culinary operations at the venue. Born in Chile in 1989, chef Coronado joined a culinary school at the age of 14. During his six year tenure, he developed skills that allowed him to work his way up to take on the role of chef de cuisine at PEA Restaurant located on Easter Island. Coronado’s career has seen him work across a number of establishments, including Altiplanico and Hare Noi hotel where he held the position of executive chef, managing the culinary requirements for all restaurants within the resort. He also spent four months working at My Moon, a Spanish restaurant in Wilhemsburg, New York. Moving to the UAE in August 2015 Coronado secured a role at Table 9, Hilton

Dubai Creek and was responsible for the whole operation and kitchen staff. Coronado developed new dishes and hosted a series of cooking classes to drive a new revenue stream into the business. After one year in service, he made an internal transfer within Hilton Dubai, moving to Pachanga, a restaurant that specialises in South American cuisine, before

taking on the role as head chef at Trader Vic’s, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah. Pushing the boundaries of the brand, Esteban has collaboratively worked alongside the Trader Vic’s worldwide team to develop a selection of dishes that are only available at the JBR location and continues to develop key management and culinary skills.


Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay Welcomes New Executive Chef

Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay has announced the appointment of Hyung Gyu Kim as the executive chef. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, the most recent being executive chef at W Hotel Doha, Hyung Gyu will now overlook all the culinary operations at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. A seasoned chef Kim learned the ropes at Le Cordon Bleu London and then proceeded to work in the kitchens of the Corinthia Hotel and Jumeirah Hotel London. At Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, Chef Kim will lead a team of nearly 60 employees and head an upcoming lounge project, set to be unveiled this summer. “Chef Kim joins us at an exciting time here in Bahrain,” says Richard Raab, general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. “An extensive white sand beach project is currently underway at the hotel, culminating in the launch of our brand new food and beverage product this summer. Kim’s wide culinary experience has put him in good stead for overseeing this milestone project, including developing relationships with local Bahraini artisans and putting in

place a series of menus and signature dishes. We are pleased to have him on board,” he added. In addition to the launch of the new beach and pool lounge, Four Seasons Hotel

Bahrain Bay will also be unveiling changes to its in-Room dining culinary offerings, along with the launch of a completely new menu and afternoon tea at the lobby café Bay View Lounge. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


W hat's cooking?


Opt-Out Of Plastic With Deliveroo

The food delivery service has made plastic cutlery an opt-in for all UAE customers, which will help reduce wasted plastic cutlery. Deliveroo has announced a partnership with conservation organisation, Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), in a drive to contribute towards the reduction in plastic waste across the UAE. The collaboration will introduce several initiatives in the market, which support restaurant partners and educate consumers on how they can do their bit to reduce plastic pollution. As part of the contract Deliveroo has introduced a new ‘opt in for cutlery’ feature on the app and website. When Deliveroo tested this option in the UAE, 100% of restaurants involved 12

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

saw a reduction of cutlery being used, with 85% seeing a reduction of over 50%. This has been introduced in the UK, where on 86% of customers do not opt for plastic cutlery. Therefore, Deliveroo believes this update will reduce wasted plastic cutlery by over 50% in the immediate term. The delivery service will also launch a series of restaurant trainings for Deliveroo restaurant partners, where environmental experts at EWS-WWF will educate chefs and restaurateurs on the best eco-friendly practices they can adopt in order to play their part to achieve environmental sustainability. These trainings will focus on issues including packaging, recycling practices, supply chain and purchasing practices. Driving consumer awareness

on sustainability and informing consumers on what they can do to ensure their food deliveries are eco-friendly is also on top of Deliveroo’s agenda. This will include an email to customers every time they order without cutlery, informing them about other ways they can be more sustainable in their daily lives. Anis Harb, general manager of Deliveroo said: “Plastic pollution is a global issue and it’s imperative that businesses of all scales are responsible in making the necessary changes to prevent this crisis from destroying our planet. This is something that we at Deliveroo care about deeply, so we’re making several changes to become a leader in sustainable food delivery. “We’re delighted to announce our partnership with EWS-

WWF, through which we’ll be working with their expert team and our restaurant partners to address this matter head on,” he added. Dave Hamidov, owner of Arrows & Sparrows said: “Since giving our customers the option of having cutlery or not, we’ve seen a huge decrease in the amount of plastic cutlery being sent out with our Deliveroo orders, which is great for us and even better for the environment.” This is part of a long-term commitment to be the leaders in packaging innovation. Deliveroo plans to work with manufacturers to invest in developing a first of its kind sustainable packaging which is ideal for food delivery and maintaining quality while advancing sustainability and environmental goals.

What ' s cooking?


Honey cake consumption increases by 250% in Ramadan Locally-owned supermarket chain, Spinneys Dubai, is increasing production of its honey cake by almost 250 per cent per day during Ramadan to meet customer demand. With the increase in demand for desserts during this month, Spinneys has decided to increase production of the honey cake which is baked

from scratch in the chain’s production facility before being hand-dressed by a team member who can complete the full cake in three minutes. This dessert is made from seven thin rounds of cake, layered with fresh cream and sprinkled with crumbs of the honey cake mix. Not only is the honey cake a

best seller, it also produces zero waste. Each cake is precisely made to ensure consistency and quality and any excess sponge is milled into crumbs and used to dress the cakes. Additionally, Spinneys is launching a brand new range of limited-edition Ramadan tartlets in three flavours including fig, date and pistachio and

almonds with a golden almond paste, while offering 20 different types of fresh Arabic sweets such as kunafa, awama, walnut kathayef, karabeej, balah el sham, sho’aybiyat and luqaimat. Spinneys has also partnered with home-grown brand, Lime Tree Café, this Ramadan to introduce a range of hand-made cookies, fudge and biscotti. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


W hat's HOT?

Three New Venues Have Opened At Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas The new property is set to enhance the islands dining scene with the opening of Turtle Bay Bar & Grill, Si Ristorante Italiano & Bar and Hamilton’s Gastropub. Turtle Bay Bar & Grill, a two-storey venue serves the finest grills from land and sea, al fresco with the open air rooftop lounge set to launch during the winter season in September. The recently opened resort has also welcomed a new au-

thentic Italian experience, Si Ristorane Italiano & Bar offering Italian delicacies made from fresh seasonal ingredients, prepared in open kitchens with a large modern pizza oven. For those seeking a lively atmosphere, the first gastropub on Saadiyat Island has opened its doors in the name of Hamliton’s Gastropub, serving authentic British and American cuisine including classic fish & chips and a variety of beverages.

A New Steakhouse To Open In Downtown Dubai International steakhouse, STK will open its flagship location at The Address Downtown Hotel this month. Following it success in JBR, STK is in the final stages of setup before opening its doors to a new location in Downtown at the recently refurbished The Address Hotel. Classic steakhouse options see a modern twist at this venue for meat lovers and nonsteak-lovers alike. The menu offerings include various cuts of tender beef, a selection of toppings and sauces with entrees including fish and oysters. Serving premium quality USDA prime beef, STK steaks are famous for their flavours. Guests can choose from smaller fillets and tender striploins to larger cuts like the ribeye, T-bone or tomahawk. Boasting views of the Burj Khalifa, chic vibes and upmarket interiors with a trendy New York edge, STK Downtown will offer a new approach to the dining destination, with alternative experiences and exciting collaborations in the mix. Incorporating key design elements from its sister venues, STK Downtown features an industrial warehouse style with a Dubai flair. The design includes a dedicated bar area and a garden terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifa. 16

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

What ' s H OT ?

