Page 1

Hotel&Catering NEWS Middle East DECEMBER 2020



The Sofitel Dubai Downtown general manager on how women can make it in a male-dominated industry, Accor’s RiiSE initiative and leading through tough times




Orzu Hospitality Group’s UAE market entry strategy in times of pandemic

A Jumeirah Al Qasr venue’s approach to the art of fine dining

A new platform is on a mission to make wellness travel more accessible

Create your sweet signature

The NESTLÉ Docello™ product range provides much more than just convenience and consistency. It provides the perfect base for chefs to express their creativity.

Contact us now to request for your free demo 600595950 NestleProfessionalFoodMENA






Caroline Trichet, Sofitel Dubai Downtown general manager, on how women can make it in a maledominated industry, Accor’s RiiSE initiative and leading through tough times


Sofitel Dubai Downtown


MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE Executive Chefs Somopriyo Basu and Sergio Cabrera share their top recipes, brought to you by Nestlé Professional MENA



The Essence of Thai

Emaar Hospitality Group

Pai Thai, an awardwinning Thai restaurant serving aromatic, traditional dishes, located at Jumeirah Al Qasr



Festive Delights

Down to Business

Chef Middle East hosts Christmas Desserts Festival at Gallery 27

Renan Astolpho, Four Seasons Hotel DIFC


What’s in store? Maxime Poukhnoi, managing director at Cellar Concept

The Group has defined its credentials in the hotel industry with the launch of three brands, each with a distinct niche – Address Hotels and Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts and Rove Hotels. 56 MARKETPLACE

The Right Timing

The Sweetest Pleasures: Baking & Desserts

Orzu Hospitality Group has announced its launch in the UAE

Chef Middle East Simply Kitchen La Serre Boulangerie







DOWN TO AN ART Daniel Boulud, chef-owner of several award-winning restaurants and catering company Feast & Fêtes



Rebalance, Recharge, Repeat Retreatmi.com, founded by Stacey Elizabeth Sharp, a STOTT Pilates teacher and nutritionist, with the aim of making wellness travel more accessible.



Beauty by the Red Sea Resorts, Uncovered: Baron Palace, Sahl Hasheesh



Brian Voelzing Group Executive Chef, Lincoln Hospitality (La Serre, Taikun, Distillery and The Loft) and Restaurant Secrets



Whether you’re smearing it on a toast or sautéing vegetables, butter is a vital ingredient used by celebrated chefs all over the world. More than 95% of chefs in France and Europe say that butter is essential for cooking and baking, especially for its flavour. It elevates the flavour of any dish and adds finesse. Gastronomic dairy butter is excellent when making a sauce: it helps the ingredients’ flavour shine, bringing more aroma to the dish compared to vegetable alternatives.

The content of this ad 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.


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

SUBSCRIBE Contact subscriptions@bncpublishing.net to receive Hotel & Catering News ME every issue

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

In addition to our print edition, we’re bringing you all sorts of industry news on our web mediums. We’re looking forward to interacting with our readers on all of our social media and web platforms. See you on the web!

HotelNewsME @HotelCateringME Hotel & Catering News Middle East HotelCateringNewsME

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.

Authentically Emirati By Chef Hind Al Mulla

Emirati Chef Hind Al Mulla incorporated French dairy cream by bringing new dimensions to typical UAE sweets. Her dessert is an entremet with cardamom and cinnamon whipped cream. The collection of elements came together with a surprising amount of texture.

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.


The best things about the ‘worst year ever’


n 2018, medieval scholar Michael McCormick nominated 536 as “the worst year to be alive” because of extreme weather events probably caused by a volcanic eruption early in the year, causing average temperatures in Europe and China to decline and resulting in crop failures and famine for well over a year. TIME magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek has declared 2020 as the worst year ever in a cover story that may resonate with many of us living in times of pandemic. With hopes and not-sodistant dreams of a vaccine ending the plight of populations around the world, the hospitality and F&B industries continue to fluctuate, with reports from key industry players steering clear of rocking the boat in the most diplomatic of ways. While crystal-balling 2021 may deem inefficient at this point, predicting upcoming trends may just be the most positive approach for now. According



to industry analysis, a higher level of customer service is definitely in the cards. Guests can expect hotels to up their guest-satisfaction game, catering to a more cautious consumer with demands that may go beyond what we would traditionally witness in hospitality settings. A rise in staycations may be stating the obvious, but it’s also noteworthy to study new age groups and classes, which may emerge with traveller profiles that require a certain type of service and product; F&B will need to follow suite, adapting fine dining concepts to more hip, storytelling experiences while eluding accessibility to ensure footfall. Failure to do so may result in delivery winning the food game, at least for a substantial period of time. While hotels will continue to focus on hybrid offerings and sustainability, home-away-fromhome vibes will be in demand. After spending long periods of time within their comfort zones, guests will be seeking cosy, reliable experiences rather than grandeur and over-the-top luxury – a trend that may cause a shift in the industry as we know it, especially in cities like Dubai where glitz and glamour had previously led the way. Looking back, has 2020 really been that bad of a year? Intimidating, probably, life-changing, most certainly, but transformational is the keyword we must pay the most attention to here, because in times ahead – even if we win the fight against the pandemic – will test even the savviest for adaptability and resilience, and we must be ready to face the challenge and earn the industry back its glory. Let’s welcome 2021 with open arms (and social distancing, until we’re told otherwise).

DINA MAATY EDITOR dina@bncpublishing.net

Always by your side to offer your guests an extra star Whatever happens the #1 destination for premium entertainment ''en franรงais''

Your business continuity is our top priority.

Our initiatives and remote solutions have got you covered in all situations. du.ae/wegotyourb

Timeless Elegance Where modern French art de vivre meets ancient Egyptian charm. Book your stay at sofitel-dubai-theobelisk.com PARIS - LONDON - ROME - DUBAI - SYDNEY - MEXICO CITY


Images courtesy of Chef Middle East


hef Middle East, in collaboration with Les vergers Boiron and PATH Bar School, has announced its first mixology competition Fruitology® Shakedown, aiming to elevate the craft of bartending and highlight top professionals’ mixing skills with two signature drinks to be designed by each contestant. The distributor expressed its commitment towards raising the bar of the art of fine drinking, inspiring high-quality creations with products such as the Les vergers Boiron range, a manufacturer specialising in frozen fruit and vegetable purees and coulis, with over 75 years of expertise in the industry. On December 14, 2020 at Brass Monkey, located on Bluewaters Island, finalists will create and present their signature drinks using Les vergers Boiron fruit purees to ace the final round, where their creations will be judged by industry experts, namely Giovanni Depergola, co-founder and head of education at Alembic Dubai, and Kneale Brown, luxury spirits ambassador for the UAE and Oman. Tauland Hyka, mixologist and training manager at Chef Middle East, says: “The Fruitology® Shakedown competition was launched to bring back some of the spark that was lost during the pandemic lockdown, giving bartenders a challenge to compete in. In this competition, they must use Les vergers Boiron

100% fruit purees, where the fruit is at the heart of every creation. Les vergers Boiron is a brand of frozen fruit puree and coulis, which has been in the market for more than 75 years; by far, it’s the brand of choice among the best chefs in the world. Lately, bartenders

THE EMIRATES CULINARY GUILD REVEALS WINNERS OF FIRST VIRTUAL AMERICAN EGG COMPETITION The Emirates Culinary Guild has revealed the winners of the first Virtual American Egg Competition. A total of 10 judges from the Emirates Culinary Guild have worked for two days to evaluate all the recipes and videos. Executive Chef Peter De Kauwe from The Club, Abu Dhabi commended the quality of videos by the amateur chefs and Chef K.A.C. Prasad from Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort – Fujairah was impressed with the quality of the pictures and recipes as well.



have been mixing and matching food ingredients with beverage products, and this has brought them closer to designing unique drinks. This is only the beginning of many more competitions to come. Stay fruity and drink with Les vergers Boiron.”

Bassam Bousaleh, a representative of the American Egg Board, expressed his satisfaction with the high number of participants and the standards of the competition. The Winner of Class 1 – The Best American Egg Pastry – Recipe and Picture is Hillary Joseph and the Winner of Class 2 – The Best American Egg Savory is Sampath de Silva, both from Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek. The Winner of Class 3 – Video by a Professional Chef is Shrinath Manohar Nair from Emirates Flight Catering and Class 4 – Video by an Amateur Chef was won by Firdaus Noorain from Oman. The Emirates Culinary Guild is now gearing up for its annual competition in March 2021.


Rational: Playing it safe with ergonomics at work Bending, lifting, hauling, burning – are all unfortunately still part of everyday life in the kitchen for many. According to Rational, the new iVario replaces the tilting fryer, boiling pan, deep-fat fryer and all kinds of pots and pans. Unheated pan edges, ergonomic height adjustment and an automatic lifting and lowering function for boiling and deepfrying baskets makes life easier and can even protect against musculoskeletal diseases. But how did such innovations emerge? “Rational looked at the kitchens of this world, asked for improvement suggestions and created many practice-oriented solutions on this basis,” says Thomas Hofer, Managing Director RATIONAL Kitchen & Catering Equipment Trading FZCO, to summarise development work. The iVario then become as ergonomic, labour-saving and efficient as had been imagined by the company. For example, it only heats the pan base so the pan edges stay cool protecting the user against unpleasant burns. The rounded corners also prevent injuries such as cutting and impact injuries. Bending, hauling and incorrect posture are some of the most frequent causes of back pain and can result in musculoskeletal diseases. The development of the iVario has come to put

an end to this. This has been achieved with features such as the automatic water inlet and drain and the optimal height adjustment, whereby the working height of the iVario can be adjusted by up to 200 mm in 16 seconds. This means both short and tall people can work just as comfortably. Then, there is the easy emptying function, which Hofer explains: “The iVario pan is designed so that it can be emptied perfectly and the container does not need to be shifted underneath the drain. This means there are no spillages and the back is protected.”

Applause. Applause.

You You can’t can’t get get ititwith with your your usual usual methods. methods. They 90% of all conventional They covercover 90% of all conventional cooking applications, cooking applications, yet require lessyet require less space because of spectrum their broad spectrum space because of their broad application, synergy ofof application, synergy and intelligent and intelligent functions. you to save energy, functions. HelpingHelping you to save energy, raw materials and raw materials and time, and stilltime, produceand still produce more than ever before. more than ever before. Newer Newer is better. is better. It's faster. It's faster.

Register now andmore. experience more. Register now and experience rational-online.com rational-online.com

EXPERIENCED PLAYER. NEW SUIT. You may have already met at dinner time. Perhaps you saw them delivering something awesome to your neighbour. One thing is for sure: Every day you’ll see and meet more and more of our delivery specialists in red, ready to put a smile on your face with fast, reliable, and safe deliveries.


What you won’t see is the orchestra of advanced technologies and innovations that led to you receiving what you wanted when you wanted it. Lyve makes this possible with the vision that an always-on connected world is a better world.


