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Hotel&Catering NEWS Middle East NOVEMBER 2020







Accor’s comprehensive approach to cleanliness and hygiene protocols across its properties

Gates Hospitality Chief Naim Maadad on the industry’s primary representative body

CatererGlobal.com’s employee wellbeing survey reveals shocking results

Create your sweet signature

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PLANT-BASED DELICIOUSNESS Promising a delicious texture for those who would like to cut down on meat, but still enjoy tasty food, SWEET EARTH® might just be the answer to skyrocketing demand for plant-based products


Introducing the SWEET EARTH® range in the region




Cheese DelightsThe French way desserts

Hospitality Workplaces During Covid-19

Restaurants United


Three foodies from Middle Eastern countries create their very own dessert featuring cheese


The industry has spoken and there’s room for improvement



Partnering for Success

Keeping it Simple

Chef Middle East partners with French Dairy giant Paysan Breton

Chef Kelvin Kelly draws inspiration for dishes from his love for simple meals made daily from fresh produce



MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE Chefs Daniel Sangareau and Sam Wole Momoh share their top recipes, brought to you by Nestlé Professional MENA




Pure Sips #PlasticFree drinking solutions for restaurants and hotels in the UAE


Gates Hospitality Founder and Chief Executive Naim Maadad shares his views on being part of food and beverage’s newest representative body, the Restaurants Business Group



Accor Accor is one of the leading hotel operators in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, with 299 operating properties (64,856 keys) and another 175 (42,194 keys) in its development pipeline





ZABEEL HOUSE BY JUMEIRAH, THE GREENS General Manager Luke James shares his journey 54


Delivering Freshness Food Crowd and Al Dahra CEO Salmeen Al Ameri reveals the allnew platform’s strategy to controlling the supply chain for the best delivery outcome



It’s a Goal LaLiga TwentyNine’s is a new entertainment concept for hotels in the MENA region



Origin Green Sustainability across Ireland’s food supply chain



Dairy from Ireland

where we work in harmony with nature Ireland’s lush green fields, fresh, clean air and plentiful rain create the perfect environment for rearing grass-fed cows. Together with an agile industry that responds speedily to changing production requirements, we’re able to ensure a consistent, secure supply of premium quality dairy produce. Our farmers and producers continue to work with care, commitment and respect for tradition.

As members of Origin Green - Ireland’s leading edge national food quality and sustainability programme - their work is also measured and independently audited to drive continuous improvements in food safety, traceability, animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about how we work in harmony with nature like nowhere else in the world, visit irishfoodanddrink.com

Hotel&Catering NEWS Middle East EDITOR Dina Maaty dina@bncpublishing.net

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CEO Wissam Younane wissam@bncpublishing.net DIRECTOR Rabih Najm rabih@bncpublishing.net GROUP COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Samer Alloush samer@bncpublishing.net CREATIVE LEAD Odette Kahwagi EDITORIAL DESIGN Christian Harb MARKETING EXECUTIVE Aaron Joshua Sinamban aj@bncpublishing.net Images used in Hotel & Catering News ME are credited when necessary. Attributed use of copyrighted images with permission.





PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates P +971 4 4200 506 | F +971 4 4200 196 For all commercial enquiries related to Hotel & Catering News ME, contact Samer Alloush, Group Commercial Director samer@bncpublishing.net | T +971 55 776 4670 All rights reserved 2020. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Hotel & Catering News ME and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region. 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 United Printing and Publishing | upp.ae

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HotelNewsME @HotelCateringME Hotel & Catering News Middle East HotelCateringNewsME


You didn’t hear it from me…


he professional world may have always been filled with its own intricacies, especially in hospitality, but – understandably – Covid-19 has given rise to a whole new genre of secrets. It’s safe to say that things have been rather rocky on so many different levels, and with shocking statistics (plenty of which you’re about to read) on current job satisfaction in the sector, I can’t say I’m surprised. “You didn’t hear it from me,” the well-known PR maven told me as she casually waved goodbye at one of Dubai’s fancy events. This wasn’t the first time I had engaged in such interactions. Interested, albeit being a bit taken aback by this particular piece of information I had just heard, it suddenly hit me – this is a new reality that we’re all going to have to deal with given the dynamic transformation we’ve been witnessing for the past months.



The air may have been charged with curiousness in this particular instance, but the fact remains – hotel groups across the world are still maintaining a rather positive outlook. I wonder, however, if a bit of attention towards staff feedback is required in some businesses and organisations? With the vast majority (67%, to be specific) of the hospitality workforce seeking a career move within the next 12 months – just one of the many insights CatererGlobal.com has recently provided us with – should such positivity be attributed to realism, data or a subtle aloofness? Luckily, the latter is a symptom we rarely observe among solid, strong chains. This issue, our focus is on chains, brands and businesses that are truly making a difference by using a multi-channel approach. From digitisation (yes, it has come up again), to a shift of focus towards localisation, loyalty programmes and niche demand, the landscape isn’t what it used to be – and I predict it’s never going to be, even after the storm passes. So, the next time someone says, “have you heard?” brace yourselves for either one of two options – meaningless gossip – or a new business opportunity that may just be masquerading as simple, casual chatter. Why not, I say; let’s hear it. Even if you suggested that pushing a bit harder towards the finish line is what we needed, amazed me with a more flexible, relaxed outlook, or dragged us both into a pit of doom and gloom; “hear, hear,” you’ll hear me say. Perhaps, only to change my mind a few press releases later…these are the times of pandemic, after all.

DINA MAATY EDITOR dina@bncpublishing.net

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Rational uncovers new ways through which intelligent cooking systems transform kitchens


ooks know what they want: Meat with a charred crust and juicy bite, the vegetables crisp and healthy, and pasta al dente, say experts at Rational. A lot of knowledge and experience is required to continuously achieve the desired goal. And it’s always necessary to overcome obstacles such as fluctuations in food quality, too few specialists and too much time pressure. According to the foodservice supplier, the trend towards intelligent cooking systems is becoming increasingly apparent. One example of this is the new iCombi Pro combi-steamer from Rational, which with its cooking intelligence supports chefs, relieves them of routine tasks and delivers the desired result at the touch of a button. “Food production has never been easier,” explains Thomas Hofer, manag-



ing director at RATIONAL Kitchen & Catering Equipment Trading FZCO. “That’s because intelligent cooking systems think ahead and adapt as environmental conditions change.” With the new iCombo Pro combisteamer from Rational, for example, the cook only has to select the desired cooking result on the display at the start of the cooking process, such as browning from light to dark or cooking degree from rare to well done. The iCookingSuite cooking intelligence does the rest for fish and meat, as well as vegetables and side dishes. This simplicity is made possible by intelligent sensors in the cooking cabinet, which detect the size, quantity and condition of food. Depending on cooking progress, cooking parameters such as temperature, cooking cabinet climate, air speed and cooking time are

regularly adjusted to the desired result. The key to cooking intelligence is hidden in the Maillard reaction. This describes the chemical browning reaction that affects the taste, texture and smell of food. It typically occurs during roasting, baking or grilling. For the iCombi Pro, Rational has decoded this formula and translated it into an intelligent algorithm. This ensures that the iCookingSuite has everything under such intelligent control that the desired result is reliably achieved without wasting time, energy or raw materials. Moreover, without the need for control and monitoring by the staff. As Hofer says: “With the iCookingSuite, the cook can delegate unpleasant routine tasks to his cooking system and still have everything under control.” Rational experts highlight, the chef then has more time for creativity. Hence, the attractiveness of the profession increases, which makes it easy to bring variety in reliable quality to the table.


Accor implements ALLSAFE programme across its hotels and resorts worldwide


ccor has announced that it has successfully implemented the most stringent cleaning standards and operational procedures for guest safety. Following operational disruptions stemming from Covid-19, the group has successfully reopened most of its hotels with 95% of them having already adopted the Group’s trusted ALLSAFE cleanliness and hygiene protocols, jointly developed with Bureau Veritas. To date, Accor has successfully certified 65% of these hotels with the ALLSAFE label through a third-party review and accreditation process with professional auditors like Bureau Veritas, SGS, Clifton and Ecolab, and is working to have additional hotels independently verified as ALLSAFE compliant over the coming months. “At Accor, we’re grateful for the trust our guests have placed in us to protect their health, safety and wellbeing and this is a responsibility we prioritise above all else,” says Chris Cahill, deputy CEO Hotel Operations. “Throughout this difficult year, our hotel teams have risen to the chal-

lenge of enhancing their already stringent protocols and following increased public safety regulations while continuing to welcome, safeguard and take care of others; this remains at the very heart of what we do and who we are as hoteliers.” The ALLSAFE label was established by Accor to give guests the assurance of a third-party verified standard of hotel cleanliness and hygienic requirements. These standards were developed with and vetted by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in operational testing, inspections and certifications.

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Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City appoints front of house manager Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City has appointed Claudia Pittau as its new front of house manager. Pittau is originally from Sardinia, Italy, and has been with the property for one year, as guest relations manager. Prior to that, she spent four years in London, where she started as a receptionist at Hilton, leaving as guest relations manager at InterContinental London – The O2. In her new role, according to Radisson, Pittau will oversee the front office, concierge and the pool while working with relevant departments to drive new projects, incremental revenue and overall guest satisfaction, creating memorable moments for guests.

IHG Hotels at Dubai Festival City appoints new area general manager to oversee four properties IHG Hotels at Dubai Festival City has announced the appointment of veteran hotelier Thomas Schmelter as area general manager, overseeing four properties and the Dubai Festival Arena. Originally from Germany, Schmelter, according to IHG, will drive the performance of InterContinental, InterContinental Residences Suites, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Dubai Festival Arena by InterContinental at Dubai Festival City with a total number of 1,600 rooms and more than 10,000 sqm of event venues. He is a seasoned hotelier and comes to this position with more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry within IHG. Schmelter has worked in ten different countries in various senior management roles between corporate offices and hotels. He moved to Dubai from his recent role as Senior Director of operations – South East Asia based in the IHG Singapore corporate office.

