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Serving the region’ss ccatering atering professionals professionals

April 2010 • Vol 06 • Issue 04

Time to train

Why staff instruction is a key component of F&B business

Outer limits

Driving revenue and avoiding pitfalls of al fresco operations


gary rhodes and other high-profile chefs explain why educating consumers is a recipe for F&B F industry success

An ITP Business Publication | Licensed by Dubai Media City

Reviews Crockery

18 Cover story




Contents April 2010

05 News The health food enters the Middle East market; outlets choose their pricing paths; high F&B prices may be set for a fall 12 Mystery shopper Ethos Consultancy reveals the true standard of customer service at UAE outlets and offers advice on how to better your business 16 Expert insight Desert Palm’s Lionel Boyce gives a candid assessment of recruitment challenges 18 Teaching taste Why high-profile chefs around the world are on a mission to educate the public 24 Roundtable F&B industry experts meet up in Abu Dhabi to discuss staff training

30 Take it outside Why outlets must make the most of the region’s main attraction: the great outdoors 34 Outlet showcase The strategy behind Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach’s Italian eatery 36 Baking hot Will increasing demand for baked goods persuade more chefs to buy in part-prepared products? 42 Throw it on the barbie Make sure your summer sizzles with some of the top barbeque props 43 Product showcase The best and brightest new F&B wares 56 Last bite Chef Sam Leong talks Asian cuisine


34 36

For the latest news and stories go to


Caterer Middle East March 2009

Web contents

Online The online home of Editor’s pick

In pictures

Tasty turnout for food festival This year’s Taste of Dubai food fair attracted more visitors than ever before. Crowds flocked to enjoy taster dishes from a range of the emirate’s top restaurants, as well as celebrity chef demonstrations and tasting sessions at the MMI Beverage Theatre.

Rhodes Mezzanine rocks Time Out Restaurant Awards The cream of Dubai’s culinary scene was out in force last month for the Time Out Restaurant Awards. In a glittering ceremony held at The Address Dubai Marina, Rhodes Mezzanine from Grosvenor House Dubai took home the coveted Restaurant of the Year title. The outlet, Gary Rhodes’ first in the UAE, also won the award for Best Contemporary European Restaurant.


A drop of drama

Balancing act

The bigger picture

How a little entertainment can spice things up for an outlet and its customers

Chefs reveal all in a candid discussion on the challenges of menu development

Middle East chefs pay top dollar for imported goods — but at what eco-cost?

Most popular industry needs to progress 1. Halal nightclub to 2. Beirut open in Dubai hotel exclusive: Rhodes on 3. Video plans for new Dubai outlet chocolate creations 4. Carved at Salon Culinaire Cove Rotana reveals 5. Video: secret to F&B success

For the latest news and stories go to


Caterer Middle East April 2010

News April 2010

Story of the month

Healthy trend on the rise? F&B suppliers are flagging up a growing trend for health foods, but has the focus on wellbeing struck a chord with the region’s consumers yet? F&B suppliers may be flagging up the wellbeing trend with reports of increasing demand for healthy products from consumers and chefs — indeed it was the talk of Gulfood; but it seems this trend is taking its time revolutionising Middle East diets. According to Rosewood Corniche executive chef Richard Green, the idea of healthy eating and dieting that has taken off in other parts of the globe has “not reached Saudi Arabia yet”. “Consumers here have a sweet tooth and are the world’s biggest fans of chocolate, ice-cream and sweets,” he asserted. Renaissance Dubai Hotel director of F&B Andreas Kurfürst added that although requests for healthier options were picking up in the UAE, healthy diets had been slow to get off the ground. “I worked as a pastry chef for 12 years in Dubai, and only had one request for a sugar-free cake,” he revealed. “Traditionally, where money has been readily available, people seemed to feel they could eat what they wanted then just pay a doctor to fix the health problems later. “But recently, although people still eat a lot of sweets and desserts, they are substituting regular items, such as dairy products and soft drinks, with low-fat or low-sugar options,” he explained. At The Address Dubai Marina, executive assistant manager — F&B Stefan Viard agreed consumers were becoming more concerned with their diet. “They are more aware of the need for a balanced meal now,” he asserted. “When placing an order, guests today increasingly want to know where the product originates and whether it is organic or not.” Burgeoning consumer knowledge about food is driving this change, according to general manager of Al Diar Siji Hotel and Siji Hotel Apartments, Fujairah, Fouad Melhem. “People are becoming food and health savvy; we have noticed that guests are requesting more vegetarian meals and low-fat, low-calorie options,” he explained.

Headline grabbers P6 Pick a side Slower consumer spending is forcing outlets to choose a side in the pricing war P6 A costly mistake? Chefs assess whether the region’s F&B is too costly and what the ramifications are for tourism

Rosewood Corniche’s Richard Green. So what steps are the region’s F&B outlets taking to accommodate — or even encourage — the movement towards a healthier lifestyle? Melhem said the increased demand had led to healthier menu options, but admitted it had been a challenge for chefs to devise lighter dishes that also tasted good and weren’t too expensive. Similarly, Renaissance properties worldwide have implemented an ‘Eat, Drink, Balance’ programme in all its menus — but Kurfürst noted that “as sales go, these are not yet top sellers in this region”. Meanwhile Rosewood’s Green explained: “In Saudi Arabia, the taste matters more to our guests than the degree of ‘healthiness’ or number of calories in a dish.” This is what it comes down to, notes The Address’ Viard: “Listening to your guests and following the latest trends is vital in today’s competitive market. “If we see a tendency for healthier food options then we will definitely make sure that we cater for this on our menus,” he said. By the same token, if demand is slow, healthy menus will most probably fade away as well. But if the region’s chefs and suppliers can continue to innovate with new products and menus, attracting the consumer with healthier options, the wellbeing trend could take off in the Middle East as it has done in other parts of the world.

P6 Online opinions Collecting industry views on the biggest ever Gulfood P7 Supplier awards Caterer opens nominations for its Chefs’ Choice Awards P7 The alcohol enigma What was going on with Dubai’s reported ban of alcohol as an ingredient?

