A highlight reel of noteworthy hospitality events we attended this summer and a host of upcoming events to add to your calendar
A highlight reel of noteworthy hospitality events we attended this summer and a host of upcoming events to add to your calendar
A highlight reel of noteworthy hospitality events we attended this summer and a host of upcoming events to add to your calendar
HILTON ABU DHABI’S BOOMING SCHEDULE
How major events like IIFA, NBA Abu Dhabi Games, and F1 impact property occupancy rates and F&B
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
ISLAND VIBE IN THE SKY AURA Skypool and Lounge, where the world's highest 360° infinity pool lives
YOUR NEW FAVOURITE UNCLE
Why the newly opened Fat Uncle is well on its way to becoming our favourite uncle
IN THE MIX COGITO ERGO SUM
chat with the founder of the newly opened bar concept, Ergo
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE for LENTO founder, Faisal Naser
working in the oil and gas industry Naser decided to post pictures of the food he was making
with full recipe and cooking method descriptions
F&B FOCUS TASTE OF TASHAS
Natasha Sideris, Founder & CEO, Tashas Group Holding
Over the last four years, the delivery business has tripled in size – and having access to this revenue stream has become an absolute necessity for restaurants
POINT OF VIEW
WHY DINERS ARE DITCHING convenience for experience
One of the industries that have undergone a massive transformation following the pandemic is F&B
THIS MONTH’S MUST TRY LIVING THE HOLLYWOOD DREAM
Bringing the best of Hollywood's indulgent charm into the world of hospitality, Paramount Hotel Dubai has set the stage to provide the glitz and glamour that fares well with the stylish city of Dubai
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!
Hotel & Catering News Middle East hotelcateringme
Armani Hotel Dubai features seven restaurants and bars offering an exciting collection of world cuisine, from Japan and India to flavours of the Mediterranean and authentic regional Italian.
The impressive culinary options reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the city and stunning restaurant interiors are complemented by exciting al fresco terrace and balcony dining opportunities.
Event season has begun! I spent the month of September travelling to the region to attend and cover some well-known hospitality events in the industry. And I will be spending the next few weeks preparing for our big F&B Leaders Conference and Awards coming up later in October and other industry events held in November. The Most Influential Exhibition for the Hotel and Hospitality Sector in Saudi Arabia, The Hotel Show, was a great experience. The common feedback from visitors, buyers, and exhibitors was that the show had the most substantial revenue potential compared to other hospitality shows, which is not surprising when you think about Saudi Arabia's economy and vision for the next few years. It was also a treat to explore a little bit of the Kingdom and soak up a more traditional Middle Eastern
environment. I enjoyed seeing and interacting with local Saudi Nationals all over the city of Riyadh. Coming back to Dubai was met with the Future Hospitality Summit, where my mind was blown away by the level and quality of conversations, exhibitions, and activities. The Sustainability Challenge was impressive. Watching young people think up some of the most unbelievable hospitality ideas for the future that isn’t just sustainable but doable made me think about the hands that will be inheriting this planet. And it also got me thinking about giving the youth more of a platform to be part of and sometimes even lead the conversations we are having in this sector. They are, after all, the next generation of customers, if anything else. I also had the pleasure of interviewing some key development professionals at FHS about the realities of growth and the importance that good people play in all aspects of the business. The big topics everyone kept talking about were ESG and Technology, which is no surprise. In this issue, we will also share with you stories of chefs bringing back simple and humble cooking to produce wholesome foods we could use more of, we talk about influencer marketing in hotels with Rixos, make some Cioppino with Nestle, talk about the business of dining concepts with PLAY, visit the world's highest 360-degree infinity pool, and chat with Hilton Abu Dhabi’s Cluster GM. Hope to see you all at the F&B Leaders Conference and Awards.
The city’s best-kept secret is finally out. Tucked inside the decorous, finedining haven of Belcanto, a pathway leads to an eclectic space that’s designed to transport you to “Eden,” a hidden slice of disco paradise set to attract the well-heeled party-seekers and night owls of the city.
“Eden” both by name and nature, this chic new venue is surrounded by lush greenery, exotic prints and vibrant patterns, with phenomenal views of the Burj Khalifa.
This newest addition to Dubai’s nightlife scene promises a regular program of local and international entertainment acts, bringing in a euphoric jungle dripping in glamour and playing electronic music.
Bar mastermind and five-time World’s 50 Best Bars award-winner, Mikhail Melnik has concocted an impressive drinks menu with signature cocktails inspired from paradisiacal beings.
“The juxtaposition of these two similar yet very different spaces is so beautiful because it allows us to offer our
guests the same high level of service to both venues, whilst still being able to maintain independent identities and offerings. As a hospitality group, our primary focus is to bring multisensorial dining experiences to the vibrant city of Dubai by combining global talents in the gastronomy and the entertainment world. From
internationally acclaimed classical opera singers and theater production companies to genius turntablists playing in world music festivals, our team has prepared a lineup of culinary and nightlife programs that would feed different audiences and tastes,” says Pauline Mishina, Brand Director of Restart 354 hospitality group.
RASPOUTINE’s global reputation did not emerge overnight; originally founded in 1965 in Paris’s ‘Golden Triangle’, the brand has since expanded to Los Angeles, Miami and now Dubai, under the watchful care of Logan Maggio and Alexander Ghislain E.
“We look forward to providing Dubai with a new nightlife destination that resonates with the pace of the city and elevates its energy with a seductive, exclusive and very secretive dinner and nightclub experience.” – Alexander Ghislain E.
Home to the ‘très’ select crowd of celebrities, tastemakers, and jetsetters, and renowned for its strict door policy, RASPOUTINE brings a decadent dinner-and-party experience to Dubai. An atmosphere of opulence, where the extravagance of artist Erté has been reimagined, and where perfectly curated baroque chandeliers and distinctive red velvet accents, create a signature RASPOUTINE setting for a very select crowd.
Abu Dhabi-based venture builder, Hatch & Boost Ventures, ADGM, a joint venture between Crescent Enterprises and hatch & boost, has announced the launch of BreakBread, a Foodtech start-up on a mission to reinvent the supper club scene by providing a first-of-its-kind digital marketplace and hub for curated home-cooked dining experiences. Centered around the idea that ‘food is best experienced home-cooked and shared’, BreakBread provides custom ers with an entryway into supper club dining through a platform that is already home to over 100 vetted hosts with diverse menus to try across the UAE. Dalia Lachine, Co-Founder of BreakBread, said: “In order to contribute to the growing diversity and exciting food scene that has emerged in the UAE and wider MENA re gion, our vision for BreakBread is to facilitate the connec tion between foodies and foodpreneurs to enjoy unfor
Grand Hyatt Kuwait celebrates official opening
Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H) announced today the opening of Grand Hyatt Kuwait – the first Grand Hyatt hotel in the country. The 302-room luxury hotel is situated at 360 Mall –one of the nation’s most immersive luxury, leisure and lifestyle complexes. Grand Hyatt Kuwait is the second Hyatt branded hotel in Kuwait, the sixth hotel under the Grand Hyatt brand in the Middle East, and the twenty-ninth Hyatt branded hotel in the region, all of which participate in the World of Hyatt loyalty program. Infusing regionally inspired art with modern interior design, the iconic hotel is the ideal destination for guests to discover the country’s cultural, entertainment, and artistic offerings.
“Grand Hyatt Kuwait offers global travelers superior hospitality services against a backdrop of majestic architectural design coupled with world-class culinary, leisure and entertainment experiences under one roof; a truly distinctive proposition,” said Federico Mantoani, general manager at Grand Hyatt Kuwait. “We
gettable experiences and cross-cultural immersion. From booking a night out with a group of family and friends, hosting a corporate event, or going solo to meet new peo ple, BreakBread offers a supper club option for everyone.”
are thrilled to open the first Grand Hyatt hotel in Kuwait, and we look forward to welcoming guests seeking a memorable experience from this magnificent destination.” Grand Hyatt Kuwait represents a new era of progression and innovation in luxury tied to the government’s Vision 2035, which aims to boost tourism
through innovative and sustained investment in hospitality infrastructure. Offering business travelers, leisure guests and locals a superlative selection of world-class culinary and leisure experiences the hotel features four unique restaurants, a fitness center, a premium spa and a variety of elegant event spaces.
Hatch & Boost ventures to reinvent the MENA supper club scene with launch of foodtech startup, BreakBread
Dubai Holding, a diversified global investment company with presence in over 13 countries, today announced the appointment of Katerina Gian nouka as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jumeirah Group as of December 2022.
A recognised professional in the international hospitality industry, Giannouka joins Jumeirah Group with 20 years of experience in business leadership, operations, hotel develop ment, asset management and strategic advisory.
Katerina joins Jumeirah Group from Radisson Hotel Group, where, as President Asia-Pacific since 2017, she led the execution of a comprehensive five-year strategic and operating plan, delivering unprecedented growth of nearly doubling the size of the hotel portfolio. Prior to this, Katerina led the Asia-Pacific and China Development team of ultra-luxury Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, where beyond delivering growth, she played an influential role in supporting new brand development, corporate decision making and strate gic planning.
Commenting on her appointment, Amit Kaushal, Group Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Holding, said: “We are delighted to welcome Katerina as the new Chief Executive Officer of Jumei rah Group. Over the years, Jumeirah has become synonymous with excel lence, providing guests from across the globe with unique and unrivalled experiences. Given Katerina’s impres sive track record as a transformative business leader, as well as her luxury hospitality background and drive to create resilient teams and culture, I am confident that she will build on Jumei rah’s incredible success story and lead the business to new levels of sustain able and accelerated growth across the world.”
For her part, Katerina Giannouka, incoming Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group, said: “I am honoured to be entrusted and appointed to this key role with Jumeirah Group. Jumeirah operates some of the world’s most iconic hotels and has redefined luxury hospitality with its exceptional and beyond-expectations service of fering. The opportunities for Jumeirah
are extremely exciting, and I eagerly look forward to commencing this new journey alongside the entire team to unlock the immense potential of the Jumeirah brand and sustainably secure its position on the world stage as the top luxury Emirati hospitality brand recognised and sought-after globally.” Today, Jumeirah Group is a national champion, a member of Dubai Holding and a global luxury hotel company, which operates a world-class 6,500key portfolio of 25 luxury properties across the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
The Cove Rotana is excited to announce Edwin Gomes appointment as Executive Chef. He will oversee 6 bars and 2 restaurants including the Italian-Mediterranean signature restaurant: “Ba silico”.
Originally from Kolkata India, Edwin’s passion for the culinary arts comes as no surprise as he hails from a family of Chefs. One of his fondest memories includes helping his mother in the kitchen at an early age. After a myriad of appren
ticeships, Edwin fine-tuned his craft at The Park Hotels in Kolkata, India. His career soon took him across the globe to work with brands such as Hilton, JA Resorts and Spa, Royal M and Royal Caribbean Cruise Liners. As Edwin’s expertise grew, his culinary journey enabled him to travel to the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah and Saudi Ara bia), the Atlantic, Nordic and Pacific Coast as well as his most recent post in Egypt’s Casa Cooks El Gouna.
Jan, a Czech national, has been with Radisson Hotel Group for more than 24 years. He began his career in hospitality in 1988 at the Radisson SAS Alcron Hotel Prague, where he was employed as a porter. His journey to general manager
Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) has launched the inaugural Dubai Gastronomy Industry Report, a comprehensive study of the city’s gastronomy scene, further reinforcing Dubai’s position as a much sought-after global destination for food tourism. The special report was unveiled at the first gastronomy industry briefing hosted by DET at the W Dubai Mina Seyahi, and was attended by more than 100 restaurateurs, culinary specialists and key stakeholders from the food and beverage sector, to share seasonal highlights in relation to the everexpanding gastronomy sector, and reveal industry insights from the city’s inaugural gastronomy report. The event was hosted as part of Dubai’s efforts to build upon the destination’s year-round programme of key foodie events, gourmet showcases and culinary platforms, to further strengthen the city’s dynamic ecosystem of around 13,000 restaurants and cafés. During the briefing, opportunities in the gastronomy sector and forthcoming calendar highlights were shared with partners to get their support to further enhance the city’s reputation as a year-round global gastronomy hub. Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment
began when he was promoted throughout various positions in front office and revenue management in Prague and London before eventually joining the Radisson SAS Belfast as General Manager. His latest role in the group was as general manager at the oldest 5-star hotel in Dubai, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek.
Tim Cordon, COO, Middle East & Africa at Radisson Hotel Group, said, “I am pleased to have a hospitality veteran like Jan to take on this role. With a track record of several leadership positions within the company, his extensive expertise will be instrumental in continuing successful delivering results in his new area of responsibility. I am confident that with his knowledge and experience, he will add immense value.”
In his new role as Managing Director, Jan will be leading the operations and responsible for the strategic initiatives of his region, tied to business expansion, growth, and the necessary cultural evolution to support. At the same time, he will work closely with all key business partners in order to achieve quality results. Jan will act as an ambassador for Radisson Hotel Group, reflecting the company culture and values.
“I am delighted to continue my journey with Radisson Hotel Group and look forward to working with the hotels and corporate leadership team to continue delivering the success and growth of our company in the region. “ commented Jan Hanák, Managing Director, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar at Radisson Hotel Group.