Go Lyve Today 



TV5MONDE strengthens its presence in the UAE hotel sector TV5MONDE, a global French-language entertainment TV network, is set to grow its presence in the UAE hotel sector. Recent studies show that over 66% of newly opened international 4 and 5-star hotels in the UAE offer TV5MONDE in their channel line-up, while over 72% of local 4 and 5-star hotel groups are airing it, with a total of over 22,000 rooms airing the channel in 4 and 5-star hotels opened between January 2017 and December 2019. To gain an even bigger presence in the country’s ho-



tel sector, TV5MONDE is organising targeted campaigns to raise awareness of the global French-language channel. As Ingrid Gressier, senior VP sales & marketing - Out-of-Home explains, “The majority of the hotels our team has approached to add TV5MONDE to their channel line-up have responded positively. We usually meet IT managers who are mostly English speakers and aren’t familiar with TV5MONDE, but as soon as we introduce the channel, and show them that it’s multi-national and offers

varied programming such as cinema, series, news, sports, lifestyle, and cartoons, they understand why it’s added value for the general offering of their hotel. As the channel is free-to-air and available on Arabsat, NileSat and both local IPTV service providers, it’s easy for them to include it in their channel line-up.” In the UAE, in local households, from among the 12 French-language TV channels available through local UAE IPTV provider DU, TV5MONDE is the most watched, representing over 50% of the French-language


“The UAE has always been a hub for world travellers. At the moment, travel has been restricted because of the pandemic, but it will start anew in the future and people will be eager to visit and enjoy the hospitality of the region.” segment market share. Though not commonly known, worldwide, 40% of the audience of TV5MONDE are not native French speakers, but speak French as a second language or are Francophile. “The UAE has always been a hub for world travellers. At the moment, travel has been restricted because of the pandemic, but it will start anew in the future and people will be eager to visit and enjoy the hospitality of the region,” adds Gressier. “With Africa becoming a key partner of Gulf countries and a large percentage of Africans speaking French, we’re confident that our channel will attract more and more regional hotels. All the more so, as the UAE is fast becoming a regional centre for the French language in close relationship with TV5MONDE; the Café TV5MONDE opened at the Alliance Française Abu Dhabi in April 2019 and the Librairie Francophone TV5MONDE, the only French-language bookstore in Abu Dhabi, opened in the same cultural centre on November 22, 2020. All of these initiatives embody TV5MONDE’s aim to support the growing presence of the French language in the region.” Two TV5MONDE channels are available in the region; general entertainment channel TV5MONDE Maghreb Orient offers its main programmes subtitled in Arabic and the thematic channel TV5MONDE Style HD, focusing on the French “Art de Vivre” – subtitled in Arabic and English. Both are free-to-air and are available on Nilesat and in HD on Arabsat.

Bidfood UAE launches foodservice e-distribution platform Bidfood Middle East, part of JSElisted group Bidcorp, has announced the launch of its latest ecommerce venture, myBidfood, the company’s online ordering platform for the foodservice industry. myBidfood can be accessed on all desktop and mobile devices (iOS and Android compatible) and is integrated with Bidfood Middle East’s ERP, creating a seamless flow of data between the company and its stakeholders. The aim of the platform is to reduce the time and cost that goes into ordering from the company’s wide range of premium food, beverage, and non-food products. The latter is made possible via a set of tools and features that offer user-friendly navigation: this includes live pricing, stock availability, exclusive product promotions and special prices, quick-order functionality, detailed product specifications, secure checkout, order help, and more. Registered users can also access their account details, which include order and billing history, previous transactions, and more. Speaking of the company’s latest

service offering, Bidfood Middle East Chief Commercial Officer Wael Al Jamil says, “myBidfood represents a marriage between technology and client servicing. As the leading partner to the foodservice channel, we are proud to launch a platform that will allow our stakeholders to engage with our product and service offerings anytime, anywhere. myBidfood’s value proposition stems from its name: we are providing our foodservice customers and stakeholders an all-encompassing access to our foodservice universe.” Bidfood Middle East’s partnering brands can also manage their products on myBidfood, adding product specifications, nutritional facts, and spec sheets, as well as promoting their range via the available commercial instruments. In future versions of the myBidfood platform, registered foodservice customers can expect more advanced functionalities such as menu and recipe planning to aid them with managing their food supply and cost, live order tracking, as well as a loyalty programme.




The Heart of Europe begins handover of 2,000 units recreating French Riviera with St. Tropez Hotel The Heart of Europe, the US$5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) destination, will start handing over private villas and beach palaces to investors in December, as part of its phased delivery of residential and hospitality units. The news comes as construction of St. Tropez, the 5th hotel of Phase 1, is nearing completion; it will recreate the environment and charm of the French Riviera town of St Tropez, with a private long beach, restaurants, promenade and luxury yachts and boats. The ultra-luxury island will host around 4,000 units spread across 15 hotels and resorts in a cluster of interconnected six islands and a

floating Lido Island about 4 kilometres off the Jumeirah coast of Dubai. Phase I of the project will see the delivery of nearly 2,000 units including, mostly hospitality units spread in five hotels, in phases and will commercially open once the situation normalises after the Covid-19 pandemic. Construction of the project’s landmarks, including the Floating Seahorse Villas, Sweden Beach Palaces, Germany Island Villas, Honeymoon Island, Portofino Hotel and Côte d’Azur Resort are progressing in full speed with all Phase I projects having topped out, while engineers are currently putting the finishing touches on the exterior facades and interior décor.

‘The Risotto Quest’ by TUTTOFOOD and HostMilano celebrates Italian cuisine in Dubai A flagship dish of Northern Italian cuisine, risotto is increasingly being recognised worldwide as a ‘Made in Italy’ icon along with pizza and pasta. The recognition the risotto has achieved was thanks to its origin from a unique mix of quality ingredients and the use of cooking techniques, improved in recent years by the latest technologies. This evolution was celebrated in Dubai in the finals of The Risotto Quest, a culinary contest to find the best risotto in the



UAE, which awarded the most creative chefs in the classic and innovative risotto categories: Chef Francesco Dimonte of Emirates First Class Lounge, for the Best Classic Risotto, and Chef Davide Gardini of BiCE Ristorante, for the Best Innovative Risotto. In addition to a Certificate from The Dubai Restaurants Group, Chef Dimonte received an invitation to Milan with expenses covered for TUTTOFOOD 2021, the innovative international platform for the agri-food trade sector, and


talabat launches its first cloud kitchen concept in the UAE Food delivery platform talabat has officially launched its very-first cloud kitchen in Abu Dhabi. Spearheaded in conjunction with the Cloud Kitchen team at Delivery Hero, talabat’s German parent company, the latest venture in the MENA region is set to create opportunities for upcoming F&B concepts to see further growth in talabat-operating markets, servicing both talabat and Zomato customers. The recently launched kitchen began operations earlier this month and is already the home to a number of brands such as Dunkin’, Din Tai Fung, Wing Stop, Galito’s & Baskin Robbins as well as local favourites like Malak Al Tawook, Firefly Burgers and Freez, among others. Joe Frem, VP of Cloud Kitchens and Concepts at talabat, says: “We’re thrilled to have opened our first Cloud Kitchen in the region and believe this is a great growth catalyst for our restaurant partners. At talabat, we’re always looking at ways to support our restaurant partners growth and the introduction of Cloud Kitchens does just that.” The Cloud Kitchen concept is a delivery-only venture, with no dine-in facility, offering restaurants a cost and timeefficient way to fulfill larger order volumes. Also known as ‘dark kitchens’, they also help restaurants reduce overall operation costs usually tied to traditional brick-and-mortar establishments. This tech-enabled facility reduces delivery time below, allowing customers to receive their orders in under 30 minutes.

Caffè Nero launches Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules Caffè Nero will be launching Nespresso-compatible capsules on December 1. Using handcrafted Italian coffee, the pods are also recyclable. The award-winning, Classico Original Blend, is the same rich, smooth, full-bodied blend Caffè Nero serves in store every day. It’s a medium Italian roast, with dark notes of chocolate and caramel with a sweet, balanced flavour. The capsules are 100% aluminium and are fully recyclable, and compatible with any Nespresso machine. They are designed for use in machines which use ‘original’ capsules, excluding professional and built-in models. Each pack is priced at AED 24 per pack of 10 capsules.

Deliveroo UAE launches its own on-demand grocery delivery service Deliveroo has launched Express Mart, which delivers household essentials and everyday pantry needs. The new service will provide consumers with easier access to on-demand household essentials such as fruits and vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, milk and dairy, snacks and sweets, and beverages, as well as store cupboard essentials. “At Deliveroo, we listen to our customers and pride ourselves on keeping up with consumer trends. The global pandemic has accelerated the importance of delivery, and the need for at-home delivery services beyond takeaway food. We want to help Dubai Residents receive a variety of essential goods right to their doors and accommodate the shift in consumers’ needs; that’s why we’re delighted to launch Deliveroo Express Mart, says,” Anis Harb, general manager, Deliveroo UAE. Deliveroo also works with other key convenience-led



partners in Dubai and across other emirates, which include 7 Eleven, Marks and Spencer, Shop Kitopi, Circle K, IKEA – Swedish Food Market, Quality Food and 800Pharmacy.


Sunset Hospitality Group to open new Spanish restaurant in Dubai Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG) has announced a December opening in Dubai for Lola Taberna Española, a Spanish restaurant and tapas bar that honours Spain’s culinary flavours. Located at TRYP by Wyndham Barsha Heights, Lola Taberna Española will transport diners to the streets of Andalusia, Spain, with a vibrant interior inspired by the busy streets of modern Barcelona to the ancient port of Cádiz, home of Lola Flores, an icon of traditional Andalusian folklore. Sunset Hospitality Group is collaborating with The First Group to introduce the concept of Lola Taberna Española.


Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown appoints director of restaurants and bars

Hilton promotes Shalvesh Nundlaul to cluster marketing & communications manager for two hotels in Ras Al Khaimah

Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown has announced the appointment of Timothy Groeneweg as director of restaurants and bars at the new design-lead property. Groeneweg pursued a degree in Hospitality Management in hotel school The Hague and has since garnered a wealth of experience across his home country of the Netherlands and the Middle East. During this time in the Middle East, he has worked with hotel companies such as Jumeirah Abu Dhabi, Atlantis, The Palm, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, and most recently W Doha Hotel and Residences as the director of F&B.

Shalvesh Nundlaul has been named as the new cluster marketing & communications manager for Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa and Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah. With more than four years of marketing experience at Hilton properties in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, Nundlaul began his career with Hilton Hotels & Resorts in 2016 at Hilton Sharjah as marketing coordinator. He then took on the role of marketing executive at Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah in May 2019 before his recent promotion. In his new role, according to Hilton, Nundlaul will be responsible for communications at both properties as well as marketing campaigns and social media while driving business performance. All marketing and PR plans will be curated by Shalvesh, including media handling duties such as visits, reviews, conferences and tours.

Al Jaddaf Rotana appoints general manager Al Jaddaf Rotana, the newest 5-star property launched by the group, has appointed Haytham Omar as its new general manager. A veteran hotelier with over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry in the UAE, Omar has held diverse positions within Rotana over 10 years, specialising in all commercial aspects. He joined the company spearheading travel and trade of UAE hotels as area director of sales. In 2010, as executive assistant manager at Amwaj Rotana JBR, Omar planned and executed a comprehensive commercial plan, directly contributing to the launch of Rotana Group’s first beach resort in Dubai.