Emirates Palace names Tom Kooij as new director of food and beverage Emirates Palace has appointed Tom Kooij as the new director of food and beverage. With over 12 years of experience in the Food & Beverage scene, Kooij was the Food and Beverage Manager at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. In 2016, he was first appointed as Assistant Food & Beverage Manager – Projects the same year, which further drove his passion for Food & Beverage concepts and projects. He was also part of Mandarin Oriental’s



first generation POPCO (Parallel Operating Committee) from 2017 to 2019. In 2014, he was assigned in various outlets and departments Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London as an F&B Management Trainee and has led the preopening of The Rosebery Afternoon Tea Lounge & Champagne Bar. Kooij has worked in multiple countries including France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.


Mandarin Oriental appoints general managers for two properties in Turkey Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced the appointment of Harun Dursun and Ersev Demiröz as general managers at the chain’s Bosphorus and Istanbul properties, respectively. Anticipated to open in Spring 2021, Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul will be the Group’s second luxury hotel in Turkey. Dursun, who has been general manager of Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum since 1 May 2018, has been appointed general manager of Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul. He carries the title of ‘Turkey’s First Official Sommelier’ and is one of the founding members of the Turkish Sommeliers Association. He has served as vice president of the association and represented his country in three European and two world championships. Demiröz, who previously held the title of hotel manager at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, has been promoted

to general manager. He completed his undergraduate studies in Tourism and Hotel Management at Bilkent University in 1992, with a degree in international hotel management. He has had more than 20 years of

experience at prestigious hotels around the world, including Four Seasons St. Petersburg, Four Seasons Jakarta, and Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski, before joining Mandarin Oriental in 2017.

RAKTDA announces new senior-level appointments Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) has appointed Alka Winter as vice president, Destination Marketing & Communications. Iyad Rasbey has taken on the role of executive director, Destination Tourism Development. Winter will be responsible for spearheading the authority’s multi-faceted communications strategy at a time when effective multi-channel messaging and storytelling is critical, highlights RAKTDA. A seasoned communications professional with a travel and tourism background and more than 18 years of strategic planning and delivery in senior roles spanning the Middle East and North America, Winter joins RAKTDA from French hotel giant Accor, where she was vice president of Global Communications for the Middle East and Africa. Rasbey was RAKTDA’s director of MICE and has more than two decades of tourism industry experience. Following the successful execution of RAKTDA’s highly successful ‘Shortcation’ campaign this summer, which generated more than 15,000 room nights from UAE staycationers, the creative agency behind the initiative,

Sputnik Floyd, has been appointed the authority’s dedicated integrated agency. The Berlin-based integrated communications specialist will use its brand development, campaign concepts and digital messaging expertise to further enhance the destination’s appeal and visibility.



HCNME OPENINGS & LAUNCHES Hakkasan’s Ling Ling restaurant to open at Atlantis The Royal in Dubai Global hospitality company Hakkasan Group, in partnership with Atlantis, Dubai, announced plans to open a third Ling Ling restaurant at Atlantis, The Royal in Dubai. Currently, Ling Ling boasts two international locations in Oslo and Marrakesh, with a fourth location slated to open in Mexico City in 2021. The Ling Ling concept emerged in the Hakkasan Group portfolio as a natural evolution of the original Ling Ling lounge tucked away inside most Hakkasan locations around the world. It pulls inspiration from izakayas, offering craft beverages intentionally paired with Cantonese fare. Designed by Parisian studio Gilles and Boissier, Ling Ling Dubai will be located on levels 22 and 23 of Atlantis, The Royal, overlooking the resort’s 90-metre sky pool.

Andaz Dubai The Palm launches in-house organic farm Boutique lifestyle hotel Andaz Dubai The Palm has partnered with Dubaibased GCAF (Green Container Advanced Farming) to introduce its very own organic container farm. Through the new partnership with GCAF, a member of the AlSerkal Group, Andaz Dubai The Palm will take a step further to the property’s green approach by harvesting their very own hydroponic produce onsite, to be utilised in the preparation of dishes at the hotel’s multiple dining establishments. This method of farming not only reduces the amount of water needed to grow by up to 90% compared to traditional soil farming, but also reduces the carbon footprint created by distribution modes of transportation, whether by air or land and reduces food waste by harvesting only according to daily requirements.



Kempinski Hotel Mall of The Emirates launches Sensasia spa Located at the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Sensasia Stories is a flagship destination spa scheduled for an October 2020 launch. The 4,000 sq-ft Sensasia Stories spa — conceptualised by THE SPA PEOPLE and created by Roar Interior Design Studio — comprises six male and female treatment rooms and one couples’ suite

offering privacy. It also boasts separate male and female changing rooms, and therapeutic relaxation areas. The well-appointed spa is equipped with facilities, including heated beds, experience showers, an ice fountain, herb saunas, steam rooms, and a Jacuzzi. Customers can also enhance their visit with virtual reality headsets, which offer complete, customised escapism and guided meditations.


Project Provocateur dinner show launches at Taikun Project Provocateur, a new interactive dinner show, has launched at Taikun. Now taking place every Friday from 8pm till late, the show promises risquÊ performances by dancers, singers and varied musical artists throughout the night. While the audience is taken on an exciting journey as the venue envelops them with energetic lighting and sound effects, Taikun’s culinary team will be serving up vivid Pan Asian flavours from the kitchen. Highlights from the menu include raw dishes such as beef tenderloin tataki with onion ponzu, pickled radish and roasted garlic, and seabass ceviche with mango, yuzu, pomegranate and celery, followed by sushi platters including spicy tuna, prawn tempura, chuka wakame, wagyu with fresh truffle, and more.

From the wok, options include chicken cashew, and Malay beef with shitake mushrooms, while the robata grills servings of miso black cod, avocado teriyaki and yuzu chimichurri striploin,

plus others. Bringing dinner to a close, the dessert selection offers temping choices such as assorted mochi, Thai coconut mango, yuzu panna cotta, chocolate fondant and more.

Rise to the top with French Cream In pastry and other branches of the culinary arts, there is no denying that cream is an essential ingredient. As a cooking element, it adds an incredible depth of flavor. European dairy cream, especially French cream, enhances the flavor of all preparations. It has an unparalleled melt in the mouth, and its softness on the palate is uniquely smoothing and comforting. No matter the level of the cooking skills, anyone can incorporate French cream to a range of dishes, from savoury to sweet.

Najla Shamiri is a Pastry Chef from Jeddah. She chose to feature an infused cream, putting together a sticky date cake with salted caramel. Her use of infused Arabic coffee cream brought a unique lightness to the pastry.

Sticky dates cake with salted caramel and infused Arabic coffee cream


250g Dates, seeded, chopped

10g Vanilla extract

6g Baking soda 350ml Boiling Water

2 Eggs 260g All-purpose flour

125g Softened Butter

1.5g Salt

95g Light brown sugar, Demerara

6g Baking Powder

Preheat deck oven to 180° C. Grease and flour baking pan. Soak dates and baking soda in boiling water (leave for 20 min). In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, mix sugar, vanilla and butter until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients and add them gradually with dates mix. Don’t over mix. Bake for 30 min. Let it cool down for 10 min. Then move to cooling rack. Glaze with caramel.


90g Sugar

100g Arabic Coffee powder

400g Heavy Cream 2 Vanilla beans Pods

900g Heavy Cream 600g Mascarpone cheese

12g Gelatin

In a pot, add 400g cream, sugar, vanilla and coffee powder. Let it simmer and remove after 30 min. Strain and add the gelatin. Add the rest of the cream and mascarpone cheese. Use hand blender to mix. Cool down in chiller for at least 4 hours. Using the whisk attachment, mix the cream until soft peak when ready to use.


1250g Row pistachio 125g Butter 200ml Water

5g Sea salt 625g Sugar

Boil water and sugar in a pot until crystalized. Add pistachio and continue stirring until caramelized (around 20 min). Remove from heat and add butter. Spread in a silicon mate. After cooling down keep in an air tide container, room temp.


460g Glucose 800g Sugar 190g Butter

20g Salt 800ml Cream

Melt glucose, then add sugar over 4 times. Add 1/4 sugar and caramelize then take out of the heat and add another 1/4 of sugar. Put back into heat and repeat until you get caramel color. Then add butter and stir slowly. Boil cream and salt. Add to caramel. Cool down and put in squeeze bottle.

The content of this advertorial represents the author’s point of view only and is the sole responsibility of the author. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made from the information contained herein.


Cheese Delights

-the French way


here are European cheeses for everyone: hard cheeses, soft cheeses, mild ones, mature ones, cheeses that are soft and runny inside, or have a sharp, flavourful rind. French dairy products are popular all over the world. In France, everything that happens, happens around the table. At home, and in restaurants, cheese is constantly re-inventing itself, changing to suit today’s lifestyles, habits and trends, without compromising on flavour or authenticity. To highlight the gastronomic links between France and the rest of the world, we’ve asked three foodies from Middle Eastern countries to create a dessert featuring cheese – channelling their roots and their memories of childhood, their love of cuisine, and of course, cheese.




Dalia Dogmoch “Each cheese has its moment.”

What is your relationship with cheese? I grew up in France so I grew up eating cheese daily. Cheese is a big part of my family’s diet; mostly French cheeses, some Italian and just a few Spanish varieties.

What would you say to someone who does not like cheese? There is a cheese for everyone. If you like to eat, you will find the cheese you love. It’s just about finding the right one for you.

How often do you eat cheese and how? I eat cheese every day, maybe even twice a day. It could be on its own, with bread, added to a vegetable dish or in pasta.

When you hear the word cheese, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? How much I love cheese and how very special it is. It is amazing how milk can create something so diverse and alive.

If you had to choose one cheese, what would it be and why? It’s a tough one, as each cheese has its moment. I would eat a different cheese at different times of the day. I would probably choose a semi-soft or soft cheese as my favourite. I love Chaource, Reblochon and Saint Nectaire. Please pick one for me!

Tell us about your recipe. I love Raclette. It is strong and full of character so combining it with dates and nuts is ideal in my opinion. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. My Raclette tartlet is a marriage of a savoury cheese and a nutty, fruity dessert – almost like a cheese platter in one bite.