An Italian experience at Pearl Rotana Located on the ground floor of the new hotel, the venue will offer its guests classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist. Dino’s Bistro Italiano has a capacity of 110 guests , with the option to dine indoors seated at the bar or in a private area, reserved for celebratory occasions. “We are thrilled to announce the opening of Dino’s Bistro Italiano in the capital”, says Karim Nahas, general manager, Pearl Rotana. “Dino’s fuses a vibrant restaurant, lounge and bar, where

guests can order expertly prepared dishes, that draw inspiration from rich culinary traditions. We are confident that everyone will fall in love with this neighbourhood restaurant”, he said. The venue houses an open pizza station with a woodfire oven and pasta made daily onsite by the team. To enhance guests experience, an antipasti counter is available for those who wish to enjoy their meal with the addition of cured meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables. The menu will feature

signature favourites such as parmeasan dusted cauliflower fritti to start with, followed by a selection of pizzas or pastas like the quattro fromaggi, Dino’s 300 GM

meatball and Spaghetti and Signature Scarpariello. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in Dino’s tiramisu or Nonna’s eggplant and chocolate cake.

wagamama expands to Sharjah The popular London eatery has expanded into their second Emirate in the UAE. Located in Al Juraina District within the newly opened mall Zero 6, the debut restaurant offers seating for 110 customers within a contemporary dining space spanning 180sqm including wagamama’s trademark communal dining tables and outdoor terrace area. wagamama presents its signature menu consisting of a variety of noodle, rice and salad main courses, side dishes, desserts and fresh juices all prepared in an open kitchen. The brand’s positive eating philosophy combined with fresh food that’s cooked to order has opened just in time for Ramadan with dinein and takeaway options. The new branch brings the

total number of wagamama locations across the UAE to six, with wider expansion taking place in 2018 within Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The first wagamama restaurant opened at Crowne Plaza on Sheikh Zayed Road in 2004 whilst early 2018 saw the arrival of the largest venue to date within The Dubai Mall. Elias Madbak, managing director at RMAL Hospitality, franchise partner for the brand in the UAE said: “We are excited to launch wagamama in another Emirate bringing fresh Japaneseinspired cuisine to diners in Sharjah for the first time” The opening signifies the wider expansion plan of RMAL Hospitality, the franchise partner for the brand, to deliver world-class experiences to UAE residents and visitors June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


W hat's hot

Fairmont Dubai set for new Sports Bar

Just in time for the FIFA World Cup 2018, The Trophy Room at Fairmont Dubai is set to open this month. The new venue will offer a menu that includes match day favourites from golden chicken nuggets to beverages topped with bacon-stuffed olives, parmesan cheese and 18

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

home-made beef jerky as a stir stick. This 75-seater sports bar will feature a total of 11 screens and will be the first and only venue of its kind in Dubai to offer guests an opportunity to listen to sports match commentary in various languages with their

own headphones or with disposable earphones provided by The Trophy Room by downloading an app on their smartphone. The food menu offers British and European pub classics with specials such as The Trophy Room’s Go for Gold package which includes golden

chicken nuggets and golden fries, accompanied by a golden aperitif. Additionally the venue will offer daily happy hours on selected beverages, lunchtime specials for food and drinks and theme nights including hotelier, ladies, quiz and sports night.

What ' s hot

Sharjah gets a slice of Freedom Freedom Pizza has opened its first branch in Sharjah in Al Nahda, Industrial Area 7. The store, which has a dinein area, is open from 10:30am until midnight from Sunday to Wednesday, with extended hours on Thursday and Friday until 2am. Residents of Sharjah can also place orders for delivery via the Freedom Pizza website or app. Additionally when downloading the Freedom app, pizza lovers will receive a complimentary medium signature pizza in their digital wallet.

To make the ordering process faster, fans can set up a dietary profile, setting it to display only gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian options. The homegrown UAE pizza delivery service sources all of its organic produce from Greenheart Organic Farm, which is located in the Emirate of Sharjah. Ian Ohan, founder and CEO of Freedom Pizza said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be open in Sharjah and the team are so excited to be making delicious and honest food for this awesome place. We would like to

say thank you to the people of Sharjah for your overwhelm-

ingly positive response so far – we hope you enjoy!”

A seafood extravaganza at Wyndham Garden Ajman Corniche The new venue, Seascape, offers a wide range of seafood delicacies for guests to choose from. Iftikhar Hamdani, general manager of Wyndham Garden Ajman Corniche, said: “We invite everyone to Seascape for an exceptionally satisfying gastronomic experience. Serving the freshest catch, straight from the fish market in Ajman and prepared by a highly-skilled culinary team, this restaurant is all set to be Ajman’s new icon for seafood lovers, whether they are tourists or UAE residents.” The restaurant menu includes a catch of the day section where guests can pick from a variety of fish including salmon, hammour, and king fish, and shellfish like lobster, crab and prawn. Guests are

then given preferences on how they want their meals cooked with options ranging from grilled, fried, sautéed, ovenbaked, steamed and tagine-

style to name a few while flavours from herbs, spices, and sauces for the marinade and dips, are also available. Seascape’s catch of the day

is charged per kilo, while a regular menu featuring a selection of pasta, salads, side dishes, desserts, and drinks are charged a la carte. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


C hef focus

Spicing up Dubai

How does Atul Kochhar, the British based Indian chef, restauranteur and television personality ensure his venues are bringing the taste of India to the world? We have your answer in this exclusive interview with the man himself during his visit to the Dubai venue, Rang Mahal by Atul Kochar.


Catering NEWS ME June 2018

C hef focus


ith an outward approach towards his cooking, Chef Atul Kochhar says when trying to make a dish, a creative chef will look at what ingredients he has first and then try to create something with rather than thinking of a concept and implementing it. This is also the approach that he has instilled in his team across the globe, or as he calls them, his brigade, including the culinary experts at Rang Mahal, JW Marriott Marquis. “Our approach is in the ingredient,” Chef Atul says. “We do not see Indian food from the spices and what traditions brings with it, we learn from it, but are more ingredient focused. For example the Patagonian fish, we saw the character and the meat and then decided what spices would go with it instead of just saying I want a Lucknowi fish. This approach has been our strength, you can give us any ingredient and we will match

the flavours to go with”. Rang Mahal is known for its Indian cuisine, however the flavours within different parts of India are very diverse, which results in a lot of venues categorising themselves from a specific part of the country. However, at Rang Mahal, Chef Atul wanted to keep all doors open under the umbrella of Indian cuisine.

“Restaurants who specialise in Indian cuisine are generally very focused on a specific region and type of cooking. India is such an integrated country, I have never thought of Indian cooking as Punjabi, Bengali, South Indian or the likes. I think we learn from everything and don’t want to shy away from using a South Indian spice with a North In-

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June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


C hef focus

dian technique,” Chef Atul explains. “We are very flexible that way, I want to create a unified Indian food experience at Rang Mahal.” Before the fine-dining restaurant opened, Chef Atul met with all the suppliers to see how the menu will shape up. “I used to come here every other month to see the progress before we opened and during one of those trips I sat with our chefs and all the suppliers to work through an exhaustive list of ingredients to see what we can or cannot get here. Fortunately, we get almost everything available here through a host of suppliers although not a lot is grown locally,” he says. 50-60% of the menu at Rang Mahal is driven by the team in Dubai with Chef Atul looking after 40% of the menu. “However, the menu is constantly changing. People sometimes ask how many times a year I change my menu and I say every day, because you learn something new every day and you would rather not park it for some time and go back to it later. You want to perfect it, see if it works and apply it as quickly as possible,” he adds. “We also have a forum of chefs for all my restaurants and they throw ideas there all the time. A team in London picks up these ideas, works with the chefs on it and throws it back to the floor to test it with people. I consider myself blessed to be working with a lot of creative chefs,” he adds. Changes in the menu also means that the team has to be ready for feedback of either kind, appreciation or criticism according to the restauranteur. “One out of 10 guests will always come and say that they want something the old way. People are different with their choices and we have to accept it, we accept criticism graciously and go back to the board, if it is supremely bad then we dump the idea without telling anyone but change is important. If we do not change we will become static and vanish,” he says. The UAE market in particular is a big fan of Indian food with the local population building a connection with the country, Chef Atul says. “One of the reasons why Indian food is very popular in the UAE is because the locals have always been close to the Indian culture with marriages, some of them speak fluent Hindi and some having lived, studied 22

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

or invested in India. Dubai is seen as an extension of the Indian and Pakistani community which is a great strength in my opinion. The Indian food scene in Dubai and London is at par and if anything Dubai has a slight advantage going forward as it is close to the country itself,” he explains. However, the growing market does come with its own set of challenges, but none that Dubai cannot combat, the Indian chef says. “As a business man I have to look at the next two to three years and in all honesty I do worry about it, how big the population is, how many people live here and how many will be in and out to sustain the business. My horizon is always five years ahead and from what I can see there is pure growth. There are challenges to be faced and people worry about the run up to the Dubai Expo 2020 but there is a lot to come beyond that too.”