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


“We have been experiencing a gastronomic revolution in all aspects for a few years now. In everything we do, if we do it with responsibility and dedication, it will become a food trend.” What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? My favourite dish is a BBQ, which we call ‘asado’ in my country; it combines tender, juicy meat with fire and a grill, and the most important part is the meaning behind it, sharing it with friends and family. What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. I’m cooking up a tenderloin with magic mashed potatoes, corn in different textures and Nestlé Demi-Glace.


AN ARGENTINIAN NATIONAL, CABRERA HAS 21 YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE, FIVE OF WHICH ARE IN THE UAE Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I graduated from the Culinary Institute of Argentina in 2005. Soon after, I grabbed my suitcase, and decided to move to Spain to gain experience in cooking Mediterranean cuisine. After working at Spain’s luxury hospitality company Le Relais & Chateaux, I began working at the three Michelinstarred Martin Berasategui restaurant,



located in the culinary-centric Basque region of Spain. I then spent some time honing my skills in working with fish and Japanese dishes at Nobu, Miami. Then, I went back to Latin America to gain more experience in my country Argentina, and Chile, working with our traditional flavours. In 2015, I moved to the Middle East; the UAE is like a second home. I have been learning and developing my career from day one.

As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? Since arriving in the UAE, I could see the increase in demand for local ingredients such as vegetables, lamb and fish; it’s very important to buy local and include more of it in our daily cooking. What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? I believe that we have been experiencing a gastronomic revolution in all aspects for a few years now. In everything we do, if we do it with responsibility and dedication, it will become a food trend. While we need to stay on top of innovation, we should always respect the product offered. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? It’s very important to have consistent quality and competitive pricing, especially during these Covid-19 times.


TENDERLOIN WITH MASHED POTATOES, CORN AND NESTLÉ DEMI-GLACE • 200 g Tenderloin • 100 g Corn • 50 g Wild mushrooms • 10 g Microgreens • 50 g MAGGI® Demi-Glace • 20 ml Water • 80 g MAGGI® Mashed Potato



“The pandemic has changed both the supply chain and lifestyles. People have become more aware of what they eat, as well as the nutritional value and origin of ingredients. New trends include Hyperlocal, Immunity Boosters and Instagrammable food.” which gives a delicate, subtle flavour. Traditionally, it’s prepared with freshly grounded mustard seeds on stone. What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. I’m cooking tenderloin with dark chocolate jus and mustard cream. Here, the traditional, robust cut is radically paired with the indulgence of dark chocolate. It’s also accompanied by potato mash, edamame beans and shiitake crisps. As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? Acai, whole grains and locally grown cress.


AN INDIAN NATIONAL, BASU HAS 13 YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE, SIX OF WHICH ARE IN THE UAE Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I started my career with The Park Hotels in India. Then, I have worked with Hard Rock Café, Landmark group in Abu Dhabi and Emirates Hospitality in Dubai.



What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? Bengali-style Hilsha is my favourite; it’s an exotic sea fish, which comes to the Ganga river for spawning. It’s only during these couple of months when it has the right salt content in its body,

What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? The pandemic has changed both the supply chain and lifestyles. People have become more aware of what they eat, as well as the nutritional value and origin of ingredients. New trends include Hyperlocal, Immunity Boosters and Instagrammable food. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? The world’s population is ever-growing and food resources are limited. Hence, I urge food processing companies to innovate, and find methods to minimise food wastage, while supporting cost-effective distribution.


TENDERLOIN WITH DARK CHOCOLATE GLAZE AND QUINOA MASH SWEET PEA HUMMUS • 1 cup Green peas, defrosted • 1/4 cup Parsley • 1 tsp Tahini • 1 clove Garlic • 2 tsp Lemon juice • 2 tsp Extra virgin olive oil • 1/4 tsp Salt • 1/8 MAGGI® Vegetable Stock Powder

QUINOA MASH • 25 g MAGGI® Mashed Potato • 5 g Onion, chopped • 10 g Bell pepper, chopped • 10 g Shiitake mushroom, sliced • 25 g Quinoa, boiled • 50 ml Cooking cream • 1 g Parmesan cheese • 100 ml Water

TENDERLOIN • 500 g Tenderloin filet • 2 drops MAGGI® Liquid Seasoning • 1 pinch Salt • 1 pinch Black pepper, crushed • 1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil

DARK CHOCOLATE SAUCE • 1 tsp CHEF® Demi-Glace • 2 tsp Water • 1 tsp Butter • 25 g Dark chocolate, 70% cocoa • Orange, for zest

ACCOMPANIMENTS • 1/4 cup Edamame beans, shelled • Carrot • 1/4 cup Shiitake mushrooms • 1/4 cup Shimeji mushrooms • Butter, to sauté • Microgreens, for garnish


Festive Delights



hef Middle East held an “Art Meets Pastry” event with the participation of some of the leading pastry chefs in the UAE at Gallery 27, located in Dubai Marina. The event was an opportunity to gather and celebrate the end of the year, before the start of the busy festive season in December. Festive vibes took over during the event, which highlighted the talent and creativity of the most renowned pastry chefs in the UAE through their unique Yule log 2020 creations. “The event was one-of-a-kind in the Dubai scene! It was a great pleasure to showcase the talent of the pastry chefs that we work with in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A total of 15 chefs showcased their wonderful creations, crafted with premium-quality ingredients from Chef Middle East,” says Chef Middle East Pastry & Bakery Category Manager Pooja Bhatt.



The event also featured the official launch of new Pastry & Bakery brands such as: Norohy: A brand of premium black, non-split organic vanilla beans, Norohy’s adventure began in Madagascar, the present-day home of the plant. This is a choice terrain for growing one of the world’s finest vanillas owing to the warm, humid climate in the region and soil that is rich in organic matter, ideal for developing the plant. The company sources quantities of unprocessed, green vanilla beans straight from the producer to maintain quality standards and prepare and package these fine pods to be distributed all over the world. St. Michel, creators of galettes and madeleines, the iconic French biscuits and cakes, work with hotels, for breakfast menus and buffets, as well as afternoon teatime by offering chefs convenient options and portion-controlled products. The flagship product of the brand is the

madeleine, with a range that includes the hazelnut spread and cocoa variety and a savoury line with herbs, Parmesan, olives and more. St. Michel only uses cage-free eggs and French wheat, avoiding palm oil for more authenticity. Vergani, the all-Milanese Panettone brand which has been in the market for more than seventy years, offers the authentic taste of the sweet loaf with a full range, including gluten-, vegan- and sugar-free, in addition to some flavours that are very popular in the Middle East region such as saffron and pistachios. Chef Middle East also introduced new pastry products from their existing brands. For instance, new vegan milk chocolate AMATIKA from Valrhona – the premium French manufacturer. This new product comes from the heart of Madagascar cocoa plantations, with a 46% chocolate couverture combining the sweetness and smoothness of almond, with the aromatic power of pure cocoa from the Red Island. The new Coconut Cream from Les vergers Boiron is another product that was launched during the event, which has no added sugar. This launch marks a new milestone for the global brand in frozen fruit solutions, developing its range with 100% fruit and no-added-sugar products. Corsiglia, also featured during the event, is a company that specialises in candied chestnuts, chestnuts in syrup, chestnut paste and cream and candied fruit pee. A new product from Corsiglia, the Chestnut Mix Supreme, was introduced, offering a premium mix of various sizes, suitable for making chestnut cream vermicelli on Mont Blanc desserts! “We’re extremely proud of the crowd that attended this event, it was very diverse, and representative of the different channels that Chef Middle East caters to as a distributor. This event hosted the crème de la crème of chefs from the most reputed fine dining restaurants, hotels, pastry shops and retailers. It was a great pleasure to hear all the positive feedback from our customers. Our ambition is to make this event a seasonal rendezvous. Additionally, we’re already planning something wonderful for Easter 2021, which we will keep as a secret project for the time being,” adds Bhatt.

Images courtesy of Chef Middle East



“The ambiance, atmosphere and essence of Gallery 27 is an inspiring setup, which is closely connected to the world of our pastry chefs because, in the end, they are considered artists as well.” “With the Buche de Noël– it isn’t about what you see on the outside, but rather on the inside. For my creation this year, there’s honey and chocolate – the base consists of a salted chocolate sablé, a soft sablé bottom, honey mousse, caramelised honey and lemon sauce. On the top, there is a representation of the beehive. It was lovely to participate in this event. It was also great to meet other chefs who share the same passion and love for the industry,” says Chef Julien Othomene, pastry chef at Jumeirah Group. “I have infused my Black Forest dessert with the colour of our restaurant, Fouquet’s in Abu Dhabi, which is located

inside the Louvre Museum,” says Chef Hugo Sipp, head pastry chef at Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi. “Inside, we have chocolate biscuit with vanilla mousse; I created a whole sponge with chocolate ganache and flakes, and a chili jelly. In France, 15 years ago, the dessert was all sponge with buttercream inside; I tried a new design, making it all sponge inside, so that when you touch it, you have the vanilla cream – and when you cut it, it’s beautiful from the inside as well – not only on the outside. Then, of course, it should be tasty, so I’ve used my favourite ingredients from Chef Middle East.” Bhatt concludes, “Ambitious plans are in the pipeline for 2021, the Chef Middle East Pastry & Bakery category will continue to offer its customers the best products, services and expertise with product demonstrations, trainings and

technical assistance. We’re proudly devoted to offering a one-stop solution for pastry chefs and being a partner of choice in the region.” 1 Mathilde Boumesla (Yule Log inspired and created by Jean-François Piège), Ladurée 2 Khalil Bouabid, Hermes 3 Jibu Mohan, La Petite Maison 4 Julien Othomene, Jumeirah Group 5 Hugo Sipp, Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi 6 Jean Francois Le Luherne (Yule Log inspired and created by Nicolas Bacheyre), Un Dimanche a Paris 7 Sahar Paraham Ali Awadhi, Burj Al Arab 8 Yanis Yahoui, La Cantine Du Faubourg 9 Christophe Devoille, Royal Atlantis 10 Christopher Lambert, InterContinental 11 Benjamin Alves, The Address Boulevard 12 Mulyatna Okuza, Hilton Al Habtoor 13 Aby Abraham, DoubleTree by Hilton 14 Aissa Arroub, Bakemart 15 Vincent Cockenpot, Chef Middle East


1 2 5 6



7 8 10 11







Down to an Art DANIEL BOULUD is chef-owner of several award-winning restaurants and catering company Feast & Fêtes. While he hails from outside Lyon, France, it was in New York that he truly mastered the dining scene and is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities. 32


Raised on his family’s farm in the village of SaintPierrede-Chandieu, the chef remains inspired by the rhythm of the seasons and menus driven by fine ingredients. Since arriving in the US in 1982, Boulud has become renowned for the contemporary appeal he adds to soulful cooking, rooted in French tradition. Brasserie Boulud restaurant has opened its doors at Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk in October 2020.