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April 2010 Caterer Middle East


News April 2010

Posh or popular: outlets choose strategy Diner decrease and reduced consumer spending mean outlets must choose a definitive pricing path Reduced consumer spending on dining out is forcing outlets to make tough choices about the direction of their brand, top regional chefs have claimed. Antonio Dominicis, chef de cuisine at Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek’s Italian restaurant La Moda, noted: “Before the downturn all outlets were busy, all of them were making money. But there just isn’t the same number of people eating out now, and certainly not the same spend. “Covers have decreased plus there are some meal deals at extremely affordable rates, so there’s big competition nowadays.” Al Badia Golf Club’s Terra Firma head chef Eicke Christian added that operators had to be “very careful about how they decide to make their outlets more accessible”. “If you have an expensive high-end

Terra Firma’s Eicke Christian. offering and reduce the price, the former customers might still go there — but the change may also attract people who do not

fit with the regular clientele. It’s a difficult decision,” he noted. “You have to choose which path to take. “Perhaps you go for the cheaper, more popular option, or you decide to keep the higher prices and accept that you will have a smaller clientele, but that your loyal guests will be happy.” But Al Bustan Rotana executive chef Christophe Prud’homme pointed out that ulitmately it came back to profit. “If you’re operating at a loss, or even breaking even, that’s not sustainable,” he commented. Thomas Gagliardi, executive chef at Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, added: “It’s basically about the investors; we might like to be artists, but the bottom line is that we want to take home our pay cheque, so we have to fill up the restaurant.”

Are high F&B prices set for a fall?

What was your view of this year’s Gulfood?


Bigger and better than ever, full of opportunities; a great success!


Not as many visitors as hoped, but those we saw were quality.


Not great; it was really too big to be manageable.


We’re waiting to see what business comes from the event.


Caterer Middle East April 2010

Prices may soon be reduced at F&B outlets across the Middle East, in response to growing demand for affordable options for tourists. According to Frederic Bardin, senior vice president of Arabian Adventures and Congress Solutions International, F&B costs have long been a sticking point among tour operators. “Traditionally, it has been almost impossible to eat for a moderate price if you stay in a nice four- or five-star hotel,” he observed. “My impression is that some hotels, if not the majority, have taken advantage of the in-house clients. “But now, they have

Coral’s Mohammed Al Shawwa. started changing that,” he continued, citing the launch of numerous F&B promotions this year. “I just hope we see continued improvement in 2010.” Coral International Hotel Al Khobar executive chef Mohammed Al Shawwa agreed the situation needed to change. “I think the increases in F&B prices

have been a major factor in discouraging tourists to visit the region,” he asserted. “I expect that prices will become cheaper in future due to the many new hotels opening, which will see increased competition.” However Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait executive sous chef Salah Sabra did not believe F&B prices put visitors off. “On vacation you spend much more on food than you would back home, because you often buy the first thing you see and don’t have time to search and evaluate,” he pointed out. “Because it’s a necessity tourists will eat, no matter how cheap or expensive it is.”

News In brief

Supplier awards nominations open Nominations have opened for Caterer Middle East’s Chefs’ Choice Awards, recognising the efforts of outstanding F&B suppliers across the region. The Chefs’ Choice class of the Caterer Middle East Awards 2010 comprises three titles: Food Supplier of the Year, Beverage Supplier of the Year and Best Client Support of the Year.

Caterer editor Lucy Taylor emphasised that the nomination process had changed from 2009. “The Chefs’ Choice Awards aim to recognise suppliers that have impressed the region’s industry professionals,” she said. “As such, this year’s winners will be chosen by Middle East F&B professionals themselves, through an online vote.” Voters will choose their favourites from a shortlist in each category, to go live online in May — when nominations will also open for the F&B categories. To be in the running, suppliers must submit a nomination form online before the deadline of 6pm on April 29th. For more information, please visit: www.hoteliermiddleeast. com/catererawards

Confusion over Dubai alcohol ban Chefs were resigning themselves to a major menu change last month, after suggestions that Dubai Municipality had banned the use of alcohol in cooking. A circular issued by the Municipality said the use of alcohol in the preparation and cooking of food was “strictly prohibited”. Restaurants in Dubai were told they had one month to stop using alcohol in food preparation or face stiff fines. Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Ali, head of food inspection at the Municipality’s Food Control Department, confirmed there was a total ban on the use of alcohol in food, citing instances of Muslims complaining that they had not realised a dish contained alcohol.

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Khalid Mohammed Sharif al Awadhi. However Khalid Mohammed Sharif al Awadhi, director of the Municipality’s food control department, later told UAE newspaper The National that chefs had misinterpreted the circular and that no ban on food containing alcohol was in place. He went on to explain that alcohol could still be served in dishes, providing it was segregated from other food and clearly labelled.

News analysis April 2010

Losing local identity In a region where so many western restaurant franchises have been imported so quickly, could the lack of local identity and owner passion among F&B chain operators harm the industry? The Middle East is often hailed as a hotbed of innovation — a breeding ground for unique buildings, hotels and restaurants. So why is it that so many outlet operators in the region have chosen to import existing western F&B concepts, rather than develop their own; and what effect has this had on the local chain outlet market? Thomas Klein International managing partner Daniel During said there were multiple reasons for choosing to import brands. “The Middle East doesn’t have a culinary tradition such as Italy or France, or an immigrant population as in Australia or the Americas, which might see people promoting their own national cuisine by investing in their own businesses,” he noted. “What we do have in the area are investors with little or no culinary background, who have to purchase the know-how to set up an F&B business — and the best way to buy know-how is through franchises.” For an operator, purchasing an existing franchise is an attractive option: they are buying into a ready-made, proven and therefore comparitively safe brand; plus there is no lengthy or costly development process, so it can open quickly. “As local landlords are unwilling to take risks with new, unproven concepts, a franchise makes it easier to obtain prime locations in malls and other areas,” added During. “Add to that customer brand recognition and it’s pretty much a no-brainer for someone who wants to start up an F&B business, has little or no experience and absolutely no time to invest to develop his own.” Gautam Moudgill, general manager of Mumtaz Mahal Restaurant — an established Indian concept in Oman which has


Caterer Middle East April 2010

Mumtaz Mahal Restaurant in Muscat, Oman, is in the process of franchising the brand out across the region.

More Café at Dubai Mall.

