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QUINTESSENCE and Catering News gather a group of chefs for an exclusive blind oyster tasting event


Danielle Sallam reveals the success story behind her app-based delivery business, The Salad Jar


Chef Brendan McGowan introduces the F&B offer at Dubai’s new Miamiinspired resort

Connecting F&B professionals with industry knowledge

MARCH 2017

© Jérôme Bryon / Les Gens de l’Atelier

Valrhona, Aux Sources du Grand Chocolat

Valrhona is a French chocolatier that has been providing exceptional chocolate since 1922. Created by and for pastry makers, Valrhona has dedicated all its expertise, high standards and passion to culinary professionals, making each taste an exceptional experience. Chosen by the world’s most prestigious chefs and craftsmen for its vast range of aromas continually enhanced by innovation, Valrhona’s ambition is to broaden people’s culinary horizons by offering a variety of unique and recognizable chocolate flavors, in an effort to continuously create more pleasure and excitement. 26600 Tain l’Hermitage - FRANCE

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

10 What's Cooking?

March 2017 // Issue #026


16 New places

18 Talent


10 //

WHAT’S COOKING? S. Pellegrino Young Chef to host semifinals in Dubai; Play Restaurant and Lounge to open first international location; Solutions Leisure Group launches nightclub

16 //

NEW PLACES Qasr Al Sultan is the UAE’s latest gourmet destination dining concept

18 //

TALENT Eric Ballard, group beverage manager of Sunset Hospitality

26 //

A TASTE OF THE OCEAN QUINTESSENCE and Catering News gather a group of chefs for an exclusive blind oyster tasting event

38 //

THE BUSINESS SHAKE IT UP Danielle Sallam reveals the success story behind her app-based delivery business, The Salad Jar

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


March 2017 // Issue #026

Contents 42 //

CHEF FOCUS BEACH LIFE Chef Brendan McGowan introduces the F&B offer at Dubai’s new Miami-inspired resort

46 //

OUT OF THIS WORLD Chefs from the Middle East’s British restaurants reveal the top trends and the ingredients most challenging to source

54 //

MARKETPLACE Catering News showcases the oven products cooking up a storm in the Middle East

58 //

SPILL THE BEANS Amna Al Hashemi, director and founder of Mitts & Trays

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

Editor Crystal Chesters Contributor

Marouane Al Mandri Art Director Aaron Sutton Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon



Hayder Al-Zuhairi


The Business

Chef focus


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

54 Out of this world

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


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


Catering NEWS ME March 2017


Perfection and precision are the kitchen essentials. Cyril Lenoir Culinary Consultant Paris - London - Rio de Janiero

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E ditor's L etter

It's festival time Crystal Chesters Editor

Cover evolution

The food festival season is once again upon us and this year marks an important milestone for the UAE’s food and beverage scene, with Taste of Dubai celebrating its 10th anniversary. Having started out in 2007 with just 10 restaurants, today 24 restaurants exhibit at the weekend-long event and this year the organisers expect a turnout of 30,000 visitors over three days. Dubai Food Festival also expects to see strong growth - with a predicted 5% increase on last year’s 40,000 visitors– and this year the popular Etisalat Beach Canteen has been moved to a new location on Sunset Beach to accommodate this. The feature has grown three-fold since its launch in 2013 when there were just 12 outlets exhibiting. And having debuted with success last year, Eat the World DXB was back in town at the end of February, offering an opportunity for local and international brands to showcase their street food favourites to Dubai, while Flavors Festival in Abu Dhabi is focused purely on highlighting the strong local and Emirati brands on the market. For consumers, the food festivals this month offer a snapshot of what’s going on in the region’s restaurant scene, with a onestop-shop for sampling the latest offerings and old favourites. It’s also a chance for people to meet their favourite chefs – whether

local faces or international A-listers. Meanwhile for the chefs, food festivals provide not just the benefit of increased exposure, but a welcome opportunity to meet with consumers, which is something they often don’t have time for when busy in the kitchen. In a market where Instagram takes precedence over anything else when it comes to restaurant booking decisions, food festivals offer a rare opportunity for chefs to get in front of their target audience, answer questions and highlight what differentiates their offer from the competition. Undoubtedly, the growing food festival scene has helped position the region on the global culinary map, with Dubai now up there among the top cities in the world when it comes to its restaurant offer. Testament to this is the number of Michelinstarred and celebrity chefs coming to the market, not to mention talk of the Michelin guide arriving on Gulf shores as early as this year. With the food and beverage market in Dubai predicted to reach $13 billion by 2018, there’s definitely reason to celebrate this festival season. Enjoy the issue. Kind regards, Crystal

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Catering NEWS ME March 2017

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P11: Solutions Leisure to open Dubai nightclub //P13: Gulfood Innovation Awards // P14: Operation Falafel to open in Saudi Arabia //

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S. Pellegrino Young Chef semifinals to take place in Dubai for first time The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Award is back for the third year to find the world’s best young chef. The Middle East and Africa semifinal, which is scheduled for October 2017, will take place in Dubai for the first time. Last year, UAE-based chef, Gregoire Berger, won the regional challenge, and represented the MEA region at the international grand finale in Milan. Luca Antonelli, area manager – Middle East, S.Pellegrino said: “We are extremely thrilled to host the Middle East and Africa region semifinal event in Dubai this year. Year by year we see an increase in the number of applications for the international competition from the Middle East, particularly from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. “Through this initiative, S.Pellegrino aims to provide a platform for young chefs to demonstrate both their talent and skills to the industry and get recognised for what sets them apart from their peers. It is time to push their creative boundaries to innovate, prove their expertise and help them stand out in a highly competitive industry.” 10

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

Young chefs from around the world are invited to submit an application with their signature dish at, which will serve as the new digital hub of the competition. Applicants must be chefs aged 30 or younger and have at least one year of experience working in a restaurant as a chef, sous chef or chef de partie. The submission form and process have been further streamlined to manage the application phase in the most effective way possible. The deadline for submitting entries is 30 April, 2017. The third edition will take place over the course of 18 months, with the final

event taking place in Milan in June, 2018. The extended duration for this edition will allow candidates more time to work side by side with their assigned chef mentors to improve their signature dishes and refine their skill-set in preparation for the finals. In addition, applications will now be accepted in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French and Italian. All qualified applicants will be divided into 21 regions according to their geographic origin. Submissions will then be evaluated by ALMA, the international educational and training centre for Italian

Cuisine, which will select the top 10 semifinalists for each geographic region, according to five “Golden Rules”: Ingredients, Skills, Genius, Beauty and Message. The 10 selected semifinalists of each of the 21 geographic areas will compete in a Local Semifinals round, during which live competitions will be held in each region from June to December. In June 2018, the 21 Young Chef finalists will gather in Italy for the grand finale to compete for the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 title in front of Seven Sages, a panel of judges comprised of some of the most celebrated culinary masters of the world. Over the course of the contest – which last year, attracted over 3,000 applicants – 70 top chefs will be involved as jurors in the local competitions. Twenty-one young chefs from 21 different geographic areas will be selected as semifinalists, and 21 chef mentors will be assigned individually to the young chefs, providing guidance throughout their journey. The complete list of competition requirements is available on the application website:

Wh at' s c ook i n g?


Dubai’s Play Restaurant and Lounge to open first international location

Dubai-founded concept, Play Restaurant and Lounge, will open its first international location at Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes, France, in the summer of 2017. The Cannes restaurant will be a permanent pop-up during the peak summer months, from July to September. Play Dining Group chairman, Rashid Galadari commented: “When we were creating the concept behind Play, we always knew that the brand would one day be ready for the international stage. It was just a matter of time until

we found the right partners to initiate our global expansion plans. The South of France is just the beginning.” First launched in January 2016 by Play Dining Group, the homegrown brand features a menu that fuses East and West, dubbed ‘Mediterrasian cuisine’. Play has a dedicated Research & Development kitchen and a culinary team of 41 chefs. The restaurant is located on the 36th floor of the H Hotel and features a gourmet restaurant with elevated private dining area, a lounge area and a cocktail bar.

New opening

Solutions Leisure Group to open nightclub in Dubai Solutions Leisure Group will open homegrown nightclub concept, Inner City Zoo at the upcoming Rixos The Walk Hotel, JBR, Dubai, in the summer of 2017. The venue marks the company’s entry into the UAE’s nightclub scene and the return to the nightlife sector for Solutions Leisure managing director Paul Evans and creative director Freek Teusink, who owned and operated nightlife venues in Egypt, including Ministry of Sound and Hed Kandi Beach Bar. Also opening within the same hotel this year is the group’s second Lock Stock & Barrel and American steakhouse concept, STK, in association with New York-based The ONE Group.

‘STK Beach’ will have a 160seat capacity. A second STK will open its doors at The Address Downtown Dubai Hotel, with a 240seat capacity. It is set to open in September 2017. The second Lock Stock & Barrel will be two-and-a-half times bigger than the original venue in Barsha Heights, and will retain similar design and music elements. In addition, it will feature a casual, food-focused concept on the second floor, with an urban carnival feel. Solutions Leisure Group currently operates five brands: Q43, Karma Kafé, Asia Asia, Lock, Stock & Barrel and The Atlantic Dubai. These venues welcome over 100,000 customers every month. March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


W hat's cooking?


Gulfood Innovation Awards winners revealed Gulfood 2017, the 22nd edition of the world’s largest annual food industry exhibition crowned its Innovation Awards winners at a ceremony held at Conrad Dubai on Sunday 26 February. The Innovation Awards, sponsored by Al Dahra, recognise and honour new and improved innovations and technologies being adopted by Gulfood exhibitors. One of the companies awarded was Green Isle Foods from Ireland, which was crowned Best Halal Food Company winner for Goodfellas halal frozen pizza. Green Isle Foods export lead, Suzanne Conroy, said: “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award for our Goodfellas halal frozen pizza. It is a great testament to the hard work and commitment of our team to de-


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

veloping a pizza range which appeals to consumers in the MENA region. “The addition of our new doner kebab variant is another example of the innovative new product development and we look forward to continued success and growth in the frozen pizza category.” Greenyards Frozen, from Belgium picked up the award for Best Frozen or Chilled Food. Frankie Vandermeiren, commercial director retail and food service, Greenyards Frozen Belgium NV said: “Our winning product is our convenience line, which is premium, higher quality and based on market demand as customers prefer ready to use convenience products without conservatives and frozen into

mini portions. It’s the ideal solution to avoid food waste.” UAE companies also took home accolades, with Global Food Industries LLC (AL Batha Group) winning Best Fruit and Vegetable Innovation and Best Meat and Poultry Innovation. Jacek Plewa, general manager of Global Food Industries LLC (Al Batha Group), said: “Being a UAE-based brand, winning not one but two Gulfood Innovation Award brings industry-wide recognition, which resonates far beyond the borders of our operations.” Other winners included New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra, which won 'Best Trade Stand between 40 -90 square metres'. The stand is shared by Fonterra's businessto-business brands NZMP and

Anchor Food Professionals. A spokesperson of Fonterra Co-Operative Group said: "Our split-stand was designed to demonstrate our high quality dairy products and pure New Zealand origins, and we are honoured that our stand was recognised. Gulfood 2017 is a great opportunity for us to connect with key regional customers and showcase the industry-leading bulk ingredients and foodservice solutions we can offer the Middle East food industry.” A full list of winners is available on An estimated 5,000 local, regional and international exhibitors participated at the 1,000,000ft2 Gulfood 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre from Sunday 26 February – Thursday 2 March.

Wh at' s c ook i n g?

In a nutshell: The Habit

Russ Bendel, CEO of Californian burger chain, The Habit, explains why he chose Dubai for the brand’s first international venture steak sandwiches and a selection of entrée salads. Our broadly appealing menu allows us to have a customer mix that is approximately 50% male and 50% female.

