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Hotel&Catering NEWS Middle East JANUARY 2021


Spoilt for


Nakheel’s multi-venue concepts mark a new era in dining




Chef Batuhan Piatti; from cooking for a president, to curating sumptuous menus

A new Rotana property’s general manager on opening in times of pandemic

An F&B business’ unique sweet, sweet offering takes the market by storm

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SPOILT FOR CHOICE Sandy El Hayek, food & beverage manager at Nakheel Malls, reveals what goes into developing some of the biggest multi-venue F&B concepts in the region


Food District vendors


MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE Head Chef Rabee Essa and Sous Chef Praveen Kumar share their top recipes, brought to you by Nestlé Professional MENA



We Need to Look Ahead to the Future By Tim Cordon, Area Senior Vice President MENA, Radisson Hotel Group



Butter-ly Delicious Five Courses, Four Colours and One Product Highlight the Versatility of French Butter for the Festive Season



Testing the Limits

Adwait Anantwar

Five Essential Point-ofSale Integrations for the Foodservice Industry

Head chef of homegrown Indian restaurant Mohalla, located in D3



Seizing the day

Raffaele Tiberio

Haytham Omar, general manager of the newly opened Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel Dubai

is the founder and CEO of DeliverAl, an endto-end facilitator for all businesses seeking effective and affordable e-commerce solutions





Dough-ing The Right Thing Doughlicious CoFounders Maliha Khan and Ahmad Zia are on a mission to spread the doughliciousness’ of edible cookie dough





A Grand Welcome Grand Rotana Resort & Spa - Sharm El Sheikh is located in the heart of the Red Sea, overlooking Tiran Island





WYNDHAM HOTELS & RESORTS The world’s largest hotel franchising company by number of properties



Billionaire Feasts Chef Batuhan Piatti, corporate executive chef at Billionaire Mansion Dubai, tells Hotel & Catering News Middle East all about what it takes to cook for a president, operating major restaurants and the cuisine at the luxurious venue



Head Chef Daniel Perez Delgado offers a modern take on Spanish classics with Lola Taberna Española’s innovative menu



There is no doubt that French butter makes almost everything taste better. From pan-fried fish to sautéed vegetables, it’s a well-known fact that it naturally exhausts aromas, and there’s no more versatile ingredient than butter. Adding heat to dairy butter develops a rich, nutty flavour as the milk caramelizes. Cooking with butter adds flavour to meat cuts, while using it with a spice blends compliments and enhances the flavour of any dish.

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 ART DIRECTOR Simona El-Khoury 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 2021. 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


Still We Rise Accor Strikes Management Deal to Open First Rixos Resort in Qatar Accor has signed a management agreement with Qetaifan Projects Company. Set to open in 2022, the Rixos Doha Qetaifan is set to welcome Business, Leisure and Family guests. Forever Rose Café Launches in Boxpark Dubai Homegrown luxury florist, Forever Rose, has opened its first café in Dubai at Boxpark by Meraas.

New Multi-Venue Dining Destination with 20 Bars Opens in Dubai Dubai dining destination ‘Bla Bla’ has opened in two phases last December.


don’t want to say, “it’s finally over,” but I do think that deep inside every mask-wearing, sanitised individual among us, we just want to do a happy dance. Full of surprises it was, 2020, and now that it’s gone, let’s have a look at your favourite reads from the Hotel & Catering News Middle East archives. The Ritz-Carlton Introduces its First Children’s Book The group has created its first children’s book, in cooperation with well-known British children’s author Julia Gray and illustrator Jennie Webber. Down to Business: Meet the Hotel Manager of Four Seasons DIFC Renan Astolpho is hotel manager at the Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre. Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay Names Regional Vice President and General Manager Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced the appointment of Rami Z. Sayess as regional vice president and general manager at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.



Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City Appoints New Director of F&B Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City has appointed Phil Roberts as its new director of F&B. Ras Al Khaimah Hotels Launch New Year’s Eve Packages Ras Al Khaimah, recently named Gulf Tourism Capital for the second consecutive year, has hosted one of the world’s largest pyrotechnics performances to welcome 2021.

And, our December cover story: Rising to the Top: Sofitel Dubai Downtown General Manager 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. Here’s to a wonderful, exciting 2021!

DINA MAATY EDITOR dina@bncpublishing.net



Your business continuity is our top priority.

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




kills shortages, cost pressure, digitisation – these are the challenges faced by caterers in industry catering, say experts at Rational. Then there are the increased expectations of customers with regard to quality, special diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten or lactosefree as well as a varied menu. So, in addition to good ideas and clever concepts, kitchens also need a partner who knows the challenges, supports them from a technical perspective and allows them to produce large quantities. Rational has created such support with iKitchen. “We have combined the iCombi Pro, iVario and ConnectedCooking into a system solution under the name iKitchen,” explains Thomas Hofer, managing director at RATIONAL Kitchen & Catering Equipment Trading FZCO at Rational.”The objective is to facilitate the work, particularly in large kitchens from a volume of 500 meals per day, streamline processes and thus save space, money, energy and raw materials. Hofer knows one good example. Let’s take for instance a kitchen that is originally equipped with a tilting fryer, boiling pan, deep-fat fryer, pressure cooker, convection oven and a stove. In such a kitchen you can replace all the appliances except for the stove



with an iCombi Pro and iVario. This will save up to 40% in space. At the same time, these two appliances together will cover up to 90% of all conventional cooking applications. With some applications, such as boiling pasta or cooking using the sous-vide method, they can even take over from each other and thus increase the flexibility of a large kitchen significantly. This also generally supports healthy cooking methods. According to Hofer: “With the iCombi Pro, for example, you can deep-fry without fat. The chips turn out as crispy as you want, but have much less fat. And with steaming, the vitamins and nutrients are much better preserved.” The two identical user interfaces, which guide the user through the menu according to the same principle, show that the two appliances are made to collaborate. The cooking systems also have intelligent functions, which once again make them very easy to operate thus significantly reducing the rate of errors. Even untrained staff can therefore have easy access to various cooking applications. The fact that all resources are used optimally with iKitchen is also demonstrated in the overnight cooking function. Both the iCombi Pro and the iVario have this application, which saves so much production time and eliminates a lot of pressure from the kitchen.

The third component, ConnectedCooking, also helps productivity in that the networking solution can be used to manage and transfer cooking programs centrally, access and save HACCP data from both cooking systems and the iCombi Pro can even be controlled remotely. This saves many pathways, reduces the error rate and ensures a consistent standard in food production. The only thing left to do is load and unload. Max Meier first experienced iKitchen at the urbanhabor in Ludwigsburg, Germany: ConnectedCooking plays a key role in its kitchen processes and offers the essential convenience in data logging, storage and analysis. This means that all production and HACCP data can be analysed from the office. Hofer concludes: “Rational describes iKitchen as ‘productive and flexible. Like never before.’ Very apt, because large kitchens can work even more successfully than before and face their challenges in a flexible way.” Or in other words, this ultimately enables production without compromise.


TIME to manage Onyx Hotel Apartments in Qusais UAE-headquartered TIME Hotels has officially taken over the management of the Onyx Hotel Apartments in Al Qusais, Dubai, its fifth property in Dubai and its seventh in the UAE.

Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels

Sweetheart Kitchen launches meal programme for delivery captains The Sweetheart Kitchen chefs and team have partnered with HORECA Trade, Hotpack, MH Enterprise, Al Rawdah, Coca Cola, and NRTC to launch the Driver Meal Programme and distribute over 300 meals to delivery captains in Dubai. “It has been a hard year for many, and we believe it has been the hardest on the delivery drivers that spend their days on the roads making sure we live more convenient lives,” says Adib Samara, VP global brand and marketing at Sweetheart Kitchen. “Customers often don’t realise the challenges that come with demand growth and the difficulties that many of these drivers are facing on a daily basis. In addition to the road safety issues, the long working hours, and the

Commenting, TIME Hotels CEO, Mohamed Awadalla, says: “This latest management acquisition, further reinforces our steady and focused growth strategy to expand our footprint in the UAE responsibly. The UAE hospitality sector has grown steadily in confidence, since the initial COVID-19 lockdown in April and now that vaccines are ready to be rolled out, I am very optimistic that our industry will rebound in 2021, especially during the build up to Expo 2020.” Conveniently located near Dubai’s commercial district, airport and an array of tourist attractions and major shopping destinations, TIME Onyx Hotel Apartments, Al Qusais, comprises 176 furnished apartments, including 42 studios, 99 one-bedroom apartments and 35 two-bedroom apartments.

The property features Foodio, an all-day dining restaurant, Bites Café, a business centre, prayer room and a gift shop. Guests also have access to a temperature-controlled roof-top swimming pool, kids’ pool, jacuzzi and a fully equipped 24-hour gym. For those looking for total relaxation, guests can indulge in a ladies or gents sauna and steam room.

weather challenges, the delivery profession can be physically and mentally trying,” Samara continues. To thank Dubai’s delivery captains for their hard work and commitment to the foodservice industry, Sweetheart Kitchen prepared over three hundred meals to be distributed to the com-

pany’s aggregator drivers. Any driver who wishes to have a meal in between his shift is also included in the social programme. The meal distribution initiative ensured that all safety standards are met and that the process falls in line with Municipality and Food Department protocols.



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Novotel teams up with Disney and Pixar’s all-new feature film ‘SOUL’ CNIEL – The French Dairy Board and the European Union have partnered with one of the world’s renowned pastry chefs, Claire Heitzler, to showcase to Middle East consumers why European cream is the perfect ingredient this festive season. Chef Heitzler trained under her compatriot, renowned French Chef Ducasse in Tokyo, before putting her dessert expertise to acclaimed success at the Park Hyatt Dubai. The award-winning chef returned to Paris, where she led the pastry team at the Ritz and worked at French



luxury bakery and sweets maker, LaDurée, before starting her own consultancy. Long lauded for its many uses when creating everything from the simplest of desserts to a show-stopping cake, French dairy cream is 100% dairy so 100% natural. Chef Heitzler says, “French cream is my go-to when making desserts. I never could do pastry without French cream. This ingredient is at the base of everything I do, and we’re fortunate to have excellent quality dairy products in France thanks to our unique terroir and farming methods.”

French cream is used to enhance aromas and balance all kinds of flavours. “One of the main qualities of French cream is it can help reduce the bitterness of cocoa, the acidity of lemon, temper certain fruits and the astringency of others, which makes it the perfect ingredient this festive season,” adds Chef Heitzler. A range of French creams are available throughout the Middle East, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and can be found in local convenience stores and hypermarkets. Brands include Président, Elle & Vire, as well as Waitrose’s own brand which incorporates French crème fraîche and French crème, Candia or Paysan Breton. Novotel, a brand within the Accor group, today announced their collaboration with Disney and Pixar’s “SOUL” to provide its guests, fans and followers with a range of new features, including in-hotel experiences, one-of-a-kind augmented reality animations and more. The multi-film collaboration, which began with Disney and Pixar’s ONWARD, moves into its second phase with the international release of the new feature film SOUL. The family-friendly flick will be available exclusively on Disney+ on Dec. 25, 2020, and in theatres in countries where Disney+ is not available, taking viewers from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth.