RACLETTE TARTLET INGREDIENTS For the tart base: 100g Raclette, cut into small cubes Pinch of salt 200g crumbled shortbread cookies 50g almonds, chopped 50g pistachios, chopped 50g date paste

To garnish: 100g Raclette, cut into cubes 50g honey 75g dates, deseeded and cut in length 50g pistachios, chopped A handful of pralines A handful of grapes, de-seeded and cut in length A handful of cranberries, finely chopped

PREPARATION 1. In a bowl, combine all the base ingredients for the tartlet until the mixture resembles cookie dough. 2. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and flatten the dough using a rolling pin into approximately 1cm thickness or as desired. 3. Cut out round mini tart bases with a cookie cutter and place the tartlets in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. 4. Once the tartlets are ready, remove them from the fridge and start assembling. 5. Dip the Raclette cubes in honey, place them on top of the tart base and garnish with dates, pistachi




Kim & Denver Britto

“We have a very sentimental relationship with cheese.” How often do you eat cheese and how?

We eat cheese maybe twice a week, a lot of cheese nights with different pairings – there is a lot to do in Dubai! Whenever we dine at a French restaurant we like to end with a nice cheese board. Our first perception of cheese was only the cheese board – with crackers and chutney, but now we would like to experiment with it in cooking as well.

If you had to choose one cheese, what would it be and why?

What is your relationship with cheese?

We have a very sentimental relationship with cheese especially French one as we got engaged during a cheese trip over there! We learn a lot about French cheese and now have a special connection with it, whether in a restaurant or a supermarket, we will always be looking for it! Link to cheese trip – authenticity – we value it much more.

Kim: Comte, I like the nuttiness and texture of it, slightly hard cheese – which makes it very versatile. You can have it at any time of the day – at home or it can be also part of a fancy cheese board. I like its texture: those crystals – specially at the 18th month! It is also versatile in terms of cooking. It helps me to use it either melted with some pasta, or grated with some eggs! Den: Brillat Savarin, I have a sweeter tooth, so I especially like the creaminess – it is like a more flavourful cream cheese and you can easily play with it and mix it with different flavours.

PISTACHIO AND DATE NO-BAKE CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS Crumb Layer Shortbread Cookies (crushed): 50 grams Almonds (crushed): 25 grams Pine nuts (crushed): 25 grams Walnuts (crushed): 25 grams Pistachio (crushed): 40 grams Date Paste: 3 tablespoons Filling Brillat Savarin Cheese: 500 grams Date Syrup: 3-4 tablespoons (depending on how sweet you intend your filling to be). Topping Fresh Figs: 5 whole Pistachio: 100 grams



PREPARATION 1. Roughly chop the shortbread cookies, almonds, pistachio, pine nuts and walnuts and blend it with date paste. 2. In a separate bowl, whisk the cheese and date syrup until evenly blended. 3. To begin layering your cheesecake, start with a layer of the nut mixture. Make sure it’s set by compressing it into your desired container. 4. Top it off with the cheese mixture. 5. Repeat step 3 and 4. 6. Garnish with Fresh Figs and Sliced Pistachios. 7. Serve Cold and Enjoy!

What would you say to someone who does not like cheese?

Try it with an open mind, if you are sceptical about having it all try playing around different ingredients and using it in different dishes so you can learn to appreciate them! When you hear the word cheese, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Kim: Comfort food Den: France

Tell us about your recipe!

We got the Brillat Savarin, we were glad with the cheese we got – it is really adapted to dessert or anything sweet. First thing we thought about was that the taste was very similar to cream cheese and we decided to go with a non-baked cheesecake. Since we are from the middle east we decided to incorporated local flavours to our cheesecake, such as pistachios and dates. We wanted it to look very delicate and decided to present it with the layers very visible so (trompe l’oeil dessert).


Talal El Rashed

“The cheese world is fascinating!” If you had to choose one cheese, what would it be and why?

Bleu d’Auvergne; it is complex and evokes different sensations. I feel I am truly pleasing my palate/taste buds when I eat this cheese. Plus, it goes so well with sweet condiment and fruits, as well as savoury ingredients and spices.

What would you say to someone who does not like cheese?

You must haven’t had good cheese yet!

What is your relationship with cheese?

My relationship with cheese has been growing since my interest in gastronomy started. I couldn’t be passionate and gain expert knowledge of gourmet food without being aware of and trying EU cheese, especially French cheese. Indeed, French cheese made me understand gastronomic cuisine better. I admire cheese because it is an ancient food, so learning about it is in fact a study of our history, economy and culture. The cheese world is fascinating! How often do you eat cheese and how?

I don’t eat cheese that frequently, so when I do it is a special occasion and I follow certain rituals, depending on what kind of cheese it is. I love grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes, for example, but with some cheese, I love shaving off the cheese block and eating it as finger food. The beautiful thing about cheese is that it should be eaten slowly, savouring it.

When you hear the word cheese, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Elegance, that’s for me the most elegant snack! Creaminess, even though I also like hard cheese Nature, as French cheese reminds me of the countryside, farms, and mountains.

FOURME D’AMBERT INGREDIENTS Quince paste (can be replaced with other sour sweet fruit paste or piece) 200g Paprika powder Any kind of sour sweet jam 50g Almond ( peeled ) 100g dried fruit 6 cubes PREPARATION 1. Cheese cut into cubes, medium size 2. Press the 4 sides of the cube against sprinkled paprika on a cutting board or plate 3. Place a layer of quince paste or flat piece of dried fruit on top of the cube 4. Drop a small amount of jam on top of the fruit layer 5. Place the almond on top

Tell us about your recipe!

I am happy! I got a blue cheese, which is Fourme d’Ambert, as blue cheeses are pungent. This gave me a challenge to pick the right accompaniment, but I considered the basics of gastronomy and chose ingredients that balance the saltiness and tartness of Fourme d’Ambert. So, I choose sweet and sour fruits to go with it, as well as the sweet paprika that creates more kick to the recipe. A cube was the perfect shape to use for this recipe, as I wanted to dust the paprika on the four sides and top it with the dried fruit, so I took advantage of the multi surfaces of the cube. Also, it is a shape that is aesthetically appealing because of symmetry and is easy to pick up using fingers or toothpicks.

To obtain its lactic, fruity and salted flavours, the Fourme d’Ambert requires at least 28 days’ maturation, but some cheesemongers let it mature for up to 50 days.





for Success Chef Middle East Partners with French Dairy Giant Paysan Breton




hef Middle East, a regional foodservice distributor with expertise in speciality ingredients distribution gained over the past 25 years and Paysan Breton, a brand which has been producing authentic dairy products for over 50 years, have announced a new partnership to bring French dairy – known to have a great reputation among chefs – to the regional market. “The Paysan Breton brand is a well-established name which ranks among the top 30 preferred food brands in France. One of the greatest advantages we look forward to out of this new partnership is that we will be able to supply high-quality ingredients at the right price, driving great value for our customers,” says Jiji Mathews, dairy category manager at Chef Middle East.


“Despite the current global context and rather turbulent times, and even though French dairy products boast good penetration in the foodservice market across the region, we do believe there is still increasing demand for top quality products,” he adds. “Going forward, Paysan Breton will be exclusively distributed by Chef Middle East in the foodservice sector in all the markets they operate in – the UAE, Oman and Qatar. The newly introduced range covers almost all product categories, which meet most of our customers’ requirements to run their daily operations. We have a track record of successfully growing our exclusive brands, hence the potential of establishing another fruitful partnership in the region with Paysan Breton is very high and will positively impact our growth, revenue generation and reputation.” “The Paysan Breton brand reflects the tradition and the authenticity of French dairy products, a true taste of France. The product range is ideal for all HoReCa operators with a selection of essential ingredients such as butter, cream, cheese with a variety of flavours, crêpe fillings and much more,” says Vincent Cockenpot, pastry chef and trainer at Chef Middle East. “The most perfect element of Paysan Breton products is that you don’t need to add lot of artifice to your pastry. Due to its high quality, the


product speaks for itself, you just have to try to understand its pure taste – a perfect match with a lot of ingredients such as chocolate, fruit purée and paste, and vanilla, in different applications such as mousse, crémeux, panna cotta, and many more.” According to experts at Chef Middle East, Paysan Breton represents quality, authenticity and innovation, a perfect fit for the distributor’s dairy category to offer the market an exceptional assortment. The distributor prides itself for supplying some of the world’s best ingredients to the region’s most reputable food establishments for the past 25 years and highlights that this new partnership strengthens this very commitment.

Paysan Breton was founded in 1969. Originally, the common goal of the brand’s breeders was to enhance the fruit of their work through a high-quality product and preserve the know-how of their region – an ambition which has remained the same for decades. The brand’s values include supporting breeders to make a better living from their profession, choosing local production, which respects cows, and inviting the world to discover a culinary heritage that combines simplicity with the authentic flavours of Brittany and France. Paysan Breton underlines its commitment to more sustainable production, the ecodesign of packaging and the reduction of food waste. Chef Middle East caters to more than 2,000 customers, from 5-star hotels and world-class dining, to international chains and concept restaurants in the UAE, Qatar and Oman. The company also provides its services to customers in locations such as the Indian Ocean, Africa and the CIS.

Images courtesy of Chef Middle East | Paysan Breton


Did you know?




What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. I’m cooking a sea bass ceviche with a coconut milk leche de tigre. I had a classic chef’s education, so I always thought that cooking required a lot of different ingredients and long hours to be ready. When I started working with Peruvians as part of my training, that was when I discovered the power of simple ingredients, perfectly balanced together – sweet and sour, salty and spicy. As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? Since our offering in Sweetheart Kitchen is so vast, with over 20 brands and multiple cuisines, it’s crucial to keep high quality raw materials fresh – and that’s something we can’t ever compromise on, since we use plenty. However, high-volume products, which often form the base of many of the dishes, include chicken, beef and cheese.


A PORTUGUESE NATIONAL, SANGAREAU HAS 12 YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE, 1.5 OF WHICH ARE IN THE UAE. Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I’ve always been passionate about food, but started my journey in 2008 when I joined the culinary school in Lisbon. Soon after, I began working with TV chefs and several hotels, which has familiarised me with a wide array of cuisines. I began honing my skills in French, German, South American, and Japanesestyle cooking. In fact, prior to joining SWHK, I was the head chef at Funky Fisch and Toki The White Rabbit in Berlin. Now, I’m fully dedicated to cooking the best food for delivery, by using basic cooking methodologies in combination with state-of-the-art technology to ensure that the customer has the best experience possible. This becomes more feasible as our kitchens are supported by



a proprietary, customised ERP system which allows us to manage our processes, and extract data to help us continuously improve our operations – daily! What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? Cozindo, a Portuguese dish, from my mum. It’s a traditional meal that you usually eat on Sundays with the family; it reminds me of my parents’ house growing up. I have four siblings and, because my mum cooked it in such a perfect way, sometimes we would all be there with our friends and there would be over 20 people enjoying this very rich dish. It’s composed of a vast variety of sausages, meats and vegetables. You “boil” them all together and the result is absolutely delicious.