Tell us a little about your journey towards stardom.

My journey may have started at the age of 15, when I served my first president in France, but there are no rewards of stardom until you open your first restaurant and make a first profit. My journey really began in America, in New York City. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your journey?

There are always a few bumps along the road. One challenge was when

I transitioned from owning one restaurant to multiple restaurants, expanding our team and viewing the business on a bigger scale, while keeping true to our brand. Another difficulty I experienced was the language and ingredient barrier when opening a restaurant in a foreign country like China. This was a definite learning curve. Becoming a chefentrepreneur often takes you away from the stove and you always have to find the right balance. Of course, Covid-19 has been so difficult just as it has been for the entire hospitality industry worldwide.

my restaurants practices the DNA of my cuisine with updated classics and dishes based on local availability and quality of ingredients. Our menus are always in constant flux with the seasons.

What are some career highlights that have stayed with you throughout the years?

The quality of the hotel is excellent with a fabulous view of Dubai’s skyline. The building is very symbolic for the Middle East, shaped in an obelisk form.

My proudest accolade would have to be 27 years ago, when I opened my flagship restaurant, DANIEL in New York City. A proud moment was in 1999 at the very first fundraising gala for Citymeals on Wheels, an organisation that delivers meals to homebound elderly New Yorkers and is very dear to me. I was honoured to have my five French chef mentors attend the event – Paul Bocuse, Georges Blanc, Roger Verger, Gérard Nandron, and Michel Guérard. Cooking for the Dali Lama, and many American presidents including Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Carter, Clinton and Obama are incredible memories as well. Another event that remains so vivid in my mind is cooking for 800 of the most powerful and renowned people in the business, sport and political world at the 75th anniversary of Time magazine at Radio City Music Hall. You celebrate contemporary appeal, without giving up on French tradition: why do you think this is of importance to a chef’s signature style and the way his dishes are perceived?

My cooking is rooted in French tradition inspired by the seasons, yet I have been wandering the world for more than three decades, motivated by the journey. My travels have influenced my cuisine. Every chef in

Why have you chosen Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk as your next stop?

I like Accor group, which is wellpositioned in the Middle East. Our brands complement one another very well, and it was the right opportunity to collaborate together. What makes the experience at this hotel special?

How does managing a restaurant differ from a café or food hall?

No matter the level of restaurant, we bring a certain degree of service and quality consistent with our brand. We curate the service and cuisine with our commitment to hospitality. How has being a chef helped you become a restaurateur?

My dream was to become a chef first, then a restaurateur. I have accomplished both.

What’s your comfort food and how do you stay inspired?

In summer, my ultimate comfort food is a beautiful roasted leg of lamb and seasonal vegetables flavoured with spices, herbs and citrus. In colder weather, I enjoy a steaming Poule au Pot, which is chicken and winter root vegetables poached in a delicious broth accompanied by a pilaf rice, topped with a sauce made of reduced stock, crème fraiche, and black truffles. You have restaurants in the world’s top cities; what is Daniel Boulud’s dream now?

My dream is to continue on my journey to innovate and inspire in different parts of the world.



HCNME MOVERS & SHAKERS We’re quite unique in what we offer. All grape enthusiasts understand the hard work and efforts that go into creating the beverage, and EuroCave’s mission is to look after the final product, making sure the producer’s intentions are respected throughout the maturation, until achieving optimal serving conditions. EuroCave is the last chain in this field, which requires an in-depth knowledge of the product.

WHAT’S IN STORE? Maxime Poukhnoi

The managing director at Cellar Concept tells Hotel & Catering News Middle East about the growing business and its clients in the UAE and region Tell us a bit more about Cellar Concept and your journey with the brand. What type of products do you offer for beverages and cigars? I established Cellar Concept nearly three years ago. We’re the exclusive distributor of EuroCave products in the Gulf Countries, based in Dubai. EuroCave is a French company which launched the first air-conditioned cabinet for storing wine in 1975. It was 34


an immediate success and was quickly exported around the world through a strong collaboration with a network of sommeliers, working with the best restaurants globally. The products that Cellar Concept distributes to restaurants, hotels and private consumer customers in the GCC are designed to store, preserve and serve both wine and cigars in perfected conditions.

Who are some of your biggest clients in the UAE; what projects have you worked on for them? Our customers are passionate professionals who select the best solutions for their guests. EuroCave is part of many upcoming hotel and restaurant projects in the region, and we’ve worked with many leading brands on installations in the past, including iconic properties such as Burj Al Arab, and Atlantis The Palm, as well as leading restaurants such as Coya Dubai, and Hōseki at Bulgari Resort, to name a few. We collaborate with leading hoteliers, hospitality consultants, kitchen equipment companies, contractors, designers and visionary owners. Our region attracts incredible talent and projects, it’s really inspiring to take a small part in it. What are some of the latest trends in the field? Over the last few years, we have witnessed the positioning of cabinets and cellars move from hidden rooms, to being on full display in restaurants – now fully incorporated in the design. EuroCave keeps on innovating and adapting to these trends. We have very elegant solutions that can be integrated into any kind of restaurant design, respecting product storage and service criteria at the same time. There are five essential criteria for wines to be stored correctly: air quality, protection from vibrations, uniform temperature, suitable humidity level and protection from UV rays. Some of our most recent solutions, such as ShowCave, Inspiration and Royale represent the very best in display and wine storage.


“EuroCave is a French company which launched the first airconditioned cabinet for storing wine in 1975. It was an immediate success and was quickly exported around the world through a strong collaboration with a network of sommeliers, working with the best restaurants globally.”

How do you ensure that your product stands out from the crowd? Completely mastering the above criteria is an essential requirement for EuroCave; it has dedicated the last 40 years entirely to researching and developing durable solutions, allowing optimal

wine maturing. Scientifically, this has translated into many patents being filed and partnerships with top research laboratories. How do you see demand at the moment and what are your predictions for upcoming market trends? The EuroCave ‘wine by the glass’ systems such as the VV8.0 and the Wine Bar 8.0 (both with an eight-bottle capacity) and the Wine Bar 2.0 (two-bottle capacity) are in high demand, and I predict it will grow even more. Customers realise that these systems represent strong added value to their operations. It drastically reduces the wastage by offering long preservation as well as strong control. From a guests’ perspective, it offers the guaranty that the wine that they order by the glass is as good as if the bottle has just been uncorked. The restaurant can increase the quality of the grape by the glass offering, as well as the variety. The other main advantages of using these cabinets is that they allow restaurants to serve by the glass at the perfect serving temperature and offer a better experience with food parings. These units also display the products beautifully, which allows conversation engagement with the customer. What are some of your key cost-saving tips when it comes to beverage storage? Wine is beautiful but fragile product; if not stored correctly, it can lose all its value. An establishment could potentially lose out on profit if correct storage is not used. Storage is key. HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020



Tell us about yourself and your background. I was born and raised in China and have been living in Dubai since 2009. My F&B career started in Dubai and extends across Asia and the Middle East, where I have had the opportunity to work at some of the world’s leading restaurants, including the Michelin-starred franchise venue Hakkasan Dubai, Ba Restaurant and Lounge at Fairmont The Palm, and Jing An Shangri-La in Shanghai, to name a few. As the general manager at Pai Thai, I oversee a team of 33 and lead the frontof-house team, while also making sure the back-of-house team works in tandem to ensure a great dining experience for our guests. Working in hospitality, it’s important to craft and maintain a well-defined customer journey to encourage return guests and this has been a key focus for me as I have a passion for creating personable experiences with my guests and encouraging my team to do the same. The professional growth of my team is another important priority of mine, and I strive to enable each of them to achieve their career goals while maximising guest satisfaction.

The Essence of Thai

Located at Jumeirah Al Qasr, and surrounded by the lush greenery of its gardens, Pai Thai is an award-winning Thai restaurant serving aromatic, traditional dishes. Here, Xiahoui Shi, general manager of the venue, shares her secrets to keeping operations smooth, and the experience even smoother.



What makes the Pai Thai experience unique? Pai Thai is one of Dubai’s most authentic Thai restaurants, serving the finest cuisine with both indoor and al fresco dining options available. One of my favourite parts of Pai Thai is that the experience begins with an abra ride through the Madinat Jumeirah before guests arrive, and when they reach the restaurant, they are welcomed by a Thai gong and a traditional lemongrassinfused hand sanitisation ritual before, being taken to their table to enjoy traditional welcome drinks. What sets Pai Thai apart from other Thai restaurants? It’s truly a bucket list experience. The restaurant has an extensive menu and a variety of unique offerings, all of them featuring authentic Thai recipes, using only the highest quality ingredients, served with the signature Pai Thai touch.


Our culinary team underwent an immersive exploration trip to Thailand to scout the best Thai ingredients and find additional dish and technique inspiration from across the country, to ensure that we provide our guests with a truly authentic Thai experience. Tell us about the renovation that Pai Thai underwent earlier this year. The extensive refurbishment, which took place earlier this year, further enhanced the authenticity of the Pai Thai experience, drawing inspiration direct from Thailand across both its interior and exterior. During the planning, it was

especially important to focus the design on all the senses, and through the use of scents, sounds, colours and materials accentuate Thai culture. Each area of the restaurant offers a different flair and function. We have created a brand-new bar lounge which blends the outdoor with the indoor and serves as the ideal pre- and post-meal drink spot. Inspired by the Thai residence of Jim Thompson – the American businessman known for revitalising the Thai silk industry – the restaurant’s interiors feature eclectic Asian and colonial touches throughout. Pai Thai really is an experience for all the senses.


Talk us through the menu offerings. In addition to our extensive a la carte menu, we have a variety of other specially curated F&B offerings. Pai Thai’s popular brunch concept, The Rite of Siam is available every Friday from 12.30pm-4pm, delivering an authentic culinary journey complemented by a beverage selection and an ambient lounge atmosphere provided by a live DJ. Guests can indulge in four courses of Pai Thai’s very best family sharing-style dishes, featuring much-loved signatures. Another one of our other signature offerings is the 5 Tastes of Thailand, which takes diners on a carefully crafted culinary journey based around the five primary tastes – bitter, salty, spicy, sour and sweet. The set menu is available for a minimum of two people throughout the week and allows diners to

experience the key flavours of Thai cuisine, while sampling a variety of Pai Thai’s classic dishes. One of the restaurant’s most recent introduced concepts, Siam Sunsets, is a three-course dinner offering available Sunday through Wednesday between 6pm and 8pm, providing for a leisurely evening meal complete with amazing views and stunning sunsets. On weekends, diners can take advantage of Kin Samrap – meaning ‘eating fine food’ in Thai – which is exactly what the set menu offers every Saturday from 12pm-6pm. What new experiences can diners expect in the future? In December, we have a lineup of festive menus and offerings planned, but you’ll have to wait and see what exactly we have up our sleeve!




“My first piece of advice to fellow aspiring general managers is to harness their passion.”