Throughout late 2020 and into 2021, guests will access unique augmented reality games at Novotel properties in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Australasia and Africa. Coming next, the rollout of new and exciting activities surrounding another film in the collaboration, LUCA, Pixar’s next original movie that invites the audience to an unforgettable adventure on the Italian Riviera. As part of the new collaboration, Novotel locations will feature augmented reality games and animations inspired by SOUL’s universe, accessible to each guest through their smart phone. QR codes positioned throughout hotels in the Middle East and Africa (excluding Tunisia and Morocco), will invite families to play, spend time together and more. Fans and followers will also be able to continue the fun at home with games accessible through Novotel’s social media channels.


Alain Ducasse protégé CHEF CLAIRE HEITZLER reveals her ingredients for the perfect festive dessert

CNIEL – The French Dairy Board and the European Union have partnered with one of the world’s renowned pastry chefs, Claire Heitzler, to showcase to Middle East consumers why European cream is the perfect ingredient this festive season.

Chef Heitzler trained under her compatriot, renowned French Chef Ducasse in Tokyo, before putting her dessert expertise to acclaimed success at the Park Hyatt Dubai. The awardwinning chef returned to Paris, where she led the pastry team at the Ritz and worked at French luxury bakery and sweets maker, LaDurée, before starting her own consultancy. Long lauded for its many uses when creating everything from the simplest of desserts to a show-stopping cake, French dairy cream is 100% dairy so 100% natural. Chef Heitzler says, “French cream is my go-to when making desserts. I never could do pastry without French cream. This ingredient is at the base of everything I do, and we’re fortunate to have excellent quality dairy products in France thanks to our unique terroir and farming methods.”

French cream is used to enhance aromas and balance all kinds of flavours. “One of the main qualities of French cream is it can help reduce the bitterness of cocoa, the acidity of lemon, temper certain fruits and the astringency of others, which makes it the perfect ingredient this festive season,” adds Chef Heitzler. A range of French creams are available throughout the Middle East, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and can be found in local convenience stores and hypermarkets. Brands include Président, Elle & Vire, as well as Waitrose’s own brand which incorporates French crème fraîche and French crème, Candia or Paysan Breton.




TurtleTree Labs raises $6.2 million in funding round TurtleTree Labs, the biotech company pioneering the method to produce milk using cell-based technology, has just announced the close of an oversubscribed $6.2 million Pre-A funding

round from new and existing global investors including Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global, KBW Ventures, and Verso Capital. TurtleTree Labs, which has offices in San Francisco

Seera Group partners with Hilton to strengthen its global hospitality network



and Singapore, will use the funds to accelerate research and production of functional, bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human milk. These high-value components have potential benefits in gut and brain health, which can be applied to both infant and senior nutrition. “The vision of TurtleTree Labs is to create a truly sustainable and cruelty-free food system,” says Max Rye, chief strategist of TurtleTree Labs. “We’re grateful to have the support of leading investors from every corner of the world.” The company also announced that HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, a prominent global investor in the alternative protein sector through KBW Ventures, will join TurtleTree Labs as an Advisor. KBW Ventures first invested in the TurtleTree Labs seed round announced in June 2020 and has committed additional capital to the latest round, the Pre-A raise. In his role as Advisor, Prince Khaled will shape new market growth plans, lend his expertise in the alternative protein and food tech spheres, and liaise closely with the founding team on other areas of the business.

Seera Group has signed a global agreement with Hilton.The direct connectivity distribution agreement will provide Seera Group customers with access to the hotel chain’s current global portfolio of more than 6,300 properties in 118 countries and territories at affordable rates. The agreement also enables Seera to promote destinations where these hotels are located to visitors from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, and beyond. The agreement will also provide Hilton access to Seera Group’s diverse business entities such as Almosafer, the group’s flagship consumer travel brand and the leading travel brand in

KSA, tajawal; its online travel agency in the UAE; and Discover Saudi, Seera’s dedicated destination management company, further strengthening Hilton’s visibility and sales. Additionally, travel partners of Seera’s Corporate & Government business elaa, as well as agents working with Mawasim, the group’s Hajj & Umrah business, will get access to best available rates and increased availability. As Seera Group readies for the post-pandemic travel rebound, the new partnership complements its strategy to drive growth, partnering with hotels in different markets, as they mark their progressive reopening.



GLOBAL BUSINESS FORUM ROADSHOWS SHED LIGHT ON EMERGING MARKET OPPORTUNITIES Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a series of 16 Global Business Forum (GBF) virtual roadshows examining new economic opportunities in emerging markets across Africa, Latin America and the ASEAN region. The series comprises 16 high-level focus groups that will be hosted over the next six months and joined by prominent businessmen, trade officials and other stakeholders from a wide range of economic sectors. Feedback shared during the discussions will be used to shape the agendas of the upcoming GBF events in Dubai that will be held next year in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai. H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, noted that the roadshow series comes at a time when countries around the world are witnessing rapid change in the wake of Covid-19, as public and private sector stakeholders adjust to new economic realities and foster global partnerships that can support sustainable growth in the post-pandemic era.

H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Dubai is an important economic partner for many emerging markets across Africa, Latin America and the ASEAN region, H.E. Buamim explained, adding that the series creates an ideal opportunity for Dubai Chamber to identify existing investment opportunities, explore new avenues of economic cooperation and

Emirates has announced it will resume daily flights to Istanbul, bringing the total number of passenger destinations served by the airline to 99. In tandem with the gradual return of travel confidence and demand, Emirates continues to rebuild its network. Strict health and hygiene measures have been implemented across all of Emirates’ touchpoints, even as the airline brings back its signature products and services onboard and on ground. The addition of Istanbul expands Emirates’ European network to 31 destinations, enabling customers to connect to destinations across its wide global network with one stop in Dubai. Flights to/from Istanbul will operate once daily by the Boeing 777- 300ER.

build bridges between business communities in the UAE and abroad. The Global Business Forum is Dubai Chamber’s flagship event series providing a platform for high-level dialogue between Dubai and emerging markets that offer business potential. Organised on the side-lines of Expo 2020 Dubai, the upcoming forums will address macroeconomic developments, key challenges and opportunities emerging in the region through thought-provoking discussions and direct dialogue between government and business leaders.



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Meydan nightlife venue Soho Beer Garden opens Dubai’s latest nightlife addition, Soho Beer Garden, has opened. The destination debuted alongside the Meydan Racecourse. This expansive outdoor venue is directly adjacent to Soho Garden and has been designed to welcome a hip, urban crowd looking for dining and

entertainment experiences from day to night. Home to a number of different elements, guests can choose between The Foxglove, a heritage British gastropub with traditional décor and authentic British and Irish beer selection, or the outdoor Beer Garden, with a large selection

of international and bespoke craft beers.The Beer Garden also features one of the UAE’s largest screens, for unmissable sporting highlights, and a live stage for a range of musical performances. An additional healthy day-to-night restaurant concept is planned for early 2021.


Abela & Co, a company which has been a part of the food and beverage industry for over 53 years, has unveiled its new e-commerce platform, Abela Online.



Abela & Co’s signature products will now be easily accessible to everyone in their own homes. The choice of meals includes a wide range of homemade snacks and appetisers, Arabic mezze, soups & sauces, gourmet pies & quiches, meatballs & burger patties, frozen meals and desserts. Orders can be made on www.abelaonline.com, with freenext day deliveries on orders above AED 100 in Dubai. Orders to Abu Dhabi will be available soon. With its roots firmly established in the contract catering space, Abela & Co’s presence spans multiple sectors including corporate offices, healthcare facilities, industrial, oil & gas, retail, hospitality and education, producing over 45 million meals a year, employing a team of 2,000 creative individuals and operating four central production kitchens across the UAE. In March 2019, the company opened an additional central processing unit (Culinary Solutions), which today produces many of Abela & Co’s signature products, most of which will now be available online.


Starbucks launches first-ever strawless lid across MENA stores

Radisson Blu Hotel, Kuwait’s Al Boom Restaurant reopens Al Boom Steak & Seafood Restaurant, located in Radisson Blu Hotel, Kuwait, has opened its newly revamped deck offering outdoor seating. The head chef is also introducing a brand-new menu concept inspired by urban cuisines from all over the world. The menu takes guests on a tour around the world as it features dishes inspired by Indian, Arabic, European and American cuisines. The meat selection includes prime cuts of

Certified Angus Beef and Australian Wagyu. The seafood section includes shrimp, lobster, and various types of fish which are popular in Kuwait. The Al Boom Restaurant, built in Calicut, India in 1979, is an exact replica of dhows that used to sail the Arabian Sea until the start of the twentieth century. The ship arrived in Kuwait in 1980, right in time for the opening of the Radisson Blu Hotel, and Al Boom Restaurant first opened in 1982.

Starbucks has announced the launch of the strawless lid across all its markets in the MENA region. The newly launched strawless lid is recyclable and is the new standard for iced beverages in Starbucks stores across the MENA. Starbucks has developed and trialed several prototypes of the lightweight recyclable strawless lids in select markets around the world before rolling it out in the region. This initiative reflects Starbuck’s global multi-decade aspiration to become a resource-positive company by 2030. It also aims to positively impact customers and its environmental footprint through a series of actions, including shifting away from single-use plastic, investing in innovative and regenerative agricultural practices, and developing eco-friendly stores.

New Greek-Mediterranean restaurant opens at The Pointe AIZA, a brand-new, homegrown, GreekMediterranean restaurant, bar and lounge has opened at The Pointe. It is a fully licensed open-plan venue, with an open-air terrace, where guests will find a blend of GreekMediterranean cuisine, beverages, an extensive selection of shisha, and a specially curated line-up of live entertainment – all topped off by views of the world’s largest fountain, in the setting of the East Marina at The Pointe.




Fair-value company People’s Coffee connects with Yemeni farmers and holds cupping session for Dubai connoisseurs Following the recent launch of their brandnew, fair-value specialty green and roasted coffee trading company People’s Coffee, Sheikh Dr Majid Al Qassimi and Emirati entrepreneur Ali Mansoor hosted Yemeni farmers in an informal stakeholder meeting through video conferencing on December 10, 2020. Building on the company’s promise to enable them to share their stories with the world and improve their quality of life, the event featured a session where farmers were encouraged to share their journeys and thoughts on what makes their coffee unique, led by Sheikh Dr Al Qassimi. “It was important to bring everyone

together, for all the people involved in bringing this coffee to the market to get to know each other – from the farmers to the roasters. We’re immensely proud to have been able to host these diligent individuals, whose voices are often lost by the time the product reaches the consumer,” says Sheikh Dr Al Qassimi. “I would like to thank all of the stakeholders who have taken part in this meeting, and DMCC for enabling us to conduct it very smoothly at their magnificent facility.”