What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? I think the most recent trend is the launch of cloud kitchens. Due to the pandemic, restaurants and operators had to shift to delivering their food. Where most fail is that their food is not designed to be in delivery packages for over 30 minutes and, because their flow of operations isn’t built for food delivery, it results in extremely high delivery times. People don’t want to wait an hour for their food to be delivered anymore. From a food perspective, we’re noticing a big shift to healthy meals. A large percentage of customers are looking to eat healthy bowls (we have seen the emergence of acai and poke bowls) and, more recently, vegan food too. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? I know that, because of Covid-19, it has been very challenging to bring products into the country, but it’s essential for operators to maintain the consistency of raw goods. If they can find local quality ingredients, then that could be great for their business and the economy.


COCONUT MILK AND MANGO CEVICHE • 600 g Sea bass (whole) • 38 g MAGGI® Coconut Milk Powder • 30 ml Water • 10 g Leek • 30 g Mango • 5 Limes • 3 g Salt • 0.5 g Black pepper • 5 g Garlic

• 55 g Red onion • 20 g Jalapeno • 15 g Coriander • 60 g Celery • 20 g Olive oil • 10 g Flour • 100 g Red capsicum • 3 g Habanero • 25 g Almonds



“My career path has been nothing but a success story, from being a sous chef at Culinary Boutique, to head chef at Gossip Café and currently the executive chef at Lou’Loua By Nadia.” Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I started my career back in Nigeria in 2006; I decided to further my education in culinary arts in Dubai in 2013 and attended the prestigious SCAFA. My first job was at The Act, which was located in Dubai’s Shangri-La Hotel, where I got to channel my cooking skills and found my passion for fusion cooking. Hence, I picked Latin American cuisine to suit my style of cooking. My career path has been nothing but a success story, from being a sous chef at Culinary Boutique, to head chef at Gossip Café and currently the executive chef at Lou’Loua By Nadia. What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? Avocado toast is two of my favourite things combined; I’m a big fan of bread and love avocado infinitely. What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. Lomo Salatado, it’s a classic Peruvian beef stir-fry.





As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? Demi-glace, soy sauce, sriracha and chicken stock are things you will always find in my kitchen. What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? There’s a big trend towards Turkish food in the Middle East right now and it’s on the rise because of the cuisine’s amazing flavours and the cooking technique.


LOMO SALATADO (PERUVIAN-STYLE BEEF STIR FRY) • 18 ounces Sirloin steak (cut into strips or cubes) • 1 Red onion (chopped into chunky slices) • 2 Tomatoes chopped into 8 slices • 1 Ají amarillo chili pepper (sliced finely, veins and seeds removed) • 1 tsp. Fresh garlic paste • 2 tbsp. Olive oil • 20 ounces White rice (cooked)

• 11 ounces Thick potato slices (ready for frying) • 1/2 cup MAGGI® Beef Stock • 4 tbsp. MAGGI® Soy Sauce • 4 tbsp. Plain vinegar • Handful Cilantro leaves • 1/4 tsp. Oregano (ground) • 1 tsp. Black pepper (freshly crushed) • 1 tsp. Cumin (ground) • Salt to taste



Hospitality Workplaces During Covid-19 The industry has spoken and there’s room for improvement


hrough this incredibly challenging year, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate strong leadership and empower your teams to not only survive, but to thrive. As such, CatererGlobal has announced the results of its annual hospitality industry recruitment survey, this year with a strong Covid-19 focus. The survey was conducted at the start of September and completed by over 1,500 respondents, 46 percent of which are residing in the Middle East, and examined three pillars –



employee wellbeing, leadership, and training & development. The audience reflects an experienced group of hospitality professionals from across the hospitality industry, where 68 percent are between the ages of 25-44 and 25 percent have been in their role for three to five years. Twenty percent of respondents are currently unemployed, which offers a formidable insight into the thoughts of a significant and, unfortunately, increasing number of hospitality professionals. Looking at health and mental wellbeing, we looked into the structured

support offered by employers to their colleagues to address mental health and well-being issues. Fifty percent of respondents indicated that their employer didn’t offer any formal support. While clearly this is a concerning fact, it also represents a huge opportunity for greater employee engagement. Highlighting the demand for such initiatives, of the 32 percent of respondents who indicated that their employers did provide formal support, 61 percent of those have utilised the support channels available. Where some may think that mental health and wellbeing initiatives are simply a ‘tick box’ requirement, it’s statistics such as these which show that there is a real appetite for them, and that they are widely utilised when employees are aware of them. Looking further into the key mental wellbeing concerns created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was overwhelmingly evident that the


Jeremy Vercoe, Manager EMEA at CatererGlobal.com

two single biggest areas of concern for employees are financial and job security, and the health and wellbeing of friends and family members. Given that, in many cases, colleagues and associates will be separated from family members in some capacity, potentially for the short or medium-term, while also bearing the load of being a key provider, these results are not surprising. In order to empower teams to not only survive, but to thrive, it’s more important than ever now for businesses to demonstrate strong leadership across all areas of operations. Reassuringly, overall, 59 percent of respondents feel either positive or very positive towards their employer’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with only 19 percent stating that they have a negative view of how things have been handled by their employer. This could be as a result of communication – a marker and key attribute of responsible and positive leadership – with 56 percent of respondents reporting that their employer communicated regularly and sufficiently throughout the pandemic. On the flip side, however, over 30 percent felt that their employer did not communicate effectively.

Respondents were also asked about the expectations set for them in regard to their job role during Covid-19. Fifty-five percent reported that their manager had clearly defined these, whereas 30 percent stated that they were left in the dark, demonstrating sizeable opportunity for improvement. Looking at training and development, 42 percent reported receiving additional training outside of their current department as a result of the crisis. Interestingly, an equal amount did not. When it came to key areas of retraining, these were in F&B, hotel management and housekeeping. Around half of respondents stated that they feel their manager or leadership team provide suitable support for career development, versus 36 percent which don’t feel this is the case. These statistics were particularly interesting when we then looked at mobility amongst employees, with a staggering 67 percent claiming that they plan to make a career move in the next 12-months. Tellingly, 54 percent are looking to make a move in order to develop their career. Particularly in markets where the costs of employment are high in regard to visas, insurance and other overheads, which infers that recruit-

ment costs as a result of high churn, are likely weighing heavily on employers P&L’s. These costs can be avoided relatively easily by putting in place measures which focus on employee retention, which include addressing the key issues highlighted in CatererGlobal’s survey results, across employee wellbeing, leadership, and training & development. With survival being at the forefront of minds for both employers and employees, it’s more important than ever to take stock of current business practices and see how they can be adapted and improved to suit the current climate, taking simple but impactful steps to not only survive through, and beyond, the Covid-19 pandemic, but to thrive and come out stronger than ever.





Keeping it Simple

Chef Kelvin Kelly, head chef at One Life Kitchen and Café, joined the Dubai venue when it opened in 2016, and draws inspiration for dishes from his love for simple meals made daily from fresh produce How have you seen demand for more vegan and healthy options in the UAE grow over the past two years? Growth has been exponential in these two categories, and I think veganism is transforming from, not only just an animal cruelty perspective, but for healthier living, especially in the UAE. It’s no longer just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. With the access to more information on our own intolerances and of course



#vegan on social media, we’ve seen a spike in people making healthier choices when it comes to food. It’s been great to see that restaurants in the UAE have designed menus that can be adapted to an individualised, plant-based living. What can vegans keep an eye out for on menus when ordering out to ensure they get the best dishes? When I’m looking for a vegan menu item, I tend to look for natural ingredients – vegeta-

What makes your meat alternatives different? Here at One Life, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, so we stick to natural ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, beetroot, etc. We feel that natural ingredients are a lot healthier and are free from any chemicals that may be harmful. How do you change your meat dishes into vegan dishes? We don’t, but when creating dishes, we try to create them with the thought of them being adaptable to suit plant-based lifestyles, too. If you look at a lot of our menu items, all of them with the ex-

ception of two, are adaptable to be vegan. So, from inception, all our dishes were created with plant-based diets in mind. We’re not changing it from meat to vegan, it’s both. What are your favourite vegan dishes to cook and why? My favourite vegan dish to cook is an eggplant moussaka using a cashew and coconutbased cheese. I also tend to favour buddha bowls as they are generally raw, vibrant in colour, full of nutrition, and easily adaptable. Do you have any tips and tricks for new vegans when it comes to making meals? Start with the basics and don’t be pressured to overcomplicate things. Vegan dishes are easy to make despite how intimidating they may seem. Lastly, avoid trying to make them taste like meat.

Images courtesy of One Life Kitchen and Café

bles, pulses and legumes, as opposed to meat substitutes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with meat substitutes, but I feel that nutritional value is far greater when consuming naturally grown ingredients.



PURE SIPS Shawn Green, founder of environmentally friendly water purification company Sprudel, talks #PlasticFree drinking solutions for restaurants and hotels in the UAE

Images courtesy of Sprudel

Tell us a bit more about your product. We specialise in mains-fed water dispensers. Designed in Europe and installed by skilled German-trained technicians, our products enable offices, F&B outlets, hotels, and homes to offer and enjoy unlimited still and sparkling water. The mains-fed system completely negates the need for water deliveries, bottle storage and inventory management. Our customers all discover significant savings in time, energy and money. More importantly, Sprudel customers are doing their part for the planet by eliminating single-use plastic bottles from their premises. What innovations have you brought to the UAE market? We’re a UAE-based company and pride ourselves on locally designing and developing new products to support customers in going plastic-free. New additions to our product line-up include our closed-loop bottling system, which allows customers to offer high volumes of bottled drinking water without a single delivery or plastic bottle. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we recently designed a contactless dispensing system which allows our customers to remain plastic-free while maintaining a virus-free environment.