Rising to the top CAROLINE TRICHET

The Sofitel Dubai Downtown General Manager on how women can make it in a male-dominated industry, Accor’s RiiSE initiative and leading through tough times AT A TIME WHEN HOSPITALITY HAS SHIFTED TOWARDS A MORE FAMILIAR PATH, SOFITEL DUBAI DOWNTOWN IS CARVING ITS OWN SET OF RULES. MEET THE PROPERTY’S GENERAL MANAGER, CAROLINE TRICHET, WHO HAS BEEN INSPIRING HER TEAM TO ALWAYS STRIVE FOR MORE. Sofitel Dubai Downtown boasts an air of sophistication, a different concept of luxury; how would you position the hotel in the Dubai market and how has it maintained this positioning since its opening? Sofitel Dubai Downtown has a signature French identity, which is woven into its aesthetic, hospitality and guest experience. It’s a modern representation of French hospitality – sophisticated without being pretentious, coquettish without being cheeky. Catering to international business travellers, expats and local guests from Dubai, the UAE, and the GCC, Sofitel Dubai Downtown offers a memorable and comfortable stay for business travellers and a family-friendly experience for guests with children. Additionally, it’s also notably the first five-star hotel which is linked to

The Dubai Mall via an air-conditioned skywalk. It’s within walking and driving distance to popular tourist and cultural destinations in the area and city. When you step inside the property, guests are immersed in breathtaking views of the Burj Khalifa and coastline from their rooms and suites. Those travelling on business, or digital nomads, can take advantage of the business facilities and dedicated meeting floor. Guests travelling for pleasure have a plethora of options to choose from – club lounge facilities with indoor and outdoor seating, a diverse array of dining options and international cuisine, a ballroom area, and a spa. Sofitel Dubai Downtown takes an uncompromising stance on five-star service, delivering only the finest experiences to its guests. The hotel’s extensive range

of dining, entertainment, and leisure facilities, paired with consistent guest satisfaction, enable it to retain its coveted position in the luxury hospitality market. The property celebrates local culture and tradition, along with French flair; what sort of challenges do you face in operations and management when bringing those two focal points together, and what are some of the intricacies you address while leading Sofitel Dubai Downtown? Our team is multicultural and hails from various parts of the world; we take great pride in our employee orientation and immerse them in the best aspects of both French and Emirati culture, while still honouring their own. We celebrate diversity and continually aspire to have more of it. >>> HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020



Sofitel Dubai Downtown

During the pandemic, it was essential to offer our team full support to overcome the challenges faced specifically by our industry. We needed to keep them motivated and reassured, while also maintaining consistency in delivering 5-star luxury service. The safety of our guests and colleagues is our top priority. At each touch point along the guest journey through the hotel, extensive measures are being taken to protect guests and team members. Accor ALLSAFE operational standards, which were developed with hygiene solutions specialist Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspections and certification, have been implemented at Sofitel Downtown, and all Accor properties across the Middle East and Africa. Before moving on to more details of the property, please tell us a bit more about your background as a hotelier, and when you first discovered your passion working at a family friend’s restaurant. My career in hospitality technically started when I worked at a family friend’s restaurant, as a teenager, to earn a bit of pocket money. Little did I know, at



the time, that it would snowball into a career with the globally renowned Accor Group. But let’s briefly return to my time at the family friend’s restaurant. I enjoyed all aspects of my role there – from interacting with the F&B team to seeing happy customers leave with a smile. I wanted to experience more of that, so I went on to pursue my bachelor’s degree at Professionnel d’Hôtellerie Restauration in 1994. Starting from the ground up two years later, I worked as a waitress at the Sofitel Thalassotherapy, France. Shortly after, my international career started in the UK, where I worked my way up to F&B manager at The Barns Hotel in the UK. I was promoted to deputy general manager after 18 months and later served as the general manager for two years. I also significantly contributed to the Vineyard Hotel Group before taking to the skies. In Thailand, I was the resident manager at the Muse MGallery Hotel, Bangkok. After two years in Thailand, I had my eyes set on Vietnam, where I worked with The Pullman Hotel in Saigon. China soon followed, with my role as the hotel manager for the Sofitel Wanda Hotel in Beijing.

“The safety of our guests and colleagues is our top priority. At each touchpoint along the guest journey through the hotel, extensive measures are being taken to protect guests and team members.”


After having gathered a wealth of experience, coupled with my ability to speak in French and English, the Middle East called. My first role in the region was as the general manager of the Pullman Hotel in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. My career has spanned over 24 years, and has taken me to France, England, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, China and the UAE. This immersion in 5-star luxury hotel culture has given me a deep understanding of the industry’s DNA, and how to take it to greater heights. There aren’t that many female general managers in the industry; what would you advise those who would love to follow the same path? Please tell us a bit more about Accor’s commitment to fighting stereotypes with RiiSE? As one of the only female general managers in the region, my first piece of advice to fellow aspiring general managers is to harness their passion. Whatever role you’re currently in, try to extract as much knowledge as you can from it, while asking challenging questions along the way. The insights you gain from asking these will give you a competitive edge, and mould you for a more advanced role. I believe there is an urgent need for all cultures and genders to be equally represented in the industry. We’re working towards our current goals, while also building a much better world. This industry requires you to know yourself and your mission. This is a great opportunity to discuss RiiSE as a proud female general manager at Sofitel and the Accor Group. The lowercase “ii” in RiiSE symbolises men and women working together to bring equality to the industry. RiiSE isn’t just committed to gender equality, though, it’s also dedicated to the equal representation of global cultures and ages. Diversity lies at the heart of RiiSE to enrich our corporate culture, while also further refining our guests’ experience. Using a mix of internal campaigns, conferences and awareness-raising workshops, it has been combating stereotypes, everyday sexism, and sexual harassment, with men representing more than 40 per cent of the Accor network’s members.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your management style involves looking after your team, what does that notion entail to you? Yes, I care deeply about my team and want to see them scale. My leadership style involves keeping them motivated and energised, but also making time to address any issues, giving them the attention and compassion they need. Working in a cosmopolitan environment is exciting and inspirational, and as general manager, I try to boost my team’s creativity and proactive approach. Leading by example, being confident, approachable and passionate, and paying attention to details – these are the main keys to success. Sofitel Dubai Downtown is home to many F&B concepts, including L’ Apero, what would you say differentiates your venues from others in Dubai? French hospitality courses through Sofitel Dubai Downtown’s veins. There are French touches sprinkled across most of

our restaurants, without being exaggerated or clichéd. We take guests to France from the moment they step inside. L’Apero, our new lounge bar, is inspired by French countryside aesthetics, while serving terroir-style food and drinks. Guests who want to buy their bread the traditional way can also choose from a selection of fresh bakes. La Pâtisserie Lounge focuses on moreish French pastries, something that the country is globally renowned for, with traditional and contemporary dishes on offer. Les Cuisines is where French and Arabic flavours meet, while also sending guests on a journey through other cuisines. We also have the Mosaics Pool Bar on the fifth floor and Mafia Dubai, our latest entertainment addition, a nightclub. Bringing some fresh international flavours into the mix, we have Wakame, offering adventurous, modern Asian fine dining on the third floor, and INKA, a contemporary concept restaurant inspired by traditional Peruvian cuisine, on the 31st floor. >>>

“We take guests to France from the moment they step inside.”





Le Petit Prince Kids & Family Room

Your ‘Le Petit Prince Kids & Family Room’ comes cleverly equipped with family-friendly features, how does that steer your hotel towards a more kid-friendly direction and what are some of the other features that appeal to youngsters? We see families visiting from the UAE, the region, and other countries, but quite often the only offering is an extra bed. We want children to enjoy their stay at our hotel as much as their parents; they are making precious childhood memories after all. The Le Petit Prince Kids and Family Room comes with foldable bunk beds for a summer camp aesthetic and a smart TV in a kids’ alcove. The bathrooms have luxurious mini versions of the classics – plush kids’ bathrobes, cosy slippers, and two sets of Lanvin toiletries. We have ten rooms of this kind across various floors. Families staying with us also get vouchers to Dubai Parks and Resorts, and La Perle. We also have the Le Petit Prince kids’ club on the fifth floor. Packed with storybooks, toys, games, and an imaginative ambiance, kids are promised hours of fun, while their parents can relax at our restaurants or lounge by the pool. This festive season, children up to six years old enjoy our Christmas Day brunch for free and those aged between nine and 12 enjoy it for AED 99. We’re also linked to The Dubai Mall, which features an exciting range of kid-friendly entertainment options. This makes a family’s stay at the Sofitel Dubai Downtown even more enjoyable. Our location in Downtown Dubai, which is a short drive away from the beach and tourist attractions, makes it even more family-friendly.



Another unique offering, the signature Sofitel candle ritual – when can guests expect to witness it at Sofitel Dubai Downtown? Inspired by the enchanting lights of Paris and the country’s tradition of lighting gas lamps before electricity became mainstream, Sofitel Dubai Downtown strives to whisk its guests away to another world in time with our Candle Ritual. Every evening at sunset (6.30pm), over the festive season, our lobby comes alive with a candle lighting ceremony with members of staff adorned in locally inspired outfits. Sharing the art of candle-making with our geographic neighbour, England, it was a leading craft in 13th century France. Whether a guest is staying with us for business or pleasure, we aim to surprise and delight them with elegant touches like this.

“The Le Petit Prince Kids and Family Room comes with foldable bunk beds for a summer camp aesthetic and a smart TV in a kids’ alcove. The bathrooms have luxurious mini versions of the classics – plush kids’ bathrobes, cosy slippers, and two sets of Lanvin toiletries.”


As we approach the festive season, what do you have planned for this period? We have a host of magical festive offers and activations in store for our guests. L’Art de Noël is our hotel’s theme and it’s centred around joie de vivre (the joy of living). For guests staying with us, we have a Christmas Eve staycation and dining package for AED 1,250. This includes breakfast, a Christmas Eve dinner on December 24, and a Christmas poolside brunch on December 25 – all for two. For something a little more luxurious, guests can opt for the Presidential Suite package for AED 3,000 or the Royal Suite, starting from AED 5,000 per day. Guests can indulge in a breathtaking view of Downtown Dubai’s cityscape, seasonal décor and exquisite in-suite amenities. Weaving Sofitel Dubai Downtown’s world-renowned hospitality into every minute detail, they will also enjoy a butler on call to collect their shopping bags from Dubai Mall. This package also includes breakfast for two, and a New Year’s Eve gala dinner for two at Les Cuisines on December 31. Giving them a memorable experience from start to finish, they can also arrive and depart in style with a personalised limousine service to and from their home. Our New Year staycation package starts from AED 1,999 and features a room with an unrivalled view of the fireworks and Downtown Dubai. This package includes a New Year’s Eve dinner at Les Cuisines and breakfast for two. For guests who are visiting us, we have a traditional turkey to-go that’s perfect for up to ten people for AED 449. This includes classic sides, stuffing and jus. To get them into the festive spirit, guests can also try our Festive Afternoon Tea until December 31 for AED 199 per person. Guests who want to put on a sweet spread at home can order our gourmet selection, featuring snow-themed winter chocolate drinks, ginger cookies, a Santa Hat cake or a festive treats hamper. Our restaurant, Les Cuisines, has had a magical makeover for the festive season. Immersing guests in a festive atmosphere with giant iridescent baubles, Christmas décor, and a show-stopping gingerbread

“Leading by example, being confident, approachable and passionate, and paying attention to details – these are the main keys to success.” house, guests of all ages are in for a memorable experience. Le Petit Prince will also be visiting junior guests with charming touches at breakfast, brunch, a kids’ dinner and more. Our new rustic-themed lounge bar, L’Apero, is hosting a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with classic fare, a festive quiz and Christmas crackers for AED 225 with soft beverages and AED 325 with alcohol. We’re also hosting a family-friendly Christmas poolside market on December 25. Guests can have some fun in the sun, while exploring live food and drinks stations and sipping on festive cocktails in the pool. It’s AED 199 for the soft package and AED 299 for the alcohol package. Kids enjoy a complimentary brunch and pool access (up to six years old) and it’s AED 99 for kids aged seven to 12. For New Year’s Eve, guests can indulge in a gala dinner at Les Cuisines starting from AED 389 for soft drinks and AED 499 for house drinks, dinner at the Grass Pool’s Snow Land starting from AED 599 (with alcohol), or a Snow Masquerade dinner at L’Apero for AED 389 with soft beverages and AED 499 with house drinks.