Why have you chosen Dubai for your first international venture? Dubai – and the wider UAE – is the hub of the Middle East and the most attractive location for our initial launch of The Habit Internationally. Why did you choose Food Quest Restaurants Management LLC as your franchise partner? We were approached by Food Quest among many others, but after spending considerable time with their team, we felt their commitment to The Habit brand and their values best aligned with ours. Please explain your menu? Our points of differentiation are in many areas. We cook all of our proteins on an

open flame, which gives it a better flavour; the menu is burger-centric but very broad in offering many other choices, such as sushi grade tuna that we grill for sandwiches. We also have chicken and tri-tip

How do you set the brand apart in terms of interiors and ambience? We invest a lot in creating the right ambience with hard wood finishes, colourful artwork and as much natural light as possible. In addition, we are committed to providing a level of service and hospitality you don’t usually find in a fast-casual environment. We combine all of these differentiators in the restaurant and then deliver them at extremely attractive, everyday value pricing. Quality and value never go out of style and they have been the cornerstone of what makes The Habit special since 1969.

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March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


W hat's cooking?

Food and Hospitality Oman returns for 12th edition

Fifty Operation Falafel outets to open in Saudi Arabia

The 12th edition of Food and Hospitality Oman 2017 will take place from 16 – 18 October 2017 at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. The largest dedicated food and hospitality show in Oman, it will highlight food and drinks, confectionery, dairy products, ingredients, gourmet and healthy foods, tea and coffee products, catering equipment,

Operation Falafel will expand into Saudi Arabia following the signing of a franchise development agreement between Awj Investments and KSA-based ETE Group. The first outlet will open in the third quarter of 2017, marking the first in a planned roll-out of 50 units in the Central and Eastern region of the Kingdom. Manhal Naser, CEO of Awj Investments commented: “We’re very excited to enter the

and processing and packaging. Food and Hospitality Oman 2017 will also host the Professional Chef’s Competition, with more than 50 leading hotels of Oman going head to head. Meanwhile, the fourth edition of the Oman Barista Championship will offer the Sultanate’s leading coffee shops and hotels the opportunity to showcase their skills.

'Foodpreneur' sessions to take place during Dubai Food Festival The Bureau Dubai is hosting a series of free sessions targeting the 'Foodpreneurial' community of Dubai. The sessions will take place from 23 February to 11 March 2017 at The Etisalat Beach Canteen in line with Dubai Food Festival. The Etisalat Beach Canteen is a community hub for the Dubai Food Festival, which returns this

year behind Sunset Mall with a fresh focus on the best range of Middle Eastern cuisine. The 'Foodpreneur' sessions will range from discussions on fine dining in the current economic state to the adventures of a food trucker in Dubai. The one-on-one interviews will bring together homegrown talent from the Dubai F&B scene.

Manitowoc Foodservice changes its name to Welbilt Commercial foodservice equipment supplier Manitowoc Foodservice will rebrand the company, its logo and its brand identity to Welbilt, Inc., with the ticker symbol changed to “NYSE:WBT” on March 6, 2017. The change is part of the company's strategic repositioning after it spun off from its former parent company, The Manitowoc 14

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

Company, in March 2016. Manitowoc Foodservice president and CEO Hubertus M. Muehlhaeuser said: “We are excited to announce the changing of our name to Welbilt, Inc., which further strengthens our corporate identity as a stand-alone company. Welbilt reflects our promise and commitment to bringing innovation to the table.”

Saudi market, the F&B sector in KSA is the largest and strongest in the GCC. “We look forward to expanding Operation Falafel and being one of the key leaders in the Middle Eastern street food market in KSA and MENA region.” A signing ceremony took place on 31 January at Awj Investment’s office on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road. A partnership is being finalised for the Western region of Saudi Arabia.

Global Restaurant Investment Forum partners with AccorHotels The Global Restaurant Investment Forum 2017 (GRIF), an annual networking and intelligence event for the international restaurant and hospitality community powered by Michelin, has partnered with AccorHotels for its fourth edition. GRIF, which will be held from 1012 April 2017 at Fairmont The Palm in Dubai, will provide a macroeconomic overview of the F&B industry. Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, managing director, Middle East, Bench Events, organiser of GRIF, said: “GRIF facilitates investment decision-making within the restaurant space and showcases the hottest concepts from around the globe. When selecting our partners, we are committed to supporting companies looking to make a real impact in the industry. AccorHotels is making bold steps to revolutionise

its F&B and we are excited to witness the unveiling of new concepts from the hotelier at GRIF.” It will tackle issues such as concept development, finance and lending, investment feasibility, scaling up for sustainable growth, creating a food culture and catering to the digitally-focused customer. The event brings together more than 300 industry professionals for interactive culinary tours, networking receptions, a franchise masterclass and a conference programme, which explores investing in the restaurant and food service industry. Dedicated to sharing best practice and insights, the line-up of speakers for the 2017 edition of GRIF includes Amir Nahai, CEO food & beverage, AccorHotels, who will be interviewed live on stage about the international hotelier’s

Wh at' s c ook i n g?

Renowned Peruvian chef to bring Lima restaurant to Dubai

London-founded Peruvian restaurant and bar concept, Lima, will open in Dubai at City Walk marking the first international venture for the brand. The concept has been developed through a partnership between Lima London chef and head of culinary development, Robert Ortiz, and Virgilio Martinez, chief proprietor of Lima and Central Peru, which is ranked at number 4 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Diego Sanchez, who previously worked under Martinez, will head up the Dubai culinary team. Lima’s USP is bringing unknown ingredients to the fore with a menu that educates diners with new products and techniques. Lima Dubai will occupy a premium, fully licensed location within City Walk’s Fine Dining Courtyard. The 200-pax space will feature a restaurant, bar and outdoor terrace decorated in a colourful, rustic style with materials sourced directly from Peru. The flagship Michelin-starred Lima Fitzrovia opened in London in 2012 and a second Lima opened in London’s Covent Garden two years later.


Russo’s Restaurants unveils aggressive growth plans for Middle East Russo's Restaurants will expand throughout the Middle East over the next 10 years with an aggressive multi-unit franchise growth strategy. Russo's UAE franchise partner, Prime Hospitality, will open the region's first Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen concept at The Pointe in Dubai in Q3, which has a new prototype designed exclusively for Middle East development. This will be the seventh Russo's location in the UAE, with plans for more in the pipeline. Russo's Restaurants founder, chef Anthony Russo, commented: "Russo's concepts appeal to franchisees nationally and internationally

because of the food quality – our recipes, our sourcing, our authenticity – that speaks to the way people the world over want to eat today. “We are growing because the appetite for our style of food is growing, and we've been doing it for 25 years with proven success." The company also recently opened its first Russo's New York Pizzeria in Riyadh with

franchisee Abdulrahman Al Arifi, who has an agreement to open three more locations and will build up to 60 in the next 10 years. Al Arifi commented: "We want to make Russo's the first choice of pizza throughout the region. We want every pizza lover and non-lover to come in to our restaurants and taste the magic of our pizza and fresh ingredients that are unlike anything we have in Saudi Arabia." In addition to planned openings in Saudi Arabia, Russo's is targeting new international markets such as Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt for franchise development. Russo’s focuses on authentic, hand-tossed New Yorkstyle pizzas and Italian pastas, soups and salads made with family recipes and ingredients like house-made mozzarella, imported artisanal Sicilian olive oil, cheeses from Italy and hand-crushed pear tomatoes from California. The first Russo's New York Pizzeria opened in Houston in 1992 and was franchised two years later. In 2008, Russo added sibling concept Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen, offering a more indepth Italian menu prepared in authentic coal-fired ovens. Russo's Restaurants has nearly 50 company-owned and franchised restaurants in the US and the Middle East. March 2017 Catering NEWS ME

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New places

The facts

Qasr Al Sultan

Venue: Qasr Al Sultan Date opened: 6 February 2017 Director of operations: Monal Malhotra Executive chef: Ali El Ammar Fun fact about venue: Forty performers showcase a variety of Emirati dances

Abdin Nasralla, chief executive officer, Dubai Gourmet showcases the UAE’s new gourmet destination dining concept, Qasr Al Sultan Please describe the concept of the venue in your words?

Qasr Al Sultan is a majestic new concept that we created to allow people to explore the ‘Life of a Sultan’. The theme of the venue is inspired by the rich history, architecture, and traditions of the region, helping visitors to immerse themselves in the experience and enjoy traditional performances, a grand food bazaar, live cooking stations, and an authentic souk that reflect the warmth of Arabian hospitality.

What are the signature items on the menu?

The grand food bazaar serves an elaborate selection of dishes made from over 500 ingredients prepared at cooking stations where guests can interact with the chefs as they




The Zuhour Group has opened a fifth Zaroob restaurant in Dubai Marina. The levant street-food-inspired eatery features an open kitchen, live cooking stations and colourful interiors, with dishes including fateh and kibbeh. Zaroob was first launched in 2010 by the Zuhour Group, which is also behind the Mezza House brand. Zaroob restaurants are open on Sheikh Zayed Road, Golden Mile, Ibn Batuta Mall – China Court, Buheirah Corniche Sharjah, and now in Dubai Marina.

French bakery-café-restaurant chain, Delifrance, has opened two new venues in Dubai Mall and Ibn Battuta Mall. The outlets serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with baked breads and pastries along with hot and cold dishes. The franchise uses recipes from top French chefs, such as Michel Roth. Delifrance opened its first restaurant in 1984, however its heritage dates back to 1919 as an offset of Grands Moulins de Paris. Today the brand has over 400 outlets across 13 countries.

LOCATION: Dubai Marina OPENING DATE: January 2016

LOCATION: Dubai Mall and Ibn Batutta Mall OPENING DATE: February 2016

Ginza Hospitality Group has opened Levantthemed restaurant, Abyat, at Club Vista Mare on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Fusing Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian cuisine, the restaurant’s menu features pomegranate hummus, Kabab Karaz (chargrilled lamb meatballs), Surrat Abyat (an oven-baked Arabic pastry stuffed with rice, peas and lamb cubes) and Tharid (a traditional Arabian island dish made with grilled kafta and pita bread). A Middle Eastern ambience is created with turquoise décor, lyrics printed on the menus and music from regional artists. LOCATION: Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. OPENING DATE: February 2016


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

N e w places

cook. To contribute to the atmosphere, our chefs are on hand to demonstrate how to craft the perfect shawarma, roasted chicken, lamb shoulders, and freshly baked Arabian bread. Guests can also witness the making of the traditional Ouzi, with meat cooked in an underground oven for 8-10 hours and then raised out with a winch to be served steaming and succulent to diners at their tables.

What is interesting about the beverage offer?

To maintain the authenticity of the Qasr Al Sultan experience, we created a drinks menu that includes signature mocktails, such as the Sultan’s Delight and our homemade special lemonade. There are also a wide range of traditional teas and coffees, as well as a selection of drinks created especially for children, like Sweet Emerald and Alibaba’s Gold.

Our intention is not to compete with other

venues, but to create an unforgettable experience where guests can access and learn about the rich history of Dubai and the UAE. The Sultans of Arabia have left a deep imprint on our culture, influencing everything from our customs, our cuisine, art, the way we dress and our lifestyles. We have used this as inspiration to create a window into the past that people in the present and future can come together and enjoy.

Seven Sands


TT Custom BBQ

Dubai World Trade Centre-owned Emirati restaurant, Seven Sands, has opened its second outlet in the Etihad Museum in Dubai. Complementing the museum’s story of how Dubai was founded, the restaurant aims to take diners on a culinary journey through the seven emirates. Seven Sands offers a Basement Café with grab-and-go items and guests can dine in at the Bistro on the first floor. Basement Café options include traditional sweets, salads, wraps, sandwiches and camel milk ice cream. LOCATION: Etihad Museum, Dubai OPENING DATE: February 2016

La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk Dubai has opened Chival, one of its five restaurants. The venue serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The à la carte beakfast menu features beef tartare served with poached organic eggs, acai and goji bowls, fresh pastries from the bakery and a selection of cheese and cold cuts. At lunch, 24-hour cooked organic broths, poached salmon and Black Angus meatball power bowls are on offer. In the evening, the restaurant transforms into a casual dining destination. LOCATION: La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk Dubai OPENING DATE: February 2016

Motorcycle-themed eatery, TT Custom BBQ, has opened at Boxpark Dubai. The venue is the F&B branch of the Turkish-founded car, boat and motorcycle showroom. Interiors are designed to look and feel like a garage: door handles are gas pumps and arms of chairs are inspired by fuel tanks. The venue has a rooftop terrace and a ground-floor terrace accommodating 150. Turkish barbecue items are prepared on an open charcoal grill, while Turkish Ayran, a yogurt based beverage, is poured from the traditional Yayık suspended from the ceiling. LOCATION: Boxpark Dubai OPENING DATE: 16 February 2016

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

Qasr Al Sultan was designed by Dubai Gourmet and features an open outdoor layout with a communal banquet area where food is served, much as it was in the days of Sultans. The banquet area sits in front of

a stage where traditional entertainment is performed against the backdrop of a fullsize Dhow. Every aspect of the design is intended to provide families and friends with the chance to gather and partake in a memorable Arabian experience.