To keep things interesting at Rang Mahal, Chef Atul also introduced the Battle of the Chefs at the restaurant which sees renowned chefs visit the venue and battle out their cooking skills with Chef Atul himself where the guests are the judges. The latest version of Battle of the Chefs featured UK celebrity Chef Nigel Haworth. “There are so many chefs across the globe. Over the years they have become very good friends and mentors and to be able to cook with them time and time again is great,” Chef Atul says. “We are all busy in our own lives, so I wanted to create an event or buzz around Rang Mahal and all these friends were keen to come down and be with us for a while. It is quite an experience for our guests and they always enjoy it.”

I n the mix

Alejandro Legaspi, head bartender, Moe’s on the 5th at Sheraton Grand Hotel, tells Catering News Middle East about his passion for mixology.

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a simple person with a passion for mixology and mastered my skills from eight years of experience in venues like Leon de Bruxelles, Left Bank, Fuego, Infinity Club and Moe’s, working and mixing behind the bar in different environments. My personal drive is absolute guest satisfaction, that aspect has pushed me far in the art of mixology and guest relation skills or in other words I talk a lot behind the bar.

How do you bring creativity to your drinks?

I evaluate guest preferences by simply talking to them, with a couple of questions you can get to know a lot about the person. Then the imagination starts to do all the work, I believe perfection can only be acquired through open mindedness, knowledge and imagination mixed together.

What is your signature drink and why?

tonic with a squeeze of fresh lime wedge, simple, yet everyone loves it.

Coco Chanel which is gin, Irish cream liqueur and coffee liqueur blended together. It’s a drink crafted for dessert loving ladies and some gents as well, who take a liking to those flavours. This can be one for the cream lovers too.

Which is your favourite flavour to work with?

What is the most important factor in mixing the perfect beverage?

How often do you experiment on your beverage offerings?

It depends on a person’s perspective, the perfect beverage must be easy to make and enjoyable. Something that can be mixed in any bar set up, like gin and 24

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It is agave, a widely used sweetener alternative that gives more character to a drink. With a lot of people being sensitive to sugar, it is a great alternative with better taste.

I suggest a twist in almost every drink that I make, especially when I sense guests are bored with a certain one. Giving them something that they might not have tried is a way for us to learn

and experiment. However, we can’t satisfy everyone so there are still chances of failure and it is important to have an open mind and accept feedback for improvement.

What do the coming months hold for your beverage menu?

Our menu is composed of simple yet tasty signature cocktails carefully concocted and handpicked by our top decision makers. We are currently on our second beverage menu since we opened about a year back. We continue to focus on guest feedback to re-engineer our beverage offerings, as mixologists we are always ready to surprise our guests whenever necessary.


Andrea Zampolini, head of fine dining and pre-opening concepts, Meraas F&B, says the design element of a restaurant plays an important role in determining the success of the venue in today’s market. The food and beverage industry across the world has been undergoing dramatic transformations to keep pace with the dynamic expectations of its millennial client base, placing brands at crossroads unlike at any other time in recent history. In what is considered a regional first for F&B, restaurant owners must now decide how to adapt to ever-evolving consumer preferences to stay in the game. Veteran restaurant operators have started collaborating closely with architects and interior designers to shape venues that are avant-garde and memorable. Extensive media interest, restaurant reviews and a heightened focus on the world around us means that customers today are strongly aware of and influenced by the world of design. They view eating out as a complete experience that doesn’t centre around food alone, it’s as much about the space, setting and that elusive word every restaurateur wishes to pin down, ambience. Looking at F&B trends today, two words have come to represent success in F&B, flexibility and relevance. In a city like Dubai where over 80% of the population is made up of expatriates, our restaurants need to be smarter, with more aesthetically appealing spaces, combining modular and multi-functional design elements to suit different moods, settings and purposes. This is particularly relevant to the millennial diners in Dubai who are spoilt for choice and more easily influenced by brands that display personality. They look for uniqueness and individuality in architecture, art, food and design. This is a key reason why we now see so many F&B brands reinventing their brick-and-

mortar interiors, in addition to adopting virtual interfaces to better serve their customers. I believe the years to come will see a wider use of installations and lighting to create the right mood and ambience. Achieving that perfect interior styling through the right use of materials, finishes and space is going to become even more crucial in ensuring the restaurant’s appeal. While on the subject of design, zoning is another trend that is gaining uptake in restaurants around the world. From casual to fine-dining venues, there is a renewed focus on creating spaces with a purpose. If a restaurant’s design is continuous, linear and displays no variation, it comes across as bland and boring and is often unable to sustain the competition from more innovative and vibrant eateries in its class. To break the monotony, restaurants across the GCC region are now creating smaller, more well-defined and intimate sections within their interiors that offer a different vibe and therefore attract more varied clientele. The whopping array of concepts, interior fittings and furnishings available in the market today make it easy to shape these demarcations, creating high and low spaces and inviting lounge areas with comfortable chairs, low-slung settees, carpets, floor lamps, and decorative barricades among others. In the years to come, restaurants will become even more personalised in their offerings, meticulously curating menu and interior selections to gain higher footfall. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME



A tast e of t r adi tion

With decades of experience working in the kitchen of royalties and renowned hotels, Chef Batoul Jarmourne, also known as Chef Mama at Medley, Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre, is a self-taught chef who has stayed true to her roots throughout her culinary career.

ailing from Morocco, Chef Mama has worked with Princess Lalla Amina, the youngest sister of the late King Hassan II of Morocco in the late 80’s followed by a few more members of the royal family before joining the Accor Group where she was in charge of Al Yacout Moroccan Restaurant in Sofitel Bahrain. In 2008, Chef Mama moved to Dubai where she started working in Sofitel City Centre Hotel and now is the Moroccan chef at Medley Restaurant in Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre Hotel and she tells Catering News ME about her journey as a chef. “When I was young, the kitchen always fascinated me, I was in awe and all I remember was watching my mother 28

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cooking,” Chef Mama says. “The way she chose her vegetables and ingredients ensuring they are fresh and the love she put in every meal, I saw myself in that and immediately fell in love with cooking as well. At the age of eight, while my parents were away, I wanted to give them a present, so I decided to cook for them. I made a fish with lemon and spices and had it ready by the time they came back. My parents were so proud of me and they recognised my talent and passion for cooking since then,” she adds. From cooking in the kitchen with her mother, Chef Mama went on to work in the kitchens of royalties before moving to hospitality, an experience that she cherishes to date, according to the chef. “My earliest memory in a commercial

kitchen was when I starting working in a very well-known restaurant in Morocco in 1986. All the upscale people as well as the royal family used to visit that venue often and one day the king’s son was at the restaurant and ordered a fish. I got the opportunity to cook it myself and he liked it so much that he asked to see me in person and congratulated me for an amazing culinary experience,” Chef Mama recalls. “I have a simple philosophy when it comes to creating my dishes and that is always staying true to my origins and my Arabic/Moroccan culture. I don't need to taste the food when I cook. Having more than 20 years of experience in different top ranked kitchens in Morocco and GCC, I know how much salt I have to throw in the pot,” she adds.