What’s the future looking like for the property, and how do you plan on moving forward following times of pandemic as Dubai opens its doors to the world? It’s indeed an exciting opportunity to be the general manager at Sofitel Dubai Downtown. I am honoured to carry this trust and responsibility and extend my gratitude to our owner, who is always supportive and keen to explore various new opportunities to expand our amenities and services. Our vision is to develop new features and highlights to keep adapting to existing guests’ demands and new market needs. Now that Dubai has expanded into new market opportunities, we look forward to new horizons in 2021, with Expo 2020 in the front view. With several plans in progress, we’re committed to innovation – implementing our contactless experience, reinforcing digitalisation, and working on diversifying our products and offerings. We also have plans of launching apartments as part of our mission to keep our guests safe and comfortable, now and in the future. HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020



DOWN TO BUSINESS RENAN ASTOLPHO FOUR SEASONS HOTEL DIFC Tell us a bit more about your journey; when and how did you arrive in the UAE? I moved to Dubai from Osaka, Japan in 2018. After spending more than 10 years in London and several years in Asia, with postings in Bangkok, Shanghai, Bali and Osaka, I was really thrilled to have my first appointment in the Middle Eastern region, in one of the most vibrant, welcoming and exciting cities in the world.

Have you adapted your management style to this property and part of the world? I wouldn’t necessarily think that I’ve had to adapt my management style when moving to Dubai. Although I believe the dynamics and essence of hospitality are universal, there are certainly a number of elements within service, product and overall expectation in this part of the word, which differ from other regions and destinations. Thus, it’s more

about learning, exploring and diving deep into the local culture in order to maximise your ability to quickly understand what is more relevant in the respective destination. Dubai is very fast paced and it’s crucial to focus on the right priorities and maximise efficiency. What makes this hotel different from others in the UAE and region? Four Seasons Hotel DIFC is a very special and unique property, strategically located in the heart of the city. A magnificent boutique hotel which as we say, gives you a sense of a very high-end private club, with unparalleled views and Dubai’s hottest dining destinations right on your doorstep. What major challenges have you faced in the wake of Covid-19? If I were to express the impact of Covid-19 on hospitality with one word it would be ‘uncertainty’. It has been heart-breaking to see dear friends and so many colleagues and professionals losing their jobs around the world; most dare to read the news on a daily basis and see the number of families and their loved ones directly impacted… absolutely unprecedented and devastating. >>>




“I wouldn’t necessarily think that I’ve had to adapt my management style when moving to Dubai.”




“Four Seasons Hotel DIFC is a very special and unique property, strategically located in the heart of the city. A magnificent boutique hotel which as we say, gives you a sense of a very high-end private club, with unparalleled views and Dubai’s hottest dining destinations right on your doorstep.”

“IF I WERE TO EXPRESS THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HOSPITALITY WITH ONE WORD IT WOULD BE ‘UNCERTAINTY’.” From a business perspective, the uncertainty we have faced from the very beginning and throughout the past eight months has probably been the biggest challenge we have faced. What’s the importance of reviews and social media feedback, and how much of it do you take on board? Feedback is crucial to any business and in hospitality; we’re fortunate to have plenty of channels that allow us to hear 46


our guests from other perspectives. I believe in connecting with people and, although we always strive to get close to our guests, for different reasons we will not necessarily be able to gather all feedback possible. Social media and our own guest voice surveys are instrumental tools for our continuous commitment to excellence, be it for learning opportunities of improvement or often recognising our team for their remarkable work.

How do you keep your team motivated? It starts with building a team with passion, only true hoteliers who are passionate for outstanding service and product can stay motivated with the level of expectation the top tier of luxury hotels demand. We’re very fortunate in Four Seasons to be able to attract the best and most motivated talent in the market; by applying our Golden Rule and the strong culture and values of the group, it naturally results in maintaining good morale. What systems do you have in place for resolving guest complaints? We create an environment of openness where our colleagues are always anticipating guests’ needs and paying atten-


tion to possible shortfalls. Although we strive for perfection, we’re not perfect, and mistakes do happen as well as technical challenges. Empowerment plays a critical role to allow the team to resolve complaints promptly and, not only recover the glitches, but also resolve the root cause and ensure improvement moving forward. What would you like to tell visitors about the hotel’s restaurants, cafés and bars? Food and beverage is about holistic experiences… a very dynamic business, and just one drink at the bar or a snack through in-room dining relies on several elements to come together. At Four Seasons Hotel DIFC, our outlets have the full package, outstanding design and physical products, exceptional ambience, top-notch food and drinks…and the most important of all, the people. The care and attention of our team is what makes the whole experience unique.

products and ways to provide excellent experiences. We have a very strong reputation, and it takes a lot of hard work to maintain it. As the years pass by, we also start to get new generations of guests and it’s important to stay relevant, without compromising our historic essence of pioneering hospitality experiences. What are some of the strangest situations you have faced during the past few months?

We’re used to creating experiences by being close to people, not only guests but all of our stakeholders. Wearing masks and keeping physical distance has certainly felt strange to us, particularly in the first couple of months of the “new normal” …but we had to adapt, and the show must carry on! Looking forward to the days when we can remove the masks and get even closer to each other again, in group gatherings, internal team building, social events, etc.

Images courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel DIFC

How has your strategy shifted over the past few years? Our strategy is to continuously evolve. Never rest and constantly look for new




The Right Timing Orzu Hospitality Group

has announced its launch in the UAE, as it outlines its strategic roll-out plan for the months ahead. With three venues scheduled to open by Q1 2021, all located at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, and seven further launches throughout 2021 within the UAE, the group is headed by Mirzo Hafizov, who has previously worked with Jumeirah Group and the Bulldozer Group, among other brands. What does Orzu Hospitality plan on bringing to the UAE market?

Orzu Hospitality Group strives to bring a variety of creative and unique dining experiences to the UAE market. With three venues scheduled to open before Q1 2021, the group has a bold vision for the UAE. How challenging has it been to foray into the market during Covid-19?

We’re aware that this year has been very challenging for everyone, especially those in the hospitality industry. However, entering the market at this time has opened up several opportunities. The current situation, although not the most ideal, has given businesses like us the opportunity to negotiate terms for venues and sourcing goods. While many businesses have closed down, others like us have taken advantage of this window of opportunity to enter the market and solidify our position as one that is strong and can withstand any sort of economic turmoil.



Tell us a bit more about your concepts and expansion plans.

The current concepts we’re in the process of opening are each unique and will offer all guests truly memorable experiences. Our first concept, which is currently open to the public, is Bramble – a cocktail lounge inspired by the beverage of the same name and pays tribute to my mentor back in London. The next concept to open, ZOR, pays homage to the innate culture, heritage and cuisine of my homeland, Uzbekistan, spotlighting the exciting and enriching dining traditions of this remarkable country. The final concept for 2020, set to launch before the end of the year, is AKA, an elite, late-night lounge reflecting the seductive glamour and edgy spontaneity of Tokyo in the 1980s. In addition to these, we intend on opening seven venues in 2021 located throughout the UAE and Middle East. We’re currently in the process of developing these concepts, but I can certainly promise to offer our audience and guests truly unforgettable experiences combined with delicious food, as this is our number one priority.


How do you see the evolution of F&B over the coming years in Dubai?

Post-Covid-19, I believe the F&B industry will be a consolidated one. A few businesses will surely close down due to various circumstances, however, it’s also projected that plenty of restaurants are set to open. I believe that demand for F&B will increase and lean more towards casual dining once things get better, but luxury dining will also surely sustain in Dubai, as the city is associated very closely with luxury. In your opinion, what’s missing from the UAE market?

After conducting extensive market research, we found that the UAE market is not very familiar with the rich

and diverse flavours of Uzbek cuisine. This cuisine has its own unique history and is seen as a melting pot of flavours and spices. Embedded with influences from Central Asia, many traditional Uzbek recipes have centuries-old histories and are prepared with various rituals that elevate the dining experience to allnew heights. The main idea behind the creation of ZOR is to tell this story and bring out the soul of this wonderfully evocative culinary culture, which is both hearty and delicious. We also aim to challenge the market ; we believe the rich flavours of Uzbekistan and The Great Silk Road will speak for themselves, and gain a much-loved following among the people of the UAE and Middle East.

Do you think fast-casual dining is the way to go? Is this the end of fine dining?

This isn’t the end of fine dining; casual dining is definitely in demand as people are looking for more convenient and fast dining options, however, I strongly believe that the fine dining/ luxury segment will survive and grow stronger with time. With our upcoming concepts, mainly ZOR, we will be able to offer diners and guests a well-balanced mix of both casual as well as fine dining, so as to ensure a memorable experience while also maintaining the highest level of quality. How have your background and experience helped you expand in the GCC?

With over 18 years within the F&B and hospitality industry,

12 of which were in the GCC, I have built an extensive network within the industry. I believe you need to be ‘in the know’ when it comes to this industry, to see what’s moving and what’s not, and most importantly, to identify the gap in the market. With the launch of the Orzu Hospitality Group and through extensive market research, we aim to bridge the gaps we have found to be extensive and provide our guests with unique experiences and modern hospitality.

“The current situation, although not the most ideal, has given businesses like us the opportunity to negotiate terms for venues and sourcing goods.”




Chain of the month






maar Hospitality Group LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emaar Properties PJSC, the Dubaibased global property developer, and manages hospitality and leisure projects globally. Defining its competency in managing mixed-use property developments, Emaar Hospitality Group owns and manages a diversified portfolio of assets including hotels, serviced residences, and golf clubs, as well as a polo club, marina and lifestyle dining restaurants. The Group has defined its credentials in the hotel industry with the launch of three brands, each with a distinct niche – Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts and Rove Hotels.