How will the venue compete on the Dubai market?

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME



Work Experience

Eric Ballard

As group beverage manager of Sunset Hospitality, Ballard looks after the beverage offer at Dubai’s Provocateur and the newly opened New York burger bar and restaurant, Black Tap Eric looks after the beverage offer at Provocateur, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach

May 2016 - present: group beverage manager, Sunset Hospitality, Dubai May 2016 - December 2016: Luxury Collection trade ambassador, BacardiMartini, Dubai November 2014 - present: Head bartender, Provocateur Dubai/Four Seasons Hotel Jumeirah Beach

Black Tap is a New York burger brand that has recently opened at Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel in Madinat Jumeirah

Describe your first ever role in the F&B industry?

My first role in the F&B industry was flipping pizzas and taking phone orders in Domino’s Pizza back in 2006. I did that job for a little over six months to pay off my car and ski passes. I then moved to the mountains to teach snowboarding and golf for the next four years.

Eric Ballard, group beverage manager of Sunset Hospitality

Who has inspired you most in your career?

It’s next to impossible for me to name just one person. Our industry is full of super inspiring people and I have been fortunate enough to get to travel and learn from some of the best. The people that have inspired me the most are some very close friends – I have unintentionally managed to surround myself with loads of inspiring people.

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

Rapidly Darwinistic (that’s not a real word but it works).

What is the biggest challenge of your role?

My biggest challenge is time. I have done a 18

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

evolving. Right now, my favorite aspect is working on bringing some of the best craft brews from around the world to the market. As a Coloradan, we love our craft hops, but there is so little of it available here. I am stoked that at Black Tap we are working closely with our suppliers to bring new and exciting beverages into the region, some of which you will only be able to find at Black Tap.

If you could work in any restaurant in the world, which would it be? Our next one! practical crash course in time management over the last nine months. Juggling a seven-month trade ambassador position, while opening a restaurant, and simultaneously working 30 hours a week at a nightclub, I did not have time to learn this skill. It was sink or swim, and we’re only speeding it up now. With the very successful opening of Black Tap under way, it’s straight into the next project, which we will be excited to share with everyone soon.

What is the best aspect of your role?

I never have a routine as my role is always

What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the F&B industry in the region?

Longevity in a company can be a huge advantage. If you have a good role in a good company, progress within that company as far as you can. New venues open all the time and it is easy to see a pay increase as a reason to move. Weigh up your options and be hesitant before jumping for better money. Loyalty pays off in our industry, and you could be surprised who is quietly noticing; waiting to offer you not only an opportunity, but the opportunity.


Cho Gao Abu Dhabi welcomes head chef

Asian restaurant Cho Gao in Crown Plaza Abu Dhabi, welcomed Areewan Larpnikornkul as its new head chef. Larpnikornkul has over 10 years of culinary experience, specialising in Thai food and delicate cooking techniques. Larpnikornkul started her career at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, then moved to Park Hyatt Dubai in 2010 as commis chef in The Thai Kitchen restaurant. In 2015, she joined The Westin Doha as sous chef in the Sabai Thai restaurant where she practiced leadership and creativity skills.

New chef for The China Club at Radisson Blu Deira Creek Chef Yongsheng Hu has joined The China Club at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek as sous chef. In his new role, chef Hu will be tasked with adding new specialities to the menu and balancing traditional and modern Chinese dishes. Chef Hu worked in Chinese restaurants in China for 10 years and has expertise in Korean, Japanese and Thai cuisine. He has five years’ experience in the UAE.

Play appoints bar manager

Play Restaurant & Lounge has appointed new bar manager and head mixologist, Lukas S. Jehlicka from Prague. Prior to his current role, Jehlicka worked at China Tang, The Dorchester, Bassoon Bar at The Corinthia, Supper Club and at the Royal Automotive Club in London. He also developed bar concepts with The Crystal Group and Entourage Group as lead consultant bar manager. In his new role, Jehlicka has revamped the beverage menu to feature bright colours, bold flavours and unusual garnishes.


MOON DANCE product concept + design: sieger design

MOON DANCE product concept + design: sieger design

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME



New Concepts or Brand Expansions?

Abdul Kader Saadi, managing director of Glee Hospitality Solutions explores what works best in the Middle East


ne of the most common questions we are asked by people looking to invest in food and beverage businesses is whether it is better to start a new concept or expand on an already established brand. In general, due to the brand recognition, expansion is the preferred option in the Middle East for investors who are new to the business. However, homegrown brands launched in recent years in the UAE are now seeing a significant rise in franchise opportunities, specifically within other GCC countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Kuwait. Local investors have recognised this trend and are keen on reaping profits, while raising the brand value and improving brand recognition in the wider region. The truth is there is no right or wrong answer on whether to expand a brand or invent something fresh, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both which should be identified and understood. Most importantly, the decision should be based on the investor’s strategy, objectives and aspirations. One of the biggest advantages of taking on an existing name is the brand recognition amongst consumers in the market; but there are other important benefits such as the systems already being in place and the previous success offering reassurance that it will be accepted when entering a new market. When setting up a new venture, there is an initial investment that goes into creating the brand for concept and design development. The process of establishing a new concept takes longer as there is always a learning curve, and it takes time for the market to accept and follow the new brand. To grow a successful new concept requires informed decisions and a well-thought-out plan of action backed by expert knowledge and robust research. And, once launched, the 20

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

About the author Abdul Kader Saadi is the managing director and owner of Dubai-based Glee Hospitality Solutions, which has researched, designed and launched more than 20 restaurant concepts, and operates 40 outlets across the GCC. new concept requires time to seep into the target market and to build a loyal client base. Whether it is a new or existing brand, the location needs to be researched correctly. The site and position of a restaurant is something that could make or break a venue, regardless of the quality of food, the operational team’s skillset or how successful this concept may have been elsewhere. Not all restaurants are designed or destined for rollout. Several factors affect the launch of a new venue – from its size, initial budget, the kind of product on offer, service style and menu. Also, brand expansion is an option only worth considering once the initial outlet has proven to be successful. In recent years, people have been more willing to invest in new concepts, especially homegrown brands. They wonder why they should pay for a brand name based in the

USA, which may not be able to adapt to the local market. A common question that potential investors ask the consultants at Glee Hospitality Solutions is: How can a business in the USA or the UK, which is thousands of miles away and on a different time zone, support my business in the UAE? The truth is that most international companies are not ready to franchise out and certainly not as far as the Middle East. Yet, they continue to do so just to make shortterm monetary benefits. For many investors, all these benefits are outweighed by the potential profits and the freedom that a new concept can offer. The cost for franchised concepts can be high and difficult to manage as it involves paying royalty and franchise fees, while some investors may feel trapped by the brand requirements and regulations involved with a franchise. Those with a deeper passion for good food and hospitality, will be keen to introduce something fresh to the market that they will hope to grow into a successful business that others may want to expand in the future. Owning an original concept gives the investor the freedom to make changes. This flexibility helps the business adapt quickly and more efficiently to the ever-changing market trends. It should also be remembered that more niche concepts are less suitable for expansion, especially in the fine dining sector. To choose between investing in a new concept or a new branch of an established venue, you first need to see which strategy best suits your long-term business model and budget. Identify the key risks, various expenses, and potential time frame in both situations before taking a cautious decision. The secret to success in the current difficult market is robust research that leads to a creative concept, which will in-turn ensure consumer demand.


Dubai World Trade Centre 18 - 20 September 2017

GRIF Special

From the dancefloor to the Peruvian kitchen Drawing on his experiences working with Steve Jobs and DJing all over the world, to being the pioneer of Peruvian food in the UK, chef and entrepreneur Martin Morales gives an insight into how creativity and business acumen can be applied to the world of restaurants, ahead of his keynote speech at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum in Dubai


hen I worked as one of four founders of iTunes Europe as head of pan EU, Steve Jobs and Apple taught me to think differently, to trust that the dots will join up in future and to focus purely on delivering the best possible customer experience. In my last job before I became a chef, as head of Disney Music Group EMEA, Bob Iger and Disney taught me to think of the bigger picture and to maximise the story through the hub and spoke model. My DJing and record producing career, which took me around the world, taught me not only how to 'understand the street’, that is, to feel the pulse of young people, be the first to spot trends and spot talent, but also, how to work with creatives and make creativity a central focus to find solutions and enable my business to always stay ahead. These teachings, experiences and skills have led me to where I am today. But the key to all this has been to find and listen to my gut, and then to use creativity and my heart above all else. That’s how Ceviche Ltd has become not only one of the fastest growing businesses in Britain, but also broken a market with a new cuisine, opened a series of award-winning restaurants and created a high performing team. Our motto is ‘Aqui se cocina con cariño’ – here we cook with love. This doesn’t only represent cooking, but it describes the way we care about every single aspect of our work. I’m proud to say that our staff love saying our motto and wear it like a badge of honour. If you love your job, you do it well. If you care about what you do, you 22

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

The Music Room at Andina Picanteria & Pisco Bar in Shoreditch, London

About the author Born in Peru to an Andean mother, but having lived in Britain for the last 20 years, Martin Morales is known as the pioneer of Peruvian food in Britain. Five years ago he sold his house, opened Ceviche in Soho, London and now owns four restaurants in the city, including the Michelin-Guide listed Andina in Shoreditch. Don’t miss Morales as he shares his business journey at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum 2017, being held from 10-12 April at Fairmont The Palm Dubai. To register: Visit: and

Trout Tiradito at Casita Andina in Soho, London

do it well. And if you are led by an ethos of creativity, you can solve any problem, find solutions to any challenge and create new and innovative things that people will want to buy or be a part of. Part of this is being creativity agnostic. We don’t simply believe we are chefs that cook. We also have expertise at a high level in creating videos, photography, events, multi-sensory experiences, music, art, theatre and cinema and get involved and master all these art forms with no boundaries between these and food. On top of this, we share our expertise and what we do selflessly and generously. That’s why people follow us. That’s why we have our own YouTube channel ‘Martin’s Peruvian Kitchen’ and why we support greatly the work of our partner Andean children’s charity This is because we care, we are creative, we love what we do and want to share our passion for Peru with others. We just follow our gut and I recommend that for anyone who works with food. At the end of the day, that’s where your food ends up, so you might as well be kind to it and listen to it.


10-12 April 2017 Fairmont, The Palm, Dubai, ORGANISED BY


FACILITATING INVESTMENT DECISION-MAKING WITHIN THE RESTAURANT SPACE The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) facilitates investment decision-making within the restaurant space. The forum showcases the hottest restaurant concepts from around the globe and gives attendees a place of focus to connect with investors, owners, franchisors and senior hospitality professionals, assess the state of the hospitality industry and secure deals for the coming year. GRIF is proud to once again be powered by Michelin in 2017, enriching the event with its extensive network and world class chefs.