ADDRESS HOTELS + RESORTS UNVEILS FIRST BEACHFRONT PROPERTY Nestled in the heart of The Beach and Jumeirah Beach Residence, Address Beach Resort has opened its doors on Friday, December 18, 2020 and is the first-ever Address beachfront property. A landmark project developed by Al Ain Holding with two 77-floor twin towers, connected with the tallest inhabited skybridge in the world have transformed the Jumeirah Beach skyline. Moreover, this project is a candidate for the Guinness Records for the highest infinity pool. Rabih Karam, group CEO of Al Ain Holding, says “The opening of Address Beach Resort and Address Beach Residences is testament to our undoubted commitment to develop landmark projects with best-in-class partners adding new dimension to the luxury offering of Dubai.” With reservations now open for hotel stays from December, Emaar Hospitality Group spokesperson, Chris Newman, says “We’re excited to bring the Address experience to life at the brand’s first beachfront property located at one of the most popular locations in Dubai, loved both by residents

and tourists alike. From a number of food and beverage outlets and a luxury award-winning spa, to an array of luxury room offerings and spectacular beachfront views, Address Beach Resort is set to leave guests with unforgettable experiences.” The 77-storey tall twin towers houses Address Beach Resort and Address Beach Residences and features 217 guest rooms and suites including deluxe rooms, one and two-bedroom suites as well was a three-bedroom Presidential Suites. The residences feature 443 fully furnished and serviced apartments and 478 unfurnished residential apartments. The resort features Address’ signature homely concept, The Restaurant and an intimate The Lounge set around the lobby area’s olive trees. Plus, a 100-metre-long beach strip, as well as family-friendly and adults-only pools. Focusing on holistic wellness, the resort also features a fitness centre and The Spa at Address. Hotel guests and serviced apartment residents will have access to leisure and recreational facilities.


Accor launches exclusive, members-only offers across its Saudi Arabia hotels Accor has announced half-price offers at more than 35 hotels and resorts across Saudi Arabia, exclusive to members of its lifestyle loyalty programme ALL – Accor Live Limitless on bookings from now until January 15, 2021, with stays valid until March 31, 2021 As part of the offer, guests can enjoy and “re-celebrate” all that the Kingdom and the group’s wide range of brands have to offer, including

luxury urban and coastal properties with outstanding leisure, dining and wellbeing facilities in in Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Makkah and Madinah across participating brands such as Sofitel, Movenpick, Fairmont, Raffles, Pullman, ibis, and Novotel to name a few. That’s not all, Accor is also offering one lucky winner the chance to win a 5-night paid holiday at Raffles Seychelles including meals for two,

two air international flight tickets and a helicopter transfer from Mahe to Praslin. To enter the competition, participants need to simply sign up to the ALL Loyalty program and follow @ ALL_MEA on their Instagram channel for more details. The competition ends on December 24, 2020 Accor currently operates 39 properties (14,314 rooms) in the KSA with 36 more (10,372rooms) in the development pipeline.

Al Hadheerah Desert restaurant reopens at Bab Al Shams Al Hadheerah, located at Bab Al Shams, has reopened its doors. Set in a traditional fort, the restaurant features falconry displays, camel caravans, horse shows and Tanoura dancers, in addition to a live band. Al Hadheerah’s selections of authentic Arabic cuisine feature a barbecue of meats over live cooking stations, wood-fired ovens and spit roasts, set in socially distanced settings. The venue is open daily from 7pm until midnight.




Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown appoints resident art manager

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City appoints new director of F&B

The newly opened Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown has announced the appointment of Astrid Lesuisse as resident art manager at the property. Lesuisse’s key responsibilities within her role entail leading art tours throughout the property, hosting art events and driving the development of the Bakala Jooos juice bar and concept store. Astrid pursued a degree in Art History in The Catholic Institute of Paris, and later completed two Master’s Degrees in Art Management and International Cultural Project Management in EAC School and University of Versailles Saint-Quentinen-Yvelines.

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City has appointed Phil Roberts as its new director of F&B. Roberts, a British national, brings 19 years of hospitality experience to his new role in which he will oversee the operations of the Media City hotel, including its F&B outlets, outside catering, 12 meeting rooms and 246 keys, leading the culinary teams in all of the hotels dining venues, including Italian restraint Certo, media city hangout ICON Bar and rooftop Tamanya Terrace. He has previously worked for Radisson Hotel Group for a few years 2001 – 2008 as an executive head chef for Park Inn by Radisson, Telford and Park Inn by Radisson, Northampton. Before joining Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City, he served as the Hotel Operations Manager at Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa, where he catered more than 700 guests daily overseeing both kitchen and F&B service operations.

New chef joins Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has welcomed Vincenzo Emma as the new chef de cuisine of Italian restaurant Azure. With over a decade of experience, Chef Emma will head up the kitchen of this Mediterranean-style restaurant. In 2016, with six years of experience under his belt, the chef was offered his first Head Chef position at Dalla Terra Wine Restaurant, specialising in using the finest seasonal ingredients to create Italian cuisine, in the heart of the English capital. The opportunity to work at the Shangri-La Hotel & Resort in Muscat, Oman, as Senior Sous Chef at Capri Court, proved to be another pivotal point in his career. Working alongside three Michelin-starred Executive Sous-Chef, Marco De Vincentis, Chef Emma further perfected his skills.




Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay names regional vice president and general manager

Element Al Jaddaf appoints senior management team Marriott International has announced the appointment of the senior management team who will lead the launch of the new Element Al Jaddaf hotel in the heart of Dubai’s historic creekside district. Leading the team is GM Richard Bleakley – an experienced hotelier who has been involved at the property from the planning stage. Bleakley’s journey with Marriott began in the UK in 2000. Starting his career in sales and marketing, he discovered a burgeoning passion for operations and transitioned to the role of Operations Director at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club, UK, in 2007, before ascending to his first position as General Manager of the Northampton Marriott Hotel, in 2009. Since relocating to the UAE in 2012, he has managed a number of properties. More recently, his experience was instrumental in the opening of the five-star Marriott Al Forsan Resort. Presently overseeing multiple properties including, the Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf & Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek, and Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai, he will add Element Al Jaddaf to his portfolio. Ravneet Arora was appointed as Multi-Property Director of Sales in August 2020 as part of Elements’ pre-opening team, whilst equally overseeing Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek and Four Points by Sheraton, Bur Dubai driving the Sales and Marketing efforts for all the hotels. Mohanad Amer will manage all hotel operations, as Multi-Property Director of Operations. Nancy Shaker, MultiProperty Director of Human Resources, oversees all aspects of talent management including recruitment, learning and development, employee engagement and performance management, for Element Al Jaddaf, in addition to the four other properties in her portfolio. Devising the culinary offering of the Element Al Jaddaf hotel is experienced chef of 12 years, Jelson Jayapragasan. He has sharpened and developed his cooking skills working across leading, luxury hospitality brands, including Shangri-La, Fairmont, and Jumeirah.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced the appointment of Rami Z. Sayess as regional vice president and general manager at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. With a proven track record in the hospitality industry, specifically with the Four Seasons over the past 15 years, Sayess will be based in Bahrain with regional responsibilities overseeing several Four Seasons hotels and resorts in Europe, Middle East & Africa region (EMEA). Sayess leaves Beirut after five years which he describes as “very unusual to say the least, having witnessed record results since the hotel opening thanks to Lebanon’s stability during the years 2016-2019 and the outstanding performance by my amazing team”. Taking over the reins from Sayess will be Georges Ojeil, a 20-year hospitality veteran, who was most recently the Area General Manager for Campbell Gray Amman and Le Gray Hotel Beirut. Ojeil will take on the leadership role as General Manager for Four Seasons Hotel Beirut starting January 2021 and will report to Sayess in his capacity a Regional Vice President.



HCNME MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE “I always have fresh truffles, caviar, organic olive oil and lobsters available in my kitchen. I use different kinds of mushrooms, heirloom vegetables and chili blends.” What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? I love the crispy chicken sliders, as they have a sweet and spicy taste with mango in them. The dish is made with chicken breast crumbed with corn flakes, which makes it extra crispy, then it’s coated with sweet chili sauce and mango salsa, served in a charcoal bun with a chipotle mayonnaise spread. What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. Today, I’m cooking paprika rub-roasted veal ribs with MAGGI® Mashed Potato, butter squash purée, broccolini, CHEF® Demi-Glace and fresh truffle. As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? I always have fresh truffles, caviar, organic olive oil and lobsters available in my kitchen. I use different kinds of mushrooms, heirloom vegetables and chili blends.


AN INDIAN NATIONAL, KUMAR HAS 12 YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE IN THE UAE Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I started my career as a chef in 2006 in Kerala, India, working with a small hotel. In 2009, I got the opportunity to work at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai,



in many restaurants including The Wharf, Barzar and Jambase. In 2013, I was selected to take on a role at Zero Gravity as part of the pre-opening team, where I became a part of many successful concepts.

What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? As the market is now more aware of what consumers have on their plates and the impact of food on health, many people around the world prefer plantbased foods. More meat alternatives are being introduced and people are more into organic, sustainable and hearthealthy picks. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? The product needs to be simple to be understood by the consumer. The taste of the product will always matter when weighing things between healthy and tasty. Soon, calorie details will be a must on menus, and so less fried foods and more raw, roasted or steamed options will be the norm.


PAPRIKA RUB ROASTED VEAL RIBS WITH MAGGIE® MASHED POTATO, BUTTER SQUASH PURÉE, BROCCOLINI, CHEF® DEMI-GLACE & FRESH TRUFFLE RUB • 20 g Paprika powder • 10 g Brown sugar • 5 g Garlic powder • 5 g Onion powder • 4 g Salt • 2 g Black pepper • 1 tsp Charcoal powder

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE • 80 g Butternut • 50 ml Cream • 5 g White onion • 1 g Thyme • 1 g Garlic • 20 g Butter • 2 g Salt • 1 g Pepper

MAGGI® MASHED POTATO • 60 g MAGGI® Mashed Potato • 1 ltr Hot water • 20 ml Cream • 2 g Salt • 1 g Pepper


BUTTERED VEGETABLE • 10 g Broccolini • 2 g Butter • 1 g Salt • 1 g Pepper



HCNME MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE “For Middle Eastern cuisine, ‘kaak’ is the most recent trend in the restaurant business, as it gives customers the nostalgia feel.” What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? Stuffed vine leaves. It’s my favorite, as it was the dish that my mum would prepare whenever the whole family was getting together, especially for the holidays! What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. Today, I’m making a deconstructed ‘knafeh’ cheesecake with pistachio and rose. I use vermicelli and crushed pistachios as the base and the filling is very simple, a combination of Nestlé® Cream, Nestlé® Sweetened Condensed Milk, Cream cheese, whipping cream and rose essence to add a Middle Eastern touch. It is layered and topped with some fresh berries to add freshness.