News analysis April 2010

run for more than 25 years and is now in tical within each chain, there are unable the process of franchising the brand further to adapt fully to the local market, often reafield — noted there was “an element of un- maining foreign to the culture and colour of certainty” in expanding an unknown brand. the people,” he claimed. “If the franchise is not deMore Café and Intelligent veloped with total diligence Foods managing partner It’s pretty much Marijke Lap agreed that the and adequate resources, the chance of failure is very a no-brainer for influx of global chains had high,” he conceded. resulted in “a uniformity of someone who So expanding is not easy for brands offering very similar small, home-grown brands; wants to start an fare, most of whom have not but is the fact that the Middle F&B brand, but adapted their menu to suit the East market consists of prelocal palate”. dominantly foreign franchis- has no experience However there are excepand no time to tions: established chain opes a problem? According to Abdul Rah- develop his own” erator BinHendi Enterprises’ man Falaknaz, president of not only franchises western International Expo Consults brands, but also develops its — organiser of Franchise Middle East own unique F&B offerings. (FME) — the presence of successful chain The group’s president Mohi-Din Binhenoutlets ensures the consumer more choice. di commented: “My loyalty is really to our “Further advantages come from their ex- own concepts. pertise and established franchise systems, “We don’t really need western brands which help this region to learn,” he noted. as such; we have them so we can compete Similarly Sami Daud, chief executive of in the market with others who have such Gourmet Gulf — the lcoal franchisee for chains in their portfolio. YO! Sushi, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), “But we are focusing on developing our California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) and Morel- own brands, making our own ventures and li’s Gelato — noted that the introduction of really making our original concepts sucestablished players increased competition cessful in the area,” he explained. and standards across the market. “We are in the process of franchising our “Choosing to import an existing western home-grown Japengo concept and we will franchise is similar to buying a successful be launching three new original concepts business model with an efficient learning later this year,” he revealed. curve,” he added. BinHendi’s effort may tell a success stoDaud said the company took “meticu- ry, but other local brands — particularly lous measures” to ensure the international single-outlet operators looking to expand brands would fit into the regional market. — do face challenges; primarily convincing “This is reflected in every aspect of our landlords to accept them in prime locations, restaurants, from the seating area to the according to During. greetings and service to our menus. Plus we “Big groups are able to negotiate better adapt our menu offerings to local and re- leasing rates with landlords than newcomgional preferences without jeopardising the ers, making it increasingly difficult for new essence of the brand,” he asserted. concepts to be profitable,” he noted. However Thomas Klein’s During said cerInternational Expo Consults’ Falaknaz tain limitations necessarily applied to most added that such brands also faced a fight international franchises. to be accepted by the region’s population of “As foreign franchises are all managed diverse nationalities. under a set of corporate guidelines, all iden“Everyone is familiar with brands like Mc-

IEC’s Abdul Rahman Falaknaz.


visitors attended this year’s Franchise Middle East exhibition, which took place last month in Dubai

BinHendi Enterprises’ Mohi-Din BinHendi.

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


News analysis April 2010

Gourmet Gulf’s Sami Daud. Donald’s and Starbucks, and we know what to expect from them, whereas local brands need some time to establish themselves,” he pointed out. So what does the future hold for the regional franchise scene: more of the same, or new concepts taking off as the market matures? BinHendi Enterprises’ BinHendi said he hoped for more original concepts, but was unsure how straightforward progress would be. “It’s not easy to strike a winner here. It takes a lot of effort to make a successful brand and keep it successful, while competing with high international brands,” he warned. With consumer demand for variety increasing, there is room for both types of franchise, according to Mumtaz Mahal’s Moudgill. “The top-performing successful franchises, in both categories, continue to see growth ahead. I guess the ones performing well will grow and a few new entrants will also move in,” he predicted. But More’s Lap called for “more originality”. “Operators should not be lazy and copy good ideas from someone else; they should start being creative,” she insisted. “But companies are starting to realise that ‘copy-and-pasting’ an imported brand is not a guaranteed formula for success.” Thomas Klein’s During predicted that as the market grew, so would the range of offerings. “This growth will be proportionate to the climate and offer mix, so we should see more of both,” he said. “So there’s potential for the proportion of locally-developed concepts to grow — however I suspect it will take at least 20 years to balance things out.”

Mystery shopper Steakhouses

Service spy This month, Ethos Consultancy’s team of mystery shoppers went undercover at four selected steakhouses around Dubai, to find out whether customer service was well done or totally rare

This month: Steakhouses

The chosen locations were:

• • •

Appearance Sales and service Overall experience

• Butcher Shop & Grill, JBR — 71%

The expert analysis:

• Inferno, Dubai Marina Walk — 69%

In this month’s Service Spy we compare the service delivery performance at four of Dubai’s most popular steakhouses. Unless you’re vegetarian, I bet the word steakhouse brings a few favourites to mind. Does your favourite lean more towards the steak quality, cooking technique, or perhaps where the product originates from? Or will your loyalty hold true only if the service is consistently brilliant? Most would agree it’s a bit of everything — but if the service is actively terrible, diners rarely return and may even share their negative experience with others. Looking at this month’s overall mystery shopping score, 66% (an average of all visits), the performance across these four restaurants was surprisingly low compared to previous months. So what went wrong? As the results graph indicates, the sales and service quality category let all restaurants down.

• The Meat Co, Souk Al Bahar — 65% • St. Tropez, Century Village — 58%

THE WHAT: Caterer Middle East has partnered up with customer service experts Ethos Consultancy to highlight F&B service standards at outlets across the UAE. Each month, we’ll reveal mystery shoppers’ assessments of four different F&B outlets, to explore what these venues are doing right and what could be improved. THE WHY: This isn’t about catching F&B outlets with their trousers down: by measuring performance and providing expert advice on areas for improvement, we want to help better these operations — and the industry in general. THE HOW: Ethos Consultancy’s trained mystery shoppers are given a specific selection of outlets. Each shopper visits their assigned restaurant and dines as usual. Within 24 hours of every experience, each shopper fills out an online report, providing Ethos consultants with the information they require to offer constructive advice.