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


#GRIF17, @GRIF_news |

E v ent rev iew

Chef Middle East’s Vendor Show Chef Middle East’s Vendor Show offered a day of live cooking demonstrations, and tasting sessions giving F&B professionals the opportunity to network and find out more about Chef Middle East’s products and brands


hef Middle East hosted the third edition of its highly successful Vendor Show on Tuesday 21 February at Prego’s restaurant in Media Rotana, with a day of live cooking demonstrations, tasting sessions, networking and special guest appearances. There was a huge turnout for the event, which offered a platform for chefs, bar managers, pastry chefs and purchasing managers to network and find out more about Chef Middle East’s range of products and brands. There were vendors from Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Denmark, 24

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

Netherlands, Italy and Spain in attendance, showcasing a range of products including seafood, meat, pastries, beverages and chocolates among others. Speaking at the event, Chef Middle East CEO Steve Pyle said: “We were involved in other events for more than eight years but found that having a meaningful conversation with customers or prospects during other events is quite difficult; you literally have thousands of exhibitors and people have a small amount of time to spend with you. “With this event, we invite our own database of customers, and this is the third

time we have done it now. At every one of those events we have more people coming in; the last event we did in September saw more than 400 customers come through the door, which is great for us.” Pyle said the event allows for interaction from a supply partner perspective, giving them the opportunity to show what they can do with product development. He said: “We can let people taste what it is they are talking about. I think it is a much more customer-centric way of talking to our customers and prospects about what we do and what our suppliers do. “Our commitment to the market is

Event revie w

to reach into kitchens and build relationships with people, understanding what they need and meet that need. That’s been the DNA of the business since its inception. “What we now have is an infrastructure to deliver that in a meaningful way. We want people to come out and look at our new facility in DIP because, for the region, it’s best in class.” One of the biggest attractions at the event was the presence of renowned chef Paul Gayler who had also performed a series of demonstrations at Chef Middle East’s new facility in DIP the previous day.

“With Chef Middle East, who I’m working with through Braehead Foods and Made In Scotland, the demonstrations showed it is not just about knocking back product, it’s about educating,” he said. “People are travelling the world, but just because they come to Dubai doesn’t mean they necessarily want to eat Middle Eastern food. They still want to be eating European style food, which is why the hotels here are grabbing those great chefs.” He described the F&B scene in the Middle East as vibrant and predicted great things for the future. “It’s a great market. Our business

moves all the time,” he said. “I can only see the operation at Chef Middle East moving up more and more. We want to bring in great artisan products, like we do in Scotland. “There’s great scope here. The way things are going, Dubai will become a culinary vision for the future.” Chef Middle East category manager Bruce Woolner was delighted with the turnout and level of engagement at the Vendor Show. “We all agreed that with other shows, we didn’t hit our target market, so we created something different,” he said. March 2017 Catering NEWS ME



n a e c O A taste of the

QUINTESSENCE, in association with Catering News Middle East, invited a select group of chefs to an exclusive blind oyster tasting event to introduce its Princesses de Kermancy oysters to the Dubai market


UINTESSENCE, the newly opened UAE branch of a family-run Brittany-based shellfish and crustacean business, hosted a blind oyster tasting event on 8 February at Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm to introduce its Princesses de Kermancy oysters to the Dubai market. A group of top chefs from Dubai restaurants were invited to judge six varieties of premium oysters against five key factors: look, nose, weight, meat and taste. Once the scoresheets were tallied up, the winning oyster brand was revealed, with Princesses de Kermancy coming out on top overall. Explaining the purpose of the event, QUINTESSENCE managing director, Alexandre Pugnet said: “We started UAE operations last October and the issue for us was simple: how do you introduce a new brand, a new range of products and establish them against what the market has been happily consuming for years, particularly in a country with so many types of cuisines and where food costs often take precedence over taste or value? We wanted to compare Princesses de Kermancy to the currently available premium products but without the branding or so-called peer influence – just a test of the senses.” 26

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I can easily say that Princesses de Kermancy is one of the best oyster brands on the market Gregoire Berger, head chef, Ossiano In attendance were Gregoire Berger, head chef, Ossiano Dubai; Sacha Daniel, group operations director, Solutions Leisure; Sang Lee, group executive chef, Solutions Leisure; François-Xavier Simon, chef de cuisine, Reflets par Pierre

Gagnaire; Giovanni Paolo Pintore, head chef, Frankie’s Dubai; and Sylvain Noel, executive chef, El Chiringuito. “We brought together a very objective panel of chefs and F&B operators from different backgrounds and therefore different palates, from different experiences, running different outlets and with various responsiblities, and therefore different patronage,” Pugnet comments. When selecting the competition, it was Pugnet’s objective to compare Princesses de Kermancy oysters to other premium oysters. “We based our selection on local chefs’ recommendations and ended up with six top-of-the-range, premium oysters, five of which were from France, including Princesses de Kermancy, and one brand from Ireland,” he said. Commenting on the event, chef Berger said: “The oyster tasting was a great idea; the ranking was very interesting. We saw which oysters are best on the market, which have the best reputation, and which people preferred. It wasn’t only the fashionable brands, but also really good products that the expert palates recognised.” Reflecting on how the Princesses de Kermancy oysters compared to the other brands, Berger added: “In my opinion, this is a really great product, especially


The Princesses de Kermancy oysters are the most complete variety: not too big, not to strong but still with a lot of flavour. I strongly believe that it's a good product, which has a place on a good table Francois-Xavier Simon, Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire March 2017 Catering NEWS ME



They had more character, and were more saline and more rustic in shape and taste than the other ones I tried. From my point of view, [Princesses de Kermancy] oysters are a great new addition to the limited offer available on the market Sacha Daniel, group operations director, Solutions Leisure given that the producer is not much further than 10km from my home town in a place that I used to go to often when I was young, for fishing and collecting shellfish on the beach. I can easily say that Princesses de Kermancy is one of the best oyster brands on the market.” Sylvain Noel of El Chiringuito agreed that the event was an excellent platform for exchanging ideas and thoughts on the seafood market. “I found the oyster tasting well organised, fun and a learning experience. As chefs, we rarely compare the products side by side all at once and we should do it more often. I’m using Princesses de Kermancy oysters in my restaurant as they really conform to my taste.” Sacha Daniel, group operations direc28

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

tor at Solutions Leisure added: “The tasting was a very different event. I’m used to doing blind wine tasting but this was the first one with oysters. It really enlightened me and was a great, educational gettogether. Being able to compare oysters from different parts of France was an eyeopener and really helped me understand oyster characteristics from different parts of the country.” Referring to the Princesses de Kermancy oysters, Daniel said: “They had more character, and were more saline and more rustic in shape and taste than the other ones tried. From my point of view, these oysters are a great new addition to the limited offer available on the market.” And while the Princesses de Kermancy

oysters were the favourite of the tasting panel, Pugnet explains that there is no objective right or wrong answer. “We’re delighted our panel preferred Princesses de Kermancy but that’s just a question of taste,” says Pugnet. “What these results confirm is that Princesses de Kermancy are the premium products we know them to be and there is indeed room in the UAE for them.” The tasting was conducted alongside a roundtable debate, which focused on the opportunities and challenges associated with the seafood market in the UAE, particularly with regards to oyster varieties, provenance, and consumer education. The full conversation is presented on pp29-31.


The Panelists

Sacha Daniel, group operations director, Solutions Leisure

Sang Lee, group executive chef, Solutions Leisure

What is your opinion of the oysters available in the Middle East? Sylvain Noel: As a consumer, it’s always the same thing that I find everywhere. It is Fine de Claire, Gillardeau, Belon. It is boring – I think there needs to be more variety. Sacha Daniel: At The Atlantic we tried to get some new stuff in, but we have the same selection as it is a very saturated, exclusive market. We tried to bring some Pacific oysters and when they are in season, we will try to import Oyster Meister. I’d like more diversity, more affordability. François-Xavier Simon: I think we could bring a lot of diversity but people would not take it because they tend to choose what they already know. We cannot bring something that is not going to sell. We need to educate people on the different types of oysters and then they will start going for them, but it will take time. Sacha: We are in Dubai and it’s a desert and I think people worry. In France, fresh fish arrives every day, so you can always have amazing fresh oysters from the coast. In Dubai people see that the hotel gets imports

François-Xavier Simon, chef de cuisine, Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire

so they don’t know if it is fresh or not. We sell a lot of oysters when they are cooked but not many people go for the raw ones. François-Xavier: I use Gillardeau and Tsarskaya and we sell a lot during the festive season but I don’t put them on the menu that much during the year. Giovanni Paolo Pintore: If you put it on as a special I think people have the impression it’s fresher but if you put it on the menu it looks like an everyday thing so they don’t go for it. Dubai is a big platform so you can bring a lot of variety but people don’t because maybe they’re not sure if they’re able to sell. Sylvain: In terms of freshness, we have no issue with that, I mean we can get fresh fish twice every week. But still it will not be as fresh as in Europe where you can get fresh arrivals every day. We bring in special fish that isn’t on the menu as a fish of the day. When people become clients, they trust that whatever you bring is fresh, so next time you can just tell them that you will be bringing some special fish and they will want to try it.

Giovanni Paolo Pintore, head chef, Frankie’s Dubai

Sylvain Noel, executive chef, El Chiringuito

As chefs and as consumers what sort of oysters do you prefer? Sylvain: With food, you can’t really say what is good and what is bad. Some people like a milky oyster and some people may like a clean oyster. Personally, I don’t like the milky ones but it is really a personal taste. Sacha: I like them a bit milky, not too meaty but crunchy and the ones that look fresher. There should be enough salt at the end, the feeling of the sea indicates the freshness of the oyster. Sang Lee: I prefer small pieces of oysters; the bigger ones are too meaty for my taste. The small ones have that sea water taste that I like. Is price-point a barrier to growing the oyster market in the Middle East? Sylvain: Their price is high mainly because of the transport costs. They have to go from Brittany to Paris, and from Paris to Dubai and then after that you have the margins the middle men take, then we have our own margins of profit. This is why at the March 2017 Catering NEWS ME



end you have a much higher price than the actual price where it comes from. Sacha: When we did the engineering of the menu for The Atlantic, on purpose we wanted to serve a lot of oysters in seafood platters so we had to drop the margin to be able to sell more. We made less margin but made up for this in the other dishes. We do AED 89 for three pieces and we serve Gillardeau for double that price for three pieces. There are oysters for every pocket and we give people a choice. Sylvain: I wanted to do it in the USA but I couldn’t because I didn’t have enough demand and if you bring four different kinds of oysters you will have four times more wastage, but it’s nice to have variety as people can see the difference. You just have to educate people about the different kinds of oysters first. François-Xavier: We don’t have any single dish that has only oysters and when it’s on the menu you can’t really see the price difference. Giovanni: We are a bit special as we don’t have a menu and people take whatever they want and based on that, we price them. Sacha: People that don’t work in F&B think that oysters take weeks at sea to arrive and are all frozen. They don’t know that we don’t import oysters in boats but in planes, which explains why they are expensive. Sylvain: If there is only one restaurant importing a special type of fish, that fish is going to be so expensive and the consumer will not be able to buy it. That is how the market works; the more a product is being used, the lower its price. If you get something that nobody else has, the price is going to be so expensive. How can chefs educate customers to increase demand for different varieties of oysters? Sacha: If someone wants to try oysters for the first time, they need some guidance. Maybe they could go for a fresh little cheap oyster first and then they could go 30