A SYRIAN NATIONAL, ESSA HAS 16 YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE, 10 OF WHICH ARE IN THE UAE Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? Throughout my journey, food was an important part of my life; my passion began when I was 12 and preparing food for my siblings had become one of my



responsibilities. By the age of 18, I decided that cooking was what I wanted to do. By 2010, I left my hometown in Syria to pursue my dream of becoming a chef in Dubai! Now, I’m a head chef at Cravia.

As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? In our kitchen, the focus has always been on healthy choices when it comes to ingredients. Recently, oats, spinach and multi-cereal dough are all being increasingly used to create a variety of better choices. What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? For Middle Eastern cuisine, ‘kaak’ is the most recent trend in the restaurant business, as it gives customers the nostalgia feel. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? Provide restaurants and kitchens with more local products to support the local community and production.


DECONSTRUCTED ‘KNAFEH’ CHEESECAKE WITH PISTACHIO AND ROSE • 50 g Dessert vermicelli • 50 g Pistachio, finely chopped • 20 g Butter, melted • 250 g Cream cheese • 200 ml Heavy whipping cream • 250 g Nestlé® Sweetened Condensed Milk • 170 g Nestlé® Cream • Few drops of rose essence • Chopped pistachio, for garnish • Dried rose, for garnish





We Need to Look Ahead to the Future TIM CORDON BY

Area Senior Vice President Middle East & Africa, Radisson Hotel Group


hile the year is coming to an end, global communities continue to work tirelessly to combat the spread of Covid-19. It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has been placed in an incredibly vulnerable position, but within that sobering reality, it’s important to be resilient but also flexible, nimble and open-minded. With no doubt there will be several longterm changes to how the travel and hospitality industries will function and interact moving



forward. Another key aspect to consider is how travelers and guests themselves will ultimately evolve with regards to their behaviors, expectations and preferences. But, the hospitality industry has survived countless challenges and periods of economic downturn, and COVID-19 will be no exception. As we all know, this has been a year of absolute firsts for so many, and there’s been an enormous amount of learning and stretching in between. In times like these, we need to plan for the future, inspire our teams and remind them that there will be an end to this crisis, and that the hospitality industry will come back stronger than ever.

"In times like these, we need to plan for the future, inspire our teams and remind them that there will be an end to this crisis, and that the hospitality industry will come back stronger than ever. "


"Those who understand the new definition of ‘normal’, adapt and respond, will be able to benefit from these new opportunities." As we all look ahead to 2021, Radisson Hotel Group remains prudently optimistic and determinated to continue implementing the five-year development and growth plan in the coming three years. We are confident that travel will continue to rebound, and more capital will be invested in the industry from both the private and public sectors. The region remains one of the key focus markets for Radisson Hotel Group’s global development strategy and we aim to continue expanding our brand architecture and strengthening our presence. Throughout the

past 12 months, our teams have been working tirelessly to keep these hotel signings and openings on track, and I am very proud of what we have achieved this year. Looking towards the future, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will continue to play a key role within our expansion. The Middle East portfolio currently has 73 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in operation and 38 hotels in development. Looking at the current pipeline, we aim to open six hotels across the kingdom and three hotels within the United Arab Emirates, in 2021. One of my core believes is that regardless of the negative effects that came into being, there are always new opportunities that arise as a result. Those who understand the new definition of ‘normal’, adapt and respond, will be able to benefit from these new opportunities. With that in mind, we’re busy preparing

ourselves for an exciting year to come. From our second Radisson Collection in Saudi Arabia, the first Radisson Resort in Ras Al Khaimah to the group’s first hotel on Palm Jumeirah, 2021 has a lot in store for us. While the recovery speed of the hospitality industry will be determined by the vaccine, and will be different based on the countries and areas around the world, many countries in Middle East have already started to see a recovery in the fourth quarter of

2020, be it from the domestic or international market. Across the region, government’s stringent safety measures and innovative efforts have played a vital role in supporting businesses in their recovery while safeguarding the people. Once the vaccine becomes available, this will significantly improve our industry’s performance, and until then we need to remain optimistic and positive, listen to our team, be flexible, and make decisions quickly.




Butter-ly Delicious Five Courses, Four Colours and One Product Highlight the Versatility of French Butter for the Festive Season




An exclusive dinner was held so that guests could experience the many colours of French butter sauces, showcasing its quality and versatility. French dairy aficionado, and award-winning artisan François Robin described the unlimited butter recipe possibilities for the festive season.

CNIEL - The French Dairy Board and the European Union hosted a select group of foodies, dairy importers and trade partners for an exclusive dinner to highlight the versatility of French butter in gastronomy, under the theme of colourful butter sauces. Held at @Inked, the creative dining space in Al Quoz, Dubai, diners were treated to a high-end, five-course menu, which focused on butter sauces – choosing green, black, red and yellow as the individual themed colours. Even the décor was carefully thought out, balancing golden hues to remind everyone of the colour of butter, in addition to the four colours of the dinner. “The idea behind the event was to stress just how creative one can get when cooking with French butter. For instance, for this dinner, the chef suggested different ways of savouring butter, whether it’s served as Maître d’Hôtel, noisette or monté.” >>> HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021


HCNME EVENT REVIEW “Dairy butter can enhance the flavours of any type of cuisine or recipe,” said Laurent Damiens, COO of CNIEL The French Dairy Board. “Although French butter might be a common sight in any fridge, it can marry almost any ingredient and enhance fine dining recipes, especially during the festive season,” explained François Robin, who has travelled the world for years highlighting why French butter is the premium product in the market. “This is particularly impor-

Award-Winning Artisan François Robin

Laurent Damiens, COO of CNIEL



tant in major cosmopolitan cities such as Dubai, home to over 3.38 million people from more than 200 different countries around the world, each with their own diverse tastes,” added Laurent Damiens. “Tastes in the Middle East are becoming more varied and sophisticated, which has been accelerated by the number of top-class restaurants opening throughout the region, affording exciting opportunities for French dairy exporters,” concluded François Robin.


“The idea behind the event was to stress just how creative one can get when cooking with French butter. For instance, for this dinner, the chef suggested different ways of savouring butter, whether it’s served as Maître d’Hôtel, noisette or monté.”




Spoilt for Choice SANDY EL HAYEK

The food & beverage manager at Nakheel Malls reveals what goes into developing some of the biggest multi-venue F&B concepts in the region




Above: Sandy El Hayek, F&B manager at Nakheel Malls Left: Food District interior

You have developed two of F&B’s biggest concepts in Dubai; please tell us more about how the idea came about. Firstly, Depachika at Nakheel Mall is a novel concept that was inspired by the Japanese basement-level food halls. I personally flew to Japan to research this concept in depth. Right from the outset, we were keen to differentiate with Depachika, by showcasing locally developed concepts in one food hall destination mainly from brands backed by Dubai-based artisans, entrepreneurs, break-through talent and trendsetters. Our vendors are diverse, offering everything from dinein, take-away, gourmet groceries and foodie gifts, right through to a wine cellar, cheese room, cooking school and pop-ups. Secondly, for Food District, we wanted to transform and utlilise an existing space at The Pointe with a relatively low operating cost, in comparison to a full-fledged restaurant. Building on the success of Depachika Food Hall, we developed a two-storey, licensed dining hub celebrating 13 homegrown concepts all under one roof - the first of its kind in Dubai. The first floor showcases ten dine-in brands from trend-setting Dubai-based chefs, restaurateurs and food entrepreneurs, alongside two licensed bars. Meanwhile, the ground level houses an artisan coffee and café concept, with pastries and a gelato stall. This prime indoor and terrace location boasts front-row views of the world’s largest fountains, together with Atlantis vistas. >>> HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021


HCNME COVER STORY For both concepts, as a landlord, we have supported entrepreneurial restaurateurs and small F&B businesses with a business model that offers NO fixed overheads like rent, only charging a percentage of turnover. This strategy became even more crucial over the pandemic. Furthermore, we take responsibility for the bulk of the capital expenditure, so the vendor only needs to bring speciality equipment and staff on site. Therefore, the vendor has no major start-up and investment costs other than operating costs (for instance they pay utilities based on consumption), with the venture proving less risky. How has Nakheel redefined dining through the multi-venue hubs? The term ‘food hall’ has been a familiar concept globally for a while – and we wanted to bring it to Dubai. The business model looks after all stakeholders, from the landlord, to the vendor and the end consumer, by promoting the

The masterminds behind Food District venues



quality-price ratio from all ends. We have benchmarked ours with some of the most renowned names worldwide such as Harrods, Galeries Lafayette and Southridge for Depachika - or Chelsea Market for Food District. A food hall is not just another floor in a mall with door-to-door independent shops, it is a destination where everyone rolls up their sleeves and contributes, from the landlord to the nightshift stewards. It is a community within a community where passionate entrepreneurs and retailers genuinely look after each and every customer. Both concepts are also about giving customers choice, in a casual environment and at a wide choice of price points. Our dining hubs allow guests to maintain safe spacing, whilst still meeting up casually with friends and family. It is a concept we did not know we were missing until we had it; a trend and behaviour ahead of its time. Everyone will have a favourite vendor – but they will also discover something

“Both venues are very much community initiatives and we’re primarily targeting the Palm and foodie residents of Dubai.” new. Through the variety and diversity of vendors we can cater to all dietary requirements – thus families and friends can all dine together, with each person choosing to eat something different.


While Depachika was before Covid-19, Food District opened in times of pandemic; what sort of changing dynamics have the venues had to adapt to in the wake of Covid-19? Thankfully, Depachika’s design is naturally spaced out, so follows all the guidelines. Food District’s expansive indoor and terrace dining areas have been designed with plenty of safe spacing in line with Dubai Municipality’s Covid-19 health and safety regulations. QR code menus, disposable cutlery options and sanitisers on the tables are the norm now. With 2020 such a struggle for so many, and, in line with Food District’s homegrown theme, we wanted to give back to the local community by offering valuefor-money over the last festive season. So, we decided on a policy of no minimum spend without any set menus including New Year’s Eve with views of both the Palm fireworks and the world’s largest fountains. That way diners were able to mix and match dishes from all our vendors – spending as much, or as little as they liked. How would you describe the essence of both Food District and Depachika; are they fine dining or casual – and what about delivery? Both are casual concepts – however Depachika’s design reflects an elegant, sophisticated food hall – whilst Food District is more of a rustic hub. Depachika is also more than a dining hub, with 60 per cent of its offering as retail showcasing everything from specialty groceries and butchery to artisanal chocolate, tea and gifting items. In order to meet demand, in particular during the lockdown, we introduced a quick delivery solution on Deliveroo’s grocery section, where customers can buy last minute items like baguettes, pastries and pasta from a mix of vendors in one basket within 30 minutes. We also developed and recently launched Depachika’s e-commerce customised with a selection of favourites from each vendor where users can schedule delivery, whether a cheese board for a dinner party, or a hamper for a special occasion. Other than that, each dine-in brand at both Depachika and Food District provides its own delivery from its full menu through its respective delivery channels. >>>