Each mystery shopper is instructed to look out for the following:

Caterer Middle East April 2010

With scores as low as 41% in this category, staff lost points for failing to make suggestions to their customers about drinks, starters and appetisers — and only a quarter of our mystery shoppers reported their waiter checking they were happy with their meal and experience at least twice during the course of the visit. Similarly, only 25% said their waiters introduced themselves when handing over the menus. Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for this month’s four steakhouses. Although there is definite room for improvement in the sales and service category, premises- and foodrelated scores were very acceptable. Some other highlights from this month’s shopper reports were that: • 100% of waiters were described as friendly, upbeat and outgoing; • 75% of waiters repeated orders back to the customer to check it was correct; • 87% of waiters cleared their customer’s table within a reasonable amount of time after the meal was complete; • 100% of waiters offered appropriate condiments and wet napkins automatically without having to be prompted; • 100% of waiters honoured special


Sales & Service

Were the premises and tables clean and tidy?

Were staff wearing name tags?

Did the server introduce himself?

Visit 1

Visit 2

Visit 1

Visit 2

Visit 1

Visit 2

Butcher Shop & Grill, JBR







Inferno, Dubai Marina







The Meat Co, Souk Al Bahar







St Tropez, Century Village







Mystery shopper Steakhouses


Sales and Service

Food and Beverage Quality

Overall Experience


ABOUT ETHOS CONSULTANCY Originating in the UK in 1995, Ethos Consultancy relocated to Dubai in 2003, where a team of five has grown to 50 — with an Abu Dhabi office opening in 2008. Our consultants have come from some of the most mature customer service markets in the world, ensuring experience and best practice in everything we do.




Ethos prides itself on being at the forefront of online customer service solutions and was awarded Most Innovative Small Business in the UAE at the 2008 Lloyds TSB Small Business Awards.


20 0
















Butcher Shop & Grill


The Meat Co

requests made by customers without having to be reminded; • 75% of our shoppers indicated they would be very likely or likely to recommend the outlet to family and friends.

What could have been better? • This month’s low sales and service scores indicate a need for some staff training. According to our reports, product knowledge was not a problem, with all except one waiter scoring top points in that department. The real issue appears to be twofold: firstly, waiting staff need to be taught the art of asking appropriate questions to ascertain their customers’ needs. Teach your staff how to ask appropriate questions so their drink, appetiser or post-meal

Did staff suggest or try to upsell additional items?

dessert and coffee suggestions are relevant, and don’t simply leave the customer feeling as though they are being forced or tricked into spending more money. Secondly, provide your staff with an incentive to start testing out what they have learnt by offering small ‘fun’ rewards to keep staff motivated and politely pushing products of your choice. • If professional customer service and sales training isn’t in your budget, organise regular ‘staff meets’ where by senior and more experienced staff take the lead and pass some of their tried-and-tested techniques across to younger and less experienced staff. • If you read last month’s burger joint assessment recommendations, you may remember that consistent, friendly table

Did the manager visit your table during the visit?

Through years of experience, Ethos has developed a variety of services to help clients understand how their business is performing. Our solutions include mystery shopping, satisfaction surveys and a range of benchmarking services. Once clients have a clear understanding of how they are performing, we help them improve via training, consulting and implementation of The International Customer Service Standard.

St Tropez

visits by managers (with names and designation clearly visible) was on the list. Well, it’s back again! Not only were managers hard to recognise this month, none actually visited any of our shoppers to have a friendly chat and enquire about their experience. A visit by a manager shows professionalism and a genu-

Food & Beverage Quality

Overall Experience

How satisfied were you with the presentation and quality of food?

How satisfied were you with the atmosphere in the restaurant?

How likely is it that you would recommend the outlet?

Visit 1

Visit 2

Visit 1

Visit 2

Visit 1

Visit 2

Visit 1

Visit 2

Visit 1

Visit 2



No manager present


Very Satisfied

Very Satisfied



Very likely




No manager present



Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied



Very likely




No manager present

No manager present

Very satisfied


Very satisfied

Very datisfied

Very likely




No manager present

No manager present



Very satisfied


Very likely


April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Editor’s comment Volume 6 Issue 04

Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 500024, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 (0)4 210 8000 Fax: +971 (0)4 210 8080 Offices in Dubai & London ITP Business Publishing CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Deputy Managing Director Matthew Southwell Editorial Director David Ingham VP Sales Wayne Lowery Publishing Director Diarmuid O’Malley Editorial Editor Lucy Taylor Tel: +971 4 210 8493 email: Advertising Publishing Director Diarmuid O’Malley Tel: +971 4 210 8568 email: Commercial Director Sarah Worth Tel: +971 4 210 8595 email: Int. Sales Manager, Hospitality & Catering Middle East & India Amanda Stewart GSM: +44 7908 117 333 email: Skype: amandajanestewart Studio Group Art Editor Dan Prescott Designer Lucy McMurray Photography Director of Photography Sevag Davidian Chief Photographer Khatuna Khutsishvili Senior Photographers G-nie Arambulo, Efraim Evidor, Thanos Lazopoulos Staff Photographers Isidora Bojovic, George Dipin, Lyubov Galushko, Jovana Obradovic, Ruel Pableo, Rajesh Raghav Production & Distribution Group Production Manager Kyle Smith Deputy Production Manager Matthew Grant Managing Picture Editor Patrick Littlejohn Image Editor Emmalyn Robles Distribution Manager Karima Ashwell Distribution Executive Nada Al Alami Circulation Head of Circulations & Database Gaurav Gulati Marketing Head of Marketing Daniel Fewtrell ITP Digital Director Peter Conmy ITP Group Chairman Andrew Neil Managing Director Robert Serafin Finance Director Toby Jay Spencer-Davies Board of Directors K M Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin Circulation Customer Service Tel: +971 4 210 8000 Certain images in this issue are available for purchase. Please contact for further details or visit Printed by Color Lines Controlled Distribution by Blue Truck The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review.