(DFRE) revealed key findings from the newly commissioned annual industry report during the event, showcasing the gastronomy activities and initiatives which continue to be a driving force behind the steady growth in both domestic and international tourists, in line with the visionary leadership’s goal to make Dubai the world’s best city in the world to live in, work and visit. This insightful research has reaffirmed Dubai’s standing as an international hub for gastronomy, and a beacon for visionary restaurateurs, chefs, discerning foodies, epicurean travellers and culinary aficionados.
over 20 years of experience in the hos pitality industry, Nader Halim has spent 17 years with Hilton during his long and successful career. Prior to his appoint ment as the Cluster General Manager of Hilton’s Yas Island hotels, Halim has led some of the group’s Ras Al Khaimah properties, as the Cluster General Manager for DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island, Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island, DoubleTree by Hilton
Ras Al Khaimah and DoubleTree by Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Corniche Residences. Halim was appointed General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah in 2016. During his tenure, he suc cessfully positioned the property as a key family destination and also opened the largest Hampton asset in the world, Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island, during the pandemic. Under his leadership, Hilton’s Ras Al Khaimah proper ties have won several noteworthy accolades. An Egyptian national, Halim is a graduate of the Faculty of Tourism & Hotels at Helwan University in Cairo. He started his career as a Sales Executive and has worked with several renowned hospitality brands, before joining Hilton Worldwide in 2002 as a Sales Manager at Hilton Al Ain. Among other senior appointments, he was Cluster Director of Sales for Hilton Worldwide, before being promoted to Director of Business Development. In addition, Halim’s career in the region also includes a successful stint as the General Manager of Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman.
Named the Cluster General Manager for three Hilton Ho tels in Abu Dhabi this June, Halim says that he is honoured to have been appointed. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing three unique properties, each offering the Hilton hospitality experience our guests come to expect.
Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island is majestic and ideal for couples and families, The WBTM Abu Dhabi, Curio Col
sporting reputation through hosting major events such as the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and UFC 280. Yas Island welcomes global talent including international F1 drivers, UFC fighters, Bol lywood celebrities, interna tional artists, and musicians. Travellers are spoilt for choice on Yas Island. For example, when booking a stay at Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island or The WBTM Abu Dhabi, guests receive compli mentary theme park access and can visit Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, or Warner Bros.™ World Abu Dhabi. In addi tion, Etihad Arena brings the best entertainers such as Maroon 5, and musicals such as The Lion King, and Disney
on Ice for guests. Attrac tions like CLYMB and Yas Links, the first true links golf course in the Middle East and new home of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, are ideal for active getaways. Travellers can choose to explore and spend at their time at Yas Bay Waterfront, Yas Marina and even shop at Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi’s largest mall
The development of Yas Creative Hub “Media zone Twofour54 moving to Yas Creative Hub is an exciting development. With thousands of profes sionals working in the media, entertainment, and gaming industries, we think this will have a direct impact on
footfall at the hotels’ F&B outlets. Young profession als are always looking for places to grab a quick lunch or socialise after work, while freelancers are on the lookout for a hip spot to work from, and meet like-minded individuals. The develop ment of the Island as a whole is beneficial for all three properties, as the hotels are strategically located, ensur ing travellers are close to all the action, whether its Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island located a few steps away from Etihad Arena and Yas Pier or The WBTM Abu Dhabi and Dou bleTree Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island Residences.”
We are extremely fortu nate that these prestigious global events are hosted on Yas Island. As with any international event, there is a need for accommodation, transport, food & beverage,
entertainment, as well as preand post-event experiences. Yas Island is in the perfect position to support this, with a large hotel capacity that ac commodates different price points, ensuring each hotel gets the opportunity to ben efit from these events. These global events are fantastic not only for the hotels on Yas Island but all other entities including the F&B outlets. The events drive footfall to, and awareness of, the Island. As with any business, the demand directly impacts the price and availability.
2022 and beyond
“The remainder of the year looks promising with events such as NBA Abu Dhabi Games, UFC 280, Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, The Lion King, BLAST Premier World Final 2022 and even the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on the radar. Demand for tickets to these events are already high, so we anticipate guests are going to grab the opportunity to attend such once-in-a-lifetime events and book stays to explore Abu Dhabi. This year, Diwali is anticipated to be a grand celebration on Yas Island. Our hotel teams are gearing up to welcome guests, as well as preparing to deliver the best possible guest experi ences during UAE National Day holiday and the festive season. We have fantastic outdoor facilities across the portfolio, ideal for the upcoming cooler months, as it is a key season for weddings and celebrations.”
"WITH THOUSANDS OF PROFESSIONALS WORKING IN THE MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT, AND GAMING INDUSTRIES, WE THINK THIS WILL HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT ON FOOTFALL AT THE HOTELS’ F&B OUTLETS."
The United States is a melting pot of cultures and traditions inspiring a new generation of cheese artisans with a knack for innovation and dedicated entrepreneurial spirit to create some of the finest cheeses in the world. For decades, the U.S. cheese industry has worked diligently to meet the needs of customers around the world.
The world’s single largest producer and exporter of cheese, the U.S. is also home to over 1,000 cheese varieties produced throughout all 50 states.
From American Originals like cream cheese, in vented in 1872 in New York; or U.S. Pepper Jack, that blends the soft richness of U.S. Monterey Jack with flecks of spicy peppers; to sought-after varieties that combine old and new techniques like U.S. cheddar and parmesan, the unparalleled variety of Cheeses
from the USA means that there’s a cheese to suit every chef’s or every home cook’s needs. Throughout the country, flavor-infused, rubbed-rind cheeses, and other varieties push the limits of innovation, flavor, and artisanship.
These incredible cheeses, inspired by ancient recipes yet unbound by tradition, are made possible due to the high-quality milk produced in the United States. From the rolling green hills of the Northeast to the breathtaking West Coast, U.S. dairy farmers work tirelessly to supply U.S. cheesemakers with the milk necessary to produce the very cheeses that end up on your pizza or hamburger and that line the shelves of retail chains around the world. Most of the country’s cheese is made in large-scale produc tion facilities, but artisan cheesemakers are also crafting some of the world’s best cheeses.
THE U.S. CHEESE COMMUNITY IS CONNECTING WITH INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND CONSUMERS TO KEEP UP WITH THE GROWING DEMAND FOR USA CHEESES AROUND THE WORLD AND REAFFIRM ITS COMMITMENT TO INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS.
USA Cheeses have impressed judges on the world stage for years, taking home top prizes in blind tastings and competitions like the like the World Cheese Awards and the World Champion ship Cheese Contest. In fact, a U.S. blue cheese from Oregon’s Rogue Creamery was crowned the World Champion Cheese out of over 3,000 entries at the 2019-2020 World Cheese Awards.
The United States is a unique and exciting supplier of delicious cheese. In fact, 2021 was a record-setting year for U.S. dairy and cheese exports. Over the course of the year, the U.S. ex ported 2.3 million MT of dairy products, includ ing a record-breaking 404,000 MT of cheese – a 14% increase year-over-year.
The USA Cheese Guild community is connect ing with international trade and consumers to keep up with the growing demand for USA Cheeses around the world and reaffirm its com mitment to international customers. Efforts such as the implementation of local programs from retail and foodservice promotions to trade education are paving the way for local markets to capture the full potential of USA Cheese.
In 2021, MENA’s overall cheese imports from the U.S. reached 22,385 MT. Top MENA markets include Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait. U.S. cheese importer followed by UAE, Kuwait, and Egypt. U.S. cheese volume exports to MENA in 2021 were 37% more compared to the previous year.
The U.S. cheese industry is ever-growing and is creating some of the world’s most delicious and nutritious cheeses, from classic favorites to original creations. From America to your plate – come discover more on the heritage and diversity of Cheeses from the USA, and follow us on social media, USA Cheese Guild CheesefromtheUSA.me
September has been a busy month full of hospitality events, like The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia, Future Hospitality Summit, and Chef Middle East's Taste of Au tumn. Events like these have the potential to generate billions in revenue and in fluence the way hospitality organisations operate. In this story, we will bring you a wrap-up of the events we've covered during these last few weeks of Summer and tell you about some of the events we can look forward to in November.
The Most Influential Exhibition for the Hotel and Hospitality Sector in Saudi Arabia.
The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia took place at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center between 6 - 8 September 2022. The venue also housed INDEX Saudi Arabia and the Lighting Design and Technology Expo this year. The event welcomeed thousands of the indus try’s leading interior design, architec ture, lighting, hotel and hospitality professionals and the combination of these events offers an excellent proposition for business specialists in the sectors, resulting in the ultimate destination to learn, network and source premium-quality products from across the globe. “The past few
years have proven how vital trade shows are when it comes to growing and developing business, launching new products, and forging long-term relationships. They are the ultimate meeting place to network, learn and connect,” added Elaine O’Connell Vice President – Design and Hospitality, dmg events.
The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia is the Kingdom’s largest and most influ ential trade event for the hotel and hospitality sector. Leading experts from the industry attend the show to network, do business and get the latest information about new trends and
developments. The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia offers professionals a chance to meet with key suppliers, learn from hospitality leaders through a range of conferences and features, and attend the Saudi Hospitality Awards. The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia brought hundreds of local and international brands, helping businesses source products and services needed.
> 250+ exhibitors across all shows across all shows
> 19 exhibiting countries
> 15,000 visitors
> 3 live features
“THE PAST FEW YEARS HAVE PROVEN HOW VITAL TRADE SHOWS ARE WHEN IT COMES TO GROWING AND DEVELOPING BUSINESS, LAUNCHING NEW PRODUCTS, AND FORGING LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS."
Pioneers from across the industry came together to discuss challenges, present bold ideas and talk about the future of hospitality in Saudi Arabia. Many benefited from unlimited learn ing opportunities with key industry leaders as they shared their insights and strategies at the Hospitality Lead ers Summit..
Key themes discussed at the Hospital ity Leaders’ Summit:
> Leadership in hospitality and tour ism
> Saudi Arabia digital tourism strategy
> Investment and partnership oppor tunities in the Kingdom
> Tech, innovation, and user experi ence
> Saudi regenerative and sustainable tourism
> Wellness hospitality in Saudi Arabia
> Top trends to watch in Saudi Arabia’s ever evolving FandB industry
> Harnessing Saudization, promoting the upcoming talent in the hospitality and tourism sector
> Destination tourism and brand value as a tourism strategy
The Chefs Mystery Box Challenge
returned for its 4th edition, with more hotels battling against each other by putting forward their top chefs to showcase exemplary cooking styles, creativity and share culinary expertise in a live kitchen environment. Top chefs from the industry competed in creating a 5-course meal and show cased skills such as teamwork, creativ ity. and efficiency.
The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia is a strong supporter of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and believes in recognis ing and celebrating Saudi talent in the hotel and hospitality sectors. The Saudi Hospitality Talent Awards was a unique opportunity for companies operating in the hotel and hospital ity industry to shine the spotlight on the achievements of their staff with industry peers. The ceremony presented awards across categories from restaurant professionals and baristas through to IT professionals and housekeeping. Some of the speakers included Abdul lah Alzahrani, Brand and Marketing
Executive Director, The Red Sea Development Company and AMAALA, Hassan Ahdab, President of Hotels Operations Dur Hospitality, DR James Morgan, Dean International Tour ism and Hospitality College, Riyadh, Imran Changezi, Senior Director De velopment - Hospitality Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and Tatiana Veller, Managing Director, Stirling Hospitality Advisors.
Some of the key discussions included: Vision 2030 for Tourism and Hospi tality, Hospitality Leaders' Strategic Session - Driving Forward the Vision 2030 for Hospitality and Tourism, Investment and partnership opportu nities in the Kingdom, Future Proofing Hospitality Asset Management from a KSA perspective - Supported by HAMA, Destination + Sustainability + Regenerative Tourism, and Harness ing Saudization, promoting, preparing, and retaining the upcoming talent in the Hospitality and Tourism sector. Here are some exhibitor highlights:
The company manages and operates all executive terminals and offices at airports in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was newly established as part of the privatisation program of the aviation sector in Saudi Arabia.
BITS Arabia, internationally recog nised experts who deliver the fusion of premium hospitality with innovative technology to ensure a utilitarian vi sion for Saudi hoteliers. They provide
comprehensive solutions and embrace every aspect of each guests' stay.
Arabian Group of Companies is a 100% locally owned entity founded in 1967 by Mr. Ali Baslaib. He has been instrumental in introducing different subsidiaries that comple ment each other with the focused view of offering customers a onestop-shop for all their interior turn key solutions. The Group’s subsidi ary companies cover interior design and fit-out solutions, partitioning, flooring finishes, wall finishes, furniture, IT, storage, and trading, to name a few.
For nearly 20 years, SALTO has been synonymous with innovative solutions, including stand-alone, cloud-based and mobile applications, that set new standards in security, manageability, flexibility and design that brings real-world benefits to virtually any door and building type. Across a broad range of industries and applications, SALTO is widely recognised as a global market leader in smart electronic access control solutions.
Leading luxury sanitaryware specialist presented AXOR and hansgrohe collections.
Luxury sanitaryware special ist, Hansgrohe, showcased a full gamut of products under its AXOR and hansgrohe brands at this year’s Hotel Show at Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Christophe Gourlan, CSO of Hansgrohe commented, “The plan is to extend our footprint in the region. We are looking to expand in as many four- and five-star properties in the King dom. One of the most important features of a hotel room is the shower, and this is our main busi ness. We adapt our offering to suit each country’s guest needs. Under our brands Hansgrohe and AXOR we have luxury and premium products, and we are well known for our technology and for work ing with incredible designers.”
Luxury brand AXOR partners with some of the world’s lead ing designers to develop unique collections that are manufactured with precision and skill using superior quality materials and finishes. The Hotel Show saw a comprehensive range presented, including:
AXOR Citterio: Designed by renowned Italian architect Antonio Citterio, the collection is understated yet luxurious, with distinctive flat surfaces that bril liantly reflect the light. With its balanced proportions and elegant geometries, the collection com prises a wide range of products and options, including faucets in different handle styles—pin, cross handle, original lever handle and a new lever handle that is even more precise, intuitive and easy to use. AXOR Citterio comes in classic chrome and an array of exclusive AXOR FinishPlus PVD surfaces, including Polished Black Chrome and Brushed Gold Optic.