Chef Mama hails from Morocco and uses traditional Moroccan flavours One aspect of eating Chef Mama’s food which makes her stand out from other chefs is that she serves every guests personally and makes sure to build a personal connection between them, “My biggest challenge is to reach out to each and every one of my guests’ heart and satisfy their culinary desires. There will always be ups and downs in the life of a chef but the confidence and the experience are key points to thrive on,” she says. “I always present a wide variety of dishes with local, Arabic and international flavours to please everybody‘s demanding taste buds. As Dubai is a multinational city, we have guests from all over the world and we want to offer all nationalities strong and flavoured home-

I always present a wide variety of dishes with local, Arabic and international flavours to please everybody‘s demanding taste buds. As Dubai is a multinational city, we have guests from all over the world and we want to offer all nationalities strong and flavoured homemade cuisine.”

made cuisine,” she adds. Having been in the industry for a long time now, Chef Mama has no doubt that the increasing competition in the market is pushing venues to up their game. “Dubai is blooming in the F&B scene, it is overwhelming. New restaurants are emerging with many new concepts being introduced to the scene. Moreover, many known chefs are breaking in to the region to come and get their share of the market pie,” she says. “On the other hand, guests are becoming more demanding, social media is playing a very important role, so the game is tough as we need to keep high standards and be attractive with our menus and prices.” June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


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M arket Trends

Top 10 trends shaping the food industry in Dubai From poke bowls and frozen yoghurt to the Peruvian food craze, food trends are one of the drivers behind the success or set-back in the industry and here, Dubai Tourism, along with food writer Samantha Wood, list out the top 10 food trends that are set to make their mark in 2018.


The Arabian Fusion

In the year ahead, we’re anticipating an increase in the number of both traditional and modern Middle Eastern and North African restaurants, with regional flavours becoming more of a cuisine of choice in Dubai. With home-grown concepts gaining popularity, we will begin to see more Arabian flavours and spices infused into European and Asian cuisines, giving our city its own unique fusion flavour reflective of our cosmopolitan population.


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With the evolution that occurs in any growing city, Dubai has blossomed into an emirate with plenty of character across many of its neighbourhoods. Whether JLT, Barsha, or Business Bay, each of these micro-districts comes with its own identity and a plethora of cafes and small eateries spanning every cuisine under the sun. Many hidden gems are also cropping up in these newly-developed areas, making them even more covetable places to visit.


Experiential Dining

With people becoming ever more conscious of how they spend their free time, diners are now seeking something beyond a traditional restaurant experience. Pop-ups and supper clubs, local and global guest chef appearances at Dubai restaurants, cooking classes paired with a meal or even live entertainment weaved into the dining experience are all now part of the scope when enjoying an evening out, making it more of an occasion, than a simple meal.

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Homegrown Haven

While the past decade has seen Dubai become home to numerous restaurant concepts created by world-renowned celebrity chefs, the effect of the influx of international standards to the region has not only inspired an upsurge in quality across the board but has also led to the rise of native talent in Dubai. Over the past few years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of high-quality home-grown concepts spring up around Dubai. This is only set to continue in 2018, with plenty of exciting new independent establishments under development locally by restaurateurs based in the region. The timing is also just right as diners are increasingly looking for an array of locally developed concepts that are well executed.


The highlow mix

While high-end luxury will always have its place, gone are the days of superlatives where everything needs to be the biggest, best and most glamorous. Echoing global trends for independent, smaller concepts that do not cut corners on quality, this year we anticipate the further rise of mid-priced licensed restaurants in a casual setting. Increasingly there is a realisation that one doesn’t need to always pay top Dirham to enjoy great quality food in an enjoyable setting – affordability is a key decision-making factor when dining out this year.

The third wheel

More hotels are working with external specialists for restaurant solutions, which can result in a host of benefits for everyone involved. With an independently operated restaurant, the restaurateurs are the F&B experts, bringing their knowledge and business acumen to the table, while the hotels can focus on rooms and leisure options amongst others.



Feed on the go

Convenience and affordability go hand-inhand, whether you’re looking at takeaway or food delivery options offering the chance to save time and hassle are growing at an exponential rate. A multitude of apps deliver restaurant-quality food straight to your home, in an impressively quick time frame. We have also seen a rise in meal plans, chef-for-hire services and domestic caterers.

Keeping it local

What began as a niche option for those in the know, the farmer’s market scene has steadily grown over the last few years, offering local and sustainable produce to both consumers and trade. Hydroponic vertical farming for micro herbs is also present here, with plans for growth. Local and regional fish and seafood are easily available at the newly revamped Waterfront Market and Umm Suqeim Fishing Harbour. The UAE even boasts its own oyster farm in Dibba Bay that supplies to restaurants in Dubai. This shift towards keeping things as local and sustainable as possible has also seen both restaurants and consumers minimising food wastage.


Health is wealth

People are demanding healthier food both at home, as well as when dining out, with an upswing in the number of health-focused food trends and the demand for more suitable and specialised options. We will continue to see more interest in vegetarian and vegan dishes, while flexitarianism is also on the rise. Consumers are seeking more gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and low-carb options. Among the key dietary regimes for the year ahead is gut-friendly foods that encourage positive gut health such as probiotics, prebiotics, fermented foods, activated charcoal, turmeric and cumin.


Bang for the buck

With affordability a key decision-making factor when dining out, residents and visitors are looking for more bang for their buck. The success of culinary promotions has steadily grown over the years and with developments in technology it is getting easier to give an added value dining option to foodies. If it’s not through an app, clever F&B promotions can do the same job, allowing more people to try a greater range of choices within the city’s vast dining sphere.

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The delivery market is one that has seen massive growth over the years, with consumers becoming busier and craving for convenience. This has led to the launch of a number of delivery services in the region and all the more restaurants signing up with these services in order to grow their market. Catering News ME caught up with Kutlu Kaan Haliloglu, managing director, UAE and Oman for Talabat and Mahmoud Harb, director of operations, Zaatar w Zeit on the future of the delivery market. According to the KPMG Food Trends report 2017, delivery and takeaway volumes have increased massively in the past few years and now 70% of UAE restaurants are listed on a food or delivery app. In the age of technology, food and delivery apps are on the rise with 31% of people using food apps to order a meal, whilst 24% use them to find a restaurant and 15% seeking deals via food apps. Given the lifestyle of the UAE population, these number are only going to grow, according to Kutlu Kaan Haliloglu, managing director, UAE and Oman, Talabat. “Over the last few years the delivery sector has picked up a lot,” he says. “We are seeing similar or better year on year growth rates especially with our company. While the base numbers are higher as compared to a few years back, which would result in a year on year growth rate the sector has also grown naturally which shows how strong the delivery business in the GCC sector is. “The lifestyle of the GCC and the young population means a lot of consumers fall between the age of 18-34, leading a very urban lifestyle that has contributed

to the growth of the sector. It is not just the fact that the population is tech-savvy but they are also very much service driven. People here expect to have any service in any sector available for delivery, whether it is water, food or lifestyle. Everything is geared towards delivery and this service is expected from any business that wishes to strive in the GCC market,” Haliloglu says. Back in 2013, delivery was only expected by certain cuisines or brands with an idea of ‘cannibalisation’ in the business, the managing director says. “A few years back there were brands which were exclusively dine-in with a small part of the business catering to take away or delivery. Also, successful venues believed that their brand derives demand by itself, which is right, and the customers will reach out to them no matter which medium, this was called cannibalisation, however the convenience of the customer outweighs everything else in this market. Over time these restaurant partners have come to see that being on delivery platforms allows the restaurant to insert their brand into the food eating habits of consumers no matter what. If people like dining in an outlet, an added

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Mahmoud Harb, director of operations, Zaatar w Zeit

delivery option will not necessarily stop them from going to that business but gives them more choices when they want to order in,” he explains. With the launch of multiple delivery services and ordering platform’s, restaurants can now tap into the delivery market at almost no initial cost. It grows their business and makes it profitable while still catering to their original audience, according to the managing director. Restaurants need to see delivery and dine-in as two separate segments of profitability, he continues: “When you start delivery service, the need for kitchen space and total rent does not increase hence tapping into even a nominal amount of delivery helps to operate on the fixed operational costs.” With the likes of Zomato, foodonclick. com and a host of other delivery services operating in the market, users are not short of choice, however, phone orders 36