Tell us more about sustainability and what it means for the brand. Sustainability has given birth to the Sprudel brand. The company was created in 2014 to bring planetfriendly drinking water practices to the UAE. Six years later, that mission remains central to an expanded understanding of sustainability which now includes sustainable health and finance. Plastic-free water is, not only good news for the environment, but also healthier for human consumption and lower costs. It really is a win-win. What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced in the wake of Covid-19? Health concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic prompted many to press pause on their plans to go plasticfree. We saw this as an unfortunate backslide in the momentum the UAE community was building towards adopting more sustainable practices. To help customers go plastic-free without jeopardising health and safety measures, we offer a unique, pedal-operated still and sparkling water dispenser which is operated completely hands-free.

What are your future plans? With climate change being an everpresent threat, we simply cannot afford to remain idle. In the near term, we’re focused on helping customers offset the incredible rise in plastic waste generated by pandemic—and related medical equipment, deliveries and safety precautions. In the long term, there is still considerable work to be done in helping new customers go plastic free. Small changes made by clients who cater to large customer bases, such as hotels, restaurants, airports, and the like, can result in a significant reduction in plastic consumption. We plan on helping those customers in their journey. HOTELNEWSME.COM | NOVEMBER 2020




Images courtesy of SWEET EARTH® | Nestlé®

Promising a delicious texture for those who would like to cut down on meat, but still enjoy tasty food, SWEET EARTH® might just be the answer to skyrocketing demand for plant-based products.




Business Executive Officer at Nestlé Professional MENA Joe Aouad gives us a glimpse of the process, philosophy and sustainable promise behind the successful range.

Joe Aouad

Years ago, we would have never thought a plant-based burger could be a match for its meat counterparts. What are the components of a SWEET EARTH® Awesome Burger, and how did you manage to get it just right?

We have a deep, unbridled love for the earth’s natural ingredients: leafy greens, lush fruits and savoury veggies. In our earliest days, we vowed to spend hours in this kitchen, creating delicious plantbased cuisine inspired by every corner of the earth and serving it to serious foodies and vegetarian newcomers alike. The SWEET EARTH Awesome Burger contains 100% plantbased protein that gives you the real burger experience with no compromise on taste or texture. It consists of soy (non-GMO), wheat, beetroot concentrate and coconut oil. The protein is provided by soy and wheat, coconut oil gives the appearance of marbled fat, and beetroot concentrate creates the


and there are three main reasons why people are making the switch. Firstly, and most importantly, some consumers are reducing the amount of meat in their diet for health reasons. Another major concern is the impact of meat on the environment, especially for millennials. Thirdly, animal welfare is another key reason for people switching to a plant-based diet. With this, we built our range to offer customers plantbased meals with all the taste and enjoyment traditionally associated with meat.

rich beefy colour. It’s this passion for all Mother Earth’s gifts that allows us to create foods that nourish your mind, spirit and body in equal measure, and that’s what we promise, every single time.

What about the rise of the ‘flexitarian’ diet?

How do you see the trend towards a more plant-based lifestyle in the region, and more specifically in the UAE?

The plant-based lifestyle has been growing year on year; 65% of diners are now choosing plant-based meals

Plant-based diets are no longer just for vegetarians and vegans. More and more people are becoming flexitarian in their eating habits – choosing to reduce their meat consumption at some or even all their meals. Meat consumption is decreasing by 25% in countries across the world and, each year, there are 76 million new vegetarians. Plant-based food is now for everyone. >>>

SWEET EARTH® Vegetarian Nuggets




Introducing the SWEET EARTH® range in the region

Why is it so important to move away from animal meat?

With 30% of the earth’s entire land surface covered with livestock, raising cattle generates more of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming than transportation. Plant-based diets are proven to be less environmentally intensive than meat-based ones, with animal agriculture putting a burden on our planet’s health due to resources required (land, food and water). This causes greenhouse gas emissions which stop heat from escaping the planet and contribute to climate change. It’s also associated with other environmental concerns including deforestation and air and water pollution in surrounding communities. We plan to continue to develop a wide range of tasty plant-based food options that will help preserve

our planet for future generations. Limiting meat consumption can help reduce the environmental impact in the long run.

venient to prepare and will fit the operations of almost any kitchen as it can be fried, grilled or baked and still taste AWESOME.

What are the best ways for chefs to make the most out of the SWEET EARTH offering?

There is a misconception that plantbased offerings make for higher prices; can small businesses benefit from this range as much as larger chains?

Not only does the AWESOME burger taste great, but it’s also awesome for the body. With less fat, similar protein value and more fibre* in comparison to raw beef burger, chefs can offer guilt-free indulgence for their customers. The AWESOME burger allows you to offer delicious and easy-toprepare options that can cater to every diner’s preferences and needs. Served as a ‘classic burger’ or with a Mexican twist, the patty is very versatile and can handle any flavours chefs throw at it. It’s also so con-

Small businesses can still benefit from our range. Our products are all made with high quality ingredients: they have more flexibility in creating premium and innovative dishes. Hence, the product range is of even higher value to smaller businesses. Studies have shown that, globally, 60% of consumers are more concerned about quality than low prices. Therefore, they are willing to pay more for better quality meals and ingredients. >>>

*Figures for patty only, do not include seasoning, bun or sauce, etc. Raw ground beef from the USDA food database 2019. Source: Nestlé 2019 comparative LCA study. Comparative numbers are based on the SWEET EARTH® Awesome Burger data and average data for beef burger, coming from dairy cow meat, consumed in restaurants in Europe.




100% AWESOME The SWEET EARTH® Awesome Burger is made with simple, plant-based ingredients such as soy (non-GMO), wheat, beetroot concentrate and coconut oil. Protein is provided by soy and wheat, coconut oil gives the appearance of marbled fat, and beetroot concentrate creates the rich beefy colour.




“We’re also planning on introducing some new, exciting products such as the Vegan AWESOME Sausage, Vegetarian Chargrilled Pieces and Vegan Meatballs.” In which countries do you offer the range now and what’s coming up next?

expertise in R&D, our products are regularly being improved and we try to develop more relevant ranges within our portfolio. Nestlé’s strong network of Advisory Chefs will be able to partner with our customers during every step of the way to ensure positive results in a healthy and tasty product. Moreover, Nestlé Professional is also offering continuous marketing support to work on joint business plans and help build awareness, generating more footfall for our customers in this new category.

There are plenty of global plant-based brands entering the UAE market now, in addition to increasing demand from the F&B industry; how have you created a stand-out product?

What does the GCC market lack in terms of plant-based offerings?

We have just launched SWEET EARTH in the UAE and Kuwait with our hero product, the Vegan AWESOME burger, Vegetarian Nuggets and the Vegetarian Schnitzel. Early next year, we will be expanding into Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We’re also planning on introducing some new, exciting products such as the Vegan AWESOME Sausage, Vegetarian Chargrilled Pieces and Vegan Meatballs.

Our product is simply AWESOME; we strive to ensure that there’s no compromise on taste or texture. It’s juicy, has a meaty taste and the texture of ground beef, exactly as you would expect from a beef burger. It transforms during cooking, gets caramelised and crispy on the outside, and stays juicy on the inside. Aside from this, it has a superior nutritional profile. Our products have been benchmarked to NutriScore, a voluntary front-of-pack system developed by France. It rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged foods with a colourcoded system and a scale ranging from A (healthier) to E (less healthy choice). Our patty has a scored a Grade A on the Nutri-Score compared to a B or C of other competitor plantbased patties. With our strong 40


Awareness and availability. Most people are not aware of what plant-based products are, what they are made of and the health benefits of consuming these in comparison to meat. Consumers who are looking for meat alternatives say they are difficult to find, as they are not widely available in the out-of-home industry. Those outlets that do cater to vegans and flexitarians still lack in providing a great alternative in terms of taste and texture. Is plant-based the future of food?

Our region is heavily affected by health-related concerns such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol etc. Reducing the consumption of meat can be a great aid to these concerns, which is why HEALTH is the #1 motivation to switch to plant-based meat alternatives in the MENA. Add this to the sustainability of our planet and an AWESOME tasting range; yes, it is the future of food.






A Friendly Face ZABEEL HOUSE BY JUMEIRAH, THE GREENS General Manager Luke James joined the hip, modern property in 2018; here, he shares his journey with Hotel & Catering News ME




Tell us a bit more about your journey as a hotelier. I have over 20 years of experience in F&B and hospitality at a number of international hotels, resorts, beach clubs, restaurants, and bars across Australia and the UAE. Prior to joining Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens, as general manager in April 2018, I worked for Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Jumeirah Restaurant Group as operations manager, Kerzner (One&Only), Monte Carlo SBM and Media One Hotel. I began my career by owning my own businesses, which taught me the value of operating a property as if it were your own - I live by that mantra every day. What sets your management style apart? I believe in teamwork and making sure every team member develops, individually and collectively. Running a community-centred hotel, it’s vital to hear team members’ opinions and suggestions – I want them involved in all aspects of decision-making. I’m very active across the operation, interacting with colleagues and guests. I cannot expect my team to build relationships with guests if I’m not fronting that charge. I believe I lead by example in that respect. What are the unique points of this community hotel? As a community hotel, our design and overall feel is urban casual, reflected in the funky New York-style rooms

and public spaces. The vibe is complemented by our cool and laid-back staff. We also pride ourselves in our two eclectic in-house F&B concepts, LAH LAH, the panAsian kitchen and bar, and Social Company, the super hip dine, drink and chill venue. Both outlets offer something for everyone, every day of the week, whether it’s a place to celebrate, a casual bite to eat, or a venue to welcome the weekend in with live acoustic music and awesome beverage deals. Pooches are welcome, too! Another concept we launched in late 2019 is the chic and urban pop-up, Asian street food eatery, LAH LAH BAZAAR. As soon as the Dubai weather turns balmy, a new set up comes to life on the massive outdoor area of LAH LAH, with food trucks, pop-up bars, live music and familyfriendly entertainment every weekend (Thu-Sat) throughout winter. Home to the first all-organic spa in Dubai, our in-house Native Club spa boasts a range of detoxifying treatments, while the Native Club gym is packed with state-of-the-art equipment, and is home to a unique and exciting line up of fitness and wellness classes such as bootcamps and relaxing yoga and beats sessions. An overall community hub, we have plenty of coworking spaces with private lounges and sharing desks at The Study. Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens is the ultimate hangout in the neighbourhood – we’re perfect for work, dine and play.