Address Hotels + Resorts is the first brand launched by Emaar Hospitality Group with properties situated in some of the most sought-after locations. Address brings a fresh identity to the global hospitality and service sector. Recognised for its fusion of contemporary style with a touch of classic elegance, Address Hotels + Resorts comprise intuitive experiences. Staying true to its tagline ‘Where Life Happens’, Address offers its guests opportunities to celebrate life and its most cherished moments. Address Hotels + Resorts is set to operate hotels and serviced residences in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, and other key markets in the region in addition to its current portfolio in Dubai and Egypt. An upscale lifestyle hotel and residences brand, Vida Hotels and Resorts is for the new generation of business executives, entrepreneurs and leisure travellers. Positioned as a lively and vibrant hub where inspiring minds can create, connect and come alive, the hotels offer a stimulating environment where style meets convenience and interactivity. Vida Hotels and Resorts has four properties in Dubai and is set to operate hotels, resorts and serviced residences in Umm Al Quwain, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and other key markets in the region as well as in Dubai. The leisure assets of Emaar Hospitality Group include Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club and Dubai Marina Yacht Club. HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020




Beachfront View

THE LAUNCH OF FOUR NEW UAE BEACH RESORTS Emaar Hospitality Group is set to open four new beachfront resorts in the UAE, further adding to its portfolio of hotels in Address Hotels + Resorts and Vida Hotels and Resorts brands. Vida, Umm Al Quwain and Address Beach Resort will open their doors in Q4 2020, while Address Fujairah Resort and Palace Fujairah Resort are scheduled to open in Q1 2021. Chris Newman, chief operating officer, Emaar Hospitality Group, says: “We’re excited to welcome four new hotels, including Vida Hotel and Resort, Umm Al Quwain – our first Vida-branded hotel outside Dubai – to the Emaar portfolio. Our homegrown hospitality brands, Vida and Address, have captured the attention of a generation of leisure and business travellers in the UAE, and we look forward to inviting residents and tourists alike to enjoy our exceptional hospitality at these four new beachfront resorts.” The new properties will add to the group’s existing Dubai properties including Address Downtown, Address Boulevard, Address Dubai Mall, Address Fountain Views, Address Sky View, Address Dubai Marina, Address Montgomerie and Palace Downtown. Vida Hotels and Resorts’ collection comprises Vida Downtown and Manzil Downtown, as well as newer hotels, Vida Emirates Hills, located in the tranquil Emirates Hills neighbourhood, and Vida Creek Harbour in the newly developed Dubai Creek Island.



Vida Hotel and Resort, Umm Al Quwain Vida Umm Al Quwain, located on the foreshore of the Arabian Gulf with direct beach access, is set to become the newest beachfront property added to the Vida Hotels and Resorts collection. Designed as a getaway for the modern traveller, the contemporary hotel will feature 135 rooms and eight chalets with direct beach access. All rooms come equipped with modern facilities and open-plan bathrooms. The pet-friendly property also encourages guests to bring their four-legged friends along for a stay. Vida Umm Al Quwain’s food and beverage outlets will include SoCal, a relaxed rooftop bar inspired by a southern Californian vibe; Origins, a contemporary all-day dining space designed for those who wish to eat cleaner, better and more mindfully; Stage2, a not-so-typical lobby lounge; and a pool bar offering light lunches and dinners, or sundowners overlooking the infinity pool. The hotel is also home to Vida’s first spa, as well as kids’ and wellness facilities.


Address Beach Resort, JBR The new Address resort, situated in Dubai’s popular Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR), will offer proximity to Dubai Marina, the world’s largest man-made marina; Dubai hotspot The Walk; and Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observation wheel. The hotel will feature 217 guest rooms and suites, with a choice of deluxe and twin rooms, one-and two-bedroom suites as well as a Presidential Suite. Draped by the Arabian Gulf on one side and the avant-garde Dubai cityscape on the other, the resort offers a ‘home’ setting amid apartment-style interiors, with an all-day-dining outlet and a restaurant serving up a fusion of South American and Middle Eastern flavours. The Lobby Lounge will be an indoor retreat for refreshments and beverages, and those who prefer a vibrant beachside barbecue will find The Beach Grill. The best vantage point to enjoy treats amid inspiring perspectives of Jumeirah Beach and Dubai Marina, will be at Zeta on Seventy Seven. Address Beach Resort aims to become a top destination for holistic wellness and revival. The Spa at Address will offer treatments and therapies.

Address Fujairah Resort Address Fujairah Resort, located at Al Aqah Beach with a coastline of the deep blue sea and water-laden clouds off the warm Indian Ocean will feature 196 luxury rooms and suites with modern facilities. The resort’s two swimming pools, both facing the sea, are set to provide a tranquil experience, and dining venues will include all-day dining at The Restaurant, while a luxury spa will offer massages and treatments for the mind and soul. A 24-hour Fitness Centre will house the latest equipment. Young wanderers are invited to spend the day at Qix, a space for children.

Palace Fujairah Resort Palace Fujairah Resort, located 12 minutes away from Fujairah City Centre, is created for the modern guest. Home to 167 luxury rooms and suites with contemporary interiors and the latest in-room facilities, Palace Fujairah Resort will feature award-winning restaurants with a variety of cuisines to choose from. The resort’s outdoor swimming pool and dedicated children’s pool will both overlook the sea. Inside, the resort’s 24-hour Fitness Centre will offer enthusiasts the latest gym equipment, while dedicated meeting venues are also available.

Top to bottom: Address Fujairah Beach Resort Palace Fujairah Beach Resort Address Beach Resort - Dubai Opposite page: Vida Hotel and Resort, Umm Al Quwain





Chef Middle East Chef Middle East has highlighted its commitment to support the hospitality industry with innovative solutions and fulfil the needs and requirements of pastry chefs in the region. During the pandemic, operators have been seeking convenient pastry and bakery solutions, ready-to-serve products and support for local businesses. In response to this emerging trend, the distributor is launching a new brand, My Patisserie, featuring premium ingredients and frozen desserts such as cheesecakes, Arabic coffee and fondant lava cakes and brownies.


CHEF MIDDLE EAST ANNOUNCES NEW BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP WITH ST. MICHEL Chef Middle East has entered an exclusive distribution partnership with French brand St. Michel for import and foodservice distribution in the UAE and soon, in both Oman and Qatar. This announcement is the distributor’s second strategic partnership in recent months.



The St. Michel range for professionals, which has been developed for restaurants, hotels, catering and bakery professionals, offers different solutions and options based on pastry expertise and know-how. The story in the professional world started with a French pastry icon: the madeleine. Today, St. Michel are proud to be among world leaders when it comes to the creation. The brand’s ambition is to become the preferred partner for desserts and snacks.

“The St. Michel family bakery was founded in 1905 and we’ve had time to get to know our recipes inside out. Today, our pastry chefs continue to uphold our traditional know-how, and pass it on day-by-day to the younger generations,” says Antoine Combes, Middle East area manager, St. Michel. “We use this know-how to do all the mixing, kneading, beating and baking ourselves across our eight production sites in France, because we believe that a biscuit can only be truly delicious if it’s


well-made. At St. Michel, we love good food, and our goal is to share our French sense of excellence: that’s why our products are consistently good,” he adds. “St. Michel’s tradition of excellence is based, first and foremost, on common sense. We follow our instinct for good and doing our best: we only use cage-free eggs and French wheat, and we choose not to use palm oil. We’re a traditional brand with a love of all things delicious and are always keen to reach out, explore and expand our culinary repertoire to invent or re-invent new biscuits. Our traditional madeleines and shortbread biscuits still provide a moment of pleasure every day.” Combes commented on the partnership saying: “Chef Middle East is recognised as one of the most professional distributors in the region, with a strong focus on customer service. This is what St. Michel has been looking for, as we want to be close to our customers. We’re, not only a pastry partner, but aim to become a solutions provider for chefs, that’s why it’s very important to have close relationships with our customers, through our distributors. Moreover, from the first discussions with the Chef Middle East team, it was clear that we shared the same values of humility, pragmatism, professionalism, team spirit, proactivity and responsibility.” “This collaboration allows us to keep upscaling our offering through bringing in new traditional products of high quality to the market. In today’s fast-paced environment, it’s crucial for companies that initially grew organically to look for new ways to drive collaborative innovation that delivers on what their customers need

today, and in the future,” says Stasha Zdravkovic, bakery specialist at Chef Middle East. “The St. Michel range is ideal for hotels, breakfast menus and buffets, as well as for afternoon teatime by simply offering chefs convenient options and quality, portion-controlled products. We’re happy to announce that the products are currently available in stock in the UAE market and the range will shortly be extended to Oman by end of the year.” Zdravkovic notes that, while bread continues to be an integral food item in the UAE menu, many changes have been observed in the bakery category over recent years. Health awareness continues to rise, artisanal products have gained momentum in the bakery industry and Instagramfriendly food products are in demand. According to a recent research, the Middle East bakery product market size is expected to register significant growth during 2020-2026. The estimated sound revenues are on the back of the rising evolution of the hospitality industry. Increased hospitality infrastructure has generated demand for baked products, for serving breakfast is estimated to leave a positive impact on market growth in the coming years. Additionally, the increased introduction of Western flavours and product innovation have attracted a major segment of the population and are anticipated to raise the consumption of bakery products, proliferating the enormous growth of the market in the upcoming six years. Despite the current impact of Covid-19 on hospitality operators in the region, both companies foresee thriving growth in the market for the

years to come, and a great opportunity to provide authentic and popular French bake-off pastries with ranges that offer freshly baked products, avoids waste and is adaptable at chefs’ convenience, know-how and creativity, with a consistent quality product to decorate, garnish, re-invent, or use as is. Chef Middle East has highlighted that it looks forward to developing its Bakery category further, and its product portfolio, maintaining excellence in supplying premium products with service standards to remain as the preferred one-stop solution foodservice distributor in all the markets it operates in. The distributor caters to more

“IN TODAY’S FAST-PACED ENVIRONMENT, IT’S CRUCIAL FOR COMPANIES THAT INITIALLY GREW ORGANICALLY TO LOOK FOR NEW WAYS TO DRIVE COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION THAT DELIVERS ON WHAT THEIR CUSTOMERS NEED TODAY, AND IN THE FUTURE.” 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. HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020



Simply Kitchen RASOOL TAJ | HEAD OF BUYING Tell us more about the baking and dessert range you currently stock. Simply Kitchen offers a wide range of baking and dessert products, helping you serve your favourite festive delights and baked goods. High in demand this season, the Rose Gold Bakeware is a favourite amongst shoppers. The collection offers an array of products, including baking trays and cake tins. We also present a semi-professional range of bakeware from KitchenCraft, as well as fun and practical cookware essentials including, but not limited to whisks, pastry cutters, brushes, etc. What are the latest additions to your product list? The sophisticated Rose Gold Collection is one of our latest additions, making for a great table display this festive season. Moreover, we have a classic



serveware collection offering stunning white and silver platters used for cakes and pastries. What trends are you seeing ahead of the festive season? Ahead of the festive season, customers usually look for colourful dinnerware, mainly with hints of red. Saying this, we always have on display a range of beautiful red serveware to suit every taste this festive season. From essential bakeware to icing nozzles and piping bags, Simply Kitchen offers unique and lively items to help you create the most exquisite festive meals. To complement your table display, you can also opt for simple yet elegant cases for muffins, cupcakes or Christmas cakes.