FOOD DISTRICT VENDORS FIRST LEVEL Dibba Bay Oystersx The Middle East’s only oyster farm growing gourmet oysters in Fujairah. Only AED150 for a dozen No 3s. Savour these bi-valves with a chilled glass of your favourite tipple. Reif Japanese Kushiyaki A dedicated sushi and sashimi bar using Japanese seafood from celebrated Dubai chef Reif Othman. Weekends also feature Reif’s signature torched nigiri and Wagyu sando. Smöl by The Lighthouse: Indulgent comfort food in one bite with a medley of small bowls and plates. Think fried egg bagel with tomato, avocado and tahini for breakfast; mini merguez sausage brioche roll for lunch; and bombolone with dolci for dessert. Sticky Rice family-run bona fide Thai fare with chef mama herself in the kitchen. Hero dishes include the tom yum soup;

‘Pad Talay Prik Pow’ mixed seafood platter oozing with chilli and garlic; and mango sticky rice ice cream. Tandoornari & Wok Tales Two Dubai-developed concepts by the Lafayette Gourmet team. An Indian kitchen with classic dishes of butter chicken to biryani sits next to an Asian soul food booth serving Nasi Goreng to Pad Thai. The Roost Rotisserie: A husband-and-wife team recognised for their 40hour brined chicken, slowroasted on the rotisserie for three hours. Free-range, hormone and antibioticfree, locally sourced chicken. Wingsters The UAE’s first and finest Buffalo wings specialist restaurant with a wide variety of freshly made sauces – by Emirati entrepreneur, Ahmed Hassan. Hero dishes include the ‘Korean Henchmen’ BBQ wings; ‘That’s Peanuts’ wings; and

for burger fans, the ‘Tommy Gun’ with buffalo crispy chicken. Bite Me Burger & Get Plucked Two edgy, cheeky burger and chicken restaurant brands that differentiate with mini burgers, and fried chicken in crisp waffle cones. Bramble Bars (two booths) Dubai’s leading bar and cocktail specialists.

GROUND LEVEL Boon Coffee Dubai-based, Ethiopianowned specialty coffee roaster showcasing premium farm-sourced beans. Silk Gelato The finest, creamiest quality gelato with density and richness, using fresh Emirati milk and traditional Greek recipes. The sorbets are made with real fruits and the vegan gelato with coconut milk.

The Roost Rotisserie




What was the vendors’ response; are you seeing demand now from more restaurants and cafes? In addition to the business model benefits I mentioned earlier, another unique selling point is that the vendors benefit from their neighbours. When a good mix comes together, vendors have instant and quicker footfall, instead of having to create an individual destination from scratch. We also dedicate time and resources into marketing the destination and the vendors. Our vendors are therefore very happy with both the model and the sales response. At Depachika we have plans this year to add more retail vendors to the existing 43 – and are constantly approached by F&B businesses who want to secure a spot in the food hall. To keep the food hall evolving and interesting, new dinein brands may replace old ones. On an international level, the more a food hall matures, the better it gets with time. Given The Pointe’s outdoor location, Food District is very much a seasonal concept – so we will potentially replace some of the current vendors after the summer in preparation for Dubai’s peak winter season. What was the biggest challenge when it came to opening both venues? During the first design and development phase, it is always challenging to maintain a uniformed look and feel, while still expressing all the vendor brand identi-

Reif Japanese Kushiyaki



Smöl by The Lighthouse

“I personally think each community should have its own Depachika with its own soul brands. ” ties. This stage was also extremely crucial to ensure the vendor requirements fit into the original design, whilst equally supporting operational function and visual appeal. In addition, each brand is unique and has its own operational standards – so right from the start, it was crucial to set the right tone that represented the entire

destination as one, whilst letting each vendor shine on its own. Opening with 130 staff on site, all from different teams, expertise and routines that need to be moulded to common operational standards is also a challenge in itself. Describe the type of diner that you’re targeting/catering to. Both venues are very much community initiatives – and we’re primarily targeting the Palm and foodie residents of Dubai. These are educated diners who know what they want and will prioritise quality, yet they will also have an open mind to try something new. On a secondary scale, we do also reach out to the tourist segment, which will grow further once travel becomes easier this year. In line with Food District’s homegrown community theme, a true farmers’ market was a priority for us from day one. So, we have partnered with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change & Environment to make this happen on a weekly basis with the Emirati Farmers Souq. This Saturday market is dedicated to selling vegetables and fruits – and therefore differentiates from the art and craft markets found


DEPACHIKA VENDORS DINE-IN (15) Lime Tree Café; Madame Choux; Sugarmoo; Boon Coffee; The Climbing Goat; Casa Della Pasta; The Cheeseroom; 1762; Saj2go; V-shakes; Kushi by Reif; Kilikio by Mythos; Moishi; Massimo’s Gelato; Salmontini.

Dibba Bay Oysters

elsewhere. This initiative also has the goal of educating and encouraging young nationals to enter the agriculture sector to secure the long-term sustainability of the region if faced with a pandemic again. Why have you chosen The Pointe and Nakheel Mall? For the Palm Jumeirah location, which is a Dubai landmark with constant growth and massive potential. It has a population of 78,000 people including the trunk, frond villas and hotels. Nakheel Mall and The Pointe are both relatively new destinations primarily catering for Palm residents who rarely leave the island on the weekend. With that population on our doorstep, it was very simple to predict that both of these new dining and community hubs would find their place. Nakheel Mall is a medium-sized community mall with Depachika as the anchor tenant providing a strong F&B offering. The mall is walking distance from the Shoreline and Golden Mile apartments making it accessible for everyday grocery items, gifting, dinner, or a quick bite on the run. For The Pointe, we are targeting the same client base looking for an outdoor dining experience during the good weather season. Due to the pandemic and a rise in staycationers, it has

become the ultimate dining hub on weekends and holidays. Food District is the perfect transition from a day at the beach, where customers just want to walk in with shorts and flip flops, and eat delicious food from their preferred vendor, whilst having a drink. Everyone wants to know – what’s coming up from the creator of these concepts? Can we expect more food hall-style developments? Absolutely. I personally think each community should have its own Depachika with its own soul brands.

RETAIL/GIFTING (28) Florette; The Lighthouse; Lakrids; The Truffelers; Royce Chocolate; Belvas; William Di Carlo; Little Greece; The Cellar Door; Chef’s Play; Prime Gourmet; Orient Delight; Mafnood; Sparkbake; Let’s Popcorn; Melange; Al Nassma; Basboussa; Ripe; Montone; Dammann Freres; Mamalu Kitchen; Protein Bakeshop; Fade Fit Kids; Cassinetto; Domori; Prestat; Maxime De Paris.

Next up in our pipeline is a second Depachika opening at Al Khail Mall in Q1 2022, larger than the existing one. Luckily, we already have a line-up with some of our existing brands and some new exciting concepts.

Tandoornari & Wok Tales




Testing the Limits Five Essential Point-of-Sale Integrations for the Foodservice Industry

Khaled AlShami, director, solution consulting, Middle East & Africa at Infor, shares his thoughts on technologies which will drive point-of-sale integrations for restaurants and the foodservice industry in the year ahead.


or the restaurant and foodservice spaces, economic disruption is the common denominator across all kinds of businesses within the industry. The economic downturn has tested the limits of organisations across the spectrum. Luckily, our era is also characterised by encouraging displays of agility and innovative thinking in answer to that disruption, moving past the status quo, rethinking processes, and continuing to serve guests in ways that keep them at their safest, most comfortable, and within their preferences which have been in place for a while. That’s just it. The best in the industry have focused all along on how to make their platforms more supportive of where guest expectations and emerging technology are leading. In part, this is all about the basics, tying restaurant point-of-sales to expand solutions and functionality that allow brands to meet guests where they are, creating seamless experiences for them and their staff, and adding momentum to go beyond today’s demands to scale for where things are headed in the future. This is what resiliency looks like in 2020. To serve that vision, what are some integral, essential integrations that characterise an advanced POS solution? Here are five.



1. Mobile Ordering Technology Mobile ordering technology is driving guests back to brands they trust. Revenue in the online food delivery segment is projected to reach US$136,431m globally in 2020, and show an annual growth rate of 7.5% resulting in a projected market volume of US$182,327m by 2024, according to data from Statista. The potential for a POS integration with mobile ordering that allows consumers to engage with the ordering process comfortably and safely is an important takeaway for our current era. It points to the future, too. 2. Digital Payment Platforms With mobile-friendly ordering processes emerging as a primary

channel to restaurant services, it makes sense that support of payment methods like ApplePay, GooglePay, Alipay, and other mobile-based payment platforms are also emerging as essential POS integrations. Right now, contactless payments of many kinds are rising in significance in an era defined by social distancing and concerns around handling cash, or even cards. Additionally, in-app options that integrate with online payment providers like Visa Checkout and others for food delivery also continue to emerge. As consumers rely more

The question remains: how will organisations stay resilient during these times?


and more on these options, investing in integrations with mobile payments, an evident trend today, is likely to also pave the way to the future.

3. Self-Serve Kiosks Coupled with today’s higher standards for cleaning high-touch surfaces, kiosk technology is still very much a part of the conversation when it comes to where the guest ordering experience is going. Maintaining distance and minimising contact has been a consumer preference in restaurants and food services for some time. A recent poll from Tilster reported that roughly a third of restaurant-goers prefer self-service kiosks when in store versus dealing with human cashiers.

The best in the industry have focused all along on how to make their platforms more supportive of where guest expectations and emerging technology are leading.

While kiosks are most often not very integrated with restaurant point-of-sale solutions as they are extensions of them, kiosk technology represents an important shift in the way that consumers engage with brands, and how serving guest preferences positively affects order volumes and values.

4. Meal Plans and Loyalty Programmes Creating seamless experiences is what it’s all about, no matter how a guest places an order, or which means of payment they use. With meal plans in college and university settings or workplace contexts, foodservice point-ofsale solutions should always be in synch and create greater visibility for the guest as to the status of their balances and other important factors. Meal plans also play a vital role in the rise in importance of contactless and cashless transactions. With loyalty programmes designed to nurture longterm relationships with guests, the same principle should be true. In this, the POS solution in question must integrate via API with these third-party applications across the board, consistent with all locations, and always in line with the newest versions of the software updated in frequent cadence. 5. Robust Menu Management To unify an offering across multiple locations and channels, restaurants and food services leaders are also emphasising global control over

menu items and details. In this way, even if items go under different names depending on the brand or concept, they can still be tracked to set optimal pricing, be judged by their performance, and be promoted on menu displays and kiosk upsell screens accordingly. Importantly, centralised menu management that helps organisations do all of this can be rolled out simultaneously, making sure that an offering is always consistent. Cloud technology plays an integral part in all of the above. It links locations together, makes reporting easily accessible, and allows a faster turnaround from analysis to action across an entire brand. With the rate of change in the industry, that kind of agility is essential.