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Is a Gordon Ramsay spa on the horizon? As you may have read last month at our online home, the Middle East has been marked out as a potential site for a Nobu Hotel — yes, that’s ‘Nobu’ as in Japanese restaurant icon Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. According to Chuck Wood, Middle East managing director for Rockwell Group (the interior design firm responsible for designing the first Nobu Hotel, located in the US) the company has had “some conversations with developers here in the Middle East” and are “probably interested in coming here at some point”. “Nobu himself has a very strong personality that’s very tightly bound to the restaurant brand; people look to him as a kind of concierge,” insisted Wood. “Every meal is a hand-crafted, deep experience for people and we found that those attributes map very well to a hospitality offering. It’s a different game altogether from taking a celebrity’s name and slapping it on a building,” he added. All this begs the question: how far can a decent F&B brand go? I have heard a few incredulous remarks about the Nobu Hotel, but really, when you think about it, it’s not such a surprising idea. Within the F&B industry itself, there are copious examples of F&B outlets that have started small and gone on to enjoy global success as hugely popular brands, spanning the spectrum from McDonald’s to Gordon Ramsay Holdings. Some industry professionals, such as Antonio Carluccio or Jamie Oliver, have launched their own ranges of ingredients and cooking equipment. But are they missing a trick by staying in the F&B arena? Nobu Hotels are on the horizon: what about taking it a step further, and offering a McDonald’s airline (low-cost), or a Gordon Ramsay spa? Because the truth is that consumers want to buy into a brand. Clichéed as it may sound, they really do want a ‘lifestyle solution’; products that represent who they want to be and fit in with the life they want to lead — and today this applies not just to clothes or cars, but to food as well. If a person finds that one particular F&B concept meets their needs better than any other, then why shouldn’t they also buy the cookbooks from that brand, or purchase its range of ingredients, or even stay in its hotel? Successful brands are a well-developed commodity: they have an identity, a style and a purpose. That is what their customers will buy into, and any F&B brand bold enough to pursue and subsequently achieve this status arguably has potential to be a lot more.

Lucy Taylor, Editor

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Comment F&B column

Boyce Lionel

Recruitment blues. The Middle East needs to address the issues affecting F&B sector hiring practices (and those of other industries) if the region’s hospitality industry is to move forward Running a hospitality business in Dubai can be hard. In terms of recruitment, it’s difficult not to get frustrated, especially when you think of all the red tape you need go through to employ new staff. Firstly, you need the working visa, flight ticket, labour card, health card and accommodation. Then you have the ‘are they employed in the UAE already’ situation. If so, is it an immigration or a labour visa, is there an employment ban on them, or can their existing visa be transferred — and how much will that cost? Hopefully, this lengthy proceedure means you get the best candidate for the role. But the whole process adds to that ongoing problem affecting the service industry in Dubai — namely that not many native Emiratis want to work in hospitality. This makes it very hard to build a stable local industry, as they are the only people that have no issues in residing in their own country without all the government checks, bells and whistles required for employment — not to mention the stability they can offer as employees (this is their own country) or the undiscovered talent of budding chefs wanting to succeed in their own country. In its efforts to move forward, Dubai has invested a lot of time and money into hospitality; but this doesn’t seem to be fully supported by the correct mindset or structure. The strict immigration policies within the UAE not only hamper the interview process,


Caterer Middle East April 2010

making recruitment so laborious that sometimes it is impossible to employ the appropriate person; it also limits how long you can employ someone for, as there are no long-term options for people of other nationalities to reside in the UAE for more than a few years (such as the residency or citizenship options available in other countries). In my layman’s opinion, the upshot is that the hospitality industry suffers, as does Dubai as a whole. How can we provide excellent service without properly skilled and trained staff with long-term employment prospects? I believe a two-pronged attack is required: 1. Build a better infrastructure that supports local business, eliminating the current issues hampering the evolution of industry in Dubai. 2. Examine and assess the issues associated with employment and streamline the process of permitting someone to reside

Boyce: the process of recruiting F&B staff in the Middle East is currently hampered by red tape.

here after their contract has ended, as well as allowing them to take up a new position without an NOC letter and without having to leave the country. UAE nationals should also be encouraged to take pride in and embrace the industry that they use on a daily basis. After all, hospitality is not only one of the country’s main revenue streams, but also a traditional national trait and source of deserved pride in the Emirati culture. Something that is also vital for industry growth is widespread and continuing government support. Perhaps what should change first is the legislation that sees foreigners working in the UAE threatened if job loss occurs. Currently I understand they only have one month to remove themselves and their family or find a new employer, before being deported. There also needs to be an ongoing commitment to making the industry more equitable and stable, supported by training schemes and educational programmes aimed particularly, but not exclusively, at local nationals. Please don’t get me wrong, we have a strong F&B industry and some very talented (mainly imported) chefs in UAE. My call is simply for a better system that helps to strengthen this industry and encourages more local talent. Hospitality is a field that provides strong job opportunities with room for growth. It nurtures abilities and develops skills that can lead to long-term, rewarding careers. Dubai should grasp this with both hands and help hospitality thrive, reflecting the passion and commitment of the industry itself. Lionel Boyce is the executive chef at Desert Palm Dubai; for more information, please visit:

Comment Designer column


Keane Are operators self harming? Cutting back on professional design may seem like a reasonable economy, but the truth of the matter is far uglier When the going gets tough economically, one of the first ‘luxuries’ to be shelved is design. “I’ve got no capital to spend and so I’m not going to need design”, they say — and to a degree, there is no arguing with it. In fact, anyone who has run and is still running a design-led business knows that you may as well pack your bags until the clouds clear and hope the clients are still about when sunny days are here again. But beware: when you leave your clients unattended for a while, a terribly viral attitude takes hold, an attitude that’s highly contagious and will quickly infect others too. Having been without the influence of design for a few years, they learn to live without it — to adapt and improvise and do design-oriented tasks themselves. The result: a depressing design landscape that is at best barren and ultimately uninspired, lacking any hint of innovation. The reason for this is that, contrary to com-

mon belief among operators, they have not acquired any design skill in our absence, but rather allowed cheap mimicry to run amok! We have come back to dreadful-looking places run by people who think that their handy-work is somehow up to scratch. If this isn’t enough, we now have to put up with the property teams who have started talking as if they have been designers all their life — listen hard and on a still afternoon you can hear them whispering in the corridors that this design game isn’t all that hard; in fact, they don’t know what all the fuss is about. You may be one of these operators, or perhaps a fellow designer trying to prove your design’s worth. Whichever, we have to find a way to move onwards and upwards from this low together. It is no coincidence that businesses which invest in their outlets prosper — and for those who innovate, there are huge rewards

The downturn has left the world of F&B design barren, says Keane.