AXOR Edge: Inspired by the French tradition of arts deco ratifs, AXOR Edge explores the world of perfect finishing. De signed as a sculpture, every fitting is an impressive composition of right-angled prisms. Ground and polished with diamond tools from the space industry, every single body shines like a jewel with sur faces of incomparable smooth ness and milled structures that are precise to the micrometer. It is available in up to 15 exclusive AXOR FinishPlus surfaces.
AXOR One: Created by lauded British design duo, Barber Os gerby, the collection comprises washbasin, bathtub and shower faucets and shower-heads, and is unified by a holistic design language of slender silhouettes, flat surfaces, soft corners and bal anced proportions. Timeless by design, it is available in Chrome, Matt Black and an array of exclu sive AXOR FinishPlus surfaces, extending the perfect comple
ment to any bathroom interior style. AXOR MyEdition: A collection for the age of personalization, MyEdition offers a flat, modern and supremely minimal mixer which can be topped by an elegant cover plate in the material of one’s choice. This includes rich Nappa leather, radiant mirrored glass, warm black walnut veneer, cool white Lasa marble and more. The quest for individualization extends further with AXOR Signature services offering up to 225 different AXOR FinishPlus color and bi-color options. The hansgrohe brand showcased a similarly comprehensive plethora of products, including: hangrohe Pulsify: A modern shower family designed to adapt perfectly to small spaces, with the option to clever ly conceal, and with select technology offering lighter PowderRain or a more invigorating experience. Eco benefits are included too, with EcoSmart tech nology designed to minimise water consumption without compromising on performance. Available in a range of finishes, including matte black, white or chrome.
hansgrohe Finoris: The highly mobile lavatory faucet redefines all routine activities in the bathroom, extending great flexibility through an easy to use pull-out spout, water volume and temperature, and two spray modes. Available in a range of finishes and incorporating easy to clean finishes. hansgrohe Vivenis: Vivenis taps are
unique in offering a unique wide luxurious spray, reminiscent of a waterfall, providing the user with personal moments of indulgence when bathing. Vivenis is available as a striking bath mixer on the wall or as a concealed installation variant, as well as a floor standing version. The elegant shower tap is available in the shower, where the tap can be used ergonomically from the side. Alter natively, the minimalist concealed installation option offers additional room to move.Christophe Gourlan, CSO of Hansgrohe
hansgrohe RainDrain: Offering the ultimate customization options, RainDrain ensures a cohesive and finished look in the bathroom space, complementing a range of hansgrohe shower systems, faucets and taps. It also extends great flexibility and can be cleverly installed to accommodate any shower space, and is available in a range of finishes including matte black, brushed stainless steel, chrome and glass.
On the company’s decision to show case products at the region’s leading exhibition for the Hotel and Catering sectors, Marketing Manager, Mid dle East, Florian Tronel commented: “This is a great opportunity to present collections and new additions from both AXOR and hansgrohe to poten tial clients and influencers across the region. We are keen to explore opportunities in KSA too where the dynamic and progressive hospitality sector is on a great upward trajec tory, and where some very exciting developments are being launched. Our reputation is built on the creation and provision of products that are syn onymous with luxury and precision manufacture, as well as an environ mental conscience, and we are proud to see them used in the bathrooms of luxury hotels and accommodations across the globe.”
The Taste of Autumn event is the yearly appointment organised by Chef Middle East, gathering regionally based foodservice industry professionals to meet suppliers from around the globe to explore the latest food trends and bring together a passionate community of food lovers. From exciting live demos with celebrity chefs and highly praised local talents to live cook ing stations, industry talks, food tasting and networking amongst key industry play ers, this event was one not to be missed.
The event is a regional plat form that was held this year in both Qatar at the Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel & Villas on September 12th and the UAE at the Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah on Septem ber 15th.
Steve Pyle, Chef Middle East, CEO had this to share, “This is a meeting of minds.
We bring our customers to meet suppliers here and talk about kitchens, supplies, and solutions. This year we included more educational conversations through the masterclasses we have on our agenda in addition to the food show itself.” Prior to this event, the last edition of Taste of Autumn was held in 2019 due to COVID-19, so this year’s event came back strong with a unique and multi-focused agenda. Pyle added that every time they put on an event, they learn something that gives them the advantage to do things bigger and better for the next one. “It’s good to be able to see both customers and suppliers in one place; it’s a very important event for us because it gives us an opportunity to showcase ingredients and ideas to key players during the high season and just before a huge event set to take place in Doha. It’s great to see some faces we have not seen in such a long time and it’s
also a fantastic opportunity for us to show our custom ers the progress we’ve made since 2019.” Both events combined welcomed nearly a thousand of hospitality professionals and featured over 45 international brands, all aimed at serving the foodservice sector with high quality ingredients across culinary, pastry and beverage categories for all types of operations. To name a few of the distribu tor’s flagship brands Val rhona, Les vergers Boiron
, Certified Angus Beef®, Olmeda Origenes, Bridor, Dolomia, Fentimans, An tipodes, Arla Pro, McCain, Borde, Pasapesca, Koyo Trading, and more.
Some of the masterclass es presented throughout both events were:
Awarded twice Pastry Chef of the Year before her 30th birthday, Nina Métayer is now a Pastry Chef consult ant and entrepreneur devel oping projects in France as well as internationally. She released her first book ‘Déli cate Pâtisserie’ in 2021 and hosted a few book signing sessions during the event. During her two master classes, Nina introduced two of her essential boutique desserts from her Parisian pastry shop: “The crispy and creamy Chocolate Tart” and "The Lemon Tart" alongside a Peach plated dessert embel lished with raspberries. She revealed the techniques to master these creations and provided tips and advice whilst demonstrating how to create perfectly balanced desserts; crafted with the premium range of Pastry ingredients from Chef Mid dle East.
All about textures and flavours by Guillermo Corral
Guillermo Corral is the Culinary Technical Advi sor at Sosa Ingredients and has been trained in numerous Michelin-Star restaurants. Thanks to his diversified expertise accumulated with 8 years’ ex perience as a technical advisor, he has mastered not only the pastry universe but the culinary cuisine as well. To that effect, he led an exceptional Masterclass demonstrating a Chicken and Shrimp Terrine recipe, providing different savoury techniques to improve textures and flavours in a dish.
The Perfect Plant-Based Coffee by Dhan Tamang Dhan Tamang is a 6-time UK Latte Art Champion & Rude Health brand ambassador. Tamang served up plant-based latte art and shared his expert knowl edge on the world of dairy-free coffee using Rude Health’s Barista milk alternatives range.
Plant-based Pastry Perfection by Jean Sivieude Jean Sivieude is a Pastry Technical Advisor at Sosa
Ingredients. Passionate by gastronomy since his childhood, he graduated a scientific degree prior completing a training as a Pastry Chef and Chocolat ier, Jean is now in charge of new products develop ment, applications and concepts. His Masterclass session focused on mastering 3 techniques of key recipes in plant-based pastry using cutting-edge Sosa Ingredients.
Culinary Guide to Japanese Wagyu by Marika Watanabe
Marika Watanabe is a Japanese Master Butcher at S Foods Inc. She presented a comprehensive master class focusing on Japanese Wagyu secondary cuts and how to cook them. Understanding the different cuts of meat can be confusing, but they are incred ibly useful at both - the butcher counter and in the kitchen.
Alongside Japanese Master Butcher Marika Wa tanabe, Chef Emil Helmy joined this masterclass to share his incredible experience on the Asian cuisine.
Nascita Sugar Alternatives by Aurélien Rivoire
Aurélien Rivoire is a Chef and the Co-founder of Allé no & Rivoire. Congratulated by the Lebey Guide, he won the ‘Dessert au Café’ award in 2019 and was named Pastry Chef of the Year 2021 by Gault & Millau, in recog nition of his creativity and
modern pastry vision. At the end of 2021, Au rélien Rivoire and Yannick Alléno combined their skills and opened a choco late shop in Paris - offering unique and modern gour met chocolates, designed to meet the ecological, social and health expecta tions of our current society.
Through his Masterclass session, Aurélien represent ed the French-born Nascita Sugar Alternatives, a true revolution in the Foodser vice sector. He was able to introduce these unique sugar alternatives such as the date sugar and allulose amongst few, and cuttingedge techniques to develop
a menu that is up to the newest and healthiest trends and ever changing customer needs.
The Hospitality Universe by Francesco Gadi Drenched in Hospitality since a young age and after winning multiple interna tional awards through his career, Francesco is the Corporate Beverage Man ager of the Buddha-Bar Group since 2019, oversee ing the Global Beverage Program of its venues spread in 4 continents and more than 20 countries.
In his Masterclass, the attendees got introduced to the best practices in the bar industry and the hospitality universe. The session aimed at tackling interesting topics from classic mocktails to the latest trends including the perfume method, colour therapy, food pairing and a lot more.
Graham is an award-winning chef who has been in the trade for over 30 years working with some of the greatest chefs in the world both in the UK & Europe, which led to him open his own restaurant receiving many food accolades including a Michelin star. Latterly, Graham has set up his own company, C3D Innovations Ltd, as a food consultant as well as being a brand ambassador for IRCA & Dobla.
In his Masterclass in Doha, he presented a revolutionary experi ence to enjoy the real sensory senses of chocolate through a new flavours formula concept, keeping a focus on the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ themed desserts.
A full agenda of internationally known headliners, filled with insight ful content and delicious creations who pleased the guests who reserved their spot in advance.
The event was also the perfect op portunity for Chef Middle East to showcase the latest additions to their portfolio of brands that has largely expanded over the past 3 years and that were onboarded according to both the market demands and the interna tional trends the distributor’s culinary experts closely follow to remain up to date and to keep inspiring culinary craftsmanship among their custom ers base across the region. The latest brands launched that were presented at Taste of Autumn included: Stock man’s US Premium Halal Deli range; Europastry bakery and viennoiserie selection from Spain, Zealous, a limit less collection of personalized molds Rude Health with their innovative range of plant-based milk alternatives. They also introduced their new part nership with Kraft Heinz in Qatar and had special highlights on their Asian ingredients – a great focus area that
Chef Middle East has been aggres sively growing over the past two years, in line with the market trends around the surge of Asian cuisine based din ing spots in the region. A full solution in the making that was represented by the presence of Japanese sup plier Koyo and display of a brand new range of dry ingredients from Tai Hua, Singapore.
IN HIS MASTERCLASS IN DOHA, GRAHAM PRESENTED A REVOLUTIONARY EXPERIENCE TO ENJOY THE REAL SENSORY SENSES OF CHOCOLATE THROUGH A NEW FLAVOURS FORMULA CONCEPT, KEEPING A FOCUS ON THE UPCOMING FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022™ THEMED DESSERTS.
The Future Hospitality Summit, the region’s largest and most prestigious hospitality investment event, took place last month between 19 - 21 September 2022 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, with nearly 1,000 delegates, dozens of seminars, and networking sessions, and much more.
ity investment forecast and climate, sustainability, technology, innovation, wellbeing, leadership and talent.
Leaders from some of the world’s most dynamic hospitality brands spoke at the event including José Sil va, (previous) CEO of Jumeirah Group Hotels & Resorts; Puneet Chhatwal, MD and CEO of Indian Hotels Com pany Limited; Dillip Rajakarier, Group
CEO Minor Hotels; Guy Hutchinson, President and CEO at Rotana; Sand eep Walia, Chief Operations Officer at Marriott International; Khalid Anib, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Hotels; Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality; Haitham Mattar, Manag ing Director MEA & South West Asia at IHG Hotels and Resorts; Dimitris Manikis, President EMEA at Wynd ham Hotels, Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President Middle East, Africa & Tur key at Hilton as well as Chris Newman Executive Director Hotel Develop ment at Neom; Agnès Roquefort, Chief Development Officer at Accor and Elie Younes, Chief Development Officer at Radisson.
Among the names representing the global food & beverage investment community that came together on the first day of FHS for the Global Restau rant Investment Forum (GRIF) - were Alan Laughlin, CEO of Vapiano, An nick van Overstraeten, CEO of Le Pain Quotidien; Edward Devenport, CEO of Incipio Group; Ed Loftus, Restau rant Group Director of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group; Naim Maadad, Chief Executive and Founder of Gates Hospitality, as well as Jon Lake, Man aging Director of Chopstix Group, Atul
Hosted by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts and co-organised by The Bench and MEED, FHS brought together the in vestment communities of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) and AviaDev under one roof. Other conference tracks include Sus tainability & Innovation, Startup Den, and The Future of Human Capital. The three-day summit united government leaders, hotel investors, owners, de velopers and operators to discuss the industry’s hot topics, set the scene for the future and network with elite play ers in their field. FHS in Dubai centred around the main event theme Lead the Change and the programme featured a wide range of topics under the main event theme including the continued post-pandemic recovery and hospital
Chopra, Founder & CEO of Fresh On Table, and Kaniz Samir, Founder of BLK Cab Coffee.
Tuesday and Wednes day were all about hotels, resorts and tourism, with 30 sessions addressing press ing industry topics includ ing sustainability, innova tion, investment trends, economic issues, procure ment and staff recruitment and retention. Taking to the main stage for Mapping out the future of tourism were Issam AbdulRahim Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) and José Silva, Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group Hotels & Resorts, and there will be a special discussion with industry CEOs, featur ing Guy Hutchinson, Presi dent and CEO of Rotana; Chris Newman, Executive Director Hotel Develop ment at Neom; Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President Middle East, Africa & Turkey at
Hilton; and Sandeep Walia, COO for Marriott Interna tional.