What is the Future of Integrated Restaurant POS? In an era of industry disruption, restaurants and foodservice had to be flexible, operationally manoeuvrable, and open to where culture and technology is taking the industry. The question remains: how will organisations stay resilient during these times? HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021



Seizing the day HAYTHAM OMAR

GENERAL MANAGER OF THE NEWLY OPENED AL JADDAF ROTANA SUITE HOTEL DUBAI, A NEW 5-STAR PROPERTY HOUSING 318 MODERN ROOMS AND SUITES Tell us more about your journey as a hotelier and how you arrived at Al Jaddaf Rotana. My hospitality career began in 1998, when I took on the role of sales executive for The Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa in Dubai. Like many expats in the UAE, I planned to spend a few years here honing my skills and climbing the corporate ladder. Within my first year, I realised the huge opportunities the country presented to me

as an ambitious aspiring hotelier, which catapulted me into various sales manager roles in other hotel brands in the region. In 2010, I joined Rotana as an executive assistant manager, before taking a different role in the travel consultancy industry to broaden my skill set. I was appointed general manager of Rotana Rose Rayhaan in 2015 before taking on my current role of general manager of Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel. >>> The Tea Room is the cosy lobby lounge cafĂŠ where guests can enjoy an exclusive selection of exotic tea and coffee blends, as well as the best cakes and pastries in this area of town.








Left: Timo the signature Italian restaurant, serving an inspiring fusion of traditional and modern Italian flavours.

What are the unique points of this property? Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel is located in the cultural heart of Dubai, cradled on the border between the charm of old Dubai and the modern face of the city. The hotel is one of the only 5-star properties that can offer guests this level of luxury in such a convenient location close to Downtown Dubai, DIFC, Healthcare City, Sheikh Zayed Road and beyond. Another unique feature of the property is the selection of elegant one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, which have become a popular option for long- stay guests. Boasting a diverse selection of F&B options - including Italian restaurant Timo, the elegant European-style List Bar and pool bar Aquarius - the property is more of a lifestyle destination than just a hotel. What do you think are some of the main challenges that GMs face in hotel management? My job gives me great satisfaction, but it’s not without its challenges. One of these challenges is the recruitment, training and retention of quality staff who will act as brand champions in their roles from serving staff all the way up to management. Communicating with such a diverse group of people from different nationalities and different backgrounds can be a challenge, but through transparency, empowerment and a transformational leadership style, great results can be wielded. Staff empowerment is something I champion daily in my efforts to develop hospitality leaders of the future. 48



The List Bar is the European-style lounge bar serving an exquisite selection of beverages and tapas plates, complete with expert mixologists, and The Tea Room is the cosy lobby lounge café where guests can enjoy an exclusive selection of exotic tea and coffee blends, as well as the best cakes and pastries in this area of town.

The three-bedroom suites, another unique feature of the property, have become a popular option for long-stay guests

What’s the importance of online hotel reviews and social media feedback? As a customer-centric hotel, we place a great deal of importance on customer reviews. We strive for continuous improvement in all aspects of operations. If ever there is a customer comment that is less than satisfactory, we take the time to listen to the customer and

find a solution to remedy their dissatisfaction. We take a 360 approach to gather feedback; our front of house staff interacts with guests daily and our social media team monitors comments, messages and discussions regularly, responding in real-time.

How have you kept the team motivated throughout the pandemic, as you were

The List Bar is the European-style lounge bar

opening the hotel? I always try to be as transparent as possible, without overwhelming people with bad news, which were more prevalent during this year’s pandemic. Recalling personal anecdotes when speaking to the wider team was one method I used to try and connect with my staff. It was essential they felt valued at all times in a market where job security was under threat. What’s the F&B mix at the hotel and what cuisines are on offer? Timo is our signature Italian restaurant, serving an inspiring fusion of traditional and modern Italian flavours, delivered with exceptional Rotana-style hospitality. Aquarius is the chic resortstyle pool bar serving beverages and international dishes and small plates.

How are you ensuring the safety of guests in times of pandemic? The health and safety of our guests has always been our top priority at Rotana, but naturally the pandemic forced us to put extra measures in place to ensure guests felt secure during their stay. These measures are reflected in the ‘Rotana Safe Space’ programme, which focuses on two key areas – a contactless experience throughout the stay and enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, certified by Ecolab. We have adopted a wide range of digital services, with the Rotana app taking centre stage. This can be used for all in-room dining requests, check-in and check-out as well as many other functions. Will the hotel be evolving over the coming year? Looking ahead to the years to come, we aim to constantly enhance our services and respond to the wishes of our customers. We can’t predict what 2021 will bring in terms of broader economic circumstances, but we’re confident that our commitment to our vision will allow us to enrich the experience of the guests we welcome to the property. HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021



‘Dough-ing’ The Right Thing Doughlicious Co-Founders Maliha Khan and Ahmad Zia always dreamt of making it big. Khan is a full-time dessert-eater and, now, a dessert-maker. With a master’s in psychology and neuroscience from King’s College London and a bachelor’s in marketing from the American University of Sharjah, she’s on a mission to spread the ‘doughliciousness’ of edible cookie dough, one spoonful at a time.




Zia, with a background in accounting, is a successful businessman with an eye towards the future. Founder of Express Kitchens, a kitchen incubator, he’s constantly working on creating the next big thing.

Tell us a bit more about how the idea behind your business was created, and how the concept came to be. ZIA Maliha has always been a cookie dough fanatic and I have experience launching brands virtually through working in the cloud kitchen space; she had the passion, and I had the practical skills to bring Doughlicious to life. We met through mutual friends and decided to launch the brand virtually through online delivery platforms – this model has helped us keep our startup costs and time to a minimum. How did you find a gap in the market? KHAN My sweet tooth found the gap in the market! I had a craving for cookie dough and couldn’t find a single place that had it, so I decided to make it. When you introduce something brand new to the region, there is a little apprehension on how it will be received but my heart, appetite and business partner believed in it, so we decided to just ‘dough’ it!

What sort of hygiene practices do you have in place, especially for the raw dough product? KHAN What’s great about our cookie dough is that it’s both edible and ready-to-bake. You can dig right in and save what’s left over (if there’s any) to bake into cookies. To ensure that our products are 100% safe to eat raw, we use pasteurised eggs and heat-treated flour to avoid any chance of salmonella or other bacteria. You’ve now ventured into retail, what other plans do you have for the future? KHAN We’re lucky to have been one of the winners of the Spinneys Kitchen Incubator Programme. It has given our brand a massive push and helped us reach customers across the nation. Our plans involve stepping into brick and mortar. At the moment, we’re working on our first physical location in one of the busiest malls in Dubai. Our plans for 2021 include expanding into other GCC countries like Saudi

“My heart, appetite and business partner believed in it, so we decided to just ‘dough’ it! ” Arabia and Kuwait by Q1 and hopefully opening many more physical and delivery locations across the UAE. Stay tuned to our Instagram to see where we’ll be next!

What’s your biggest consumer group and why? KHAN The older millennials have surprisingly been our biggest consumer group. Cookie dough goes well with a side of mid-life crisis ( just kidding). Cookie dough is comfort food, like a hug in a cup. It’s the nostalgic element that reminds the older millennials of more carefree times.

How do you see demand in the upcoming years? ZIA We put great emphasis on the quality of our product since day one and have been working continuously on improving it. We take customer feedback very seriously because our aim is to create a product and brand, which aren’t not a short-term trend, but rather a long-term one with a loyal consumer base across different countries. We interact with our customers and keep our brand fun, playful and engaging. We believe Doughlicious has the ability to withstand the tough challenges of a fast-changing food industry and become a staple dessert choice among all age groups. HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021



Wyndham Hotels & Resorts W

yndham Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest hotel franchising company by number of properties, with approximately 9,000 hotels across 90 countries on six continents. Through its network of 804,000 rooms for the everyday traveller, Wyndham commands a presence in the economy and midscale segments of the lodging industry.

La Quinta by Wyndham Bodrum, Turkey



Ramada Encore by Wyndham Muscat Al-Ghubra, Oman


La Quinta by Wyndham Giresun, Turkey

The company operates a portfolio of 20 hotel brands and is also a provider of hotel management services. The award-winning Wyndham Rewards loyalty programme offers 85 million enrolled members the opportunity to redeem points at thousands of hotels, vacation club resorts and vacation rentals globally

REGIONAL OPENINGS IN 2020 RAMADA BY WYNDHAM ERBIL GULAN STREET, IRAQ Conveniently located on Erbil’s main commercial street, only minutes from the awe-inspiring Sami Abdulrahman Park and the historic Erbil Citadel, this hotel opened in December 2020 and features 136 contemporary rooms and two venues that accommodate up to 300 conference or banquet guests. It also includes a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor pools, a Turkish bath, spa and salon. The new hotel is just 14 kilometres from Erbil International Airport (EBL). RAMADA ENCORE BY WYNDHAM MUSCAT AL-GHUBRA, OMAN Opened in August 2020, this hotel is located in the heart of Muscat, next to the Al Ghubra roundabout on Sultan Qaboos Street, just minutes away from three of the city’s major shopping malls. The hotel boasts 163 rooms, a rooftop pool with sundeck and a fully equipped fitness centre and spa.

LA QUINTA BY WYNDHAM BODRUM, TURKEY With stunning views on the Bodrum Peninsula, the 175-room La Quinta by Wyndham Bodrum is a seaside hotel featuring guest rooms, two on-site restaurants and a rooftop bar. Opened in July 2020, the hotel features an outdoor pool, sauna and a fitness centre to help guests stay active while travelling. LA QUINTA BY WYNDHAM GIRESUN, TURKEY The 86-room La Quinta by Wyndham Giresun is a waterfront hotel with views of the Black Sea and a wide range of amenities making it an ideal destination for business and leisure trips. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool, a fitness centre with Turkish bath and sauna, four onsite restaurants and even a library. The hotel, which opened in June 2020, is located only 3km from the city centre, with convenient access to the OrduGiresun Airport.

Ramada by Wyndham Erbil Gulan Street, Iraq HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021



WYNDHAM DUBAI DEIRA Appealing to upscale guests looking for tailored services, the 14-floor Wyndham Dubai Deira boasts 290 rooms and suites, all designed with an eye for detail. Amenities include a spa with two treatment rooms, a sauna and steam room, a fitness centre and a pool deck. The hotel also offers six food and beverage outlets including The Spicery, an all-day restaurant with 200 seats, a lounge bar, lobby lounge, pool bar and executive lounge. An additional restaurant is expected to open in 2022, serving Latin American cuisine on the hotel’s all fresco terrace. Wyndham Deira Waterfront also features eight day-lit meeting rooms that can cater for up to 300 guests. Situated in the heart of Dubai’s trading legacy, and in close proximity to the Gold Souk Extension both properties are located only a 20-minute drive away from Dubai International Airport and The Dubai Mall, within easy reach of Deira’s metro stations, various bus routes and the Old Souk Water taxi station.