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still is the biggest competitor for such platforms Haliloglu says. “There is still an enormous part of the market that prefers to order through the phone. We are trying to grow and digitalise as much as we can,” he adds. Like any other platform, Talabat takes a commission fee for every successful order from the venue however there are multiple factors which determine the percentage of that fee. “We try to make sure that there is a fair relationship between us and the restaurant and do take a cut but we invest in marketing as we spend a serious amount of money every year to grow the business and customer experience,” he says. "We partner with our restaurants on google search engine optimisation, cobranded radio support and a lot more.” One such renowned venue that features on Talabat is Zaatar w Zeit, a brand under Cravia. Zaatar w Zeit’s delivery driven business has grown from 38% to 46% since they partnered with the food ordering service, according to the Mahmoud Harb, director of operations, Zaatar w Zeit. “We partnered with Talabat last year and since then our delivery business has grown by 8%. This is the new weight in delivery business, but delivery sales has actually grown by 15%,” he says. The restaurant is also one of the first venues to have launched 24/7 delivery service almost a decade ago. “At the time, we were the only ones who did 24/7 delivery. We want to help people who are hungry after a long day and can’t drive to an outlet. We inherited this habit from our business in Lebanon where Zaatar w Zeit is considered an after party place. We came here and saw the opportunity, no one was doing it so we implemented it from day one,” he explains. The amount of orders received after hours forms a strong part of the business, “The late hours, especially on the weekends is a busy period. People are not working the next day so they tend to stay up late and love our food. It is important that we deliver to them because I am not sure if they will come to us at 3am. It is of prime importance

Kutlu Kaan Haliloglu, managing director, UAE and Oman for Talabat

to be there for the customer when they crave our food,” he adds. To maintain the level of food quality during delivery, the restaurant only accepts order within a 10 minute drive from the venue. “We could be greedy and do 12 minutes to get more business but we do not because the quality of food while delivering has to be given a lot of importance,” he says. The future is for delivery, according to

the director of operations. “In cities like Dubai, where people are always busy, parking is an issue and told gate charges come into play, there are so many reasons why you would not want to go out but order in and this is going to continue growing,” he continues. “We also signed up other brands under Cravia like Cinnabon and Seattles Best Coffee with talabat and have since seen the demand for those products in the delivery market too.” June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


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Delivery market Case Study

Spoonfed Running a delivery service can be a tricky business in a city like Dubai from an operations point of view. Running a distant delivery service would be all the more exhausting however, the business model has received a very positive response in the market and we spoke to Sudhir Narisetty, chief executive officer and co-founder, Spoonfed, a distant food delivery service. “We launched Spoonfed in India in 2015 and were looking at markets to expand to, especially in the Middle East. When we came to Dubai, we thought of introducing a B2B logistics platform where restaurants would sign up with us and we handle their logistics but they were very reluctant to that idea, mostly due to the amount of money they had already invested in their logistics,” Narisetty says. “We did not want to be just another food delivery application so we started speaking to people in Dubai and a lot of them complained about not have access to food from old Dubai as they were living in new localities. This is when we thought of looking at long distance delivery and started prototyping.” The demand for Indian cuisine from areas like Bur Dubai and Karama was very high and the Indian community formed a very big market according to the CEO. “If they had to order from old Dubai, they would have to make a minimum bill of AED300-500, so another important point for us was to have no minimum bill requirement on our orders," he says. “The product we were trying to build 38

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came out of necessity and we are growing 30-40% month on month since we launched. When you go to Dubai Marina, a salad would cost you around AED50, you add a drink and that is AED70. The sheer amount of money residents were spending on food in a day was reason enough to look at this business model and not have a minimum bill requirement.” Explaining the operations as compared to other food delivery services Narisetty says: “Every delivery service works on something called the hyperlocal model which means the options of restaurants shown to a user is confined to around a six kilometre radius. The problem with that restriction is you can

only target a set number of people and if you want to grow or take customers from competing services you would have to add offers which meant the profitability would go down. “We give our users the option to order from places others would not allow them to. That way, without expanding to other areas or investing in operations a restaurant can get more revenue by reaching new customers. We do charge a delivery fee starting at 6 Dhs which increases according to the radius.” Currently the service has 170 restaurants on board with 23000 application downloads along with website visits that have a retention of 8%.

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Delivery market Case Study

Sugarmoo Sugarmoo launched in 2013 as a delivery-only service and the business has since grown into dessert labs across the city and the opening if their first sitdown restaurant concept. According to the CEO of Sugarmoo, Raki Phillips, they saw a gap in the market for dessert delivery when launching the brand, “We were initially looking to franchise a concept and with time realised when brands hear about Dubai, they put ridiculous numbers on the franchise so out of passion and desire we wanted to open something of our own,” he says. “There are a lot of burger and pizza delivery places, but there were not many dessert delivery channels back then. We love desserts and also saw how creative we can get with it. Why we chose delivery-only was because the food and beverage delivery business in 2014 was a $75 million business and desserts were almost non-existent in that sector. This was before the Uber Eats and Deliveroo’s came about and today the delivery market in the UAE is worth almost $2 billion. We chose to cater to the dessert craving clientele as it as a niche market. Also when you start a business you want to avoid the retail costs and rather than limiting our radius to a specific area we decided to do only delivery but across the entire city,” he explains. Being a self-funded business meant the operators had limited finances, according to Phillips. “We had to look at the most economical way to minimise our costs. Rents

in Dubai, especially in malls are very expensive. We also wanted to reach as many people as we could in the most economical way so delivery seemed like the best option.” he says. The first six months of the business were about receiving customer feedback to perfect their desserts, according to the CEO with Valentine’s Day in 2014 setting the bar for operational targets. “Our initial trigger was Valentine’s Day. It was a turning point because we saw how huge the demand for desserts in this business is. Soon enough we opened our first dessert lab in Mercato Mall which saw a lot of customer de-

mand. At that point we were working out of a bakery in Al Barsha but with the marketing exposure the Mercato branch got, we saw an increase of 1520% in delivery,” he explains. Since then the business has seen month on month growth, according to the CEO. However, delivering desserts is not as easy as delivering other food items, he says: “It took us about four months to test the product on bikes and packaging because if you are ordering a cake, it needs to get there fresh, in the right temperature and exactly how it left our kitchen. “A 3D cake would be delivered in our chiller vans and our bikes are custom made, and have temperature controlled, triple insulated storage. “All of our deliveries come from the central kitchen in Al Quoz. We can cater to all areas from the border of Sharjah to Jebel Ali with about 100 deliveries in a day. Year on year from 2016 to 2017 we have seen a 350% growth in our business,” he explains. “We are also on every delivery channel. Statistically, if you are a customer on a delivery platform, you have a 70% likelihood to use the same channel again. The idea is not to fight these channels but grow with it. Partnering with different ordering platforms has brought us new customers so we do not limit ourselves in that regard.” June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


T he Business


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The Business

The F utu r e o f Far m in g Delivering micro-greens to commercial kitchens they day they are harvested, Badia Farms, the GCC’s first indoor vertical farm using hydroponics technology, is set to revolutionise local farming in the region and Mahak Mannan caught up with the founder and CEO, Omar Al Jundi on what the new facility has to offer. hen you step into the Badia Farms facility in Al Quoz, Dubai, it is hard to imagine that it houses an indoor vertical farm full of leafy greens which are sowed, grown and harvested in house on a regular basis. The process of building the facility which could sustain an indoor vertical farm and provide the plants with the required elements took over a year with Badia Farms breaking into the market in 2018, offering fresh leafy greens to commercial kitchen in the UAE. “The region that we live in is agriculturally challenged, it is a huge problem for us and we always hear about how the government is trying to address the issue of food security and self-sufficiency. Imagine if everything is flown in and suddenly there June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


T he Business

is an issue, how are we going to feed the people?” Al Jundi asks. “When I realised what a big problem it was, I researched and saw that the UAE import 80% of its ingredients and can’t farm all year round due to the weather conditions. Also, when I was in Europe, I was introduced to so many different varieties and flavourful ingredients that explode in your mouth and I wondered why we don’t have it here.” Al Jundi says. With this thought, the concept of Badia Farms was born aiming to introduce new and fresh products to the market offering 42

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the quality and flavour that imported ingredients may not be able to match.