Eng. Abdulla Al Abdooli, CEO of Marjan, spoke at a session entitled Integrated resorts and their impact on the economy, said: “With the opening of the Wynn RAK integrated resort, it is estimated that the total room nights of demand (RND) would double, positively contributing to the hospitality environment of Ras Al Khaimah. Wynn RAK will have a significant impact on strengthening tourism, creating jobs, and contributing long-term value to the economy. The Future Hospitality Summit provides a platform to share insights on the value that integrated resorts bring to economies by catalysing the tourism and hospitality sector.”
Several items on the FHS agenda covered green issues and sustainability, includ ing sessions on sustain able design, the future of green infrastructure and accelerating sustainable development. Innovation, future technology, and procurement also come into focus, with a special session from the Startup Den on the startups transform ing the industry, as well as debates on innovations driving the cost challenges of responsible procurement; the challenges of supply chain management; and the future of education in the metaverse.
attitude to risk on the main stage by Agnès Roquefort, Global Chief Development Officer at Accor, and Elie Younes, Chief Development Officer of Radisson Hotel Group. Ahead of the session Elie Younes commented:
The continued postpandemic recovery was also high on the agenda. Robin Rossmann, Managing Direc tor, STR’s gave an insightful presentation discussing the worst of times, the best of times – and where to now on day two, followed by the session on global develop ment leaders and their
“Adversity is the mother of innovation and risk is an in tegral part of any business. If well managed, it ultimate ly contributes to unlock ing opportunities to its stakeholders.’’ Plus, hear all about the role of hospitality tech in driving operational efficiency post-recovery.
FHS also acknowledges and celebrated the indus try’s top players with the Lead the Change winner presentation and award ceremony, where the winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award and Young Leader Award were revealed.
The FHS Leadership Award, Lifetime Award for Services to the Industry and the Be The Change Award winners were named as Amit Nayak, Ranjan Nadarajah and Assia Riccio respec tively, following nominations and selections by the FHS Advisory Board and key industry peers for their out standing contributions and leadership.
Amit Nayak, Vice President of the Hospitality Asset Managers Associa tion (HAMA) Middle East and Africa, received the Leadership Award in recognition of his 20-plus year career in asset management, private equity and operations across the region. Amit is a mentor at Intelak Dubai, sits on the executive board of the Cornell University Alumni Association for GCC, and is a board member of the UAE Restaurants Group.
The Lifetime Award for Services to the Industry went to the late Ranjan Nadarajah in honour of his remark able leadership and unparalleled services to the sector. The legend ary Dubai hotelier, who sadly passed away in March this year after a career spanning several decades, was known as a ‘thorough gentlemen, loved and respected by peers, fellow hoteliers, industry leaders and associates’. Nadarajah was senior advisor to Wasl Hospitality and GM of Dubai Inter national Hotel at Dubai International Airport. He was also the long-serving
GM at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, where he worked for more than 35 years. The award was proudly accepted by his family.
Assia Riccio, Founder & CEO, Evolvin’ Women, won the Be The Change Award in recognition of her work as a champion of change for the hospitality industry. A pioneer in sup porting the development of unem ployed women from under-privileged background and female farmers in de veloping countries, Assia is the former Group Learning and Development
Manager at Jumeirah Restaurants Group, where she developed strategies for more than 1,000 employees across a portfolio of 42 restaurants.
The Sustainability Hospitality Challenge Finals were held on the 21st September, with five teams of the brightest minds from the world’s leading hospitality schools compet ing for first place. Ultimately, Cornell University impressed the jury with NIMBUS, a luxury hospitality concept comprising of carbon-neutral hotel rooms that soar by way of hot air bal loons, delivering guests to the most remote and spectacular destinations across NEOM.
The Sustainable Hospitality Chal lenge is a Hotel school The Hague initiative that aims to enhance the evolution of sustainable hospitality, foster innovation driven by the leaders of tomorrow, and nurture talent on a global scale by bringing them close to industry organisations who want to reimagine the future of hospitality.
Students presented concepts under the theme ‘Remote’, which was inspired by the principal sponsor NEOM, a region in northwest Saudi Arabia being built from the ground up and a development that will be a new model for sustainable living.
NIMBUS illustrates the level of ingenuity, sustainability, and out-ofthe box thinking that the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge stands for.
GULFHOST is set to bring together foodservice pioneers to shape the future of the global industry.
MENA’S largest hospitality and food service event will showcase the latest cutting-edge products and services, from one of the region’s flourishing industries.
Underscoring the city’s position as the home of hospitality in the region, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has announced that MENA’s largest hospitality and foodservice event, GulfHost, will take place from 8-10 November 2022. Bringing global industry leaders together under one roof, the three-day event will address and provide solutions for key issues facing the sector globally, including rising operating costs, labour sourcing challenges, inflation, and supply chain constraints, equipping the hospitality and foodservice sector in the region and beyond with the insights and solu tions necessary to keep the industry on its upward path.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia is seeing unprecedented hotel development across the region. Saudi Arabia’s hos pitality industry alone has a planned 310,000 hotel rooms, as envisioned by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. With
Dubai perfectly positioned as the leading destination for global business events, GulfHost will act as a conven ing platform for the region to source pre-qualified hospitality equipment and foodservice products and make valuable purchase decisions.
An estimated 25,000 influential HORECA and food service profes sionals from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia are expected to attend and source from the region’s largest showcase of over 8000 cutting-edge foodservice products and solutions and 2000 brands from more than 25 countries. With regional and global players confirmed to attend, exhibi tors include Ali Group, RAK Porcelain, Middleby, Simonelli, Unox, Samura, Brema Group and Rational, with firsttime pavilions from across the globe including Bulgaria, Ireland, Latvia, New Zealand and Pakistan.
“GulfHost has definitely become the forefront of foodservice equipment exhibitions in the Middle East and it represents the ideal showcase for those companies willing to invest in and support the industry in the re gion” said Michele Romano, Business and Brand Development DirectorEMEA and APAC, Ali Group.
At the heart of the event will be the three-day Foodservice Excellence Summit. In an insightful programme deep diving into the latest insights and trends in foodservice innovation, the agenda will focus on topics including growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Ara bia, investment opportunities, trends, legislation and operational insights of companies looking to expand into the country. The first day will be curated in partnership with Business Advo cacy Firm, Mukatafa, who, through their work are making the Saudi busi ness environment robust and enabling growth for the development of the Saudi region for a sustainable future, therefore playing a major role in bringing Saudi’s Vision 2030 to life. The second day, curated in associa tion with Hotelier Middle East, will explore the restaurants of the future, with industry leaders discussing food service 3.0 – the new era of customer engagement with NFTs, metaverse and blockchain; cloud/dark kitchens, menu engineering, sustainability tech and inflation and its effects on the industry. Confirmed speakers include: Atul Chopra (Founder of FreshOnT able Corporation), Joanne Limoanco (Executive Chef at Unilever Food So lutions) and Naim Maadad (CEO and Founder of Gates Hospitality). The third day of the Summit will feature sessions curated by FCSI, the premiere membership body for food
“GULFHOST HAS DEFINITELY BECOME THE FOREFRONT OF FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT EXHIBITIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND IT REPRESENTS THE IDEAL SHOWCASE FOR THOSE COMPANIES WILLING TO INVEST IN AND SUPPORT THE INDUSTRY IN THE REGION”
service professionals, and will broach topics including responsible procurement and sourcing, innovation and sustainable design in hospitality, and the role of hospitality tech in driving operational efficiencies. Speakers include author and “leadership and engage ment magician” Melkart Rouhana; and Benjamin Calleja (CEO of Livit Design, the world’s lead ing F&B strategic design company).
A highlight of this year’s programme is the inclu sion of Gulfood staple, Top Table, which will feature a line-up of award-winning regional chefs in an excit ing series of demonstra tions, workshops and masterclasses. Big names include Michelin-star chefs Gregoire Berger of Ossiano (Chef of the Year 2022), Saverio Sbaragli of Al Muntaha and Akmal Anuar of 11 Woodfire. The star-
studded line up of chefs will also include homegrown favourites like Boca’s Mat thijs Stinnissen, Solemann Haddad from Moonrise and Mohamad Orfali. For the first time, TopTable will also feature a one-ofa-kind outdoor culinary experience which will see top chefs, barbeque masters and skilled pizzaioli unplug from their high-tech kitch
ens and demonstrate the art of live fire cooking using wood-fired ovens, charcoal grills and pizza ovens.
GulfHost will present the Foodverse through dif ferent simulations where visitors will be able to delve into kitchen set ups, servicing and restaurant experiences. Furthermore, an NFT minting station will be set up, led by a team of Web 3.0 experts offering practical applications and outcomes, including mint ing souvenir NFTs onsite.
Aspiring young chefs looking to lead the region’s F&B industry in the next 20 years will find a place to showcase their skills at YouthX, which will see young and upcoming chefs from across the region’s leading hotels and restau rants come together in a culinary competition like no other and be rewarded
for their contribution to the region’s growing influ ence on the global gastro nomic scene. Partnering with the International Centre for Culinary Arts, the competition will span 5 months and see the re gional winners take home AED 100,000 worth of prizes, with the final cham pions wining a one-week internship at a 3-Michelin star restaurant.
Exhibitor brands worth mentioning: MIDDLEBY UNOX
Five co-located DWTC food and beverage events will welcome visitors from 8 -10 November 2022 including: Gulfood Manufacturing, GulfHost, The Speciality Food Festival, ISM Middle East (previously Yummex ME) and Private Label Licensing ME.
Sunset Hospitality Group an nounced the introduction of AURA Skypool and Lounge at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai in 2019, today the famed island in the sky is a reality. At 210 metres above ground, the Skypool is one of the high est in the world, and offers unobstruct ed and breathtaking views of The Palm, as well as many other Dubai landmarks such as Dubai Marina, Burj Al Arab, The
World, Burj Khalifa and many more. The pool destination boasts private elevators that transport guests to the island, designed with lush and lavish greenery and customised furnishings for indoor and outdoor seating. Guests can relax in complete comfort on the oversized sunbeds and VIP loungers, while soaking in the 360-infinity pool. AURA Skypool Lounge also provides a menu of high-quality contemporary
pan-Asian cuisine, with an innovative beverage list curated by the group’s tal ented and award-winning mixologists.
We talk to James Burton, Managing Director of Day Life Division at Sunset Hospitality Group
About what it took to lead the opening of Aura Skypool.
Since opening our doors in November, Aura has been performing amazingly well. We have created a very impactful image in a very short amount of time, that resulted in the Skypool being sold out up to 8 weeks in advance. The desti nation was named the world’s first and highest 360-degree infinity pool. The opening made headlines and was ac claimed by local, regional, and interna tional press. We also hosted some of the world’s best celebrities, sports icons, and royalties.
Everything about Aura is unique. Starting from the location, the design, the experience, the food and bever ages, entertainment, and of course the service, which sets Sunset Hospitality apart. Think about Aura as an island in the sky, offering guests an extraordi nary destination showcasing breathtak ing 360-degree uninterrupted views of the main Dubai landmarks alongside a vibrant infinity pool and lounge experi ence. We used in the design natural ma terials, stone, and concrete, alongside lush greenery, and natural design ele ments to create an elegant oasis fuelled by a socially energetic atmosphere.
Different timings have different experiences. For example, the morn ing session is peaceful with a certain elegant stillness both in the vibe and the experience. In contrast, the evening session is slightly more upbeat and with the breathtaking amber glows from the sunset, one can feel that island vibe in the sky. With the addition of the recent night swim, we have added another experience which offers our guests this unique way to see our beautiful Dubai.
We have positioned Aura as a tourist destination, so our clientele is very di verse and follows the visitors of Dubai. We do not see one dominant national ity but rather welcome guests from all around the world, all of them leaving
mind blown by the beauty of the place and views. For the lucky Dubai resi dents, they have the opportunity to visit times and times again and most do.
Repeat customers are the bloodline of any business, and with the help of social media and their words, these customers have the power to become the ambassa dors of the brand. Thus, we focus on the experience, so we have designed Aura to make guests want to return. The adventure begins with the dedicated lift taking guests to the destination to the welcoming staff and hospitable team. It is not one thing in particular but rather everything we do as a whole that affects our guests’ experience. The food and beverage, the entertainment, the fitout, the quality and comfort of the sun loungers, and the overall facilities all add to the excitement, complimented by the ever-changing Dubai skyline as the day go by.
When opening the highest 360-de gree infinity pool in the world, with 18 million liters of water circling the entire perimeter, you can imagine how much effort went into the engineering technicalities, which of course came with challenges. Like every first time, it takes a lot of effort from both the opera
tor and owner to make such a project happen and we are very grateful to be working closely with a team of great professionals who like our CEO Anto nio Gonzalez says, “dream big, work hard, and make it happen.”
Seabass in green curry is my personal favorite, along with the Yakitori Satay Chicken and Malaysian Spiced Ribeye for the lighter days. The Thai water melon salad and glazed miso salmon are also amazing.
The venues under the Day Life Division are full-day beach experiences with a lifestyle environment. It is where peo ple go to see and be seen, while enjoying a high level of service, regardless of the positioning of each brand. We focus on food and beverage and building repeat customers, so we provide a personal touch.
Aura is a tourist destination, so the focus is on small experiences. Aura is more of a viewing platform with unique personal touches such as attentive welcoming kits, personal service, along with high-quality food and beverages. It’s an immersive experience that you can share with the world with its stunning backdrop for the most amazing of photos.
“THINK ABOUT AURA AS AN ISLAND IN THE SKY, OFFERING GUESTS AN EXTRAORDINARY DESTINATION SHOWCASING BREATHTAKING 360-DEGREE UNINTERRUPTED VIEWS OF THE MAIN DUBAI LANDMARKS ALONGSIDE A VIBRANT INFINITY POOL AND LOUNGE EXPERIENCE."
Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far?