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

François-Xavier Simon

Giovanni Paolo Pintore

Sylvain Noel

Sang Lee

up the ladder later – it’s about offering choice. You just need to offer great quality, be honest, and don’t try to abuse your guests, just guide them. Sylvain: People in Dubai are so much more knowledgeable about oysters because they have so much choice so they know the difference in quality and price. If you don’t have high quality products or if you have really expensive prices then people here will immediately realise that. Sacha: There is a lot of competition in Dubai, it is not like it was six or seven years ago when people came here for a short while and then went back to their home countries. Now people come here and stay for years, so they are more aware of pricing and the market. How has the UAE’s seafood market evolved as a whole? Sylvain: Things are getting a little bit get-

ting better in both Dubai and Sharjah’s local markets but you have to go early in the morning. I have seen some good products when it comes to shrimps, calamari, and other local fish but otherwise, I think Dubai is really well connected and it’s easy for us to get fresh fish from all over Europe really quickly. Giovanni: With globalisation, I think you can find anything all over the world, especially those big markets like France, which receives merchandise and distributes it all over the world. Sang Lee: You can get fresh fish in Dubai twice a week but if you want a special type of fish like for example from Japan, then the company is going to ask what is the consumption for that fish in Dubai. If the consumption is not high enough, the company will simply not bring it – they can’t bring something that does not sell. But in the US it is different, you can



get whatever you want as the consumption is much higher so everything is going to sell. Do you use local produce? Giovanni: I had a bad experience in the local market, I did not like how they were treating the fish. They weren’t using any ice and the fish were being stored outside in really bad conditions. However, I think if you get to know the local market properly and find some good fishermen you can deal with, then it would be fine. Sylvain: For me it was surprising. When you go to downtown, you see a beautiful and luxurious Dubai but when you go to the local market, you may compare it to France in the 1960s – it’s in bad condition. You have to be careful what you buy and at what time you buy it, especially during summer. Sacha: It is much cheaper to buy from the local market but the problem is always with quality. At The Atlantic, we try to serve a really high quality of fresh fish so we cannot really compromise on quality. François-Xavier: Maybe if the local market was properly organised you would find more chefs going there. All the fishermen say that the fish has just arrived but if you are not sure, you cannot take a chance for your customer because if someone gets sick, you are responsible and you need to have traceability. Has consumer demand in the Middle East changed in terms of fish and seafood? Sacha: There are some fish such as the salt water eel that were not sold at all but as people get to know about them, they’ve become top-sellers. If you want to have a great product on your menu you have to compromise to balance the margins otherwise it becomes so expensive for the consumer. Sang Lee: We get the eels sometimes from Japan and sometimes from Korea. Sylvain: The mass shrimp market is tiger shrimp from Vietnam but if you want to bring some red prawns from Italy, right away it’s crazy prices. It’s hard sometimes to show something different. Sacha: People eat whelks at brunch. On the seafood menu at The Atlantic in Melbourne they don’t have them but I said guys, I want sea snails on there because I’m French. For me it’s more reflective of what a seafood platter should be. Sylvain: My best-seller is sea bass so I need to make sure that it is top quality; usually we get it from Greece. We also bring turbot and John Dory from France, usually Brittany, but I bring only four to five pieces a week because I know that I may only sell four as only a few people know about these types. Sacha: People like to stay in their comfort zone and go for what they know. That’s why in most restaurants you find sea bass and salmon because these are the products that sell.

Alexandre Pugnet, QUINTESSENCE Why did you set up QUINTESSENCE? QUINTESSENCE represents a three-generation family business savoir-faire from Brittany, a passion for great quality seafood, caught, produced and farmed with true respect for nature and seasonality. Our idea for setting up QUINTESSENCE was to bring our exquisite products with their history, heritage and aquaculture traditions and work with inspired and creative chefs in the Middle East region. What products does QUINTESSENCE offer? QUINTESSENCE currently offers the finest seafood from Brittany in France. This includes a full range of crustaceans from the famous blue lobster to the velvet crab, including the underestimated edible brown crab, as well as classic shellfish like carpet shells, cockles and European clams, and some more exotic items for the Gulf region, like abalones, goose-neck barnacles or tellins. We also have our two ranges of oysters: Princesses de Kermancy, high-end cupped and belon, and La Kermancy, our entry level cupped range, named after the place where my family is established. We will also introduce the full range of fish from the Atlantic. What makes your products unique? We control the full cycle of fishing, production and farming. Let’s start with the oysters: we collect larvae naturally in our parks in Charente, and we have our own hatchery and nursery in Vendée to grow the larvae into spats. We sell 90% of our spats production to other farmers in France and abroad. We keep 10% for Princesses de Kermancy and La Kermancy and we sow them in deep sea water in Bay of Quiberon. It represents three years of hard work from larvae to the final product in your plate. We also have our own parks for the other shellfish and traps for the crustaceans. Contact T: +97155 824 9961 E:

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


C ov er Story

As Taste of Dubai celebrates its 10th year, Catering News examines the importance of food festivals for positioning the Middle East on the global F&B scene


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

C over Story


ince Gordon Ramsay burst onto the Dubai restaurant scene in 2001 with the opening of Verre at Hilton Dubai Creek, the UAE has been steadily building its profile as a culinary hotspot, and today boasts its fair share of Michelin-starred chefs, some of whom – such as Gary Rhodes – have even made Dubai their home. And 2017 is a milestone year for the country’s growth as a foodie hub, being the 10th anniversary of Taste of Dubai, a three-day festival celebrating some of the emirate’s most popular restaurants. Since it was established in 2007, Taste of Dubai has gone from showcasing 10 restaurants and attracting 10,000 visitors, to 24 restaurants reeling in 30,000 visitors. Explaining this growth, Chris Fountain, managing director of Turret Media, the organisers of Taste of Dubai told Catering News that Taste is simply a showcase of the rapid development of the emirate’s F&B scene. “It’s getting bigger every year but the main change is the restaurants and chefs being presented. “We remark each year on how eclectic and fast-paced Dubai is, and we know the amount of development that takes place. Taste is a reflection of what is happening at a certain point in time within the F&B sector in the city, and I think that’s one of the key attractions for visitors.” Another draw is the line-up of A-list chef names Taste of Dubai attracts to the market each year, with this year’s line-up including Michel Roux Jr, Luke Thomas and Eric Lanlard, among others. “Dubai has become a destination for leading chefs around the world,” explains Fountain. “If you look at Nathan Outlaw who was a chef at Taste of Dubai, he is now running a restaurant in Burj Al Arab, which makes the landscape even more exciting and appealing.” Following several successful editions of Taste of Dubai, the government launched Dubai Food Festival in 2014, with Taste now dovetailing into the last weekend of this. Saeed Mohammad Measam Al Falasi, executive director, retail and strategic alliances, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) explains: “Over the past 18 years we were focused on the shopping festival – the retail sector rather than the food sector. However, we realised how diverse the city is with over 200 nationalities, so

there’s a lot of diversity in the food sector we can celebrate. Food and beverage has become one of the most interesting sectors of retail in Dubai and studies have shown it could reach $13 billion by 2018.” Last year Dubai Food Festival welcomed 40,000 visitors and DFRE expects to see a further 5% growth at this year’s event. “It has grown dramatically and has put the name of Dubai out there, making Dubai Food Festival one of the most important festivals of the year,” adds Al Falasi. In addition, the Etisalat Beach Canteen – one of the key attractions of Dubai Food Festival – has grown three-fold since its inception in 2013 when it had just 12 outlets, and as a result it has moved location to Sunset Beach for this year’s edition. “I’m blown away by the number of participants this year,” comments Al Falasi. “We now have more offers in terms of F&B, a lot of food trucks, a dedicated family area for entertainment – so definitely it will be one of those not-to-be-missed attractions.” As well as reflecting the existing F&B scene, food festivals can serve to highlight opportunities and shape trends. For example, according to Al Falasi, the Etisalat Beach Canteen has propelled the growth of food trucks in the UAE. “When the Beach Canteen started, it paved the way in terms of regulations for food trucks and that’s one of the reasons the trend has grown since then.” And testament to this growth, another foodie festival – Eat the World DXB – was introduced last year to provide a platform for local and international food trucks and restaurants to showcase their offers. Explaining the objective of the event, the organisers commented: “It’s a weekendlong celebration of the best street food from all over the world. Not only do we have local food trucks serving up delicious fare but we’re shipping over trucks, traders and hawkers from the US, UK and Singapore too. The idea is to showcase all different types of street food while creating a public experiential event with chef demos and workshops that the public can get involved in.” Dan Shearman from British food truck, The Roadery made an appearance at Eat the World DXB this year showcasing the Dubai-inspired ‘BURG-Khalifa’ burger, which comprises four layers of Wagyu beef

Food festivals are a great opportunity for venues to showcase their personality to guests and put a face to a name, allowing us to educate them on our offerings and unique selling points and answer any questions they have” Paolo Bellamio, executive chef, Pierchic Dubai

We remark each year on how eclectic and fastpaced Dubai is, and we know the amount of development that takes place. Taste is a reflection of what is happening at a certain point in time within the F&B sector in the city, and I think that’s one of the key attractions for visitors” Chris Fountain, managing director, Turret Media March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


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Dubai Food Festival has really positioned the city and it is getting global attention as more Michelinstarred chefs open restaurants here. We’ve found that people travel to try different food and experiences and we want to use Dubai Food Festival as a platform to encourage that”

Taste of Dubai’s Chef’s Theatre The Etisalat Beach Canteen has moved to Sunset Beach this year

Saeed Mohammad Measam Al Falasi, executive director, retail and strategic alliances, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE)

I’d never been to the UAE before and wanted to check it out. This festival allows us to see another market and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. It gives us a chance to see if we can expand into other markets” Eric Silverstein, The Peached Tortilla 34

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patty, ethical duck fois, saffron mayo, truffle cheese and a 24ct gold bun for AED 230. Having last visited the region two years ago, he was excited to see the growth of the food truck scene this year. “On our first visit to the UAE two years ago, the food truck scene was very small. Eat the World DXB has been a catalyst in starting a real trend in local food trucks, which is great to see. We’re very excited to see this develop to the level it has back in London as the years progress,” he stated. Another international player who attended Eat the World DXB reveals that the festival provided an excellent opportunity to scope out opportunities in the UAE market and test the water with their brand. Eric Silverstein from San Francisco-based The Peached Tortilla, commented: “I felt

this was an incredible opportunity to get our food out to the people of Dubai. “At the end of the day, the more exposure our product and brand can get around the world can only lead to good things. I’d never been to the UAE before and wanted to check it out. This festival allows us to see another market and figure out what works and what doesn’t work; it gives us a chance to see if we can expand into other markets.” In addition to providing excellent opportunities for international brands, food festivals are important for highlighting local brands and raising awareness of a country’s food heritage. This year marks the second edition of Dubai Food Festival’s Hidden Gems initiative, which helps to showcase local brands and Emirati restaurants via

C over Story

Eric Lanlard Taste of Dubai turns 10 this year Hawker food from Singapore was on show at Eat the World DXB

Ahmed Hassan, Wingsters

a competition whereby the general public vote for their favourite ‘hidden gems’ on the Dubai Food Festival website. “It’s not just about the five-star dining experience; there are a lot of family-owned and smaller restaurants popping up around the city that really provide a niche experience, whether Emirati or Egyptian,” comments Al Falasi. “This year we are putting even more focus on [Hidden Gems] and we’re hoping the initiative will grow. I think having initiatives like this is what’s really going to help put focus on local restaurants.” Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Flavors Festival has been specifically created to showcase local and Emirati restaurant brands. Majid El Hamamy, general manager of Line Rise Exhibitions, which organises Flavors Festival comments: “We aim to bring much-

needed exposure to the UAE homegrown F&B scene and contribute toward the successful establishment of unique food concepts in the UAE. “Homegrown brands face tough competition on the market, competing with well-known, international, and fine-dining brands, food concepts and fast-food chains. Over the past few years we’ve seen a number of food events in the UAE, but few of them are dedicated to providing a platform to the homegrown set-ups to create awareness of their brands and build their profiles. “Flavors Festival is an opportunity for local F&B businesses to further their visibility and exposure in front of a captive audience in a fun, entertaining and engaging way,” El Hamamy adds. Emirati restaurant, Seven Sands, is par-

Teejay Asciak, Cheeky Italian

Michel Roux Jr. March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


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ticipating at Dubai Food Festival’s Beach Canteen this year and executive chef Bassel Ibrahim expects it to offer an opportunity to raise awareness of Emirati cuisine and profile local homegrown brands. “Our aim is to bring Emirati cuisine to visitors and residents of the UAE. The cuisine has traditionally been limited to Emirati households where recipes have been handed down from one generation to the next. Dubai Food Festival gives us the opportunity to bring Emirati food to a wider and very dynamic audience,” he comments. “Dubai Food Festival is a fantastic local initiative that not only promotes popular international brands, but also gives local brands a chance to demonstrate innovative and exciting food options to residents in a welcoming, social setting.” Eat the World DXB exhibitor Ahmed Hassan of Wingsters added: “We were keen to promote our homegrown brand and unique flavours among the international vendors.” It’s easy to see why consumer love food festivals – they can meet their favourite chefs and can enjoy a one-stop-shop visit to the top F&B concepts in the city. However, food festivals are arguably even more appealing for chefs, who get the chance to engage directly with customers – something they often miss out on when busy in the kitchen. Pierchic executive chef Paolo Bellamio, who is taking part in DFF’s Beach Canteen for the first time, is looking forward to having the opportunity to speak to a large volume of customers directly. He comments: “Food festivals are a great opportunity for venues to showcase their personality to guests and put a face to a name, allowing us to educate them on our offerings and unique selling points and answer any questions they have.” Bharat Talwar, head chef of Downtown Toko – who is also taking part in the Beach Canteen – agrees that direct customer engagement is a key benefit. “It’s rare to be able to engage with guests directly and I find this very valuable. It allows me to gauge market opinion and it sparks new ideas.” Bellamio also thinks that food festivals can make high-end brands such as Pierchic, more accessible. “It happens often that people read about a restaurant on paper or on a screen, but food festivals give us a shot at taking the personal approach and 36