La Serre Boulangerie launches new gourmet cake range Classic French bakery La Serre Boulangerie has unveiled its brandnew gourmet range of whole cakes. Made to order with personalisation available upon request, the cakes can now be purchased at La Serre Boulangerie, Vida Downtown. Cakes in the range include traditional French favourites such as Vanilla and Berries Millefeuille – puff pastry, vanilla diplomate cream, red berries coulis and fresh berries, Paris Brest – choux pastry, praline mousseline cream and hazelnut praline, Tropezienne – brioche with diplomate cream

flavoured with vanilla and orange blossom, and Apple Tart – sweet tart with almond cream and apples. For chocolate lovers, options include Chocolate & Mango Cake – chocolate sponge and mousse with ganache and mango jelly, and Chocolate & Caramel Cake – chocolate sponge with crunchy praline, soft caramel, milk chocolate crémeux and caramelia mousse, plus many more. Cakes must be ordered 24 hours in advance, and can be prepared in sizes for four, six, eight, ten, and twelve people, with prices starting from AED 32 per person. HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020



Rebalance, Recharge, Repeat Retreatmi.com was founded by Stacey Elizabeth Sharp, a STOTT Pilates teacher and nutritionist, with the aim of making wellness travel more accessible. Passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle, not only day-to-day, but specifically while travelling, she strives to make such experiences less intimidating. Bringing together unique locations, verified instructors and a variety of added services including massages, beauty treatments, culinary experiences, sport, fitness and plenty more, visitors can search RetreatMi.com to design, select and book their own custom wellness holiday or choose existing retreats around the world, all on a single website.




Tell us more about the concept behind RetreatMi.com. RetreatMi is an innovative wellness travel platform that aims to encourage everyone to travel well. It appreciates that one size does not fit all. We focus on connecting small local businesses and professionals, pairing them with properties and additional services, so that you can curate your own wellness getaway and choose the activities and budget of your choice. How do you partner with hotels? What are some of the properties you’re currently working with? We like to partner with unique locations, whether that’s private properties, boutique hotels or hotels with specialist facilities. Our aim is to allow people to search properties by the wellness facilities they desire, whether it be yoga shalas, local activities, etc. With years spent working in the wellness field, the Retreatmi.com team pay attention to the smaller details that make all the difference, ensuring you return feeling happier and healthier. While the site has options all over the globe that are handpicked by our expert in-house team, we also provide a wealth of UAE-based staycations allowing exploration without having to board a flight. We’re also conscious of every budget and requirement, including family and pet-friendly options, plus catering to intolerances and allergies – so that the best and most carefully curated recommendations are generated in seconds. How has demand for wellness increased? What sort of specific requests are you seeing in the market? Wellness travel was on the rise before Covid-19 and now we’re seeing even more of an increase for domestic wellness travel. Customised and budget options seem to be the pattern these days, as well as a steady increase in more outdoor activities, rather than the usual popular spa breaks. The Global Wellness Institute has the wellness travel sector estimated at

“We like to partner with unique locations, whether that’s private properties, boutique hotels or hotels with specialist facilities.” $639 billion, with a growth rate of 6.5 per cent a year; that’s more than twice the growth rate of tourism overall. This year’s seismic shift in day-to-day life has greatly impacted how we view personal wellness, and now more than ever before, consumers are focused on their emotional, mental and physical health. How are you competing with membership programmes, which offer easy access to wellness programming? Retreatmi.com is a valuable solution as the world’s first custom-made retreat builder. We offer tools for people to find wellness providers within the travel market. The online platform is really a healthy adventure hub that makes planning wellness holidays and retreats across the globe hassle-free. By bringing together unique locations, excellent instructors and a variety of added services such as massage and beauty treatments, culinary experiences, sport and fitness, and more, RetreatMi. com allows the traveller to search, curate, select and book a bespoke wellness holiday. Alternatively, you can choose from beautiful retreats around the world that suit you and your needs.

Has the shift to digital post-Covid inspired you to launch the website? No, we launched in November last year with our prototype. It was working for many years with clients of all different calibres and specialist needs that inspired RetreatMi. The days of one-size-fits-all wellness travel are long gone. People now want more than just a cookie-cutter approach, as they have developed more personal ideas of what wellness means to them. What’s in the pipeline? Oh, lots to come, and it’ll all be up on our site. Think goal-driven trips that push urbanites out of their comfort zones, back to nature retreats that nourish the soul, and solo micro breaks that transform and engage through physical exploration. Retreatmi.com gives people the chance to enjoy their break by exploring their talents, getting fit, detoxing, learning something new, or simply relaxing. As a comprehensive virtual hub, the site is also building on more news, information and expert advice from leaders in health, wellness and tourism across the globe. HOTELNEWSME.COM | DECEMBER 2020



BEAUTY BY THE RED SEA Sahl Hasheesh, Egypt

Located 18 km south of Hurghada City and boasting no less than 12.5 km of sandy beach, Sahl Hasheesh is a booming, fully integrated luxury resort community on Egypt’s Red Sea Coast. Surrounded by the Red Sea Mountains from the west and infinite crystal-clear waters from the east, the resort covers a total area of 41 sq km. Whether you walk through the elegant neighbourhood alleys of this modern resort town or stroll down on the wooden pier to the beautiful white beach, comfortable sun loungers and beach huts await.




Resorts, Uncovered Baron Palace, Sahl Hasheesh There’ so much charm to Sahl Hasheesh, which is particularly attributable to its ‘untouched haven’ vibes, but more so stems from its subtlety in drawing visitors from all walks of life to its pristine beaches. However, what really sets the bay – located on the Red Sea coast of Egypt – apart, is the fact that it has attracted investment from hotel operators that truly embrace the essence of what it stands for.

Among these was Baron Hotels and Resorts, an independent chain which had been operating in the country since 1980 and boasts a portfolio of properties in Cairo and beyond. Its Sahl Hasheesh property, Baron Palace, can best be described as an amalgamation of nostalgic, beautiful moments, which one may have visited throughout their life at different points in time.>>>

Cabana Beach








It’s hard to miss the hotel; built on an area of 100,000 square metres, the massive property is a rather expansive château, with three different buildings housing over 600 rooms and suites. Recently renovated, Baron Palace is impeccably clean – which with its primarily white exterior and gardenfilled pathways constitutes no easy task. Staff are dedicated, paying full attention to their hotel and aware of the intricacies of handling such a large, luxury resort. Like clockwork, they swiftly attend to guests; from beach boys to the F&B team, they are attentive and motivated. Baron Palace’s rooms and suites all offer views of the deep blue seas, preceded by family, adult and infinity pools which all overlook the vast greatness of the waters. The pool bar is set within Infinity, an international cuisine restaurant, which also offers barbeque nights where a variety of cuts of meat, seafood and more is available – as fresh as can be. From plump shrimps, to garlic lamb chops, there’s something for everyone at this seaside spot. An absolute proof of Baron Palace’s exceptional food and beverage offering is the buffet offered for breakfast and dinner. As one approaches the main traditional, Arabian courtyard, beautiful “Mashrabiya” panels welcome you, lined with ornate fountains. The main restaurant serves up a variety of dishes, with a selection that is constantly switched up. For the first meal of the day, everything from the ever-traditional falafel to English pudding, made-toorder omelettes and grilled tomatoes is on offer, while dinner comprises vegetarian sushi, perfectly cooked beef fillet and even theme nights where seafood takes over the menu – in every shape and form one can think of, freshly caught and served piping hot off the grill. The dessert selection at Baron Palace is equally as impressive, with homemade baked treats and ice cream, artisan croissants, cakes and

mousse of every consistency, and much more. Served alongside all types of bread, a carb overload would be almost inevitable, if it weren’t for the balanced selection of vegetables, fruits and protein on offer – with the chefs always focused on offering options for the health-conscious, and the occasional fried chicken for those who fancy. The resort is also home to a group of a la carte restaurants, which offer Japanese, Egyptian and Indian cuisines, and more, each with its own décor and personality, and menus that reflect the true essence of what they serve, prepared by chefs who have studied the culture behind every dish. Despite its grand positioning, Baron Palace is family-friendly, and kids enjoy the resort as much as adults – if not a tad more if the joyful giggles are of any indication. The beach makes for quality sand play, and an aqua park just for little ones makes the hotel’s colourful offering perfect for little ones. For adults, the spa is ideal for refreshing afternoons after a shopping trip to the in-house bazaar. Housing a salt cave, the extensive wellness list includes a myriad of treatments, and a salon is a welcome addition for female guests who are looking for some beauty time.


Baron Palace is among Sahl Hasheesh’s most unique, visit-worthy properties. Whether it’s relaxation, a trip with/for the kids, some time off from work or a honeymoon, the property somehow manages to cover all the bases of a good time, while maintaining consistency and standards in an exceptional manner.





Brian Voelzing Group Executive Chef, Lincoln Hospitality (La Serre, Taikun, Distillery and The Loft) and Restaurant Secrets 6.45am I wake up, get straight into the

12.30pm I try and have lunch around

shower and then start getting ready for work.

this time, usually with someone from the team to discuss upcoming projects and activations, or things we can improve at the restaurants.

7.15am I have a cup of coffee and breakfast with my wife Sophie and daughter Harper, while watching the news.

8.00am I check my e-mails and schedule for the day to see where I will be going or what I will be doing. Working for both Lincoln Hospitality and Restaurant Secrets, which are sister companies, keeps things interesting. My days are always quite different depending on what we have going on in the outlets, and new clients we have on board at Restaurant Secrets.

8.15am I leave home and head to work. I usually make calls on the way to work to other colleagues or friends in the hospitality industry to check in on how everything is going.

8.45am I usually start my day in La Serre, unless I have meetings elsewhere, and go straight in for a cappuccino while I spend an hour or so replying to e-mails and reading the restaurant reports from the previous evening.

9.45am As each day is different, I always try to set aside a couple hours to get some focused computer work done, which may include menu development in the kitchen or creating new recipes and costings.

2.00pm Most of my client meetings for concept and menu development at Restaurant Secrets usually take place around this time, or operations meetings for our restaurants at Lincoln Hospitality.

4.00pm I try and visit each of the head chefs in our outlets, La Serre, Distillery and Taikun, most days to discuss menu changes or any challenges we may be facing.

5.00pm By this time, I usually need to get caught back up on emails and get a couple hours of work done. This includes budgeting and forecasting upcoming expenses and expected revenue, writing menus for events, meeting with suppliers, creating promotions for the brands and many other things. It varies day to day. 6.45pm By this time, the restaurants are starting to welcome guests, so depending on the day I may go to one or two for the start or end of service.

8.45pm If business permits, I get home before 9pm – have a quick bite – then spend some time with my wife before bed.

10.30pm I check my e-mails once again before bed and mentally plan my day ahead.

11.00pm Sleep



Our SME eShop delivers. So that your business never stops. du.ae/SME



DELIGHT YOUR GUESTS TODAY CONTACT US 600 59 59 50 www.nestleprofessionalme.com

Profile for BNC Publishing

Hotel & Catering News ME - December 2020  

Hotel & Catering News ME - December 2020