I was born in one of the best tourism countries in the world, “SRI LANKA”. Growing up we would see many tourists visit for our tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and incredible food.
I started my journey in Rathnapura studying at the Hotel and tourism academy. 2005 I Landed in Dubai and I started my career at Sammach restaurant in Jumeirah 01. It was difficult coming to a new country, but I persevered and worked very hard as a chef.
In March 2011, I joined Aprons and Hammers restaurant and
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
As a Sri Lankan chef, we love spices and spicy food.
My favorite dish is “Fish and Coconut Sambol”. It is a great combination of sweet, sour, milky, and spicy which results in an allround, fresh taste.
What are you cooking up today?
Tell us more about the dish. Working in a seafood restaurant I will be preparing a Seafood dish of western and Italian style called Cioppino. This is a seafood stew filled with Shrimp, calamari, blue mussels, king fish, salmon, rich broth made from white wine, Or nonalcoholic white wine, tomatoes, and chicken stock.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
As a chef I always used premium quality ingredient and products, premium chicken stock, tomato Coulis, various fragrant spices. It’s a simple one, but adding lemon juice or zest to a dish, sweet or savory, transforms its whole flavour profile.
What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about?
management services as Head Chef. Aprons and hammers gave me a chance to implement my concepts & embrace new challenges. Our 1st branch was in Dubai Marina and became the most successful branch. From creating my own recipes, with a fusion of flavours and tastes along with eye catching presentations, I expanded to open 4 branches in Dubai.
"I always had a fantsay of being a chef because it was a way for me to express my creativity with recipes inspired by my life experiences, transforming ingredients into totally new dishes. Simply put, i love the kitchen life."
Our goals when creating our dishes are for living better and healthier, working towards zero waste cuisine, and adding more plant-based foods. In the UAE market you can find many options for veggie and vegan dishes allowing the Chef to create dishes that can reduce meat and poultry consumption.
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
I’m happy to see quality of products, consistency, and reliability, as well as value. Delivery of these is very important and also clear communication from both sides is needed.
I entered this amazing industry as a trainee cook in Le Meridien Cochin, later moved to Kempinski Leela Bangalore as a Chef De partie, after 3 years working there I got chance to move to Dubai, I joined Jumeirah Beach Hotel as a Chef De partie and got promoted through Senior CDP, Jr Sous Chef, Sous Chef, Chef De Cuisine and Executive Sous Chef in 2017.
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
Well, it’s a bit like asking an artist “what’s your favorite colour?” I love anything cooked from the best quality ingredients, authentic recipes and cooked from the heart.
What are you cooking up today?
Tell us more about the dish. Today we will cook up some easy but delicious and wholesome wild rice salad and chargrilled plant based chicken.
This dish is hearty, packed with nutrients and can be had as a main course or as a starter.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
Ingredients are always best when they are in prime season, like Maris Piper is in season now, Mangoes had a great time these few months, Autumn Truffles are going to be in season soon.
But the primary ingredient any chef should master is salt, if you get it right -simple food can taste amazing.
What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about?
As we all know Dubai has seen its first Michelin stars this year, also Gault Millau has made its mark. Open fire cooking has picked up, so has urban farms and climate conscious food.
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
I would say that consistency and transparency are always key.
Why the newly opened Fat Uncle is well on its way to becoming our favourite uncle
Nestled in the heart of Dubai, on Al Wasl Road, is the newest concept by ATB invest ments and Executive Chef Alper Uzudu rukan, Fat Uncle. The restaurant delivers techniques of upscale cooking by Chef Alper himself, a cosy and calming environ ment that is decked with wooden accents, polished marble, and an eye-catching botanical bar serving up the most delicious non-alcoholic cocktails on the block. The Fat Bar, as it’s called is situated in the centre of the venue. The gastronomic stakes have been raised in the re gion with the extensive options, optimal service, and warm hospitality presented by the Fat Uncle team.
You can expect a range of unique Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The menu showcases a selection of recipes in spired by land, sea, and farm. The range of options includes Scallops Gratin, doused in Gruyere cheese, tender grilled Lobster Thermidor, and tantalising Cured Beef Tartar with a succulent Bone Marrow and A5 Grade Hokkaido Wagyu. The best part about all these dishes is how honest they are, Chef Alper is all about the food and you can taste that. What makes this menu exceptional is the simplicity of each dish, the fact that it only took a handful of quality ingredients to create these gorgeous flavour profiles. And despite being beautifully plated the food isn’t created for Instagram, it’s created to awaken your sense of smell and comfort your palate.
To ensure each diner has an authentic experi ence Chef Alper overlooks the pro curement of the ingredients that are carefully developed into dishes in Fat Uncle's very own Josper Oven.
Fat Uncle caters to the community in Dubai and aims to be known as the
family member guests can take comfort in while immersing themselves in an elevated experience. “We want to reveal the true beauty of simplicity in our cooking” states Chef Alper “With quality ingredients, state-of-the-art equip ment, the Josper oven, and humble cooking techniques, we are able to cultivate rich and memorable dishes.” While the offering may be elevated, the approach will always be down to earth, where guests can expect to be charmed by the sleek yet familiar face of Fat Uncle.
According to Chef Alper he was always in the kitchen growing up, “To be completely honest, I was stuck in the kitchen at the age of 14 years old in Turkey, it wasn't till I got my first chef jacket that I understood the responsibility and meaning behind being a chef. This is when I was truly inspired and started my culinary journey.”
“The first dish I ever made was when I was 13 years old, my friends had come over and I needed to cook up something delicious and quick. As expected, the eggs were overcooked. Nevertheless, the boys and I enjoyed it.” Chef Alper has come along way from those overcooked eggs all those years ago, he has a clear and uncomplicated vision for what it takes to make good food. “Food is good when the following
three boxes are ticked, good product, knowledge of the cooking techniques and the passion to turn a simple ingre dient into a loving meal.” The checklist is as simple and straightforward as the approach that Chef Alper brings to his kitchen, which results in a truly satisfying gastronomic experience for guests at Fat Uncle. His cooking style is very much product-focused paired with honest cooking methods.
Chef Alper has been in the industry for a while, having led the kitchen in some of the best restaurants in the region like, Huqqabaz Jumeirah, The Maine Land Brasserie, La Cantine Du Faubourg, La Serre and Zuma Istanbul put him in a favourable position that would eventually connect him to the right partners for his own concept. “My partners at Fat Uncle and I knew each other from within the F&B indus try and our social circle. What brought us together was the dream of having a homegrown concept that features wholesome yet decadent offerings that can be relished by a community. We all agreed that the customer should indulge in an immersive experience, from the food to the music and the bar. This ideation brought us together in an office to discuss ideas, and next thing you know, we were making our dreams a reality.”
Chef Alper says that literal blood, sweat, and tears went into creating the menu. “Fat Uncle is my first baby as one of the owners. This meant that each dish on the menu has been tried and tested at least twice by myself and my partners. The efforts gone into the menu revolved around my feelings rather than numbers or anything else.”
And here are the top 5 must-try dishes at Fat Uncle by Chef Alper.
The Fat Uncle Burger: The burger contains a Wagyu patty, brioche bread, a unique and secret house sauce, and cheese imported directly from Belgium. I had gone back and forth a couple of times on this burger and the ingredients. As soon as we had married this combination, I knew that this was the gap in the market. This was the missing link, the Fat Uncle Burger.
Grilled U7 Prawns: This dish is my all-time favorite. This particular dish embodies my ethos as a chef, simple, product-focused, and decadent. The
prawns are grilled in our state-of-theart Josper over, lathered in olive oil, and lemon juice, and accompanied by grilled sourdough bread.
Wagyu Ribeye with bearnaise sauce: The Wagyu is specially chosen and sent from Australia, this epic meat is then simply cooked and served with a mouthwatering bearnaise and a head of gooey confit garlic. Together, these ingredients will be sure to take anyone to the perfect bliss point.
Cured Salmon slices: This is another dish where the product is the main event. The simplicity of curing the fresh northern salmon and serving it with a Japanese dressing is mindblowing when the flavors burst in your mouth with every bite!
Spicy Salami Pizza: Fat Uncle is very serious about their pizzas, the branded stone oven proves it! Spanish hand made salami with the right amount of spice, combined with pickled jalap enos on our dough makes for the perfect meal. Spice, flavour, and flair baked together to give pizzas a new reputation, only at Fat Uncle.
PLAY has grown to become a regional and global luxury dining phenomenon. With numerous awards and accolades, PLAY has now extended its presence to Jeddah, Bahrain and Cannes with plans in the works to develop branches in Los Angeles and London in the near future.
In 2019, PLAY took the experience to another level by adding in a show element. This addition allowed them to complete 3 pillars of the PLAY experi ence which combined dining, enter
tainment and the high energy aspect into a whole experience that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Stylish, opulent, and inviting, PLAY is a myriad collage of LED lighted walls, two story ceilings, warm tones and brass elements all encased within one of the largest dining spaces in Dubai.
Guests embark on a personal discov ery as they immerse themselves in fla vours from around the world. PLAY’s unique style of cooking is defined as “The Global Avantgarde Effect” with a menu that is both decadent and theatrical to behold.
Following the immense success of PLAY, the team behind the awardwinning concept has now launched PLAY Dining Group, offering beach clubs, nightclubs, and immersive dining venues. PLAY's Director, Sam Chercoles has helped transform the nightlife industry in Dubai by giving diners unique and carefully cultivat ed culinary concepts, now he is using his magic formula to bring the best of the best to PLAY Dining Group.
“In line with Dubai's vision, we can proudly say that PLAY Restaurant and Lounge has revolutionised the fine dining concept of Dubai's luxury lifestyle and hospitality industry. Launching PLAY back in 2016, we are reaching a landmark market ing of six years in the UAE Market this year. With a great response and rapid brand growth, we experienced a steady rise of loyal following each year, the current peak point be ing 2016-2018. Over the past year, clients have become more familiar with the product name and specific marketing strategies.
Our founder's favourite quote is, "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business" by Henry Ford. That quote has been his guiding light with what ever he does. For him, it was not just about creating an
other F&B concept but more about showing the world a glimpse of what the future of F&B should look like. You've seen us use "Dining Rede fined" many times - the first time we heard that was when our founder sat with all of us
and specifically said, "The goal is not just to create a destination; but to create an emotional journey starting with the original purpose of what restaurants have been for diners everywhere and end it with our magic, by
providing an unforgettable experience where dining is forever redefined." Today we follow his inspirations, remember his words, and use them as our mission statement.”
The PLAY concept has been carefully curated to redefine the world of fine dining and entertainment. Allowing guests to relax, socialise, and celebrate in the most elegant environ ment that stimulates the senses by re-writing the rules of dining and embodies a new approach to feeding the soul and the body, creat ing unforgettable emotional experiences around the world. “Our founder always believed in giving our culi nary and cocktail artists the freedom to try new things and never hold them back. In the end, it is that belief that makes it a win-win situation where our chefs and mixolo gists are happy to have the opportunity to create new things constantly, and we at the front of the house always have the satisfaction of sur prising our customers with new and unique flavours and table-side experiences every time they visit. Good food, drinks, and service are the main pillars of PLAY's culi nary emotional pleasures.”
“As Managing Director of PDG Hospitality (PLAY Dining Group), my role is to provide world-class guest experiences while setting an exemplary standard for the behind-the-scenes 'Tribe' at PLAY. I joined the PDG Hospitality family in 2019 and am now the Group Managing Director due to my commitment to ensuring outstanding guest experi ences that showcase PLAY's unique vibe. With a keen understanding of operation al and management skills, I feel loved by my team by
rolling up my sleeves and working alongside them. As a customer-centric leader with a holistic, long-term perspec tive, I strive to combine agile strategic thinking with a solid working understanding of revenue generation and creativity.”
Being a cocktail expert, Sam says he believes it's essential to learn the story of every drink and dish to appreciate the thought process that goes into combining the unique flavours. “In my early career, I was inspired by the story of the Guinness World Record for the most expensive cock tail served at the Merchant Hotel. As a result, I found that by combining history, food, and beverage with art, I have been able to create drinks that cost as much as 30 thousand dollars. I love this inspiration, and I seek to bring this story-telling element of emotional dining experience to PLAY.
“Born into an entrepre neurial lineage, our founder Rashid AW Galadari estab lished the PDG Group, lever aging his association with the Galadari Group, which has been established for decades and has evolved to become one of the most prominent commercial groups in the
region. The company's activities range from highprofile consumer brands, hospitality, and Real Estate to F&B Concepts. As chairman, Rashid has been driving and expand ing business across the Middle East region for many years. Continuing the Galadari tradition, Rashid created the first homegrown luxury F&B concept, PLAY Restaurant & Lounge, which today has reached the same in ternational reputation as the Zuma's and Nobu's of the world. Rashid's vision is to expand the business across the region, ensur ing that the family name reaches new and more significant frontiers. PDG stands at the forefront of quality and excellence with a clear path. With the launch and monu mental success of PLAY Restaurant and Lounge, PDG's mission is to for ever continue the tree of launching unforgettable luxury experiences under our guiding principle of dining redefined. Whether an international brand or one of our concepts, we provide elite services that foster an unmatchable
value for our shareholders in every avenue of operation.”
According to PLAY, they are redefining the balance be tween elite dining and night life. When they introduced their dinner show element in 2019, they were among the first. “Today almost every F&B venue is trying to do the same, but the difference will always be clear between us and the others. PLAY’s "seamless morphing" starts with our staff members since they are the ones who bring the concept alive. I believe that the Food & Beverage industry is all about innova tion and that every server is an actor, an entertainer, and a performer where the scenario is the manual. This is how we start the process of unveiling the beauty of our
Sam also adds that, the next brand on their list is MALAKITE. A Beach Club concept that will offer an innovative customer experience that integrates the finest elements of PLAY Restaurant & Lounge into an awe-inspiring Beach Club concept. By combining avant-garde cuisine with poolside and beachfront luxury, MALAKITE will stand as a benchmark in the luxury beachside entertain ment and dining segment. MALAKITE will house VIP and VVIP cabana level designs amidst the backdrop of palm trees, lush gardens, and a long rectangular emerald pool situated in between the cabanas and beds.