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Dan Shearman, The Roadery

Taste of Dubai in numbers

9 160,000 In






different dishes served


celebrity chef appearances

introducing the concept to people who may not usually be our target,” he adds. Meanwhile, for smaller businesses, the main benefit of food festivals is plain and simple: exposure. “Being a small, independent business, it’s very important for us to be involved in the right events and have support from other local businesses,” says Teejay Asciak of Cheeky Italian, which participated at Eat the World DXB in 2017. From a tourism perspective, Dubai’s growing food festival scene is providing an important platform for positioning the emirate’s offer according to Al Falasi. “Dubai has raised the bar when it comes to dining experiences; we’ve really opened people’s eyes in terms of what’s available in this city. “Dubai Food Festival has really positioned the city and it is getting global attention as more Michelin-starred chefs open restaurants here. We’ve found that people travel to try different food and experiences and we want to use Dubai Food Festival as a platform to encourage that.” However, a key question is whether the buzz around the UAE’s food scene can persist beyond festival season, which runs throughout the spring. Al Falasi comments: “I think we really need to support the F&B sector in the city and bring to life what Dubai has to offer. We need to use the food festival to drive and promote Dubai further. “The voice of food won’t quieten down at the end of the festival. When we’re talking about tourism, we’ll talk about food as an important highlight of the city and we need to keep talking about those restaurants throughout the year, not just during the festival season.”

25-27 April 2017 Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

Catalysts of Change Over 80 speakers already confirmed!

Discover which critical industry topics will be tackled by a powerhouse line-up. Visit today!

Chris Nasetta President and CEO Hilton Worldwide

O r g a n i s e d by

SĂŠbastien Bazin Chairman and CEO AccorHotels

P l at i n u m s P O n s O r s

Olivier Harnisch Chief Executive Officer Emaar Hospitality Group LLC

T he Business

Shake it up In just three years Danielle Sallam has gone from making salads in her kitchen to creating a franchise model to export internationally. She unveils how an unconventional app-based delivery system, strong customer service and a lot of hard work have been key to the success of The Salad Jar


anielle Sallam, from Canada, was a fitness instructor before she decided to turn her trademark quinoa salad into a business. “I had this quinoa salad that I made a lot and we eat super healthily at home so it came naturally to me,” Sallam tells Catering News during an interview at the outlet in Dubai’s Al Quoz. Sallam’s friend from Vancouver suggested over the phone one night that she put the signature salad in a jar and give 38

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it to her husband to take to work, and when he came home with three orders from his colleagues and a stack of jars, the rest was history. However, the early days were challenging, with Sallam single-handedly buying, washing, chopping and preparing the ingredients, constructing the salads and hand delivering them, while juggling family responsibilities. She comments: “I was buying ingredients by going to the fruit and vegetable

market. Within the first two weeks, I sourced out a vendor that I liked there and created a relationship with them. Every two days, I would send them the order and they would have it ready for me so I didn’t have to go to the market by myself to get the ingredients. “Once I got them, they needed a lot of cleaning, chopping, and cooking. I was cooking couscous, beans, sweet potatoes, etc. – the kitchen was full. By the time I’d finished the prepping, I’d have to pick

The Business

up the kids and after that there was family time. When the kids would go to bed, I would make the salads that were ordered, then I’d get up early the next day and deliver all of them.” It was January 2014 when Sallam started out making salads from home, and by May of the same year she had moved into a commercial space in Al Quoz with a kitchen manager, a salad creator and a driver. At that point, the team was creating around 25 salads per day.

In addition to the challenges with getting approvals for the space and securing the trade license, starting a business during the slow summer months and Ramadan wasn’t easy, however it did allow the team some time for trial and error before peak season hit in the autumn. “The summer gave us an opportunity to grow at a pace we were comfortable with so that when everyone came back in September we were ready. When September came, we started to get really busy

and I think we were up to 80 or 90.” Choosing to operate deliveries using an app-based system was another aspect of Sallam’s careful strategy to ensure that the small business could operate efficiently and ramp up at a manageable pace. “We’re not a call-on-demand company,” says Sallam. “We are an app-based company where you pick your time-slot. We had to do it that way to get the most out of our drivers.” Each driver is assigned a particular area and in a 1.5-hour time slot in which around eight to 10 stops can be made – the equivalent of eight to 20 salads, since most orders are for more than one salad. By December, more staff had joined the team and there was a total of four drivers and three kitchen staff. While Sallam was busy doing everything front-of-house and looking after logistics, Lorenzo the kitchen manager was dealing with the vendors, most of whom had been chosen by Sallam during the research phase. “I used to live on JBR,” she explains. “I would walk my baby at 5am and would watch deliveries being made and see which ones I thought were delivering properly. I hand-picked who I wanted to work with and went on tours of their spaces because I wanted to see where the produce was coming from and how it got there. When I met Lorenzo, I said ‘these are the vendors I want to work with – make it happen’.” Driving loyalty is key to the business model and Sallam prides herself in maintaining an affordable price point while offering various loyalty incentives. The March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


T he Business

How to make a Salad Jar

… and shake it up! 40

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app features a loyalty programme so that every 10th salad is complimentary, and Sallam works with 16 or 17 schools around Dubai to offer teachers a 15% discount. Explaining why, she says: “First of all, I’m a mum and I just want to make it affordable for people to eat healthily; it doesn’t have to be some premium meal, it’s just vegetables. I was very settled on the price from the beginning.” And creating a loyal and returning customer base starts with offering excellent customer service according to Sallam, who grew up in a customer-service based industry. “I worked in hospitality for 12 years before I moved to Dubai; I managed restaurants and I knew that customer service is number one. The Salad Jar was about first having a great quality product and secondly, the customer service must always be there, and with that you get people to become loyal to you,” she says. While word-of-mouth has been an important factor in raising awareness of The Salad Jar, Sallam is switched on when it comes to marketing, and has a social media manager looking after her accounts. She also makes appearances at The Ripe Market to allow potential customers to taste her products. “[The Ripe Market] has done great things for us,” she says. “The customers get to taste the product and once they do they love it and that’s it – they start ordering.” However, as demand increases – The Salad Jar is currently providing more than 300 salads weekly and this number is growing – it is becoming more challenging to consistently meet the requested delivery time-slots. And while Sallam would like to add drivers to the team, she admits that managing visas is a further barrier. “We are trying to add drivers as fast as we can, but it’s hard because of the visas. If I hire someone in January and then another in February, the January employees are still in the system so I can’t submit the new employee’s papers until the first ones are through.” With the aim of maintaining efficiency as demand grows, Sallam is looking to tighten up processes with the current team of

The Business

drivers and will provide each of them with smartphones to ensure they can be tracked. “Sometimes drivers will leave a salad at reception and the customer won’t know it’s there,” she comments. “That’s something we want to improve so our drivers will get smartphones as we need to be able to communicate with them on the phone and we’ll have a note of where the salad is when it’s delivered.” In addition, the app will continue to be updated to meet and exceed client expectations and one plan is to introduce a pre-ordering calendar for scheduling deliveries for the week ahead. Sallam also continues to work on new menu items and may introduce breakfast options and drinks this year. “I see The Salad Jar as a lifestyle, so we want to incorporate things for our customers to make it possible for them just to come to The Salad Jar and get breakfast, lunch and something to drink.” And as the company grows, Sallam is confident that by the end of 2017, the team will have moved to a larger facility in Dubai. This year will also see the first international expansion of the brand through franchise deals. “Obviously, we didn’t’ want to franchise in our first year as we were building the brand,” says Sallam, revealing that she has been receiving franchise requests since the start. “Now we feel that we can do this and we’ve been approached by franching companies. We’re in the process of building a franchise model, so definitely 2017 is going to see a salad jar franchise and some expansions.” Keen not to make the mistake of opening too many outlets at a time, Sallam says she’s “not in a hurry” and “would rather build it up smartly”, however she does look forward to taking the next step and has plans for The Salad Jar to open in other GCC markets and in North America. “The Salad Jar is about the brand and the quality so it won’t be franchised just like that. However, I do see myself travelling around and opening outlets with the right partners,” she comments.

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Beach Life One year on from the opening of Nikki Beach Dubai’s beach club component, the hotel is ramping up its F&B offer and preparing to open signature restaurant Key West under the watchful eye of chef Brendan McGowan


ombining 16 years working with luxury hotel groups in the Middle East – including Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Jumeirah Group and Ritz Carlton – five years in San Francisco and most recently two years on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, it’s not hard to see why chef Brendan McGowan is the perfect fit for the Middle East’s first property from the Miami-based beach club brand, Nikki Beach. Originally established in Miami in 1998, Nikki Beach today has beach clubs in 12 luxury locations throughout the world, from St. Tropez, to Ibiza, Bali and Monte Carlo, with the Dubai venue one of the few locations containing a hotel component. Explaining what attracted him to the brand, Irish-born McGowan says: “It still has the feel of a family-run operation despite its global success. The founder, Jack Penrod is a visionary; one of his modus operandi is ‘why won’t we or why can’t we?’ “It’s everything from the design to the philosophy of the company itself. The successful companies all have solid philosophies but often they can be very starchy and don’t encourage people to be themselves; they train people to be robots. “Our pillars are art, music, fashion, entertainment and dining; respecting each other and being humble. It wasn’t just a bunch of suits that came up with these buzzwords; they came from the heart of

Jack Penrod and not many companies still have that,” he adds. McGowan came on board in June 2015 to assist with the opening of Nikki Beach Dubai’s beach club component, which launched in February 2016. One year on, and the chef is now fine tuning the hotel’s F&B offer, starting with Café Nikki, the 200-pax all-day dining restaurant, which has been designed as an urban dining bistro with a mural created by a Lebanese artist and a menu focused on organic produce. Using fresh, organic produce is something McGowan first became interested in during his tenure in San Francisco in the ‘90s when there was a boom of small, organic farms supplying artisan products. Meanwhile, in St. Lucia, the local produce was excellent but anything imported from the US took days to reach the island and was no longer fresh on arrival, so McGowan became used to using as much local produce as possible. In Dubai where most items are imported, and sourcing quality local ingredients is a challenge, he admits he had his work cut out. “Consistency of produce from the vendors [was a challenge]. We had good support from the vendors, but realistically, even though Dubai is a major hub, it can be a challenge. With café Nikki, we’ve got an agreement with Greenheart Organic Farm. Café Nikki isn’t an organic venue but we’ll utilise as much organic as possible.”