Running an indoor vertical farm is a 24/7 job, according to Al Jundi, as the farm requires regular monitoring to ensure the crops get the perfect amount of water, light and humidity to grow. “Our seeds are all imported and not genetically modified. We sow them and ensure they germinate in the farm and that is when we move them to the system. Once they are have germinated we need to ensure that they are getting the perfect amount of

humidity, temperature and spectrum of light so they can grow,” he explains. “Since everything is high-tech, operation is not an issue as much as monitoring is to make sure the plants do not turn yellow. It is a lot more data collection and monitoring to ensure the correct flow is taking place. The staff walks in every 10-15 minutes to monitor the plants as things could change very quickly. Everything is set up correctly but like any other operation it could go wrong, like the temperature going up to 28° when it is set at 22°,” Al Jundi says. The entire function of the farm is operated through a machine which controls the

The Business

depending on the location,” Al Jundi says. “When you are comparing apple to apple, our product to the flown in product, our yield is higher because we can grow more and sow more seeds, they also last longer.”


likes of water and temperature with the touch of a button. “Everything has to work together, we need to ensure that the water that comes in the summer is cooled down before using it, the humidity outdoor does not get indoor and the temperature control stays in place,” he adds.


Badia farms grows all types of leafy greens like kale, radish, coriander, lettuce, basil, mint, mustard and arugula to name a few. The seeds used are bred by farmers in Europe over the span of 10-15 years in order to make a master hybrid, which is how the farm can grow exclusive flavours like lemon basil, cinnamon basil, red basil and chocolate mint. “They would bring a basil plant and a lemon plant, marry it in a sense and have this hybrid produce seeds that would have the perfect mix of flavour, this is why it is such a long process, as there are so many

varieties of basil and lemon, they need to get the perfect combination to produce these seeds,” Al Jundi says. The best-selling product at Badia Farms is the Jumeirah Mix, according to the founder, which includes radish, kale, arugula, rocket and red cabbage. The products flown in from Europe have their own name and we are proud to be from the region so we named this product to celebrate Dubai. It is a satisfactory feeling when I see hotels use the Jumeirah Mix,” he adds. Recently, Classic Fine Foods came on board with Badia Farms as the distributor for its products. Currently, the same products that are grown at Badia farms can take up to a week to be flown in to the UAE, “Micro-greens are delicate plants, when they are flown in from Europe, chefs say there is already a 2% loss of the product. In our case there is zero waste. If it is ordered today, the produce can reach your kitchen in a few hours

One of the most important factor about Badia Farms is that the method of farming is sustainable, saving up to 90% water when compared to traditional farming. “On the open field, if you use water once, it is gone but here you could re-use the same water up to 10 times,” Al Jundi says. “This is exactly what the region needs, it is also pesticide free, we use renewable energy and everything is designed in house. Badia Farms is a home-grown concept and I believe that the problems of the region will be solved by its own people. We can always go out and learn from experience about best practices but when it comes to finding a solution, it is down to us.” The selling price of the products at Badia Farms is lower than the price of importing the same, according to the CEO. “In terms of pricing, ours is lower and as we grow we will be able to reduce the prices further,” he says. Since the indoor farm can provide optimal conditions to grow the crop through any season, it has a higher yield too. “As an example, lettuce can have three cycles per year in an open field, however indoor we can have up to 11 or 12. It differs from product to product but we have seen about 1000 heads of lettuce harvested here in a day,” he adds. The farm is currently operating in zone one with zone two due to open soon, that will enable the facility to produce in larger quantities. “This is the future of farming. We are able to farm with the weather conditions in the UAE, combating through the tough summers, saving 90% of water in the process, grow all year round and not use any pesticides,” Al Jundi says “The problem of agriculture in the region will be solved through modern farming. We need commitment, focus, dedication and set examples for other to follow. There is so much more than needs to be done and can be done, we do not need an answer to come from abroad.” June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


I n focus

Crea m o f E ur o pe

Catering News Middle East caught up with three chefs about their recent pastry trip to Singapore.

o make a good dessert, the quality and consistency of the ingredients being used is of utmost importance to ensure the end product is exactly how a chef envisioned it to be and in order to achieve this, using the perfect cream, one of the most staple ingredients of any dessert is vital. We spoke to three chefs, Antoine Chassonery, executive pastry chef for Fauchon Middle East, Nicolas Bacheyre, a 31 year old chef at the helm of the dessert menu at Un Dimanche a Paris and Vincent Cockenpot, executive pastry chef, Bateel on the use of Cream of Europe in desserts. Chef Bacheyre, who was part of the Singapore trip and also hosted a pastry evening for desserts made of European Cream, last month said: “I used about four different brands of European cream to make my desserts and I would recommend them to other chefs because European cream is made with a lot of tradition and knowledge and this brings a lot of taste to the Cream. I travel lot for masterclasses and I can say that French cream is the best, the taste is so good you can almost drink it like milk. “The second point is the exhausting flavour. You do not need to put in a lot of vanilla, chocolate or other ingredients in the cream because the cream itself is going to bring a lot of flavour. This also means you do not need to spend more money on added quantities of other ingredients.” Chef Cockenpot who started working in the pastry kitchen in France at the age of 15 said: “Singapore was an amazing trip, the team leader asked me to make my cake 44

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in focus

with the gianduja milk, a mix of milk chocolate and hazelnut paste, from Valrhona and I was very happy to use this chocolate as the raw material because it is one of my

favorites, full of flavour, tasty, a little sweet but so generous. “It makes the perfect combination with French cream. The cream is very easy to

use. I would recommend using the French cream because if you want to make a French pastry you have to use French raw materials. The taste and texture is very stable at any given time.” Chef Antoine Chassonery, who handles the pastry creations for 20 branches of Fauchon in 10 countries said: “Not just for the Singapore trip, I mainly use French ingredients for my cooking because French cream is the best. It is one of the pillars of dessert making. If you use good chocolate, you get a good cake and vice versa, same goes for cream. “The quality, taste, technicality, all of it is just right in European cream, especially French and when you get all of this in one product you will not look at any other products because you will win more guests with good quality food. Once you start using European cream, the guests will be able to tell the different too and that is the ultimate goal for any chef.”

OPPORTUNITY IS IN THE AIR The take-away market is booming, as busy consumers increasingly get it to-go. You can take full advantage of this promising situation by serving delicious food served in top-quality, environmentally profiled packaging. Designed to create goodfoodmood, our collection gives you everything you need to do just that – in the form of convenient, stylish products made from feel-good eco-conscious materials.

For more inspiration visit us on facebook @dunimea or contact our staff +971 55 892 7548

June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


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i s wor h t f o t ld u O

From quesadillas and burritos to getting the perfect guac to go with your nachos, Mexican cuisine has been dominating taste buds across the globe for years and here we highlight the top three Mexican restaurants in the region. How popular is Mexican cuisine in the region?

Ivan Vidal, chef de cuisine, La Tablita Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights: I find Mexican cuisine to be really popular in the Middle East, and certainly in Dubai. Although there are many Mexican restaurants already, we still see the demand growing with more venues popping all throughout the GCC. The reason for this is that Mexican cuisine combines many great elements including informal dining, variety, colour, spices and plenty of flavour. 46

Catering NEWS ME February 2018

I also think Mexican cuisine is highly versatile, fun and can remain strongly authentic while still being able to adapt to modern trends like healthy eating, using produce sourced sustainably as well as offering great vegan and vegetarian options. Our entire team at La Tablita hails directly from Mexico, from the chefs to service professionals which is why we are able to bring that fun, colour and authenticity to Dubai. Juan Flores, executive chef, Loca: Since the opening of Loca in 2008, there have been

many Latin American restaurants opening proving the demand for Mexican cuisine has increased in recent years across the Middle East. UAE’s F&B scene is growing rapidly and with it the market’s need for authentic concepts. Mexican cuisine is very desired among UAE consumers as they are well travelled and are used to experiencing good Mexican food, served in a simple traditional way, it also means that they expect the same style and taste when dining out in UAE. Here at Loca, we feed this demand, with simple and flavourful

Out of this world

ingredients that take people back to the brand’s culture and heritage. Nadine Benchaffai, managing partner, Taqado Mexican Kitchen: Mexican cuisine has become very popular over the years not just in the high-end fine dining restaurants but also at a more accessible level like ours. There are now a number of brands competing within this space but rather than taking market share from each other, we have all helped build awareness and create greater demand for Mexican cuisine.