JIMMY BARRAT, Founder, ERGO
I GREW UP AROUND THE FAMILY RESTAURANT BUSINESS AND BY AGE 12 I WAS HELPING IN THE KITCHEN TO EARN POCKET MONEY.”
2022, Ergo is the brainchild of bar tending pioneer, Jimmy Barrat.
Taken from the Latin word for “therefore”, Ergo draws a philosophical thread that runs throughout the bartender-led concept from beginning to end.
Located at the Dubai EDI TION, Ergo brings to life all the touches and elements that a leading bar should have, but it is the approach to ambience, feeling, and philosophy that gives it its unique edge. The spirit and energy of the venue have been carefully curated by Jimmy himself.
Bartending was a natural extension of my upbringing as a child. I grew up around the family restaurant business and by age 12 I was helping in the kitchen to earn pocket money. I found an old shaker from my grandfather and started mixing up drinks. By the time I was 17, my parents wanted me to forge my path. They then sent me to work at my best friend's restaurant in Cannes. While I was there, I took over for the
professional bartenders during break time. I found an old rec ipe book from my grandfather and began mixing up cocktails. I haven’t looked back since!
What’s your most ordered cocktail?
Mr. Pink is the most ordered cocktail at the moment - it is mixed with Malibu Caribbean Rum, rectified lychee, and green fairy drops.
What’s trending right now in the mixology scene?
Much like fashion, trends in the bartending season are constant ly changing. Once upon a time, it was about classic 19th-cen tury outlandish drinks. Now it’s all about reviving the 80s and 90s; the dark era of bartend ing. This undefeated era of ‘the rave’, is all about fun and adding a modern craft to mixology. For example, the High Baller that has been revived over the past 2 to 3 years.
How does a bartender turn into a businessman – walk us through your story?
It’s been a long journey for me - my field for the past 10 years has evolved more than bartend ing. I was at the executive
level for the past 5 years which equipped me with the necessary tools that enabled me to become an entrepreneur. It is every bartender’s dream to open their own concept. In my experi ence, it is the magic of a chance encounter. Finding the right person who believes in your vision and a business partner to encourage you to be yourself is key. The most important aspect is expressing yourself with no boundaries.
Ergo is about the aesthetic of the 70s with a retro-futuristic look of the 80’s. We’re straight forward yet playful in our ap
proach. Ergo is a design-led and modern venue that is instantly timeless.
Ergo brings to life all the touches and elements expected from a leading bar, but it is the approach to ambience, feeling, and philosophy that gives it its unique edge. The spirit and energy of the venue have been carefully curated. It is a passion project. I finally have the independence and freedom to bring to life my own vision of what a bar means to me. It’s a very exciting time for the Ergo team and me. We’re going to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously.
go wrong several times, so how do you protect the reputation of your brand by ensuring that you are working with the right influencer? Ali Ozbay, the Regional Director of Marketing and Communications for Gulf Countries at Rixos Hotels Gulf, breaks down his influencer marketing strategies for us.
Influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon, but since 2020 we have seen an increase in the number of new influencers stepping onto the scene, especially in the hos pitality scene. The world has given influencers the same if not more fame as movie stars or sports icons. They are the new 'celebrities' that brands want to lounge in their lobbies. The structure of influencer market ing has become more relaxed. You no longer have to be a dedicated travel influencer to work with hotels or a food
blogger to work with restaurants. And the agreements or contracts between brands and influencers are nothing like they used to be before social mediathings like morality clauses and other standards of behaviour don't seem to be a non-negotiable requirement anymore. Many arguments support these new ways of working, but there are also many questions about this preferred way of promotion, like, how do you measure results? We have seen the most iconic and influential col laborations involving influencers with billions of followers and global brands
What is influencer marketing to you? Influencer marketing emerged after the rise of social media, and a new breed of people came into our lives. This new breed has capitalised on the power of content marketing and shifted focused on creating relevant, timely and valuable content. They started building up a loyal following by talking about experiences and sharing knowledge that would appeal to people with similar preferences. Shortly after, they had the power to affect their fol lowers' purchasing decisions. Then suddenly, everyone got interested in this new trend. Influencers were actu ally doing what all marketers wanted for their products and services. And that is, getting into the mind of the
We explore the business of influencer marketing with Rixos Group
consumer and getting you to buy my product and services. The name of the game is persuasion. It's all about influencing decisions.
What kind of influencers do you look for to promote the hotel and its offerings?
We look at different areas. Content quality is para mount. We choose influenc ers who can create the best quality content and support our brand promise by creat ing aesthetically impressive visuals. They are not much different from storytellers. We like content that people can relate to or dream about. You might be crunching the numbers in your office in London on a rainy Autumn afternoon. You can easily be motivated to see a gorgeous beach setting on the iconic Palm Jumeirah Island, and this is where you want to be on the next school holiday with your family.
The dreaming phase starts with the influencers, which is why they play a crucial role for us. Data about the
number of followers and engagement rate are both important. I don't think it's a numbers game since numbers can be manipulated easily. The authenticity and uniqueness of the person or the act go a long way.
The starting point for us is always, "What is the goal? What are we trying to achieve?" The objectives may vary from one business to another. Some usual ini tiatives are increasing brand awareness, creating valuable content, driving more sales, or generating better leads. We heavily focus on creat ing valuable content. Once we receive visually engaging content that is pleasing to the eye and gets picked up by other major destination accounts, which is shared by hundreds of multiple individual accounts, we are happy and satisfied with the deliverables.
From time to time, we do tactical campaigns and try to
drive sales through more targeted efforts. We do this by focusing on new accounts that we are not present or visible on any platform. The most recent one was in Portugal, where we invited multiple Portuguese influ encers and, in return, had direct bookings from this region shortly after.
Why is this form of marketing so important to your marketing plan?
We should go back in time to better understand the big fuss about this form of mar keting. Between the 1950s and the 1990s, traditional marketing was dependent on one main principle. Inter ruption. I had to come up with a decent product or a
service, and then I had to find a way to push it out through TV commercials, magazine ads, phone calls, etc. Publishers and mass media had all the control and power because they had the distribution. When we entered the digital era, or when the internet took over, this power disappeared or changed hands.
A new form of marketing emerged. Content Market ing came into play. Brands started controlling and cre ating their own channels and collaborating with different partners to support their products and services. The rise of social media brought new players into the game. With the help of brands, a new breed of people
"CREATING BEAUTIFUL CONTENT WHICH MIGHT HELP THE NEXT GUEST TO DECIDE WHETHER TO BOOK WITH YOU OR NOT IS CRUCIAL."
emerged. Influencers. They built up a loyal following and gained their trust along the way. (I'm talking about valu able and genuine influencers, there is plenty of deadwood out there as well).
When you think of it, it could be a mass approach, or it could also be a niche one. It all depends on your tar geting strategy. When it relies on trust and authority, followers trust their leader and their decision and choice. Finally, influencer marketing could enhance brand awareness and reach on a personal level.
We usually look at it from two dif ferent angles. The first and most important one is creating valuable content that other guests can relate to and dream about. The second is, making tactical offers for the influenc ers' followings. We request specific deliverables after each visit according to which angle we take. We believe in creating an ecosystem that will make the influencers' lives easy. We had a crucial document which is called the “Influencer Kit”. This kit has a sepa rate reservation confirmation for the influencer. An informative hotel bro chure which is detailed and highlights the USPs of the property. There is also a written schedule for the influencer. This tells the influencer about the best journeys and experiences throughout the hotels. Last but not least, there is a
giveaway for the influencer to remem ber us after they check out. Looking after your influencers' pre, during, and post stages of their journey is the best tactic you can implement to get the most effective result. The rest is all about their own creativity and what they already do best.
If your sole goal is to measure actual conversions, you can use affiliate links to measure their strength. You can track impressions and engagement. By monitoring traffic before, during and after the campaign, you can see if they can successfully fulfil your KPI met rics. However, we do not solely go after commercial metrics. Creating beauti
ful content which might help the next guest to decide whether to book with you or not is crucial. Not every piece of content will have a direct effect on bookings.
Why do you think this region has such an overwhelming number of influencers playing in the hospitality industry?
It's supply and demand. Dubai has approximately 350 five-star and four-star hotels in total. This is an incredible number, and it's a massive playground for people who want to participate in this game. Hoteliers need to be careful about the quality and relevance of the influencers they are choosing for their brand. Work ing with the wrong influencer may do more damage than good. Things might turn out to be timely and costly.
There is a growing trend in merging audio and video content. Instant and live shopping is also growing with some significant retail brands leading the way. This could easily be applied to hospitality as well. Micro and nano influencers proved their worth. Most reaching up to 7-8% is something you cannot even dream of with mega names. Hospitality is moving into targeting more specialised influencers, which for me, is the way to do it. We also need to start seeing these people's aesthetics and artistic side. Influencer marketing is a combination of art and science.
While studying in the UK, Emirati Chef Faisal Naser, worked in the F&B industry to earn extra cash. When he returned to the UAE, he took a job as an Engineer and continued his passion for being in the kitchen as a hobby/side hustle. This side hustle was called LENTO and is now a fast-food concept with a thriving branch in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
While working in the oil and gas industry Naser decided to post pictures of the food he was making with full recipe and cooking method descriptions. This
sparked lots of interest and engagement. People within the industry began reaching out and asking him to take part in F&B events, like, Gourmet Abu Dhabi. He administrated cooking workshops for these and other events. From doing these workshops and restaurant consultations he gained a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t work. This would come in handy when he opens LENTO in Abu Dhabi in 2020.
In 2019, Naser began building LENTO on paper, he decided on a simple menu, chose a location, and began construction. The pandemic struck and plans were halted. Naser used the space and time to perfect his
dishes. He believes in taking the time to do things slowly and properly, which is precisely what the word ‘lento’ means. This paid off when LENTO Abu Dhabi finally opened in October 2020. Serving short ribs, smash burgers, and fried chicken in a drive through-style, his concept became a hit. LENTO burgers were sold out for the first six months since opening, this success is attributed to Naser’s smart decision of waiting out the COVID-19 storm and finding the right time to make the most of out a bad situation. When the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai came into effect, residents of the capital didn’t have many cool new F&B options to go to anymore. LENTO Abu Dhabi was the brave new spot making 350 burgers every day. Growing purely by word of mouth from social media, the success led to expansion.
His second location opened in Dubai in June this year. The Dubai restau rant is an evolution of Naser’s culinary curiosity, featuring his iconic artisanal smashed burgers and fried chicken, but also globally inspired dishes that will be showcased as limited-edition specials.
A teaser of specials includes Aji Ama rillo Prawns (Peruvian yellow peppers and prawn bisque), Seafood Paella (monkfish and), Chiu Chow Chili Wings (with fermented honey), Honey Lasa gna, and Emirati Fish n Chips (battered fish, Emirati masala sautéed veg, triple cooked chips, tamarind, and black garlic
aioli with grated lumi) – a dish which he cooked with Anthony Demetre (chef and owner of UK Michelin-starred restaurant Wild Honey) for Abu Dhabi Culinary Season 2021.
Highlight burgers include the Mush room and Swiss (double patties of grass-fed wagyu, LENTO spice umami spice rub, double Swiss gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, brown butter and porcini aioli, caramelized onions), Hon
ey Butter Fried Chicken (local fresh fried chicken dipped in fermented honey and butter emulsion with ranch coleslaw, cheese) and Picante Umami (double patties of grass-fed wagyu, smashed American cheese, green salsa, spicy umami sauce, shallots and chopped jalapeños).
Desserts include Naser’s take on French Toast, Lentoast (French toast of creme anglaise, yuzu and salted caramel gelato), also his highly ad dictive Brownie Box (six indulgently fudgy brownies made with Valrhona chocolate).
The 30-cover restaurant show cases a minimalist-industrial look. The monochromatic grey palette is complemented by plush tan leather, repurposed wood, and wild foli age. Standout elements of the sleek interior include the KAWS inspired sculpture situated at the DJ booth and hip-hop vinyl records displayed on the wall.
Naser has two new F&B concepts brewing, while focusing on the continued growth of LENTO Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he also has aspira tions to take the brand to the UK, and plans to do more travelling, tasting, and bringing new culinary experi ences to his hometown.
For this month’s grind, we teamed up with two top baristas in the UAE to exchanging coffee knowledge and recipes. All the delightful coffee recipes you see in this feature was made using NESCAFÉ®’s Superiore Beans.
Passionate coffee lover and a coffee student with 12years of experience in the industry, currently working as the Head of Quality Control at Local Coffee Company in Abu Dhabi.
> Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) certified Q-arabica Grader
> Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) Q- Processing Level1 Certificate Holder
> Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) member and certificate holder (Barista, Brewing, Sensory, and Green Coffee)
> 2017 and 2018 Champion in UAE National Latte art Championship and represented UAE in world coffee championship in Belo Horizonte Brazil and in Berlin Germany
> 2017 and 2018 3rd placed in UAE National Cup tasters Championship
Creamy coffee-based drink with a twist of Tea, Orange Juice, and spices - perfect for winter season.
> Nescafe Espresso Beans - Double Ristretto
> 30ml peace maker syrup (infusion of Black tea, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves, sugar)
> 120ml fresh milk
> Nestle Milano chocolate powder
> In a 350ml milk pitcher combine 120ml milk and peacemaker syrup
> Extract a double ristretto in a 7oz cup
> Steam the mixture of milk and
Refreshing espresso tonic with a twist of infused butterfly pea flower.