More on the Dubai Openings

SUPER 8 BY WYNDHAM DUBAI DEIRA Designed for budget-conscious travellers, the Super 8 by Wyndham Dubai Deira features guestrooms with contemporary interior design elements complemented by traditional Arabian touches. During their stay, guests can enjoy international cuisine at Qahua, a restaurant where modern décor meets the famed Old Arabia. The hotel is located opposite Dubai Gold Souk and is



close to the city’s popular landmarks. Super 8 by Wyndham is one of the world’s largest economy hotel brands with more than 2,900 hotels around the world. The brand elevates the economy hotel experience for a new generation of travellers with a design that seamlessly blends in with its local surroundings while offering modern facilities, friendly service, and convenient locations.

Located in the historic area of Deira, the newly opened hotels are the first in the highly anticipated Deira Enrichment Project and part of a strategic effort by Wyndham to meet travellers’ growing demand for accommodations at varying price points across the region. The Deira Enrichment Project, a development by Ithra Dubai, fully owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, is a mixed-use development situated along the Dubai creek in the southern part of Deira. With the goal of expanding the urban fabric of the existing Deira community towards the waterfront, the project is expected to become one of the largest waterfronts and man-made developments in the world.


PANOS LOUPASIS Vice President Development, Middle East, Eurasia & Africa, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts What’s the latest in the Wyndham portfolio? We currently have 56 hotels across the region with further growth plans coming down the pipeline. The UAE is a key market for us – where we have reached 18 operational hotels with the latest two additions in Dubai this month – and expect to grow this market further with six more hotels in our development plan in the next two years. As part of this, we’re looking forward to opening the Days Hotel by Wyndham Dubai Deira in the first half of 2021. The hotel is slated to be the first to open under the Days Inn® by Wyndham brand in the UAE. Wyndham Dubai Deira

Do you think that hospitality has reached a better standing now? The coronavirus outbreak continues to create unprecedented circumstances for many industries all over the world, and especially for the hospitality sector. It’s difficult to say when we will see a recovery as each country has been on a different trajectory since the beginning of the pandemic. Whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty around the world, we’re confident that when travel resumes, the region will again be one of the most desired travel hotspots and will pick up from 2019 levels.

“THE UAE IS A KEY MARKET FOR US.” Having said that, as we enter a new era of travel, the key priority now is to ensure that we play our part at restoring guests’ confidence in travel and do everything we can to make them feel safe and welcome. Our belief at Wyndham is that guests, team members and our hotel partners need to know they can count on us to always put their health and safety first. We need to build guest confidence while showing unwavering support for hotels and their owners. This is at the heart of everything we do and will continue to do. What’s coming up for the chain? Despite a rapidly changing landscape for hotel developers around the world, we’re pressing forward with new projects, particularly in the economy and midscale segments, reinforcing our overall confidence in the long-term viability of our industry. Our development pipeline for the wider region includes 21 properties and almost 4,000 additional rooms. Our development plans represent our confidence in the resilience of the travel sector in the region as well as our commitment to delivering the consistent, trusted and affordable experience travellers will be seeking now more than ever before. HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021



12 am Once I arrive, I make sure to greet each and every individual present. I go around the kitchen and storage to check that everything is in place and that the cleaning had been done. We thoroughly do quality checks of the products as and when we receive them. 12:30 pm I do the sample tasting of all the dishes, along with our sous chefs to ensure that we’re consistent with our food. This has helped us a lot in maintaining our standards.


Head chef of homegrown Indian restaurant Mohalla, located in D3 9 am I have always been more of a night person, so I’m definitely NOT an early riser, I wake up to my favourite music as the alarm. Music is an important part of my morning hours. I like to play some classic rock or jazz. Frank Sinatra, bill withers and scorpions are my favourites to start the



day with. I like to make my bed neat and tidy; it gives a feeling of accomplishment. 10 am I tend to do things at a slower pace as I start my day, I head to the kitchen prepare myself our South Indian filtered coffee, some orange juice and cheese or make an omelette. I like to

have my breakfast in the balcony (yes, even though it’s hot outside). I water some of the plants on the balcony and check the day’s schedule and meetings, if any. 11 am I iron my uniform, shower and commute to work.

1:00 pm Since we’re located at Dubai Design District, we get super busy for lunch. I sometimes work at the pass or let our sous chefs take control, and I either supervise or get my hands dirty in dispensing the orders from the curry section. This helps me stay sharp with my cooking skills. As we do takeaways in reusable stunning crockery, we have to be careful when plating for deliveries, and so I also oversee this. 4:00 pm As lunch slows down, I check emails, stock reports and inventories, and check the orders placed for the day. I coordinate with our finance manager to keep a close eye on daily costs. He has been very helpful to me, in learning the different aspects involved in the restaurant business. 5:00 pm I have my lunch and talk to my parents as they are back there in India. I make it a point that I speak to my parents every day. 5:30 pm Study and brainstorming sessions.


I always like to keep up with what’s happening in the culinary world, not just in UAE, but also globally. I study chefs and restaurants all over the world, the latest trends, happening restaurants and also Indian cuisine and its deep roots. I like to read different articles published on Indian food history. The Late K.T Achaya and Pushpesh Pant are some of the pioneering food historians of India, whose work has helped me learn so many unknown facts about the cuisine. I always like to have a brainstorming session with


my chefs and come up with new ideas. They are not just about food. We discuss a lot on different topics, such as sustainability, food wastage, supporting locally sourced ingredients and businesses. As mentioned, we started using stunning reusable crockery for takeaway and delivery boxes, which was a result of such sessions we conduct every now and then, and has really set Mohalla apart from other restaurants, in the delivery game. We also decided to launch our weekend breakfast menu, with a focus on our handmade masala dosa. We had so many requests for this breakfast dish to be launched, as customers trust Mohalla as the go-to restaurant for authentic Indian. 6:30 pm At this hour of the day, we conduct a team meeting. We discuss all the right things we did and mistakes which may have

occurred, and how we can overcome them. We also discuss sales, customer complaints, which items to push and the daily bestsellers. We always talk about new ideas. This has helped us dispense food with speed and accuracy, even though we have a small kitchen in comparison to table turnovers, especially during weekends. 7:30 pm Though we’re located at D3, which is mostly an office crowd, we still have a lot of guests (Emirati, especially) travelling to D3 for our food. I spend most of my time at the pass or talking to customers and getting their feedback. If we are not busy, I like to spend this time studying and brainstorming new ideas for the menu. Since we’re going to open in Riyadh in the coming year, I’ve already started studying and researching restaurants there and what kind of food

the local crowd prefers. It’s going to be an exciting opportunity to compete with more established brands. 11 pm Once the last order is dispensed from the kitchen, I check the closing and if anything is required on an urgent basis, so that we can place orders with suppliers and ensure a smooth operation the next day. I change out of my uniform and get into my running shorts and t-shirt. Remember, I started the interview saying that I’m more of a night person. Being a chef, it’s very important that we follow some exercise routine, since it becomes difficult to stick to a proper diet, due to constantly trying and tasting all the food going out to customers. I walk, run and sprint a 7k track along the canal to my home. Sometimes, I skip the run and go out with friends for dinner or drinks, or play a few rounds of pool. 12 am I reach home, cool down for a bit and then shower. I reply to any unanswered texts I received during the day or check Instagram. 12:30 am Sometimes, I get hungry, so I order food, halloumi and shawarma from Operation Falafel, one my favourites. I like to watch some random stuff just to unwind and chill, mostly about food, travel or some stand-up comedy, or I listen to my dad’s music, which he records on karaoke apps. Yes, a love of music has been in my family for generations. HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021




Raffaele Tiberio is the founder and CEO of DeliverAl, an end-to-end facilitator for all businesses seeking effective and affordable e-commerce solutions. Here, he speaks with LIRA Strategies Partners Founder and Managing Director Raffaella Campagnoli about the concept behind the venture.

Raffaele, you recently launched DeliverAI; can you tell us more about your business objectives? At the start of the pandemic, we started thinking about how to support small and medium companies and businesses in their digitalisation journey, overcoming all the barriers generated by an over-competitive market. DeliverAI actually enables e-commerce in two to three days, starting with pre-existing websites or social media (Instagram and Facebook) pages, at a very affordable price. We started developing the platform for F&B businesses, and specifically for restaurants, which were suffering due to the impact of the pandemic, and also because of the very high commissions charged by aggregators such as Deliveroo or Talabat. After eight months of operations, we have acquired a significant number of restaurants that are happy with the solution and already started enhancing the platform to also embrace non-food retailers’ needs. This sounds very interesting – could you please describe in more detail how DeliverAI works? The platform operates using a very easy method; we com-



municate with our clients in a one-hour call, understanding their business objectives and catalogues. Then, we produce a demo on our proprietary widget, showing them how e-commerce would work, and we finalise it together, connecting the widget to their website and/ or social media pages. That’s all. Done! The client can control the catalogue, pricing, preparation and delivery of their orders directly on our app or the dashboard we enable for managing all back-office activities (for example: promotions, loyalty points, CRM, analytics, delivery locations, pick-up options, delivery fees). That seems very simple, indeed! Are you also offering payment and delivery services? Of course, the platform is already designed to be integrated with both payment gateways and delivery services. Depending on the type of business and its delivery locations, we engage with national or international partners, taking care of the fulfilment of each order. Also, in this case, everything is connected to the platform so clients can easily track the status of the order, from

preparation to final delivery. Like you, Raffaella, would observe, we’re building an ecosystem of partners around DeliverAI; we have web developers, fulfilment partners, mobile and payment operators, and many other specialised providers. We’re expanding the network continuously to offer our clients a wider range of options.

ing based on end consumer analysis, suggest initiatives and activations, manage social media campaigns, and more. Our pricing model is as simple as the solution: small set-up fees (less than AED 10,000, one shot) and a monthly subscription fee varying from AED 300 to AED 900, according to the package they choose.

How can you describe the benefits that DeliverAI offers clients? Well, the benefits are aplenty: what our clients are experiencing is a facilitation of the digital transformation, especially small and medium-sized companies, from restaurants to retailers, which are not equipped with the internal capabilities to make it happen themselves. DeliverAI provides them with a solution which is complete, and easy for them to directly manage, allowing what a full team of professionals would do: from loyalty programmes, promotions, and e-commerce design and activation, to programme management, plus various system integrations. Also, DeliverAI’s name comes from the fact that we’re enabling artificial intelligence for them: we can activate digital market-

As the leader of DeliverAI, what are your future plans for your platform? What’s the expansion strategy? My experience comes from working with big companies: I had been working at Accenture Technology for many years, and so were some of my teammates; now, we’re partnering with organisations such as EY and Etisalat to enable the platform to be scaled modularly. We’re targeting different segments for our expansion: from Banks, where we’re keen to white-label our platform, enabling their SMEs to go for e-commerce, to Hospitality, offering solutions to medium-size chains, F&B outlets, retailers and manufacturers who are willing to expand their business geographically with an asset-light, turnkey enabler.