What is your hero dish?

Vidal: If I was to choose one then it would be the molcajete. It is a dish with beef tenderloin, king prawns, chorizo, cactus, morita chili salsa and melted breaded cheese, all served together in a molcajete, a traditional stone vessel. The dish is served with soft corn tortillas on the side to make tacos, which is perfect for sharing. Flores: It has to be our popular handmade cornhusk tamales, a very traditional dish made with a secret recipe of corn masa. Benchaffai: Taqado is known for its customised burritos where you get to build your own burrito in a simple four step process ensuring that it’s just the way you like it.

Juan Flores, executive chef, Loca

Have you adapted Mexican cuisine to suit local tastes?

Vidal: We have made some adjustments to suit local tastes, for example reducing the amount of spicy chilli used for seasoning and by substituting pork products in our recipes. However, overall we really do try to keep all of the dishes as authentic as possible. Flores: The menu at Loca has been designed to provide guests with quality Mexican food. Our culinary style is a combination of tasting menus, smaller plates and fulfilling dishes that will have taste buds tingling. We also provide tailor-made menus for groups, special events and parties to suit the needs of our guests, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


O ut of this world

Benchaffai: At Taqado we try to balance local tastes while also remaining true to the Mexican flavour. Ultimately though, Taqado is all about customisation so that in itself allows customers to build their meals to suit their own tastes.

What are the key trends emerging in Mexican cuisine?

Vidal: A key trend I currently see in Mexican cuisine is going back to the roots. In Mexico there is a renewed interest to going back to what your grandmother used to cook and chefs are looking for hidden treasures in the form of traditional recipes from remote villages and small towns with the aim to bring them to light. Everyone is looking for authenticity and simple ingredients with a traditional style of cooking. Flores: We are seeing a shift to healthy, gluten-free and vegan dishes in Mexican food, using ingredients like hibiscus and nopal cactus and offering meatless versions of Mexican favourites like tacos al pastor. With basic ingredients like tomatoes, corn, fresh vegetables, avocados, beans and rice, Mexican food can be both nutritious and healthy. Earlier this year, we designed a lighter menu for those who wanted a slightly healthier option. After the positive feedback from our guests, we decided to add a few of the dishes to our ongoing a la carte menu. Benchaffai: Customisation will remain a key trend, not just for Mexican cuisine but for other food categories too. Mexico is cementing itself in the fine dining category as it moves beyond its street food image so I expect to see more high-end fine dining Mexican restaurants coming to the scene in Dubai.

Where do you source produce for your menu?

Vidal: The majority of our produce is sourced directly from Mexico since most of the ingredients used are grown in the Americas, from fresh chilli, annatto seeds and avocado to corn flour. However, we are increasingly able to source fresh produce from the UAE including vegetables and seafood which allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and do our part towards a sustainable global economy. 48

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Nadine Benchaffai, co-founder, Taqado

Out of this world

Flores: We source from trusted suppliers who only deal with fresh produce. Our dishes including starters and desserts are made fresh in the kitchen and that is why we are passionate about using local suppliers, however due to seasons, we need to import product from outside the UAE, to be able to offer high quality, creative and exciting food combinations. Benchaffai: We use a wide range of suppliers depending on the items, with a few spices and chillies coming directly from Mexico. We’re very picky from the grassfed beef currently from New Zealand to our avocados which are Mexican Haas, of course. We could easily source cheaper items but we can’t compromise on quality as even a slight reduction in the quality of onions can make a different to the taste. It’s a challenge when managing the business of course as suppliers can run out of stock and prices can fluctuate.

What products do you find challenging to source?

Vidal: I can honestly say we don’t have great challenges at La Tablita with sourcing products. Flores: Sourcing suppliers who can consistently provide us with great produce can be a challenge from time to time. Authentic Mexican food is simple, and that is why garden-fresh produce is probably the most important element. Benchaffai: I’d say our meat and avocados have probably been the most challenging over time but as we’ve grown, we’ve been able to build a more stable supplier network which means at times we may require back up suppliers should market shortages occur.

How do you see your menu evolving over the next 12 months?

Vidal: In the year ahead, one of the projects I will be undergoing is that of refreshing many of the main dishes, looking to incorporate a series of Acapulco inspired recipes where the main ingredient is seafood. We are very excited about these changes because not only are we going to add more June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


O ut of this world

variety to our offering but we will also be able to use locally sourced sustainable fresh produce like seabass. Flores: At Loca we try to take authentic Mexican food and give it a refreshing and contemporary spin. Take our guacamole, we offer a classic version made fresh at the table, but have also added many variations over the years from our frutas with strawberries and blackberries to cangrejo with fresh crab meat, so expect more of the same. Benchaffai: We’ll be looking to add seasonal specials such as lamb and fish, bolster our vegan and salad options and add more desserts and complementary snacks. It’s always a challenge to increase our offerings to customers whilst still keeping the choices simple enough.

What is the future for Mexican cuisine in the region?

Vidal: The future of Mexican cuisine in the region is very positive. I am certain more restaurants will continue to open their doors and as people become increasingly familiarised with our flavors, Mexican cuisine will become part of their dining-out repertoire. I can confidently say that Mexican cuisine is here to stay. Flores: We believe the popularity of Mexican food will increase and split into two categories, an emergence of fine dining Latin American restaurants and restaurants focusing on lower price points. We at Loca have launched our own version of this, the Loca Lito, a foodtruck at La Mer, which has been a great success. Benchaffai: The region is lagging behind in the fast-casual Mexican food trend, so I think that will continue to grow and become more of an everyday option. Some of our biggest fans are teenagers so our future is looking bright.

Visit our website at 50

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

Ivan Vidal, chef de cuisine, La Tablita Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights

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case study

Everything you need to know about the

Elle & Vire Professionnel Mascarpone

Chef Romain Van Durman tells us the benefits of using the French ingredient. Ideal for both sweet and savoury preparations, the Elle & Vire Professionnel Mascarpone is a versatile product that saves time, gives the perfect consistency and can have a dish ready in minutes. One of the fastest recipe’s that can be made with this product is the classic tiramisu with a preparation time of five minutes and Chef Romain Van Durman, chef de cuisine, Chefs Palette at Fairmont The Palm experimented with the product on his take of a classic tiramisu. “This is one of the most simple dessert dishes where you only have to mix ingredients together before assembling and plating,” Chef Romain says. “It took me about five minutes to complete the dish with the Elle & Vire Professionnel Mascarpone as it is something consistent. “I have used this brand before and can vouch for the fact that the consistency is always up to the mark, especially when you are working in big quantities like here at the hotel and need to ensure that the product is consistent when serving our dishes to the guests. With some brands you can be at ease because you know the quality will be there and Elle & Vire is one of them,” he adds. Ticking the right boxes of quality and consistency means the taste and flavour of the dish is automatically enhanced, according to the Belgian chef. “These two things are of prime importance when making a dish because a good quality product will give you the 52

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

right taste while a consistent product will give you the right dish. You need to try it to know, if you compare a tomato to another tomato sometimes the taste is not the same but with this product you can be sure that the taste is consistent,” Chef Romain adds.

“Talking about the texture, especially when working in big quantities, using good quality products means the texture has to be perfect, when you use a bad product you can have the same recipe but a totally different texture, may be more of a liquid texture or thicker than required

Case Study

THE PRODUCT Elle & Vire Professionnel

Mascarpone is a triple cream cheese made from cow’s milk, mainly used to make a host of desserts and

savoury bites. The product has a semi-thick, smooth and creamy

texture that can be tailored to the

chefs liking depending on the dish. This texture means that the

product is easier to use than fresh mascarpone due to the fact that it

can be used for all the same things

in the same proportions without the need to loosen it beforehand. Moreover, the Elle & Vire

Professionnel Mascarpone has a

shelf life which is three times longer than fresh mascarpone and comes in one litre packaging for optimal storage in the fridge.