> Nescafe Espresso BeansDouble Ristretto
> 60ml infused butterfly pea flower syrup
> 100ml tonic water
> 100g cube ice
peacemaker syrup and pour it over the shot of ristretto and dash it with nestle chocolate powder on top.
> Sliced dehydrated lemon and thyme for garnish
> Put 100g cube ice in a glass
> Pour 60ml butterfly pea flower syrup followed by 100ml tonic water
> Extract double ristretto and slowly pour it over into the glass
> Garnish it with dehydrated lemon and thyme to enhance the aroma
All NESCAFÉ® coffees are responsibly grown and ethically sourced thru our NESCAFÉ® Plan.
Started his coffee journey in UAE in 2013. Joined the UAE Brewers Competition in 2016 and received the title of UAE Brewers Champion where he was given the chance to represent the UAE and compete on a world stage in Budapest. Won UAE National Cuptasters Championship in 2019 in Berlin. “As a coffee lover, whatever type of coffee you are enjoying, it is always better when you share it with everybody.”
> Nescafe Espresso Beans –Espresso shot
> Nestle Milano chocolate powder
> Homemade Cherry Syrup
> Full fat milk
> Rock salt
Add 20ml of cherry syrup to a cup, 30ml of Dark chocolate sauce and 30ml of espresso, stir to dissolve and mixed all together, then pour steamed milk with a foam on top.
Use rock salt and dark chocolate sauce on the rim for garnish.
> Nescafe Espresso Beans – Espresso shot
> Nestle Dulce de leche sauce
> Homemade sweet corn syrup
> Full fat milk
In a shaker, add 20ml of corn syrup, 30ml of caramel sauce, 30ml of espresso, 150grams of ice cubes, cold full milk and shake it well to mix well, then pour into a clear Glass cup and add foam on top for garnish.
Cherry syrup preparation:
Boil 60grams of cherry in 100ml water for 10minutes, remove fruit and add 100grams of sugar, boiled and stir until liquid is reduce to almost half. Same goes for corn syrup.
Many moons ago, in May 2011 to be precise, I wrote my first maga zine piece about hotels and, per haps unsurpris ingly to some, it was a rant. You can still find it somewhere in depth of the Internet if you google my name and
“Random things I hate about hotels…”. One of the largest industry websites at the time picked it up and I turned it into somewhat of a mini-series.
Back then, excessively wrapped soap bars, overly complicated showers, and unruly room control units featured prominently in the list of hotel-related annoyances, which I had compiled in a thoroughly scientific manner by ask ing my Twitter connections.
Since then, hotels (and their guests!) have evolved considerably, trends have come and gone, technology has pro gressed, and – or so I thought – time
More diversity = more information. More information = better & faster decision - making.
has healed all the annoyances of the past. Did it really, though? I wondered about that a week ago or so when I once more rearranged a sturdy bed side drawer in a hotel room, so I could get access to an outlet close enough to the bed to charge my smartphone.
On a sidenote: Most of the top surface of said bedside drawer was taken up by a telephone set, while the remain ing space was taken by an oversized bedside lamp. I assume that, if the 1980s wanted to call to ask for their ugly lamp back, they’d find the bedside phone useful – elseways who still uses landline phones in hotel rooms?
While I crawled into bed, just after throwing what seemed like 59 decora tive pillows off the bed, which then promptly occupied 48% percent of the usable floor area of the room, I thought it would be fun to poll my Twitter followers once again to see what annoys them about hotels in 2022. Roughly 280 characters and a couple of minutes later the replies came flooding in.
More than 10 years may have passed since my first poll, and the world out side hotel has changed rapidly, but it seems hotels haven’t really kept pace.
“Showers dispensing water quicker than the drain can take it away” was one of the first replies and I can’t deny that the man has point. How is it that we can design and install incredibly stunning rainfall showers in hotel bathrooms only to then pair them with drainage holes the size of a ten pence piece? Perhaps an architect reading this can volunteer an answer – if so, I’d also be happy to send him or her
a picture of one of the guest toilets in another hotel I stayed in recently where, when you sat down, you col lided in not a very subtle manner with the toilet paper holder and the wall it was attached to. I’m not looking for an overly scientific explanation – I really only want an answer to the question how someone can look at a drawing of the toilet and go “Yup, it’s a bit of a snug fit, but it’ll do!”
The tweet also appeared to have attracted the attention of a number of, what I can only assume are people from Yorkshire, who complained about the poor quality of the tea in hotel rooms. One of them even admit ted traveling with a container full of teabags. I’m not a tea drinker, so I can not relate, but what I will say is that the refilling of the amenities in 2022 is as haphazard in many hotels as it was in 2011. Finished all the standard instant coffee, but left all the decaf? I guarantee you, your amenity tray will be restocked miraculously with even more decaf sachets. Curses! The only thing that never seems in short supply are small hand soaps. Didn’t unwrap yours? You’ll have two to unwrap the next day.
Oddly enough, sockets (or rather the absence of them) only featured in one reply and unruly room lights also only got one mention, so I guess some things did improve.
What was interesting to see was that the 2022 replies featured a lot more service-related points, chiefly slow check-in and check-out procedures –perhaps a sign of the post-pandemic times we live in. Saying that, I also
couldn’t think of a good answer to the question raised by two other frequent travellers why we’re still fre quently stuck with 12 noon check-out times and 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. check-in times or why we can’t have contact less check-in or check-out yet.
One Twitter friend complained about room service tray charges, which I honestly thought had been abolished a long time ago. Apparently not. How can it be that I can get free delivery of my lunch order from a restaurant 15 kilometres away, yet have to pay a tray charge for someone to take the lift up a couple of floors? While we’re on the subject of ordering food while in a hotel room – yes, that’s what the old-fashioned bedside telephone is for! Still. In 2022. Hasn’t F&B realised
that people don’t use their phone to talk anymore?
We’re only watching cat videos and random Tik Tok streams and we’d be happy to send our order via What’s App rather than explain it to an order taker?
To the gentleman who complained about ACs that cannot be set low enough, I say “Thanks god they can’t!” and also “What’s wrong with you that you like your hotel room to resemble an ice box?”
Beside, if hotels have changed in one aspect over the past 10 or so years than its surely in regards to sus tainability, which is a good thing.
Lastly, post-check-in cour tesy calls got two mentions and, again, I agree whole heartedly. The last thing you want to do just when you’ve arrived is to drag your weary
self over to the bedside table to answer the 1950s looking telephone just to find out it’s Reception calling to check how you like your room. It’s a bit like answering you’re mobile and hearing one of those excited sounding chaps go “Have you ever considered investing in the stock market?”. A hard no.
What is it that French journalist Jean-Baptiste
Alphonse Karr said in 1849?
“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” – I guess some things will never change, which has its own charm and, let’s not forget, that there’s much more to love about hotels than there is to be annoyed about. Though I do wish housekeeping would sort out that instant coffee refilling snag. Well, perhaps in another 10 years…
NatashaSideris has been called the maverick of the cas ual dining scene in South Africa and now in the UAE. She is a restaurateur that is passionate about creating a space that has beautiful food, stunning environments and engaging service for all those that walk through the door. Quality and perfection are at the heart of Tashas Group and are the core pillars behind Natashas success as an entrepreneur.
I think what makes the group so special is that we have taken a formula of “Beautiful food in stunning environments with engaging service” and have applied it to a number of very different concepts. It is the recipe that informed the creation of tashas and is still relevant to our elevated dining concepts of Avli by tashas and Flamingo Room by tashas. At the heart of what makes the Group special is our people and their unwavering dedication to make our guests happy!
The Middle East provided the best opportunity for our expansion outside of South Africa, where we started our business in 2005.
Not only was it a quick flight away in a similar time zone, but it also provides an immense amount of opportunity. As well, the qual ity of talent in the region is unparalleled and we have been able to grow our team by employing some of the best in the business on an international level that will grow with our business as we continue to expand.
The market is extremely competitive and, as a business that is constantly looking to improve, we are forced to stay on top of our game. It is very inspiring.
I believe that one of the most critical aspects of remaining com petitive is our dedication to never-ending improvement. We are constantly reinvesting in our interiors, innovating our menus and up-skilling our team members.
There is always a fine balance between pushing boundaries and staying true to the essence of a concept and not following every trend. Striking that balance that helps us to remain competitive.
To stay competitive, we must stay relevant in the eyes of our cus tomers, keep them at the heart of everything we do and continue to meet the high expectations that they have of us.
Tell us about the current F&B concepts you have here and your plans for the future?
We currently have 4 concepts that are operational in the region: tashas, Flamingo Room by tashas, Avli by tashas and Galaxy Bar. We will be opening a few new concepts in the coming months. tashas, founded in 2005, is a casual dining concept with 15 locations in South Africa and 6 in the UAE.
Flamingo Room by tashas, inspired by “African Glamour” is an elevated casual concept verging on fine dining. There is currently one in Jumeriah Al Naseem with two more locations opening in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in the coming months. African Lounge is an exclusive new concept that will sit within Flamingo Room in both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Drawing inspiration from the beautiful, tented Safari camps set in the wilds of Africa, there will be a decadent high tea offering, elegant afro-fusion bites and delicious non-alcoholic cocktails.
Avli by tashas, influenced by my own Greek heritage, is inspired by the resilient culture of Athens. There is currently one location in the DIFC and we are looking to expand this concept into other major metropolitan cities.
The creation of Galaxy Bar, one of the World’s Top 50 Bars, was inspired by a private dining room that was part of Avli. We decided that it could make an incredible, intimate lounge in the heart of the DIFC inspired by the night skies above Greece.
We opened our first Le Parc by tashas, which offers a dining and retail experience inspired by the stylish cafés and much-loved food and flower markets of Paris, in Johannesburg. We intend to roll out this concept in other markets as well.
In December, we will be opening Bungalo34 at the Pearl Jumeirah which is inspired by the rivieras of Greece, France and Italy. It's where 70’s glamour will meet beachside chic.
We have also developed a concept called Nala that will open in early 2023 and spearhead the creation of a new category we are calling luxury fast food.
We have a lot on the go at the moment and it is incredibly exciting!
Tell us about your journey to be come a chef?
When I was younger, I never dreamt of becoming a chef. Originally, my plan was to follow my father's path and continue overseeing the bar in our small city. However, after complet ing two years of studying hospitality, I found my passion for cooking and realised I wanted to be a chef. I had the opportunity to learn more about the food industry and the range of ingredi ents used in gastronomy. I love the fact that I can always keep learning new things every day. It keeps me excited.
What do you love most about being a chef?
I love everything about being a chef. I love that I have the ability to create new dishes, combine new flavours and play with different ingredients. I also love that it’s a different routine every day, and it's not a monotonous industry. My favourite thing about be ing a chef is that it allows me to make people happy. I love when guests have a smile on their faces after trying out our food. There is no greater love than food that keeps guests returning for more.
What creative flare do you bring to Roberto's?
I would say that my fine dining back ground in Michelin Star restaurants and working with Michelin-starred Chefs such as Chef Damiano Nigro and Chef Enrico Bartolini helped me and my staff to be very creative. I always use innovative, creative techniques to give the best experience to our guests by recreating familiar flavours in a modern, contemporary classic way.
Since Roberto’s is an Italian restau rant in an international country, I like to bring not only my food culture and tradition but serve dishes with ingre dients from all over Italy in our menu. Our kitchen staff has close to three
backgrounds covering the entire Italy, and we are able to bring together the best ideas from the North to the South of the country.
What does the culture in your kitchen look like?
The most important thing in our kitchen is respect for each other. I have respect for every single team member, no matter where they are in the organisation. I listen to what they have to say and build on their ideas, this is how we come up with creative solutions for our guests, and this is how a kitchen should be in any venue. My team is so amazing! They're always willing to help me out, and I'm grate ful for the opportunity to learn from them. Together we make a stronger team, and I love our work ethic!
What new inventions are you work ing on?
We are working on many exciting things for Roberto’s for the new season. Our team has put in a lot of effort to make these ideas come to life. We are almost ready to launch our new Lounge menu, and soon we will present the new crockery entirely dedicated to Roberto’s Lounge.
Tell us about Roberto's menu?
The Roberto’s menu is vast. The start ers are divided into three sections: Crudo Bar, Salads and Hot Starters. As true Italians, we have a big focus on the pasta and risotto and a huge selec tion of meats. For the seafood lover, our display is always full of fresh catch directly from the Mediterranean Sea. At Roberto’s, we have a dish for every one, whether you are a vegan, vegetar ian, meat lover or seafood lover, there is something for everyone!
What are your top 5 dishes to try?
I would say our:
> Signature Roasted Octopus with Cacio e Pepe sauce
> Roberto’s Pizza with crispy dough, beef carpaccio, rocket salad and truffle
> Calamarata pasta with red prawns and pistachio
> Wild roasted seabass with smoky eggplant and verjus sauce for the seafood lover
> And of course, our original pistachio ice cream served with extra virgin olive oil
Describe the experience diners can expect from Roberto's?
Roberto’s is a place that you can visit at any hour, and every area of the venue offers an entirely unique experience. You can choose to have an elegant fine dining experience in our Piemonte restaurant. Alternatively, guests can have a more vibrant vibe in our lounges with a breathtaking view of the Burj Khalifa while enjoying the Aperitivo at our main bar. Each of these areas gives you a different experience but always in Roberto’s style.
Over the last four years, the delivery business has tripled in size – and hav ing access to this revenue stream has become an absolute necessity for restaurants. In the post-pandemic era, this type of convenience has in fact become increasingly valuable for the food and beverage industry.