to reap around the Middle East. So how do we open the doors again? Although fresh-faced and brimming with youthful vigour, I’ve been around long enough to have seen this before: this trust stand-off between normally amicable parties, when both are coming to terms with business returning to ‘normal’, against a backdrop of changing expectations. This will resolve itself, because as normality returns — albeit it delicately and slowly — so too will the traditional interplay between designer and client. I guess it is just the more stubborn and self-important clients that are enjoying, relishing even, this market upheaval that has allowed them to act as both. Currently, I am working with some smart clients who want to change the world — or at least rejoin it at a cooler, slicker point than they left it. They know the consumer is growing restless and that social habits change quickly. The shrewd operator is reading the situation and adapting to it, putting innovation into all aspects of their business. If I had one wish now, it would be to fastforward 12 months and take a good look at the design landscape which is so barren today. I am certain it will be a lot more inspiring, a lot more innovative and a heck of a lot more colourful — commercially as well as visually. Design doesn’t save lives or anything like that, but it does make a business come alive, inspire its customers and make life that little bit easier for us all to enjoy. Aidan Keane is the founder of specialist leisure and retail design firm Keane; for more information, visit:

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Special feature Educating the consumer

An eating education Today’s band of celebrity chefs has a huge influence on consumers — and by using their high profiles to educate the public, they are simultaneously revolutionising the F&B industry

Gary Rhodes.


Caterer Middle East April 2010

Special feature Educating the consumer


he F&B industry is undoubtedly a far more glamorous Twenty10, opening at Le Royal Méridien later this year — said proposition today than it once was. such events were a massive boon to the region. This is a climate in which the media has made celebrities “This really shows off what Dubai is all about; it’s become the of Michelin-starred chefs, where food has its own television chanculinary capital of the Middle East, there’s no question about nel and more young people than ever before (at least in western that — we’ve got loads of great chefs, great restaurants and a huge countries) are considering a culinary career. variety of cooking styles from all over the world,” he asserted. It boils down to the fact that food has become fashionable — and “And if you can open the doors wide to this huge fairground exconsumers want to know more about it. travaganza of culinary delights, to all the people who This means a multitude of professional chefs have live in the UAE and hopefully many tourists from unexpectedly become high-profile, influential public It helps the further afield as well, there’s going to be something figures, with millions of people around the world industry to have for everyone to take away from that. hanging on their every word. “Many people won’t have tried some of the styles this opportunity of food before,” he continued. “Just to be able to give This provides these professionals with the ideal platform for educating the consumer, which not only them a taste and broaden their food knowledge — to network” improves public food knowledge but also strengthens there’s nothing better for a chef than that.” and broadens the F&B industry itself. Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, the man behind high-end Indian outlet Indego at Grosvenor Educating eaters House, added: “I believe it’s good for people to come and meet Last month saw an impressive turnout for the Taste of Dubai us and try new things, so they can take away a lot of new ideas (ToD) festival, a food fair in the UAE’s most cosmopolitan emirand flavours across a whole range of cuisines. It helps to educate ate, offering visitors the opportunity to sample taster portions of consumers, as it means they will try new things in future.” signature dishes from exhibiting restaurants. Celebrated Italian chef Georgio Locatelli has taken part in ToD Renowned chef Gary Rhodes — who was present not only to for the past two years, and agrees that an education in food has represent his Rhodes Mezzanine restaurant at Grosvenor House, become “highly important” — for consumers of all ages. but also to officially announce his second Dubai outlet, Rhodes “I teach a few sessions each year in schools, telling kids about

Minato chef Dunjie Durmiendo attracts attention on the restaurant’s stand at Taste of Dubai.

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Special feature Educating the consumer

Radisson’s Uwe Micheel conducts a cooking demonstration at Taste of Dubai.

Unique Catering Disposables

Rivington Grill’s Duncan Cruickshanks. food and showing them it’s a part of their life and accessible to them,” he reveals. “It’s important to take steps like this; the next generation should be one that understands the relation between food production and cooking and can appreciate a balanced, wholesome diet.”

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Beyond the obvious benefits for consumer health and diet that a culinary education offers — Locatelli’s lesson could certainly be of use in the UAE, which fields a notoriously high rates of diabetes and obesity — such efforts can also yield significant rewards for the F&B industry. Scott Price, the new executive chef at Verre by Gordon Ramsay at Hilton Dubai Creek — who took part in demonstrations at the ToD Cookery Theatre — points out that culinary events are a great opportunity for the chefs involved as well. “It’s good to be able to see what everyone else is doing, to check out ideas and scope, and just find out a bit more about what’s going on in the industry,” he asserts. “It’s also a great way to push the restaurant, and let people know about things such as the chef ’s table we’ve got coming up, and our cooking master classes,” Price adds. “Again these classes are educational, but in addition they’re a great way of getting people into the restaurant, interacting with them and getting them enthusiastic about food and about cooking.” Rhodes agrees that chefs can take away a great deal from such events. “It helps the industry to have this opportunity to network, catch up and exchange ideas,” he comments.