THE chef Romain Van Durman is the chef de

cuisine at Fairmont The Palm and is responsible for The Chefs Palette,

the resorts dedicated cooking studio which hosts individual and group cooking classes for guests and residents.

Chef Romain started his culinary

career completing a series of

internships within two Michelin

starred restaurants Le Château Du Mylord and Sea Grill by Chef Yves which in turn means that the quality of your dish will also fall. We cannot afford this in our kitchens. If you want to make a good dessert with good mascarpone you cannot go wrong with this product because you will always know what the final product will be like,” he says. The amount of fat in the Elle & Vire Professionnel Mascarpone is high which is one of the reasons it gives such a good texture and taste, according to Chef Romain. “The thing with this product is that the quantity of fat in it is high, which means

the texture is more thick and the product lasts longer,” he says. “The texture of a product will always be good if the quantity of fat in it is high. In a pastry kitchen you need these kind of products. If you have a cream with low fat quantity, it will never be thick. This is what pastry chefs look for, high quantity of fat in their product as from a technical point of view, it gives more taste and is important for the texture.” Chef ’s recommendation: 5/5 *****

Mattagne both within Belgium. His

first official role was chef de partie at

Luxury Brasserie, Belgium until 2006 when he moved back to Sea Grill. Chef Romain moved to Dubai in

2014 to become chef de cuisine

at a five star luxury brand in Dubai International Financial Centre

managing the kitchen for Café Belge and Sunken Garden, operating and managing a team of 16 chefs for three years.

June 2018 Catering NEWS ME




Ravi Chandran, CEO, Liwa Minor, tells us about the best-selling coffee products at The Coffee Club.

What is your best-selling coffee product?

In the UAE, our best seller is what we refer to as the short cafĂŠ latte.

What is unique about it?

The coffee beans at The Coffee Club are a blend of Brazilian, Colombian, Arabica and Indian Robusta. This gives the coffee a strong, punchy flavour with a smooth creamy finish. The short ratio of milk to coffee ensures a fully flavoured and perfectly balanced espresso based coffee. 54

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

What are the latest trends in coffee?

Cold brew is taking the world by storm. This is especially the case in countries with hot climates such as the UAE. Recently, we launched some new and exciting cold brew coffee flavours. We are also focusing more on direct sourcing of coffee beans to ensure we know the farmers and the quality of our product and in return this gives us the opportunity to help improve their farming methods and business skills.

Contact details Tel: Ravi Chandran (CEO) +971 50 457 5324 Raffay (Marketing) +971 50 294 8910 Email: or Website:

The art of great cooking MKN – The German specialist in professional cooking technology

MKN Maschinenfabrik Kurt Neubauer GmbH & Co. KG Wolfenbuettel, Germany Phone: +97 15 05 58 74 77 E-mail:

M arketplace

F r uit and Vegetable Ali Karmostaji, general manager, Shokri Hassan Trading Company tells Catering News ME about the latest developments in the market. What is your best selling product in the UAE?

Our best selling product has to be the SanLucar brand of bananas from Ecuador.

What makes it unique?

Bananas love the tropics so the experienced Ecuadorian growers always ensure that no more than five fruits hang on a tree at the same time which guarantees that the fruits get exactly the right dose of light and the best shape. Moreover, the plants need enough nutrients and strength to grow the fruits properly and to ensure plenty of sunsweetness, they allow them to ripen for a long period of 12-13 weeks making sure they arrive in Dubai with the perfect taste.

Why should F&B businesses purchase fruits and vegetables from you?

Our extensive knowledge about the fruit and vegetable market in Dubai is based on 40 years of experience which began with our father pioneering many aspects of the Dubai market. We work with the most notable HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) certified suppliers importing directly from the farm which ensures the farming practices are in line with strict rules and regulations.

Which new product have you started sourcing? Premium pineapples from Costa Rica

What’s next for your company in 2018?

Despite the challenges that we face every day, we would like to believe that 2018 will only get better since we have always focused on the best investment, which is investing in people. Additionally, we also plan on investing in new cold stores to accommodate our growing storage needs and build on our 56

Catering NEWS ME June 2018

Contact details Tel: +971 4 320 1112 Email: Website: presence in the UAE fruit and vegetable market through different channels of retail shops, e-commerce and wholesale channels.

I n Profile

Contact details Tel: +971 55 892 7548 E-mail: Website: Social Media:

D uni Midd le E ast

Founded in 1949 in Sweden, Duni ME has been active in the Middle East for over three decades and Marcus Toft, area manager, Middle east and Africa tells Catering News Middle East about their products.

Tell us about the company.

Duni is an inspiring brand creating a great food experience for people. We supply attractive and convenient products for all kinds of table settings and take-away. It is an inspiring brand for all eating and drinking occasions as we are passionate about standing out in our field and growing as the world’s most attractive provider of inspirational table top concepts and creative take away solutions.

What are your core products for the F&B sector?

We support restaurateurs and F&B managers to create a good food mood in every eating and drinking occasion by providing innovative products for both in-house dining as well as take away. Products include napkins, table covers, candles, take-away

boxes, plates, glasses, and cutlery. We also offer food packaging machines that will keep your take-out food fresh for days.

What new products have you launched in 2018?

Our new range ecoecho, is something that we are focusing on this year as we have developed this range for HoReCa managers who prioritise nature and sustainability. After all, the decisions we take today can help shape a better tomorrow. Designed for professional use, ecoecho products are created using some of the finest mindful materials available. Reflecting this, they let you lead the way when it comes to combining sustainability, quality and style. All ecoecho products comply with food contact regulations and have a raw, natural look which matches their eco-conscious profile.

What is your best-selling product?

Even though Duni supplies many different products to the food industry, our biggest selling product is still the napkin. Here in the Middle East our premium napkin alternative made from dunilin material is the best-selling product and comes in two sizes as well as a pre-folded cutlery pocket which is available in different colour and design options.

What makes your company stand out on the market?

I would say that it is our focus and dedication to develop high quality, eco-conscious, hygienic and fun products in line with the market trends to satisfy customer needs. June 2018 Catering NEWS ME


Spill the beans Francois Roldan, executive chef, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club tells us about their floating iftar experience.

Tell us about your Ramadan offerings. We have our legendary QD’s Ramadan Tent, which is great for guests who are looking for traditional iftar and suhoor options with dishes including all the Arabic favourites. For diners looking for a more unique experience to break their fast, we have launched the BBQ Donut iftar offer where up to eight people can board one of our donuts for an exceptional iftar experience. It’s a lovely way for family and close friends to come together and enjoy delicious food over the picturesque views of the creek.

Sp i ll t h e be an s

What sets the BBQ Donut iftar experience apart? With almost every restaurant in Dubai offering diners an iftar spread, we wanted to take things a step further and stand out of the crowd by offering something unique. Our BBQ Donuts can be enjoyed by people of all ages and brings an element of active fun to the breaking of the fast. What is on the menu? While creating the menu for the BBQ Donut iftar, we wanted to keep in mind Arabic traditions with sharing style food that can be enjoyed as a group. The selection features signature Middle Eastern dishes, including popular mezzes and mains, such as shish tawook, lamb kofta, falafel, kibbeh and fattoush, as well as fruits and local sweets. We also wanted to provide an option for guests that prefer an a la carte experience and therefore we offer a customised BBQ package upon request. What can people expect when booking a


Catering NEWS ME June 2018

BBQ Donut iftar? While putting together this experience, our main focus was creating a truly unique iftar experience that would allow guests to make memories with loved ones. Upon boarding the BBQ Donuts, guests will see the central tables suitably decorated for the occasion in vibrant

traditional colours of the region. Combining the unusual location with stunning views of the creek and Dubai skyline with the chance to feast on mouthwatering food, I really believe this is something everyone should experience this Ramadan.

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Catering News ME - June 2018  
Catering News ME - June 2018