What are some of the main challenges you face in running the hotel? Recently, the biggest challenge has been Covid-19. Amid widespread society-wide lockdowns from April to June, movement and travel restrictions placed a strain on the business. It was challenging to stay relevant and bordering on impossible to attract footfall. My priority was protecting and retaining my team – and they stepped up by steering our ‘Help Thy Neighbours’ initiative, which aimed to help neighbours in surrounding areas during lockdown.

What’s the importance of online hotel reviews and social media feedback, and how much of it do you take on board? Feedback is imperative to any business. We deal with people every day. Our customer reviews are invaluable – they help us grow as individuals and as a team. Thanks to technology, we can now interact with guests directly through social media, giving us the chance to be a part of their experience with an omnichannel approach. We keep them happy through in-house services, while using social >>> HOTELNEWSME.COM | NOVEMBER 2020



“Set to run every weekend from October 22, LAH LAH BAZAAR will see the hotel’s expansive outdoor terrace decked out with a pop-up bar and food truck serving street food-style Asian eats including light bites, skewers and desserts.”


platforms to stay in the loop of their current experience, making it easier to rectify any issues on the spot. Staying on top of guests’ feedback through social media, and other online portals, in a timely manner is key.

ment throughout the hotel. Through our organisational structure, my team has daily direct contact with me, which enables us to maintain very high colleague engagement scores as people feel they have a voice.

How do you evaluate employee performance, and keep your team motivated? Our HR team keeps the family spirit up by organising weekly/monthly catch-ups and one-to-ones, birthday celebrations, internal colleague recognitions (colleague of the month/quarter/year), and other initiatives such as helping colleagues’ families financially facing hardship and assisting me to lead the People of Determination commit-

What systems do you have in place for resolving guest complaints? As well as daily logbooks and guest feedback systems, we have a real sense of ownership for when something doesn’t quite go the way we intended. For example, the team are empowered to solve issues or enhance guest experiences by personally taking control of situations to ensure overwhelmingly positive experiences.


What would you like to tell visitors about the hotel’s F&B offerings? LAH LAH and Social Company have become fan-favourite culinary destinations. Guests can retreat to the

most remarkable pan-Asian cuisine at LAH LAH, tuck into Asian street food at LAH LAH Bazaar, or feed on homely, classic and heart-warming international dishes at Social Company.


“Our customer reviews are invaluable – they help us grow as individuals and as a team.”

What’s on at LAH LAH? Welcoming the onset of cooler temperatures, Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens has relaunched the pop-up Asian street food eatery and alfresco terrace – LAH LAH BAZAAR. Set to run every weekend from October 22, LAH LAH BAZAAR will see the hotel’s expansive outdoor terrace decked out with a pop-up bar and food truck serving street food-style Asian eats including light bites, skewers and desserts. Favourites like the Thai fish cake, vegetable spring rolls, chicken katsu sando and tempura prawn skewers are all on the menu.

Guests can also choose one from a selection of meats, complete with vegetarian options hot off the grill, which includes half chicken, chicken wings, wagyu rib eye, striploin, vegan steaks, or Vietnamese aromatic lamb chops – served with BBQ sauce, Korean spicy coleslaw and French fries. Guests can also indulge in an alfresco ‘Bazaar Brunch’ and tuck into a three-hour package of a specially curated menu featuring some of LAH LAH’s signature dishes, paired with free-flowing house beverages for AED 269 per person. The Bazaar Brunch is available from 6pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 12nn on Saturdays. The opening weekend will host 20 homegrown talents including DJs and live musicians Khalil Barazi, Leon Knight, David Craig, Soulninja and Jon Besant, among others, setting the soundtrack for the weekend with a blend of disco, funk, soul, old school hip hop and house. Moreover, there will be a schedule of events throughout the three-day fetes, running weekly through the season.

Images courtesy of Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens

Tell us a bit more about the new measures in place for Covid-19. Aligned with the government’s health and safety regulations, we ensure social distancing at our venues through strategic table planning. We also make sure there are plenty of sanitisation points throughout the hotel. Upon arrival, all guests’ temperatures are checked, and upon check in, we recommend contactless payment to lessen physical interactions. Room welcome hampers now also include masks, sanitising wipes and sanitiser gels.

How has your strategy shifted? The formula remains the same, it’s aligned with our goal of staying relevant within our community and keeping our guests happy through exciting activities and concepts. Amid the ongoing pandemic, global travel restrictions have obviously affected our strategy. Although Dubai is open to visitors, we’re currently focusing more on staycation experiences over international guests.





Earlier this year, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced the establishment of the Restaurants Business Group, a new organisation that will support the sector by unifying the voices of member companies. Here, Gates Hospitality Founder and Chief Executive Naim Maadad shares his views on being part of food and beverage’s newest representative body.




“The new entity provides a platform to share knowledge and make policy recommendations by unifying the voices of member companies.” Tell us more about Dubai’s Restaurants Business Group; what are some of its main goals and why was it established? The vision of the Restaurants Business Group is to be the premiere representative body of the food and beverage Industry, providing members with comprehensive, validated resources and guidance for sustained business growth. Our mission is to promote and be a catalyst force in industry development by sharing best practices and improving the competitiveness of our members’ businesses; be a respected voice of action for Dubai’s food and beverage industry by acting as a synergistic liaison hub between businesses and government; and connect various disciplines of the industry. You are among the F&B leaders who have joined the body; what are your main goals and what does your role entail? I was invited to join the group, a non-profit body under the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was inaugurated with an aim to serve common interests and tackle restaurant sector challenges through cooperation with relevant authorities in the emirate. My experience of nearly four decades in the multiple fields of hotels, resorts, food and beverage, spas and wellness, and more was taken into consideration and the main reason for the invite being extended. The

main goal is to contribute through my experience, and it being a time for reflection in an effort to give back to the industry. With a wide variety of restaurant businesses in Dubai constituting a part of the body, the new entity provides a platform to share knowledge and make policy recommendations by unifying the voices of member companies. How has the group’s importance been underlined as venues all over Dubai were reopening, and continue to do so? The Restaurants Business Group has just been formed and we’re still setting up the administration, defining our scope, heavily investing in culinary industry best practices, and representing food and beverage entities with a unifying voice. How would you describe the city’s F&B industry? Is it very different now from how it used to be a while back? The city of Dubai is very vibrant with a unique congregation of high-value local brands, as well as truly global brands, in an extremely positive way. The very welcoming support extended by government authorities, as well as the wonderful infrastructure, were the main reasons for the huge success of businesses across industries. It’s certainly very different now – as it is globally in the post-pandemic environment. However, given the vibrancy of the city of Dubai, we’re confident that the industry will definitely bounce back and become even better than before with the muchneeded support of all stakeholders. We’re indeed on the right track for future enhancement. What are some of the biggest challenges that the industry is facing, and how do you see the landscape evolving? The biggest challenges in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic are the demographic changes, mar-

ket correction on all fronts of the commercial trade, population size and disproportion in supply and demand. The landscape is still evolving and all stakeholders in the industry need to refuel the revival of the economy with due diligence on all fronts. There needs to be conducive environment created, in which operators work on projects that complement each other and do not compete, destroying and undercutting mutual opportunities of growth. We will focus on enforcing confidence and encourage all to act responsibly. Months ago, you had remarked that “nobody was going to make money” in Dubai’s F&B sector this year. Do you still hold the same views? Unfortunately, the reality of my comment still stands and holds true. There was a specific period in the year wherein the industry was completely under lockdown – but the overheads were still incurred and locked in. We’re hugely confident that, with the support of the local government authorities and strength of Brand Dubai, there would be a path to revival soon with the opening up of the city as well as the push for economic growth. The reactivation process will take place in a safe and reopened environment with the Expo 2020 event in October 2021 as the climax relaunch. Certainly, it’s an expected positive vibe in times ahead. The liveliness will certainly return to Dubai as it always does… How does the group aim to support businesses over the coming period of time? The Restaurants Business Group will earnestly support members via a unified voice and represent the fraternity through various channels, which will work in harmony and transparency with the entire supply chain in the short-, medium- and long-term. HOTELNEWSME.COM | NOVEMBER 2020



Chain of the month


Fairmont The Palm



Lion Camp by Mantis Deluxe Suite


Left: Raffles Seychelles, Praslin

Above, top to bottom: Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk Sofitel The Palm Dubai

Accor is one of the leading hotel operators in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, with 299 operating properties (64,856 keys) and another 175 (42,194 keys) in its development pipeline. Recent openings include the Sofitel The Obelisk in Dubai, which is the largest Sofitel in the region, with over 498 rooms and suites, as well as 97 furnished apartments. Located at lifestyle destination WAFI, the property completes the mall complex and complements the iconic Raffles Dubai pyramid. Also expected to open in Dubai in 2021, the luxurious, all-inclusive Rixos hotel in the upcoming “Jewel of the Creek” development, featuring 437 keys and 330 suites. The property will be located in proximity to some of Dubai’s major heritage landmarks such as the Old Souk and the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood. Fairmont Ajman HOTELNEWSME.COM | NOVEMBER 2020




MARK WILLIS CEO, Middle East & Africa, Accor You have successfully implemented the ALLSAFE programme across your properties; how has the process been like across MENA properties and how was it received? Indeed, over 70% of our properties in the Middle East and Africa region are now fully ALLSAFE-certified after implementing all the requirements. The ALLSAFE programme was developed alongside Bureau Veritas, which has provided a very specific list of implementation requirements for hotels to complete. These requirements were shared with hotels alongside a selection of assets to assist them in branding and communication to guests. Overall, it has been a very seamless process, mainly due to the fantastic close collaboration between the regional office and the teams on the ground in hotels; of course, the support of our partners was also crucial in implementing the programme so quickly. Tell us more about your Swissôtel expansion in Saudi Arabia, and what it means for the current hospitality landscape in the Kingdom. We’re seeing strong potential for growing the Swissôtel



brand in key destinations across Saudi Arabia, with a specific focus on Riyadh, Khobar and Madinah. These opportunities are driven by the strong perception that the brand has among Saudi travellers, driven by the two iconic Swissotel properties in Makkah, part of Abraaj Al Bait and our global flagship Swissôtel and Swissôtel Living The Bosphorus in Istanbul, as well as the overall

growth of the brand in the Middle East region. With the debut of the Swissôtel Living brand in KSA, scheduled to open in Jeddah in 2021, we anticipate even more opportunities to arise under the brand in standalone serviced apartment and co-located branded residences projects, which it’s highly geared for with the support of our global residential team.