Special feature Educating the consumer

“There seems to be a traditional view that everyone here is in the understanding of the delicate flavours of food, about how to massive competition, that every restaurant hates the other and create that great marriage of flavours and textures.” there’s no camaraderie whatsoever — but it’s nothing like that. “For me the key is really to share your own culinary secrets and People realise that at these shows and are surprised that everyone knowledge with people, so they can have a greater understanding gets on so well,” he asserts. and appreciation of food in their daily lives.” “We run about to the different stands and try their Verre’s Price, who joined the Dubai outlet after food, and it’s really about sharing. It really is one six years at Claridge’s in London and trained under big family cooking together, aiming to attract more The ‘power of Gordon Ramsay, adds that influential culinary figpeople into this fantastic country.” ures have a great opportunity to educate consumers media’ promotes about a healthy, balanced diet as well. Bhatia adds that it is “a chance to catch up with old this profession friends and new cooking styles”, as well as getting a “Nowadays there’s a lot of emphasis on how you feel for the market. eat and what you eat,” to the public” “Being involved in food events gives you a chance he explains. to meet local chefs and other people in the market, “At a restaurant, a so it’s a great chance to broaden your horizons as an lot of things are going individual,” he observes. to be rich, or cooked in butter, and And the benefits are taken through to the kitchen as well, as Uwe that’s fine — as long as you’re not Micheel, director of kitchens at Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek eating that every day. and president of the Emirates Culinary Guild, explains. “But it’s important that people “The more consumers know about food, different cuisines, about learn from high-profile chefs like the way things are done in the kitchen, the more they appreciate Gordon, who people really listen and understand the art of food,” he says. “Naturally, this creates to, about how to eat a healthy, more interest in exploring new things.” balanced diet. Rivington Grill head chef Duncan Cruickshanks elaborates: “When you’re in the busi“With customers having a wider understanding of food, suppliness of finding the best fresh ers and importers have to make more seasonal and higher quality ingredients every day, you products available to the market.” realise how important this In addition to these benefits, there is of course the fact that the food really is — and passing on more the consumer knows and appreciates, the more a chef must that information is invaluable,” push himself — as Verre’s Price notes. he comments. “The more the customer understands, the more you have to Bhatia agrees: “Personally, I love push yourself and your offering to deliver something that really to teach. I think you can influence impresses them. It keeps you on your toes,” he says. people in what you do, particularly with regards A duty to diners to a healthWhether they like it or not, celebrity chefs have a great influence ier diet. on consumers — as I. Made Darmagunawn, head chef at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates outlet Sezzam, notes. “They are well known public figures; people love them and their food,” he says. “People will listen to them and take their advice, because they believe in them and what they do.” As a result, many of today’s high-profile chefs feel they have a responsibility to not only educate people about different foods, but also what constitutes good food, or a balanced diet. Rhodes is insistent that he is not a celebrity chef, but rather a professional chef who has ended up as a public figure. However he admits that this position does confer a certain sense of duty. Sezzam’s I. Made Darmagunawn. “I think as far as being a ‘celebrity chef ’ — for want of a better expression— is concerned, we can hopefully share with the public

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Special feature Educating the consumer

“When high-profile chefs attend public events or hold cooking demonstrations, they inspire people,” he continues. “People do look at you as a benchmark, as someone who has succeeded or achieved something in the field, and they want to do that too. So you actually can be there and be a role model for others wanting to come into this industry.” Indeed the culture of celebrity chefs has done wonders for attracting fresh talent to the industry, as Radisson Blu’s Micheel notes. “The ‘power of media’ as well as the exposure of the F&B world to consumers promotes the profession to the public, and since the culinary scene has now reached so many people around the world, the profession is much more respected and looked up to, as opposed to how it was perceived before,” he explains.

A food-lover’s future Obviously trends come in waves; the steady ‘celebritisation’ of chefs may not continue forever. But hopefully, the principles that people such as Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Georgio Locatelli, Gary Rhodes, Vineet Bhatia and others teach will continue to influence consumers around the globe. Because, as these chefs have realised, it is through building consumer understanding of food, ingredients and cooking that the industry itself will continue to grown and flourish.

Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli.

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Roundtable Staff training

Get in training! What in-house education do you offer F&B employees? Naji Esta: All the in-house training we offer is really based on skills, so we have training programmes fitted to each department, focusing on specific F&B fields, in addition to the generic hotel training. The key is definitely to keep it frequent, not only because you might have new people or turnover, but because by repeatedly training skills, they becomes second nature. Dominique Morin: We start with an assessment to determine what kind of training the member of staff needs; this is conducted through special software, so we can tailor-make the training programme for each individual. Then of course there’s on-the-job training, which is essential, particularly in the kitchen where it takes place on a daily basis, as it does for front-of-house F&B staff. Alexandre Maurisseau: We don’t have the software, but it’s the same kind of system for us: all new employees go through the basic


Caterer Middle East April 2010

house training, then as soon as they are assigned to one of the outlets they go to daily and weekly on-the-job training. After that, it comes down to finding the best staff to put through for crosstraining between outlets. It’s always helpful to have a few staff that can be rotated, depending on demand. Sandra van Reenen: With the opening of the hotel, it has been very interesting implementing our F&B training system; a lot of it has been from the most basic level. I think it helps that the place has a dedicated F&B trainer though, which is beyond the regular resources for HR and training at a hotel. Do you feel training gets sufficient support today? Esta: I would say we get about 33% of our hotel’s training budget and that’s decent, in the current climate. Our department makes up 45% of the hotel’s workforce, which is quite sizeable, so we do need a major focus on the training.

Roundtable Staff training

Last month, top F&B industry professionals met up at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, to discuss the challenges of staff training, the importance of correct recruitment and why specialised instruction is today more important than ever Morin: I think that things have changed a lot over the past five years; 10 years back, there wasn’t really any emphasis on training — then you got people coming here with little or no experience in the field, so they all had to be trained from scratch. That meant spending time and money on instruction and it became a real focus. And now, since so many new properties have opened, the market’s becoming more crowded. Again that means people need to spend time on training, so their F&B options remain competitive. Rinaldo Boscaro: A lot of employees are brought from abroad, from countries where F&B may not be viewed as a career but just a job to pay the rent. Also, probably because of the salary structure we have, we’re hiring people with zero starting knowledge. Customers will often expect staff should be up to scratch almost right away, which puts a lot of pressure on us. At the same time these new staff are training, they’re also working in day-to-day operations and some do find it difficult to work and study at the same time.

Maurisseau: The way we’re going about it is trying to get people with just the right attitude at the recruitment stages. We can provide training support for skills and knowledge, but you really have to be approachable and cheerful to work with customers. How important is the training you offer with regards to attracting and retaining staff? Morin: A few years ago, people were looking for training and development, the opportunity to grow; now I think a decent train-

Taking part [from left to right] • Rinaldo Boscaro, director of F&B, Yas Island Rotana • Alexandre Maurisseau, director of F&B, One to One Hotel — The Village • Sandra van Reenen, F&B trainer, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr • Dominique Morin, executive chef, Le Méridien Abu Dhabi • Naji Esta, director of F&B, InterContinental Abu Dhabi

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Roundtable Ro R ou un nd ndt dtta tab able le Staff Sta S taff ta ff tr ttra training rra aiini in niing n ng

[L-R] Le Méridien’s Dominique Morin and One to One’s Alexandre Maurisseau. ing programme can still attract people, but more those in management roles. F&B line staff are often not looking for development.