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


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With café Nikki, we’ve got an agreement with Greenheart Organic Farm. Café Nikki isn’t an organic venue but we’ll utilise as much organic as possible He is also keen to use seasonal ingredients, and will change the menu regularly to fit with what is on offer from Greenheart. “We’ll mention the elements on a plate but we’re not going to give the specifics. For example, it would be greens, a type of pulse, a root vegetable, but depending on the seasons we’ll change it,” he adds. A milestone in the development of the hotel’s F&B offer was the launch of two brunches last month: Café Nikki’s Saint Tropez Friday brunch and the Amazing Sundays Brunch, which was first launched at the Miami Beach property. “Everyone was saying that Sundays in Dubai aren’t like Sundays, but [Jack Penrod] said it’s still a great tourist destination,” explains McGowan. And if brunch on Friday and Sunday isn’t enough, a Saturday brunch will be introduced with the opening of the hotel’s Floridian/ Latino/ Caribbean venue, Key West in the coming weeks. McGowan has hired chef Olivier, who he knew from St. Lucia, and another chef from Chile to help develop the menu for the outlet. “For the Caribbean and Latino elements, we have authentic chefs. I’d rather have Latino and Caribbean cooks in the kitchen; you want them to cook from the heart. If it’s dishes their grandmother used to cook or street food, then they’re not going to deviate from that too much. If it’s from a book, sometimes there won’t be a lot of love in it.” With the Nikkei trend becoming more popular globally, and in Dubai, McGowan is also keen to fuse Asian elements with the Latin and Caribbean tastes and has chef Olivier working closely with the master sushi 44

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The terrace of Café Nikki overlooks the beach and pool

Key West, the resort’s Latin/ Floridian/ Carribean restaurant

Café Nikki

chef to create some interesting dishes. “If you were to take staple dishes from a St. Lucian table and have them morphed with Japanese presentation, that’s what Olivier is working on just now. A lot of it is a hit, some of it’s a miss, but it’s good having two chefs working together from opposite perspectives.”

Adding to the authenticity of the offer at Key West, McGowan has arranged to have St. Lucian chocolates imported from a vendor he met on the island. “He wanted to sell me his cocoa sticks; they were nice and authentic. I made a commitment to him that if I were to leave the island I’d take

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The beach club has been up and running for a year them, so Olivier brought them with him and one of the signature desserts will be a chocolate tasting experience with St. Lucian chocolates.” Once Key West is up and running, the next opportunity could lie with the resort’s 450m stretch of beach and already the ho-

tel has received a number of requests for events, banquets and celebrations. “A lot of the requests we get are for the beach, so we’re looking at several events we could have throughout the year that would utilise this space, because there are very few beaches left in Dubai like this; it’s quite unspoilt.”

From 20 to 2,000 meals a day.

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For the time being, chef McGowan has his hands full as his next chapter in the Middle East unfolds. He looks forward to word-of-mouth getting out about Café Nikki and Key West, and hopes the venues will put Pearl Jumeirah and Nikki Beach Dubai on the emirate’s culinary map.

Out of this world

Out of this world

British Chefs from the Middle East's British restaurants reveal the top trends and the ingredients most challenging to source

How popular is British food in the Middle East? Ryan Waddell: The popularity has been increasing steadily in the Middle East. When I came to Dubai in August 2013, there were not many good quality British venues. The only two that really stood out were The Ivy and Rivington Grill. Over the last year or two that has changed dramatically across the casual and fine dining sectors. In the last year, we have seen some of the top UK chefs return to Dubai, with Gordon Ramsay, Jason Atherton, Nathan Outlaw and Tom kitchen opening outlets. Luke Thomas: Since launching Retro Feasts in Dubai, I have found it very interesting to see the traction British cuisine has gained on the market – there are a number of British-inspired concepts in the Middle East now. Retro Feasts is about bringing the best of British with a touch of classic American inspiration from 1950s-style diners. Paul Hage: There is a significant population of British expats, with around 250,000 living in Dubai at the end of 2015. There


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

are now around one million visitors coming to Dubai per year from the UK and there are around 160 F&B outlets serving British food. Elie Lteif: British food is very popular in the Middle East, due to the large expat population. One of the great things about British cuisine is that it is universal and everyone enjoys it. Gary Rhodes: British food has made a statement in Dubai, but perhaps not so much within the Middle East as a whole. This creates a challenge for me, but it’s one that I enjoy as it gives me and my team the opportunity to show off how good the classic British dishes are, many of which I try to add fresh life and identity to without losing the concept of each particular dish. How have you adapted British food to suit local tastes? Ryan: I haven’t really. Our dishes are as classic as them come, although our guests do tend to be the expat community and we see very few Emiratis come through our doors.

Out of this world

Ryan Waddell, head chef, Reform Social & Grill

Retro Feasts, The Beach, JBR

The C he f s

Reform Social & Grill, The Lakes Club, Dubai

Luke Thomas, head chef, Retro Feasts

Paul Hage, director of culinary, Al Habtoor Group

Luke: The big thing for me was bringing heavy, indulgent food to the beach. It was a case of balancing these dishes with some healthier and lighter options to ensure we tick all of the boxes. Paul: There are British dishes that are old school and have been traditionally prepared throughout the generations, such as toad in the hole, shepherd’s pie, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, rice pudding and sponge pudding with custard to name a few. We love to apply these old recipes for Dubai’s British expats and to those looking to sample British food. We take passion and pride in showcasing fresh-

ly prepared, simple food for everyone to enjoy – regardless of nationality – to reflect the true spirit of British cooking. Elie: The Red Lion is a traditional English pub, with an emphasis on British food and beverages. We have tried to keep the British dishes as authentic as possible, although some of them do have a touch of local ingredients. For example, we serve olives stuffed with shanklish, a Middle Eastern cheese. Gary: Sadly, British food doesn't seem to draw a big local audience, however, when cooking at Rhodes 44 in Abu Dhabi, we had many locals tucking into British classics, followed by an applause.

Elie Lteif, executive chef, The Red Lion, Metropolitan Hotel Dubai

Gary Rhodes OBE, chef-patron, Rhodes W1, Rhodes Twenty10 & Theatre by Rhodes, Dubai

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


The focus is to continue driving traceable and sustainable food. While this has been an important practice for many British restaurants in the UK for years, where farm-to-fork restaurants are in every town and city, it is also becoming an increasingly important factor globally as the supply chain expands and improves. - Ryan Waddell What are the key trends emerging in British food globally and in the Middle East? Ryan: The focus is to continue driving traceable and sustainable food. While this has been an important practice for many British restaurants in the UK for years, where farm-to-fork restaurants are in every town and city, it is also becoming an increasingly important factor globally as the supply chain expands and improves. Luke: People want variety, new flavours, new cuisines and more and more punters are keen to explore new dishes. New cuisines such as Korean have taken off and have become global food trends so it’s my job to incorporate what we love about that into some of our British-inspired dishes. Paul: I am influenced by British celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver and I believe the current trends are fresh, natural ingredients, unprocessed foods, locally-sourced foods, and small, independent cottage industry suppliers, including dairy farms, cheese producers, and meat and poultry farmers providing slaughter services, fruit groves and vegetable fields. Elie: We have noticed that people are looking for value for money and are keen not to spend a fortune on good food. We have focused on giving our guests the best value for money by serving great food at good prices. 48

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The recently-opened Rose & Crown at Dubai’s Al Habtoor City

Gary: The trend in most cuisines, whether it be British, French, Italian or any other, is trying to be different and almost wild in presentation. Some chefs seem to want to become scientists as well as chefs. I tell my team that most dishes today are born from yesterday's classics. I just wish the true identity of these dishes could be maintained rather than being toyed with. What British products and ingredients do you find challenging to source? Ryan: I miss good British dry-aged beef. I used to use a supplier called Lake District Farmers in London and all of their beef was

either Longhorn or Belted Galloway and sourced directly from the farms. They provided amazing products – well marbled and full of flavour. We really are limited with good quality British products in Dubai. Luke: Lots really. Dubai can have its challenges for sure, but we work closely with all our suppliers to ensure we source the best of what’s available, meaning lots of our produce doesn’t come from the UK. Paul: The most difficult items to source in my opinion are black pudding and white pudding. Elie: Luckily, we have not had any issues with sourcing British products: all of our menus are based on the best seasonal in-

Reform Social & Grill’s braised lamb shank with roasted root vegetables

Rose & Crown’s steak and ale pie served with chips and garden peas

Retro Feasts’ Retro Burger: Angus beef patty, cheddar cheese, salad, pickles and special sauce with fries

gredients available. Adapting our menus by season also allows us to source the best products. Gary: There are quite a few British ingredients that are hard to source, but the one in particular that I seem to miss each year is British asparagus. As we know it holds a short two-month season between May and June and with ordering systems controlled by company policies, you often find the season is over before orders have been accepted. What’s your hero dish? Ryan: Braised lamb shank has to be one

The Red Lion’s Saturday roast

of my all-time favourite dishes and is hugely popular at Reform, even in the summer months. Luke: My hero dish is the Retro Burger, a dirty yet delicious Angus beef patty cooked on a high heat flat top grill to get a lovely caramelised layer on all sides. It is topped with American cheese, pickles and red onion and presented in a brioche bun brushed with clarified butter and grilled until golden and crisp. It is smothered in our special Wimpy-inspired burger sauce. Tasty. Paul: I would say that my hero dish is the steak and ale pie, which has tender chunks of beef braised in our house Eng-

lish ale onion gravy, and is served up with chips and garden peas. Elie: We are very proud of our Saturday roast and have received great feedback on it. The Saturday roast is one of the most famous British dishes, and our version incorporates everything that is loved about it. Gary: It’s difficult to identify a hero dish as one minute you think you’ve found the ultimate dish and the next minute there’s another favourite. One of the simplest dishes that I first presented to guests at least 15 years ago – and still serve every day – is white tomato soup, made from rich, ripe, red plum tomatoes. November March 2017 2016 Catering NEWS ME


Out of this world

The future of British food in Dubai is strong but we need to shout louder about it. I hope those who claim they are featuring a British menu stick to it as closely as possible - Gary Rhodes OBE-

Rhodes W1, Grosvenor House, Dubai

How do you see your menu evolving over the next 12 months? Ryan: There will be no dramatic change for us in the coming year. We change our menus quarterly to reflect the British seasons and additional work is always going on to make some dishes lighter and healthier. Luke: Our classics and favourites will remain, however I always try to incorporate seasonal influences into those dishes. Paul: We will spend more time developing traditional British menus and training our chefs to the highest standards so that we can provide the very best in British cooking at all applicable Al Habtoor hotels and restaurant outlets. Elie: Our menu is revised every three months based on the best seasonal produce. We also value what our guests would like to see on the menu. Since bringing back The Red Lion we have had many requests for items from the original menu and we’re working to introduce these. Gary: I've put together a new menu for 2017. I've warned the team that the new menu will become more involved, with more MEP and more refined detail, but still maintaining a simple, approachable look and feel. What is the future for British food in the region? Ryan: The gastropub market is growing well and I think we will continue to see more of the high-end casual dining venues come into the region. Luke: I can see it growing along with all other cuisine types. British food has some real roots and heritage, which people, especially from the UK can connect with, remembering dishes from their childhoods and what their parents and grandparents cooked for them. It’s not fashionable like Japanese or Korean sadly – these cuisines 50

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

British pub, The Red Lion has just reopened at the refurbished Metropolitan Hotel, Dubai

are big now, particularly with millennials. Paul: We perceive British food as in-demand, which makes it a stable, consistent cuisine for British expats and tourists as well as Europeans, Americans, Canadians and Australians. However, this doesn’t mean we will place any less emphasis on marketing to Arab and Asian communities. With a simple, fresh food, organic and cottage industry supplier strategy applied to all our dishes, we regard the future of British menus in the region as extremely promising.

Elie: We have seen a change in the trends as our guests look for more of a casual and neighbourhood experience. There is also a focus on the quality of the food and giving guests the best value for money. Gary: The future of British food in Dubai is strong but we need to shout louder about it. I hope those who claim they are featuring a British menu stick to it as closely as possible. There is nothing wrong with the influence of another cuisine, but let’s not lose the base of ‘homegrown’ classics.

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W hat's cooking?