What about the upcoming Jewel of the Creek masterplan? How will the development help the area’s hospitality potential? We’re very excited about the opening of Rixos Jewel of the Creek; this project definitely has the potential to become a destination within itself. The progress that Dubai Developments has achieved at the Creek has been exceptional


“WE’RE SEEING STRONG POTENTIAL FOR GROWING THE SWISSÔTEL BRAND IN KEY DESTINATIONS ACROSS SAUDI ARABIA, WITH A SPECIFIC FOCUS ON RIYADH, KHOBAR AND MADINAH.” during the past years, culminating in what we see today, which really is a destination filled with entertainment and lifestyle activities for residents and tourists alike. All of the above, combined with the outstanding products and services that the Rixos brand is known for, are the perfect combination to bring the Creek firmly onto the Dubai map as a “must see” for international and local visitors. What sort of revenue strategy are you relying on at the moment, while the future remains rather uncertain in the wake of the pandemic? Our commercial activations at the moment are focused on tourism within countries as well as regional travel, mainly due to ongoing restrictions within the region and internationally. As an example, we have launched an exclusive promotion for our loyalty members of ALL – Accor Live Limitless. This offer provides members with up to 50% off on rooms, F&B and Spa when visiting any of our participating properties within the region. Alongside “staycations” and regional demand, we’re also slowly starting to see demand from international markets, such as the UK, France and Germany. However, we believe that the coming months will remain driven by local stays within countries (as we’re already seeing in the UAE, Egypt and Morocco), as well as some short-haul interest within the region.

Accor Middle East & Africa on Instagram With the launch of ALL- Accor Live Limitless last year, the group has established new ways to interact with its guests all over the world. For the Middle East & Africa region, the Instagram account @all_mea was created in order to disseminate inspirational content which centres around guests’ passions.

The platform also constitutes a tool to communicate the latest news and promotions, such as the exclusive offering for ALL – Accor Live Limitless members, up to 50% OFF offer on staycation, meal and spa experiences across the group’s hotels in region.

ALLSAFE Programme Given recent global events, the health, safety and wellbeing of team members, guests and partners remains the group’s top priority, Accor has highlighted. Offering reassurance to travellers as they head back into the world, Accor’s ALLSAFE cleanliness programme protects guests and

teams, while assuring travellers that they can feel safe at all properties. The group has joined forces with Bureau Veritas, a provider in testing, inspection and certification, to develop a label designed to certify that the appropriate safety standards and cleaning protocols have been achieved, in order to allow businesses to reopen. Accor has also taken the step of establishing a complementary medical support service, available to all of its guests through a worldwide partnership with AXA insurance. In the Middle East & Africa region, over 70% of the properties currently operating have already been ALLSAFE-certified, with the aim to have 100% of the portfolio in the region certified by end of 2020.

ALL Heartist Fund The ALL Heartist Fund has been established by Accor in April 2020 to help team members or business partners in distress due to the impact of Covid-19, as well as frontline professionals (such as medical staff) battling the pandemic. The total value of the global fund is 70 million Euros, which are currently being distributed across different regions to ensure that decisions and payments are localised and made swiftly. For the

Middle East & Africa region, over 2,500 grants have already been processed, with a global amount of more than 35,000 grants already approved.




The Grind

and learn more about the journey from crop to cup. Every coffee has its own story and we want to share that story with our customers through a unique experience that keeps them coming back for more. Tell us more about sustainability and what it means for the brand. Sustainability is one of our key organisational strategies. We’re constantly looking at innovative ways to reduce our impact on the environment. This is achieved across our packaging, supplies, ingredients, cleaning products, building materials used, energy and water consumption, and an effective waste management programme. What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced in the wake of Covid-19? The ongoing challenge is to ensure that all staff are healthy and that the store environment is COVID-safe for everyone. This means we must be vigilant in meeting all COVID protocols with regards to cleaning, sanitising, the correct use of PPE, checking temperatures, social distancing and testing for staff.

Encounter Coffee Roasters SEAN TRINDER | GENERAL MANAGER Tell us a bit more about your product. Our primary focus is coffee, such as espresso-based beverages and filtered coffee. We also roast coffee beans daily and package them for retail, B2B and B2C. We offer various teas and popular beverage items, in addition to a delectable assortment of premium



baked goods designed to complement the coffee experience, such as pastries, brownies and cakes. What innovations have you brought to the UAE market? Our 360-degree barista experience enables customers to explore coffee

What are your future plans? We plan to grow and develop Encounter Coffee into the most outstanding specialty coffee lifestyle brand.


tions of specialty coffee. Whether it’s making sure the coffee we buy is at a price that’s reasonable for the roaster and the farm, or ensuring that the roasters take an approach to reinvest in the farms to improve their technology is some of the ways we approach sustainability. We also believe in creating a sustainable local business environment by working with ingredients and products from homegrown local concepts and even collaborating with them for a one-time event.

1004 Gourmet | Kaffe Bloom CHANG SUP SHIN | CEO

What makes your coffee product special? Our products include high-quality coffee beans from The Barn, an award-winning roastery based in Berlin. The unique single origins to try are Volcan Azul from Costa Rica with notes of dried fig and vanilla; Ivory PB from Kenya with a sweeter jammy taste of blackberry and cane sugar; as well as Elida Estate Geisha from Panama with flavours of peach, black tea and floral. Blot Coffee is another well-known coffee brand that’s imported from Seoul. The single origins they have are once a year, limited-edition roasts. Must-try combinations are Damarli Estate Anaerobic from Panama with notes of tropical fruit, red plum and watermelon; Shakisso Natural from Guji Ethiopia with a hint of lavender, grapes and blueberry; lastly, La Riveria Geisha from Colombia with a floral essence with black tea and orange. What innovations have you introduced to the UAE market? We’re not reinventing the way coffee is brewed, but are trying to enhance the experience the consumer has

before drinking the coffee. We like to work with a variety of roasters who work directly with small farms that grow very special coffee with incredible flavours. Providing six to eight different varieties or origins of coffee beans on a monthly basis is a challenge, but we love learning about and selecting the beans every time. By doing so, our customers can try different flavour profiles of the farm and the roaster, and every month it will change. If the beans are out of season, they will have to wait until next year as every batch is limited. We also make sure the beans are calibrated to optimal quality, so that we can make the most out of the brew. That means testing different grind sizes and the volume of coffee and the temperature, as well as the extraction so that we can maximise the flavour that comes out of that cup. Learning about our ethos and processes from farm to cup is what our customers come to Kaffe Bloom for and this is how we innovate the experience of drinking coffee. Tell us more about ‘going green’ and what it means for the brand. Sustainability is one of the founda-

What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced in the wake of Covid-19? The lower capacity to seat customers is the first challenge, which leads to lower sales. In response to this, we have focused more on marketing on online platforms. Also, Covid-19 has led to a lot of customers being more selective about their spending, which has resulted in less dining out and ordering in. So, we have made affordable meal options for people who want a healthy meal at a reasonable price. There are also extra added costs of serving food on disposable plates and cutlery which adds to our bottom line. What’s in the pipeline? We’re always trying to come up with new, interesting ideas to retain customers and capture their attention on a consistent basis. One of the best ways since April has been our cooking classes. We have created a great educational platform for our customers to learn how to cook Asian food in their homes by sending ingredient kits and doing cooking classes over Zoom. Besides that, we’re continuously developing new dishes such as our soy-cured salmon and popular side dishes we’ve been selling since our new Korean chef joined us in August. Finally, we hope to collaborate with local chefs and brands to create interesting events and dishes for our customers. HOTELNEWSME.COM | NOVEMBER 2020



Salmeen Al Ameri, CEO, Food Crowd and Al Dahra

DELIVERING FRESHNESS Food Crowd and Al Dahra CEO Salmeen Al Ameri reveals the all-new platform’s strategy to controlling the supply chain for the best delivery outcome



Tell us a bit more about Food Crowd. Food Crowd is the UAE’s all-new platform – we deliver the best selection of fruits and vegetables, dairy, grocery, fresh meats and beverages. We have local sourcing from our farms within the UAE, Serbia and Egypt and this ensures quality and freshness as we have tight control over the supply chain. Under the ownership of Al Dahra, a prominent multinational leader in products, food commodities, and supply chain management which has a presence in over 45 countries across the world, we’re revolutioniaing the e-grocery market by providing products directly from producers and growers. We have a strong commitment towards innovation and sustainability, like our parent company, where we use reusable packaging and provide contactless delivery. Our prices are competitive as our business model involves eliminating the middleman. We’re the ONLY organic chicken producer in the region, which allows us to place our product at a good price in the market. We also have a strategic partnership with ADAFSA (Abu Dhabi Agriculture & Food Security Authority) where we work closely to support local farmers. Our platform also connects the UAE’s food-loving community through a designated Community Page with curated recipes, video tutorials and tips that wholesomely improve people’s lifestyle from renowned regional experts. Food Crowd encourages the community to communicate and connect through the food they cook, eat and serve with friends and families through the interactive Community Page.


“WE’RE THE ONLY ORGANIC CHICKEN PRODUCER IN THE REGION.” What are some of the newest brands and products you offer on the platform? We have an exclusive organic range from some of our own brands including Ajbanona, Al Dahra Poultry and Al Hosn, which offer chicken, milk, cheese and rice. Our platform also sells fresh produce from our own farms in Egypt, Serbia and the UAE such as lettuce, white cabbage, cucumbers, spring onions, capsicums, green beans, and grapes – to name a few. These products follow our strictest quality protocols and are farmed using our most advanced technological processes, which minimise human interaction and waste. We also offer our own Food Crowd boxes which includes a fruit, vegetable, dairy and a mixed box which allows our consumers to shop at one-go – giving them the convenience and flexibility to choose the freshest produce in the shortest period of time. Many of our consumers are genuinely surprised at the variety of fruits and vegetables that we grow and provide right here in the UAE – we’re proud to be leading the change towards shopping and supporting local.