Several third-party delivery fleets are used by major restaurant chains to deliver meals at all times – and across all of their locations. This has resulted in establishments reaching a wider geographic audience, thereby gain ing more potential customers. That said, they are losing control over many aspects of the deliveries.
When delivery takes place at a large scale, with tens of thousands of or ders each day, the logistics becomes increasingly complex, which is why chains managing deliveries across multiple restaurants, need to use de livery management software systems.
Since such a large part of the flow is handled by third parties, food provid ers need to collect, analyse and moni tor data to better understand their delivery operations – this in turn, will give them the most value and enrich operations overall. These benefits extend across a wide range of activi ties, such as managing external fleets and aggregators, providing flawless deliveries and enabling marketing, branding, and customer care.
Furthermore, businesses can also integrate delivery management
software with multiple platforms, al lowing them to consolidate orders on one device and have a greater online presence.
From our perspective, we hope that a more intense level of competition will lead to lower commissions as it is actu ally very difficult for home delivery to be profitable. A growing number of businesses are using hyper-local thirdparty delivery companies, which lower their commission costs – and this is al lowing them to increase their revenue stream significantly.
When we look at the customer stand point, a major trend we’ve noticed is that more and more people are becom ing fixated on their health, turning their focus to fresh, natural foods. Customers have started giving greater importance to eco-friendly products too and are willing to switch to differ ent food and beverage brands to meet their newly adopted standards.
Also, as consumer expectations for faster delivery and streamlined convenience continues to grow, busi nesses must align to keep pace with these ever-changing mindsets over product, packaging, purchasing and general consumption; or if not, unlock more innovative concepts.
Following the insight that audiences want to prepare their own meals at home – while also experiencing the atmosphere of a restaurant, The First Group is now pioneering virtual cook ing classes, with recipes delivered directly to the consumer, who in turn receives guidance on how to prepare dishes via an online video.
A recent example of this was the launch of the mini Mystery Box expe rience from one of our restaurant ven ues – MasterChef, the TV Experience, where budding chefs have the oppor tunity to prepare the award-winning dishes in the comfort of their homes, whilst being guided by Executive Chef, Juan Ramon. The Mini Mystery Box is filled with ordinary ingredients, destined for extraordinary dishes, offering four flavoursome options for every dietary interest. Aspiring chefs can choose between: Roasted Baby Chicken with black garlic, asparagus
and onion; Succulent Roasted Lamb
Chops with mint, confit potato and red pepper piquillo; Quinotto, a hearty quinoa risotto recipe cooked with tomato sauce, asparagus, cherry tomato and black olives; or Salmon Fillet with Lemon Butter Sauce.
All these dishes have been specially created by newly appointed Execu tive Chef Juan Ramon, who includes instructions explaining how to per fectly execute each dish in a private, unique link shared upon purchase. We firmly believe this to be the future of the ultimate culinary experience for foodies, budding chefs and fans of the TV series.
Furthermore, the at home chefs are encouraged to create a cook-along video of their own mini mystery box experience, showcasing their talents on social media, thus inspiring others to get into the kitchen and give cook ing a go, under the direction of a re nowned chef and his years of culinary experience.
Sustainability is – and will continue to play a large role in the delivery
process. At The First Group, a great deal of consideration is put into the packaging to ensure that customers receive a great experience with mini mal single-use plastics.
Sustainability has been at the fore front focus of our popular homegrown concept – Risen Café & Artisanal Bakery. As a homegrown brand, we are proud of our heritage and the
provenance of our ingredients and are committed to a sustainable narrative. Its promise to sustainability and using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and natural, biodegradable materi als remain a strong constant – and something we are truly dedicated to, especially when it comes to the deliv ery process.
The possibility of automated deliv ery around the world is also on the horizon. With this trend gaining momentum, it is inevitable that this will soon be the norm across Dubai and the UAE.
Following the pandemic, many busi nesses have switched to automated delivery systems – and although there have been some advancements in this field, automatic delivery systems are still on the rise and as yet need to be developed.
That said, with these new advances, many business owners are unaware of how they will impact the industries in which they operate or how they will be personally affected by them.
Delivery is here to stay – but what the future looks like remains to be seen. We however at The First Group remain committed to staying ahead of the curve with our ultimate goal to give our customers the best experi ence possible, be that in one of our restaurants or at home.
One of the industries that have un dergone a massive transformation following the pandemic is F&B.
With a booming Experience Econ omy extending to F&B, consumers worldwide prefer spending quality time with their friends and family on personalised dining experiences rather than dining quickly at a convenient fast-food eatery. This change can also be attributed to the keenness to follow healthy eating habits among modern consumers, catalysed by the unprecedented events in the last few years.
The number of people who prefer to dine out rath er than get takeout has increased significantly from a year ago, and many prefer places that offer a unique
experience. 88% of respondents of a survey conduct ed recently in the UAE are keen to try new cuisines and concepts. For instance, there is a considerable demand for Asian cuisines and ethnic restaurants that serve authentic Arabic cuisine among the diners in the UAE.
UAE is a gastronomic hub with many fine dining es tablishments and is quite popular among local resi dents and tourists visiting the country, the majority of which are millennials, 55% of whom say they are splurging on experiences more than ever before after years of restrictions. It also indicates that it is one of the highly competitive segments in the F&B sector of UAE, with a growth forecast of 6.8% CAGR, between 2022 and 2027.
One far-reaching impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviour is the increased preference for healthy food options; people now are keen on health and wellness and essentially opt for natural and organic choices from the best sources.
Customers also consider the cleanli ness of the environment in which the food is prepared and served. Around 75% of people prefer to stay away from a restaurant with nega tive reviews about its cleanliness. It is also important that the workforce, from the kitchen to the waitstaff, are trained well on the local municipal ity's food hygiene standards and regu larly supervised for compliance.
An appealing interior that caters to the restaurant’s concept is essential for creating a connection with the guests. Table linen, crockery, decors such as the artwork of local artists or a cultural artefact, furniture and in cense enhance the dining experience with a beautiful, comfortable, and soothing atmosphere, cluing diners into the restaurant’s brand and theme.
In the last few years, due to the shift in work models, many people have also sought places to work comfort ably and efficiently, and restaurants in the region now offer high-speed WiFi for anyone working from the facility. A vast majority of quick service res taurants do not cater to such prefer ences as the idea of these eateries is to get your meal as fast as possible, so the design is minimal, paying no need to customer comfort most of the time.
A whopping majority of the F&B customers are millennials and Gen Z; owing to their inclination toward technology experiences, restaurants must be equipped with the necessary facilities to keep them happy. Social Media Today pointed out that around 30% of millennial diners actively
avoid restaurants that are not active on Instagram, and 59% review menus online.
In the UAE, a country that has the highest internet penetration rate in the MENA region, user-friendly res ervation processes, real-time status updates and hassle-free payment can enhance the customer experience even before they visit the restaurant. The adoption of disruptive technolo gies in F&B is a way for recovery as well as growth, and it is estimated that the food industry will reach $899 billion in sales by the end of 2022 due to this.
Employee engagement is essential to ensure the business's longevity. Highly engaged employees outper form their peers by 147% and mark high retention rates of up to 36%. Managers must provide the resources and opportunities to the workforce to upskill themselves in service, menu knowledge, and food safety. Moreover, ensure that they are keeping up with the latest industry trends. The team spirit and enthusiasm of the work force will reflect in engaging with customers, benefiting the business's bottom line.
Bespoke services offered by in formed and hospitable staff, remem bering preferences, and options to customize choices can contribute sig nificantly to customer loyalty. A great dining experience is a combination of many tangible and intangible factors, and the workforce's quality is one. A highly trained team with necessary technical and soft skills, constantly upskilled are essential to thrive in the experience economy.
The quality of services offered by employees at different levels of opera tions is vital. Keeping in mind that the technical skills of the workforce are critical in F&B, restaurants must also invest in developing personalitydriven soft skills among the staff. A workforce with apt soft skills would be comfortable upselling and sug gesting menu items, and continuous ongoing training in these skills is essential as they can immediately impact guests. A staff member who is well-informed, flexible, and adapt able and can establish a rapport with customers is a great asset, however, in
QSRs, the interaction between diners and staff is minimal.
Quite often, many tend to remember the tiniest of details that have en hanced or ruined their overall experi ence, and it is the duty of the restau rateurs to identify these details. In the Experience Economy, personalised services are a sure shot in the overall experience at a restaurant. A happy customer acts as a ground marketer whose references will help the brand generate more business. One of the most sought-after ways to encourage diners to return to the restaurants is through loyalty programs and offering personal rewards — based on their preferences to develop a close rela tionship with them.
In the years ahead, one of the greatest challenges full-service restaurants will face will be the drastically changing customer needs and expectations around the dining experience. To thrive in the booming experience economy, restaurants must evolve and adapt continuously, leveraging the latest technology and following customer feedback to reinvent dining experiences and exceed customer expectations.
“AN APPEALING INTERIOR THAT CATERS TO THE RESTAURANT’S CONCEPT IS ESSENTIAL FOR CREATING A CONNECTION WITH THE GUESTS.”
According to Maxime Legeard, Gen eral Manager at Hutong, Hutong is exceptional as they are the 1st Chinese restaurant in the world that had the honour of receiving a Michelin star for the Hong Kong flagship. “We take pride in sharing authentic, occasionally fiery Northern Chinese dishes with our diners – many of which are unique to Hutong. Upon entering our restaurant, your attention will be drawn to our beautiful wishing tree – a centre
piece which is a nod to the famous Lam Tsuen wishing trees found in Hong Kong, the home of our sister restaurant and the first Hutong. Our food is unmatched, with Signature dishes both shared and unique to each of our global out posts in London, Hong Kong, New York, and Mi ami. The Suen Cai Yu dish (seabass with pickled cabbage crispy dumpling) and Hamour Fillet (locally sourced and served in a traditional chilli broth) are crafted explicitly for Dubai.”
Legeard joined Hutong officially in Novem ber 2019 and played an instrumental role in connecting the team with all of the local food suppliers in Dubai. In addition, his knowledge of Dubai consumers’ tastes allowed him to work closely with the team to adapt 30% of the dishes on the menu to reflect regional trends. The remaining 70% of core dishes on the menu can be found at Hutongs worldwide.
Legeard says that they had no idea that we were being assessed for inclusion in the Michelin guide and that it was an incredible surprise. “I previously worked in a Michelin
Star restaurant back in France, so I learned a few ways to recognise judges or critics coming in. There are a couple of hints to look out for that help identify them. However, these are pretty difficult to spot in a restaurant like Hutong, which has such a buzzy and vibrant atmos phere. I recall a few months ago be ing contacted by the Michelin Guide ahead of the ceremony for addi tional information and imagery for our restaurant – I remember feeling very proud and excited that day.”
“The announcement day was joyful as it gathered great profes sionals within the sector, allowing us to meet many talented industry leaders. We felt thrilled about our achievements and couldn’t be hap pier to be a part of this outstanding announcement.”
“It is a monumental achievement to be considered for such a prestig ious inclusion, especially as this is an honour that goes to the entire team working so hard to make Hutong memorable. It certainly pushes us to maintain and improve further when it comes to enhancing the guest experience in every way possible. The international recogni tion from Hutong’s inclusion is another fantastic achievement, allowing us to be seen as the musttry culinary experience for those visiting Dubai.
Being French, I was born with the guide, so this achievement really means a lot.”
“THE ANNOUNCEMENT DAY WAS JOYFUL AS IT GATHERED GREAT PROFESSIONALS WITHIN THE SECTOR, ALLOWING US TO MEET MANY TALENTED INDUSTRY LEADERS. WE FELT THRILLED ABOUT OUR ACHIEVEMENTS AND COULDN’T BE HAPPIER TO BE A PART OF THIS OUTSTANDING ANNOUNCEMENT.”
the best of Hollywood's indulgent charm into the world of hospitality, Paramount Ho tel Dubai has set the stage to provide the glitz and glamour that fares well with the stylish city of Dubai.
At Paramount Dubai, guests can enjoy any of the 823 rooms and suites grouped into Scene and Stage Guest Rooms; Premiere Suites and Paramount Suites; and themed suites taking inspiration from Paramount Pictures movies, with each boasting an in-room theatre experi ence.
Once you enter the lobby through the unique and exclusive lift, you will feel the elegant but homey vibe that the hotel is emitting through
the warm reception of their guest relations. One of the highlights in this property is the award-winning Flashback Speakeasy Bar & Lounge where you get to travel back in time to old Hollywood.
A line-up of entertainment like the Murder Mystery Immersive Theater awaits you every Thursday night where you will be asked to get “in character” and be the Sherlock Holmes of the 50’s. With an exclusive new script and musical numbers, 'Murderous Starlets' will take guests back to California in 1932, where a famous Italian American film actor and producer Guido Corleone was murdered.
Also paying homage to the historical magic of cinema is The Paramount Screening Room with a capacity of 140, a private cinema, time
capsule and a stage for live entertainment acts with a side of light gourmet bites and bubbles. Offering a sumptuous culinary journey, guests can enjoy an array of traditional and homemade Middle Eastern dishes along with international specialties and beverages, along with a deli cious dessert selection. The Stage restaurant provides a true performance with live cooking stations and interactive kitchen concepts where Chefs can be seen firing up the grill, baking fresh bread, and showcasing their gastronomi cal skills for everyone to see. The Saturday Brunch in Paramount Hotel Dubai’s Pacific Groove offers a true three-course Cali feast, sample the elevated twists on the West Coast classics at the Opening and dig into seafood or meat boards as the Main Attraction.
Pause Spa Chateau Berger lifts guests above the realm of modern-day stresses and transports them to a one-stop destination for wellbeing and beauty. Using the highest quality products and inspired by the healing powers of nature, looking like a Hollywood star at Paramount Hotel Dubai is inevitable.