Thomas A. Gugler, President at WORLDCHEFS


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

Event Previe w

The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia’s top hotel chefs are set to plate up for a new culinary competition at The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia, taking place in Jeddah on 4 – 6 April


audi Arabia’s top hotel chefs are to go head-to-head in a new cooking competition launched by The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia and supported by WORLDCHEFS, as a way of celebrating the Kingdom’s exceptional culinary talent across its impressive roster of world-class hotels. Endorsed by WORLDCHEFS through the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association (SARCA) and the Saudi Arabian Chefs Table Circle (SACTC), the inaugural ‘Inter-Hotel Culinary Competition – Mystery Box Challenge’ will take place during the 5th edition of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on 4 to 6 April 2017. John Suzara, event manager of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia, commented on the inspiration behind the new venture: “As modern travellers, particularly the millennial generation, become more adventurous with food, hotels in Saudi Arabia and further afield are becoming more so with their F&B offerings. Hotels have more F&B options than ever before, covering a wide range of cuisines and concepts. We hope to recognise and celebrate the progressive culinary talent in the Kingdom through this competition. Leading hotel chains from across the Kingdom are now invited to enter their most outstanding in-house culinary professionals for what leading kitchen voices have hailed as a “unique” new venture for the KSA market. The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia team interviewed Mr. Thomas A. Gugler, President at WORLDCHEFS, to find out more about the current F&B landscape in Saudi Arabia and the concept behind the new competition. Why is this competition unique to Saudi Arabia and why do you think that events like this are important? This will be the first time we are doing a team challenge out of a mystery box with service involved. This is a team event with five key service staff including cooks, a pastry cook, helper and waiter. This type of challenge explores the real calibre of the

chefs involved whilst allowing the audience to witness the hotel team’s passion, experience, interactivity and ability to work under pressure. It is an opportunity to showcase the incredible talents of the culinary teams working behind-the-scenes to maintain the five-star standard the Kingdom’s portfolio of hotels is known for. Tell us more about the new ‘Inter-Hotel Culinary Competition – Mystery Box Challenge’ taking place in Jeddah, what can competitors and attendees expect? A maximum of 12 teams consisting of five persons each will take part, representing different hotels from across the Kingdom. The event will get underway during the first day of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2017, using the ‘mystery box’ concept made famous by popular international cooking competitions. Each team will be provided with identical secret ingredients revealed to them on the day. They will then be challenged to use those items to prepare the most interesting and delicious dishes possible across a detailed menu including a cold starter, soup, main course and dessert. Judging will be based on speed, creativity and innovativeness, taste, nutrition and health, balance and harmony of menu, low waste, correct preparation, cutting and slicing skills, utilisation of food products, clean and neat method of working as well as competitive spirit. A team of judges will make the final scoring decisions across four categories, with SARCA/SACTC Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal and Award Certificates available to all competing teams. What are your thoughts on the future of the F&B industry in Saudi Arabia – within hotels in particular – what are the key trends, opportunities? There is opportunity to upgrade and develop the quality of hospitality services across the Kingdom. Training and development is essential for team members to offer a qual-

ity service to customers. The trends are definitely modern cuisine art, crossover cooking due to the awareness of Saudis from their vacation travels, and the expectation to get the same in their home country. Nourishment is a key element. What makes the F&B industry in Saudi Arabia unique – particularly in hotels? Entire F&B sections in hotels are driven in the most part by expatriates from all around the globe, and it is a challenge to combine multiple cultures and ideas towards a complex homogeneous work environment. We would like to motivate all hotels to invest in trained staff and good philosophy in regards to work environment and modernity. Tell us more about current trends and opportunities in the Saudi Arabian market for chefs? The trade of a chef has become more attractive to Saudi Arabia’s younger population, due in part to cooking shows and TV broadcasting globally. With more recognition than ever, it is a very respected field. There are good opportunities for young chefs – if the basics are well trained – to become notable players in the global cooking scene. There is good talent in KSA, and I am happy for us to further advance and highlight cooking talent through competitions like this. Anything else you would like to add? I wish all of the contestants the very best of luck. This is a great opportunity to showcase cooking styles, abilities and innovations. The 5th edition of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia is taking place on 4-6 April 2017 at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events, showcasing everything needed to build, develop and maintain a hotel or restaurant in the Kingdom. To find out more about taking part in the ‘Inter-Hotel Culinary Competition – Mystery Box Challenge’, or to register to attend the event for free, go to: www. March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


M ar ketplace

Fresh from the oven

Catering news showcases the oven products cooking up a storm in the Middle East




Simon Parke Davis, vice president business development Middle East at Rational presents the SelfCookingCenter 101 Electric

Gabriel Estrella Talentti, director Middle East & Africa, Alto-Shaam says the original Cook & Hold oven remains the company’s best-seller.

Dr Engr. Saleh Aldibsawi, managing director Kitcherama introduces the Saldi Six Burner

What is your best-selling oven product? SelfCookingCenter 101 Electric

What is your best-selling oven product? The original Cook & Hold oven. The category was invented by Alto-Shaam and it remains a top product today.

What is your best-selling oven product? The Saldi Six Burner with maxi oven range is one of Kitcherama’s best-selling products.

What is unique about it? Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold ovens feature exclusive Halo Heat® thermal cables that gently wrap around food for precise heating without the use of fans. This unique heating element provides higher protein yields compared to conventional cooking methods. We also have a Cook & Hold smoker oven that’s dedicated to hot or cold smoking meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, cheeses and more.

What is unique about it? Saldi products are 100% made in UAE with European standards. They are quality products with affordable prices for all sectors.

T: +971 4 3219712 E: W:

T: +971 6 5323884 E: W:

What is unique about it? It is the only product on the market that can sense current cooking cabinet conditions and the consistency of the food. It also recognises the size, load quantity, and product condition; calculates browning; learns and implements user’s preferred cooking habits; thinks ahead and constantly reprogrammes the ideal cooking path to desired result. T: +971 4 338 6615 E: W:


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

What is the most important feature of the perfect oven? It’s important for ovens to be high powered and easy to clean with strong hinges and doors.

M ar k etplace



Spyros Alexander of Bertha Charcoal Ovens reveals what makes his product unique

Olga Cassidy (Mirtova), marketing manager La Marquise international showcases the e2s from Merrychef

What is your best-selling oven product? We manufacture the Bertha charcoal oven. What is unique about it? It’s very unique as the Bertha is the only charcoal oven with which you can mix wood with the charcoal.

What is your best-selling oven product? Since February last year when the new model e2s from Merrychef was launched, it has been our number one selling oven.

What is the most important feature of the perfect oven? The perfect oven should cook amazingly flavourful food, very quickly.

What is unique about it? Merrychef e2s is considered the fastest cooking oven in the world. It can cook salmon steak in one minute or frozen pizza in two minutes. The oven is compact and slim in design and is ideal for cafes, fast food operations, food trucks and hotel room service operations to cook or regenerate single-portion meals. Another great advantage of this oven is the electric connection flexibility, with three-phase or single-phase electric power.

T: +44 854 602 3037 E: W:

T: +971 43433478 E: W:



Sagi, since 1980, leader in professional refrigeration equipment




March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


M ar ketplace


Kuppersbusch CEO, MarcOliver Schneider explains what makes the ConvectAir Professional with Hybrid Steam unique on the market What is your best-selling oven product? Our best-seller is the ConvectAir+ Professional with Hybrid Steam. What is unique about it? The oven has a hybrid steam system, which offers the benefits of fresh steam generation in the oven and those of an additional steam generator combined. Users can also save on standby costs since the hybrid steam system only activates the steam generator for selected cooking methods. In addition, the product has 11 cooking modes, memory for 500 programmes, an automatic cooking system and a colour touch panel. T: +49 209 401 538 E: W:


Elias Rached, export department regional director sales Middle East and Africa presents the MKN combi steamer, FlexiCombi Team What is your best-selling oven product? Our latest oven product is the MKN combi steamer FlexiCombi Team. This is a single appliance equipped with two cooking chambers. What is unique about it? With the two cooking chambers in one single appliance, the user can work in an extremely flexible way with two cooking modes simultaneously. For example, bread rolls can bake in the lower cooking chamber and at the same time vegetables steam in the upper one. The appliance is operated using the intuitive MagicPilot touch control and the touch screens for both cooking chambers are situated at eye level in the upper part of the appliance. The comfortable height ensures particularly ergonomic operation of the

new MKN combi steamer and the lower door handle is turned 180° for convenience. Cleaning is also perfectly simple with a seamless control panel and side walls provide quality standards for uncompromising hygiene. T: +971505587477 E: W:


The Convotherm 4 combi oven is the bestseller for Welbilt Middle East according to Daniel Alam, regional accounts & distribution manager, Middle East What is your best-selling oven product? Our best-selling product is Convotherm 4 combi oven (convection and steam), the most versatile cooking equipment for any foodservice operator today. We have one of the largest and most advanced product ranges in the industry with easyTouch and easyDial models, gas or electric and capacity to fit the requirements of any type of operation. What is unique about it? Convotherm 4 patented Advanced Close System+ (ACS+) ensures even cooking thanks to perfect steam saturation, automatic humidity adjustment (in combi-steam mode), rapid and uniform heat transfer (convection mode) and active control of air input and output. T: +971 4 326 3313 E: W: &


Catering NEWS ME March 2017

M ar k etplace

ANGELO PO Angelo Po’s best-selling oven product is the Combistar Fx, a combination oven that guarantees high quality and versatility. What is your best-selling oven product? It’s Combistar Fx, the full line of state-of-the-art combination oven that guarantees high quality and versatility in cooking together with ease of use and energy savings. What is unique about it? Combistar FX can give you perfect quality and accuracy of cooking every time thanks to the automatic humidity control and management of the cooking environment and the patented control of the six fan speeds. You can obtain a perfect and uniform cooking every time, managed with precision, continuity and speed. When you turn the machine on you get the assurance of an excellent quantity of steam homogeneously supplied in the steam and mixed cooking modes.

Wood Stone Corporation What is your best-selling oven product? Both internationally and in the US our Fire Deck Series is the highest seller.

James Garton

What is unique about it? It has the thickest floor built of ceramic, a larger door opening enabling the user easy access and great visuals for the customer, an infra-red under floor burner to maintain consistent heat all day, every day. This is very important for our clients who can produce over 1,000 pizzas per day. T: +1 360 650 1111 E: W:

March 2017 Catering NEWS ME


S pill the beans

Mitts & Trays

Amna Al Hashemi, director and founder of Mitts & Trays reveals how she evolved her home-based baking business into an elegant and homely restaurant on Dubai’s City Walk 2 Please describe the concept of Mitts & Trays? Mitts & Trays is an elegant café and restaurant with a menu based on gourmet quality fresh and natural dishes with a homely approach, blending traditional and modern styles. Guests can enjoy our classic main courses along with our selection of delicious signature cakes and patisserie. The ambience at Mitts & Trays feels like an extension of one’s living room, with a contemporary design featuring comfy armchairs, communal tables and a view of the kitchen that allows customers to catch a glimpse of the baking and cooking. Please explain the menu? The menu features fresh, wholesome dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We offer classic main courses, like braised short rib, but with a new twist. Guests can expect creative starters, like sizzling Wagyu beef lollipops, or our own version of southern style chicken sliders. We also offer a wide selection of wholesome salads, soups and sandwiches. Regarding the desserts, our menu features Mitts & Trays signature cakes, pastries, cookies and a range of classics like tiramisu and tres leches cake. What has been your best-seller so far? For our main courses, the paella de Valencia is our best-seller. With regards to the starters, we received amazing reviews of our stuffed portobello mushroom, while for the desserts, the baked yogurt and saffron cheesecake is our customers’ favourite. Our signature cakes are also very popular. What challenges have you faced in opening and operating this venue? We are still in the learning process as we just launched in September. It has been an interesting journey so far going from 58

Catering NEWS ME March 2017

Mitts&Trays Interior

Amna Al Hashemi

finding the right staff to fine-tuning the menu and finalising the interior design. We have also been working with F&B management consultants from Restaurant Secrets Inc.

Do you plan to expand Mitts & Trays to other locations? At the moment, we have no plans for expansion but we are keen to explore this option in the future.

How does Mitts & Trays fit into the Dubai restaurant scene? We are bringing a unique concept to the market, which was born from a desire to create a comfortable and homely yet elegant place for guests to enjoy wholesome meals from fresh, quality ingredients. I started the business from home, as a bakery, so my aim is to make the venue feel like a second home to the customers.

Can you reveal a surprising fact about Mitts & Trays? For two years, when M&T was a home business, I was the only employee. I would prep, bake, wash, handle social media, take orders, and sometimes even deliver. And one fun fact about yourself? I am obsessed with wearing high heels, I wear them everywhere, even during kitchen duty hours!

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Catering News ME - March 2017  
Catering News ME - March 2017