What are your future plans? Are you looking to expand in the MENA region? We aim to become the #1 e-grocery platform of choice for UAE consumers, which offers a wide selection of products. We want to become a one-stop-shop for their daily shopping needs and a digital space that unites the UAE’s foodloving community. Our current focus is the UAE, but we’re open to exploring the wider region in the future since Al Dahra has an established agricultural presence in over 45 countries across the world. What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced while setting up Food Crowd in the wake of Covid-19? Border restrictions and supply chain management issues did affect us initially, but we’re better equipped to deal with them considering Al Dahra’s wide global footprint. Covid-19 has also shifted consumer attitudes towards online shopping in the UAE and the wider region. It has left a widening gap in the UAE’s online grocery sector. The pandemic has definitely accelerated our market entry as Food Crowd was created with the aim to address this gap by providing the UAE’s savvy online shoppers access to the best quality products at the most competitive prices from brands they trust.

“FOOD CROWD ENCOURAGES THE COMMUNITY TO COMMUNICATE AND CONNECT THROUGH THE FOOD THEY COOK, EAT AND SERVE.” How is Al Dahra helping the UAE achieve its food security goals? Recognising the challenges posed by climate change and global warming, in addition to the continuing decrease in cultivable land and diminishing water resources available for farming, Al Dahra emphasises on keeping Water and Food Security at the core of its strategy. Food Security has become a critical topic when other dimensions are factored in such as population growth, volatility of raw material, transportation costs and reduced global investments in food and agricultural development. Al Dahra has partnered with the United Arab Emirates government to execute the nation’s food security vision, where we aim to preserve national water resources and ensure self-sufficiency and sustainability of key commodity supply. How are Al Dahra and Food Crowd implementing innovation and sustainability in their daily practices? Since Al Dahra is a company focused on agriculture, we use sustainable agricultural practices across the board as the sector is the largest consumer of water. We believe we have a responsibility to preserve water and use it consciously and economically – we use the latest technologies to employ the best irrigation systems and practices across all our farms. We also ensure soil preservation and safety of production through careful procurement and a sourcing mechanism for fertilisers and pesticides. The whole Food Crowd has been created with sustainability at its core too, whether it’s our focus on pushing local produce or our use of reusable packaging across all our products with a minimum waste policy. HOTELNEWSME.COM | NOVEMBER 2020




It’s a Goal

Jaime Buxó, chief development officer of Barceló Hotel Group tells Hotel & Catering News ME all about the exclusivity agreement with LaLiga, to develop a new entertainment concept for its hotels in the Middle East and North Africa – LaLiga TwentyNine’s. Why did Barceló Hotel Group decide to partner with LaLiga for the TwentyNine’s concept? We have been recognised as one of the top international hotel chains in the world, with currently over 250 hotels in 23 countries worldwide, including 18 properties across four countries in the MENA region. The partnership with LaLiga is a strategic step to showcase the strengths of both companies in creating innovative new concepts which appeal to a bigger, loyal and growing audience. How did the concept come about? The project and partnership with Barceló is a continuation of LaLiga’s aim to provide the best fan experience around its competition and further engage football fans around the world. This comes from the league’s internationalisation strategy and it’s wider brand message – ‘Its not football. It’s LaLiga’.



Watching sport in a bar with your friends is a popular activity worldwide, but we wanted to go further than being just another licensed venue. There was a need to modernise the concept of a sports bar by incorporating activities that would engage today’s consumer, including good food, technology and an unrestricted range of sports. What makes TwentyNine’s so unique? What can we expect? LaLiga TwentyNine’s takes its name from 1929, the year that LaLiga was created. It will combine gastronomy, entertainment, football and other sports in a unique and interactive environment, with technology playing a key role. Fans and guests alike can look forward to a spacious dining lounge, a multi-purpose stand that recreates the stands found in LaLiga stadiums and eSports for gamers.

There will also be fan engagement and merchandising areas and a ‘Beat Center’, where they can learn more about LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank, buy products or participate in contests and quizzes about the competition. At certain locations, we will have the ‘B-eat Experience’, a premium area that will combine unique gastronomic experiences with 360º projections. Where will the venues be located? There are two confirmed openings in Barcelona and Tarragona in Spain, along with the agreement with Barceló to open sites in Middle Eastern countries. In this region, the venues will be integrated in our hotels’ offerings; we’re looking at options in different locations and countries, and studying locations in Dubai and Morocco. What are some of the F&B offerings you’ll be serving up? We will work with our local partners to offer a mix of the very best local and international cuisine in each venue. Does TwentyNine’s concept fit with all brands within the Barceló Hotel Group? Any special brand affinity? Yes, definitely. We, at the Barceló Hotel Group, put excellent hospitality service and unforgettable experiences at the forefront of our business. It’s in our DNA to focus on innovation and guest satisfaction across all our portfolio and brands. Whether the chosen brand is Royal Hideaway, Barceló, Occidental and/or Allegro, our commitment to excellence remains at the highest standards. On that note, we are fully in line with LaLliga’s goals to further en-


Jaime Buxó, Chief Development Officer, Barceló Hotel Group

of the best offers in Malé – Barceló Nasandhura Male – and Occidental Bodufinolhu. We’re in advanced negotiations to enter Bali and keep growing our presence in the region . We’re pleased that Barceló Hotel Group has been widely welcomed in the region and beyond, thanks to the group’s values, and flexible and personalised approach to all stakeholders, specially owning companies. We are the owners of many or our hotels, mainly in the Caribbean, with large resorts and we’re not pretending to grow faster than we can; we must grow consolidating every step with strong local partners.


Images courtesy of LaLiga TwentyNine’s

hance consumers’ experience at every level. TwentyNine’s concept is engaging and unique, much like the existing outlets we currently have at our hotels and resorts; it will definitely add distinct value to our host properties.

Does Barceló Hotel Group have any further plans of expanding in the Middle East? What’s in the pipeline? The region’s favouring of the middle- to high-end segment of tourism, an area in which Barceló has an abundance of experience, makes the Middle East an ideal location for our growth plans. We currently have four properties in the UAE, Barceló Residences Dubai Marina, ideal for long-stay guests, the newly renovated Occidental Sharjah Grand, Occidental Dubai Production City, renowned for its excellent food and beverage, and our premium offering Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel. We will also be opening a third Occidental property in the upcoming Al Jaddaf district. At the same time, our regional management company based in Dubai – Barceló Hotel Group Gulf – has opened doors to our expansion in destinations like Sri Lanka, where we will add two properties, Occidental Eden Beruwala and Occidental Paradise Dambulla, ready for next April 2021, and will enter Maldives with one




Origin Green

Sustainability across Ireland’s food supply chain Operating on a national scale, Origin Green is Ireland’s pioneering food and drink sustainability programme. In an exclusive interview with Hotel & Catering News Middle East, Deirdre Ryan, director of Origin Green and Sustainable Assurance, Bord Bia (Irish Food Board), shares her views on the Irish industry. What’s Origin Green and how has it helped the Irish food and drink industry?

Origin Green is Ireland’s food and drink sustainability programme, established by Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) in 2012. It’s driving sustainability improvements across the entire supply chain, from farmers and manufacturers, to foodservice and retailers. Recognising that Origin Green was uniquely placed to play a pivotal role in helping the Irish food and drink industry deliver meaningful contributions to the advancement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their associated targets, the programme continues to evolve to advance this global agenda. What progress has Origin Green made since it was established in 2012?

Many of Ireland’s food and drink producers and dedicated farmers are eight years into their Origin Green journey. The key benefits of the programme are more environmentally aware farms, an important focus on community, and enhanced sustainable food and drink production, which ultimately contribute to sustainable livelihoods. Since its inception, Origin Green has grown to collaborate with 53,000 farms and 330 leading Irish food and drink companies. Providing programmes for farmers, manufacturers and retailers, the programme is independently monitored and verified at every stage. Members of Origin Green account for 90% of Ireland’s food and drink exports and 70% of its domestic retailers.



How will Origin Green reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions?

Over the past five years, all members have achieved significant results and the programme’s critical focus on proof and progress provides strong foundations for facing the challenges of the future. Over 260,000 carbon assessments have taken place on beef and dairy farms over this period. Origin Green’s Progress Update highlights that farms which joined the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) in 2014 saw an average 5% reduction in CO2 per unit of beef produced, while farms that joined the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) in the same year saw an average of 9% reduction in CO2 per unit of milk produced. Food manufacturers also reduced energy usage by 11% and water usage by 17% per unit of output. Origin Green makes very strong claims about the sustainable and environmental performance of producers in Ireland. What’s the scientific evidence and data to support this?

The sustainability targets set by Origin Green-verified members are independently reviewed and third party verified on an annual basis by international verification specialists Mabbett. Bord Bia is an accredited certification body and the sustainable assurance farm schemes meet an internationally recognised standard (ISO17065). It’s worth noting that carbon footprint assessments are independently accredited by the Carbon Trust to its PAS 2050 Standard.

Deirdre Ryan, Director of Origin Green and Sustainable Assurance, Bord Bia

Origin Green has incorporated the SDGs and the corresponding targets in its objectives and uses them as guidance in the ongoing development of the programme. In 2016, Bord Bia demonstrated the alignment of the Origin Green Charter with nine of the 17 UN SDGs. The Charter guides the development of a three- to five-year plan committing to specific sustainability improvements across three key areas: raw material sourcing, manufacturing/operational processes and social sustainability. Subsequently, with the addition of new target areas to the charter such as packaging under raw material sourcing and diversity and inclusion under social sustainability, the Origin Green Charter now aligns with 15 of the 17 UN SDGs. To further support Origin Green’s alignment with the UN SDGs, Bord Bia became a United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) member on June 26, 2018. This further guides Bord Bia’s ongoing development and evolution of the Origin Green programme into the future and deepens Bord Bia’s steadfast commitment to promoting the delivery of the SDGs within the Irish food and drink industry.

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Profile for BNC Publishing

Hotel & Catering News ME - November 2020  

Hotel & Catering News ME - November 2020