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Grand Rotana Resort & Spa - Sharm El Sheikh is located in the heart of the Red Sea, overlooking Tiran Island


he resort boasts a range of services and activities, including watersports, an open-air infinite Jacuzzi, a health club and Zen the Spa. In addition, the hotel’s main restaurant is Ramses, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets; specialties range from Mediterranean cuisine to Far Eastern, as well local delicacies in a casual dining atmosphere with views of the Red Sea. For Italian cuisine lovers, Mezzaluna includes both indoor and al fresco dining on an adjoining terrace with a diverse range of specialties and wines. For a virtual visit to China, India and Thailand, Silk Road is the signature Far Eastern restaurant. Plus, located on the beach, Palms Bar & Grill offers BBQ, seafood catch of the day, mixed grills, crispy salads and exotic cocktails throughout the day. We interview Grand Rotana Resort & Spa – Sharm El Sheikh General Manager Azmi Sami for a look at the resort.



Tell us a bit more about your journey as a hotelier. I have started my career in hospitality in 1992 at the Front Office department, and was then promoted to Director of Rooms, after which I was aiming to work towards a higher position. So, in 2008, I joined this lovely resort, Grand Rotana Resort & Spa Sharm El Sheikh, as an Executive Assistant Manager for one year, and I was then promoted to a Resident Manager. Of course, this role is not easy at all, as I was responsible for and involved


in every single detail during both the absence and in the presence of the general manager. What makes this hotel different from others in Egypt and the region? Grand Rotana is so special in many aspects, considering the prime location overlooking the Red Sea and Tiran Island, in addition to the property’s size and number of rooms, which give us the chance to offer a wide variety of room categories and services. What major challenges have you faced in the wake of Covid-19? The reopening and how to follow government measures to get the certificate were among the challenges. We have thankfully succeeded in doing this and got the highest reopening percentage, which is 50% occupancy.

Azmi Sami, General Manager, Grand Rotana Resort & Spa – Sharm El Sheikh

What’s the importance of reviews and social media feedback, and how much of it do you take on board? We’re attentive to social media, especially now following the pandemic, as a lot of other mediums were halted or replaced with virtual ones. We’re open to all ideas and collaborations, including inviting bloggers, paid ads and barter agreements.

“My leadership style involves setting high performance standards and pursuing aggressive goals, persisting when faced with obstacles, continually searching for improvements, and seeking new challenges and additional responsibilities. “

How do you keep your team motivated? We have very friendly environment, in addition to consistent meetings, and – above all – working as one team, with one goal.

Eastern. They all boast the highest safety and health measures, including social distancing, temperature checks for each guest and QR codes for menus (no more paper).

What systems do you have in place for resolving guest complaints? We always do our best to satisfy our guests and, when we receive any complaints, we try to solve the problem on the spot and offer a complimentary service, depending on the concern. What would you like to tell visitors about the hotel’s restaurants, cafés and bars? Grand Rotana has a wide variety of dining outlets, covering all international cuisines, including Italian, Far Eastern and Middle

How has your strategy shifted over the past few years? Of course, especially in the wake of the struggles we’re facing in hospitality and other challenges we’re facing as a destination; so, I’m always open to new strategies and managerial updates. My concept is to set high performance standards and pursue aggressive goals, persist when faced with obstacles, continually search for improvements, and seek new challenges and additional responsibilities. These were all part of my daily duties and philosophy with my colleagues.

What are some of the toughest situations you have faced during the past few months, and how did you manage them? Sharm El Sheikh has been facing difficulties and hard times from the beginning of 2011 and until now; we have settled this and tried our best to get ourselves back on track. The difficulty we’re facing now is the new Covid-19 virus and how the world is changing, especially the travel and hospitality sectors. We’re trying our best to follow the highest measures of safety and health, whether they are for the guest or employees. I’m working hand in hand with my colleagues, monitoring this situation and we’re doing our best to get through it. We have high hopes that the situation will get better with the vaccine.




“We crafted the menu bearing in mind that the food is part of the overall performance and experience of the evening.” Tell us a little about your journey, until you arrived in Dubai.

I grew up both in Istanbul and in Milan as the son of a Turkish father and an Italian mother. My culinary career has taken me to so many places, from hotels and restaurants in different countries with team members from around the world, to hosting TV programmes, writing books, teaching and consulting on various projects. What were some career stepping stones that have always stayed with you?

Billionaire Feasts CHEF BATUHAN PIATTI

The corporate executive chef at Billionaire Mansion Dubai, has held a variety of roles throughout his career, from TV presenter, to teacher. Here, he tells Hotel & Catering News Middle East all about what it takes to cook for a president, operating major restaurants and the cuisine at the luxurious venue. 62


There are a few stepping stones that have shaped and propelled my career forward. I was offered the role of executive chef by the renowned Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of the well-known Italian restaurant chain, to operate and launch the first Cipriani Restaurant located in The Edition Hotel in Istanbul (Mariott International). Another highlight of my career was being a judge on the very first MasterChef in Turkey, where afterwards, I decided to continue working and starring in my very own travel and cooking TV show called Hayat Batuhan’a Güzel (Life is Beautiful for Batuhan).


And finally, my current role as head chef at Billionaire Life Group, where I develop and manage all culinary activities throughout our international venues from Sardinia Billionaire, Dubai Billionaire Mansion, London’s Twiga-Sumosan, London ‘s Crazy Pizza, Monaco Twiga and Crazy Fish, to Monaco Twiga Beach and finally the opening of Billionaire in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The menu at Billionaire incorporates New-Asian flavours and a nod to Italian cuisine; tell us more about the dishes and how you managed to craft them.

We crafted the menu bearing in mind that the food is part of the overall performance and experience of the evening. Our New-Asian flavours intrigue each and every kind of diner by offering different interpretations of certain dishes such as the steamed buns of spicy wagyu beef to the BILLIONAIRE maki roll, which also highlights the meat with asparagus, mushrooms and truffle sauce. Paying homage to Italian cuisine, the menu showcases favourites, such as pasta and risotto, bringing them to an elevated level. All of our pasta is homemade and comes in a variety of forms like the spinach and ricotta ravioli with browned butter and sage, along with maltagliati with spicy lobster. As a chef, my aim was to perfectly marry the two cui-

sines together, making sure that the technique, ingredients and flavours remained authentic yet distinct at the same time. What sort of experience were you looking to create at Billionaire Dubai?

At all of Billionaire’s establishments, we’re looking to create a worldly experience, one that captivates and stays with you long after you leave the premises. At Billionaire Dubai, we wanted to continually surprise our guests, be it with the food, the attentive service or the live acts. We’re always seeking to make sure that all attendees enjoy the novelties of Billionaire and guarantee their superiority and dynamism. Again, as a chef, the experience I’d want to portray is one that satisfies every palate, from the loyal Billionaire customer to the culinary connoisseur looking to experience it for the first time. What are some of the most exciting aspects of managing a fine dining establishment?

One of the most exciting aspects of managing a fine dining establishment is that every day you’re faced with new opportunities and new challenges. Working alongside Billionaire Life’s management team is to work with true visionaries in the hospitality industry, who strive for excellence in

anything they do. Following Flavio Briatore’s footsteps, there’s always a vision, a method and a purpose to what we do, and I apply this to my kitchen as well. There’s truly never a dull moment. Now, with Billionaire’s opening in Riyadh, we’re all highly motivated towards making sure that all the elements, especially the cuisine, remain at their highest standards, while striving for excellence. Was there any particular request from a guest that you remember until now?

During my career, I have had the opportunity to serve many celebrities, sports champions and heads of state. One of the most interesting experiences was when I cooked for US President Barack Obama with four of his Secret Service agents in the kitchen. The simple menu consisted of a medium-rare Ribeye with a fennel and smoked salmon salad. All the ingredients were strictly brought to them from the United States for security reasons. Another interesting encounter was when the

very famous group, R.E.M, ordered more than 15 club sandwiches for the entire evening and paired them with Don Perignon Rosé Vintage. What is your comfort food and how do you stay inspired?

For sure, as an Italian, my comfort food consists of fresh pasta dishes that I can eat every day without getting bored. When one works in the kitchen, they develop very different and alternating feeding times. I hardly eat until 5pm and when hunger strikes, I prepare a meal for myself which I then implement as a special of the day. So, the hunger and cravings I experience actually give me a helping hand in being creative. Chef Batuhan, what are some dreams that you aim to achieve in the coming years?

I am not inclined to do certain tasks repeatedly, therefore, for Billionaire, which is a constantly developing and expanding brand, I have the opportunity to grow continuously with new challenges.

“One of the most interesting experiences was when I cooked for US President Barack Obama.” HOTELNEWSME.COM | JANUARY 2021


HCNME WHAT’S COOKING? Left to right: Head Chef Daniel Perez Delgado and General Manager Lioy Rubio

“When you walk into Lola, we want you to be immediately transported to the loving streets of Spain and feel the good energy.”

What’s Cooking? Lola Taberna Española’s innovative menu, offering a modern take on Spanish classics, is the work of Head Chef Daniel Perez Delgado

Tell us more about the vision behind the cuisine at Lola Taberna Española. The goal is to deliver an experience that Dubai has never seen before, the true Spanish “taberna” culture. Not only are we claiming to bring the much-needed Spanish flair to the Dubai scene, we’re promising an immersive dining experience that celebrates authentic cuisine and its eccentricities. We want guests to enjoy a meal that is neither pretentious or overly complicated, but filled with tradition, flavour and lots of love. As people take their first bite of



the food, it should be clear that quality ingredients are the star of the dish. What are your top dishes, and what’s your personal favourite? Favourite and top dishes? All of them! We have curated an amazing mix of dishes from across Spain to create a menu that any lover of Spanish cuisine will find exceptional. Every single dish has a rich history, is packed with unique flavours and has the ‘Lola’ touch. Without a doubt, our bestseller is the ‘Croquetas de Jamón Ibérico’ as well as

the ‘Cochinillo Deshuesado & Cebolla a la Brasa’ cooked on charcoal, a true Spanish explosion of flavours. If there’s one thing you would like to tell guests about the venue, what would it be? We’re trying to bring the ‘taberna’ culture to Dubai, a bar culture that revolves around cherishing magical moments with friends and family as you relish in mouth-watering dishes. In any traditional taberna, it’s all about the food as the main component bringing people together and making them feel at home.

It was imperative for us to create a similar haven in Dubai, a city filled with expats. To bring that piece of ‘home-away-from-home’ to Dubai’s Spanish community, as well as everyone who wants a taste of Spain and its rich culture. When you walk into Lola, we want you to be immediately transported to the loving streets of Spain and feel the good energy. How are you planning on developing the menu further? I plan to continue innovating and bringing new seasonal dishes to the table. At Lola, we will always have a board of specials, prepared with the best products of the season and lots of love from Spain. Of course, we’re dedicated to giving our loyal guests the best experience possible and that makes their feedback the most important factor. Mi casa es tu casa!

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Profile for BNC Publishing

Hotel & Catering News ME - January 2021  

Hotel & Catering News ME - January 2021