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Maurisseau: We’re just coming up to two years old, as a property and as a company, and in my experience training has definitely helped us retain people — along with the fact that we have more projects in the pipeline, which gives staff another reason to stay. After that, wages obviously play an important part in the decision that associates are going to make, but I would say today people are coming back to looking at the bigger picture. Esta: I believe nowadays it’s not only the salary, it is about development. We and most other hotels have a personal development plan for each of our staff, so they can see where they are going and where training could take them, which definitely retains and encourages people. Maurisseau: In the old days, the difference between what one property and a new competitor offered could be almost triple. But when the crisis started, many of these new players cut positions, which made staff appreciate that money wasn’t everything. Van Reenen: But looking at the past three years or so, I think a lot of training aspects were cut during the economic downturn, and I can’t help but wonder how that impacted the personal development plans of employees at properties where this was the case. I think many hotels in this area were affected by that — but I personally believe training is even more essential during periods of instability. Boscaro: We actually increased training, specifically to retain staff and because there was more time. It’s not only beneficial for the employees but also the brand, because they are then more useful to our sister properties as well and can potentially be promoted. Morin: In 2007 or 2008 it was very busy — we were asking people to

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Roundtable Staff training

work a lot of overtime, so it was difficult to actually train them. But like many hotels, we stopped overtime last year and now I am finding people coming and asking me for training. So there is a demand coming from the associates themselves, which is great to see.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when it comes to F&B training? Morin: It takes time to train people. Even though we are less busy in F&B than before, we have less people — even properties that did not make redundancies probably did not fill vacated roles when people left. So operations have become more streamlined and, as a result, time is still an issue.

In what capacity do you make use of external learning courses and services? Morin: We use a lot of online training actually, working with Maurisseau: Balancing operational needs and training needs is hospitality schools such as e-Cornell, so our students can complete definitely tough. modules and ‘graduate’ online. We also bring chefs from other properties and counBoscaro: It’s a bit of a vicious circle — business goes tries to train the staff, which is a great opportunity to You’re left with down and they don’t cut you workforce as such, but learn new techniques. a skeleton team; staff are moved to other properties and you’re left Van Reenen: We also have e-Cornell available; with a skeleton team. still, training has obviously we’re still in the opening phase, but these Still, training has to go on — but it can put a dent to go on — but courses should work well in line with a person’s develin operations. it can put a dent opment plan. Guest satisfaction will go down because employees We also have My Fairmont e-Global Learning, and are not there, in the same way that if the employees in operations” we’re in the process of moving forward with that, are not training their satisfaction goes down. It’s hard which is available across the Fairmont brand. to know what to do anymore! Then we have FAME, the Fairmont Artistic Mixology Experience, Esta: We have the same issue, but we try. For example, with our where we have celebrity mixologist Kathy Casey come and pass on suppliers who offer training, traditionally they want around 30-40 her expertise and helps develop our cocktail menus and so on. So people but nowadays they are a lot more flexible, and we have got that is incredibly useful for our bartenders. them down to 15-20 people per session. There is still a lot more out there — we’d like to offer items like But I feel that the team is much more aggressive and responsive WSET training for those interested in the sommelier field — but to training now; they tend to have the right behaviour, requesting we’ll look at these more selective trainings as we move forward.

[L-R] Naji Esta, Dominique Morin, Alexandre Maurisseau, Rinaldo Boscaro and Sandra van Reenen.

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Roundtable Staff training

training and looking forward, which is a positive thing. There’s much more commitment. Van Reenen: We were very fortunate in a lot of ways; we have a dedicated F&B training manager, we have great scope for our outlets, we have a sizeable team, and we managed to prepare thoroughly during the pre-opening stages. It was extremely highpressured, but still streamlined. But now we’re a business, we’re an operation and we need to function. So yes, time can be an issue that crops up, but I think it comes down to how you plan and structure the training. How would you like to see the field progress in future? Morin: I would like to see an F&B school in the country — not some institute, but a proper school, like Cornell. Boscaro: You could even have a school affiliated with one of these big existing hospitality schools, with the same curriculum. And we definitely need more F&B training managers around! Van Reenen: I agree; in the year or so I’ve been here, I have come across very few dedicated F&B training roles. It is a luxury for a hotel. But of course as such, it is a role that may go if times get tough.

Fairmont’s Van Reenen has been impressed by staff enthusiasm for training.

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Industry insight Al fresco dining

The outer limits

A large part of the Middle East’s appeal comes from beautiful natural settings and sunny weather, which outdoor outlets have been quick to capitalise on. But with F&B competition steadily heating up, will the sun continue to shine on al fresco operators?


he Middle East has enjoyed great success as a holiday destination, primarily because of three key attributes: sun, sand and sea. When you factor in the stunning natural scenery as well as some extremely impressive man-made attractions, it is clear that outdoors is the place to be — a point that F&B outlets across the region have been quick to pick up on. The result has seen al fresco F&B offerings blossom in line with the hospitality industry boom around the Middle East, with operators eager to reap the rewards of an outdoor element. At Le Méridien Dubai, 18 restaurants and bars form an outdoor restaurant ‘village’, with the outlets offering outdoor seating and live entertainment to create a pleasant community feel. Hilton Al Ain has just recently launched its first outdoor offer-


Caterer Middle East April 2010

ing, Makani, located by the property’s ‘Pool Garden’ area, offering Arabic and Lebanese specialties freshly prepared at the table using a unique table grill concept — which of course would prove difficult for an indoor outlet. And the exotic Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts consistently tries to maximise the external elements at its properties, according to assistant vice president F&B, Sriram Kailasam. “As far as possible, our F&B outlets are designed to provide a sense of place; even for some of our indoor outlets, we incorporate the use of glass walls to provide a seamless sense of place,” he notes. At the year-old Cove Rotana Resort in Ras Al Khaimah, it was decided during the design stages that each and every outlet should have a sizeable outdoor area. “The al fresco seating areas are really one of the main features,”

Industry insight Al fresco dining

Top tip “Start off by considering the quality and the USPs of the outdoor area. These points will highlight the main areas of focus and assist with mapping out other elements like cuisine, operations and decor.” Mikael Petersson, operations manager, Hilton Al Ain

Cove Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah.

says director of F&B Armin Weller. “This is not your stereotypical setup for the Middle East. “Other hotels may have to create a sense of the outdoors inside, while we have the real thing. And this is one of the reasons why this property has taken off the way it has, and why people respond in the way they do; the outdoors is an integral part of the concept.” Obviously the al fresco element plays a key role in attracting a guest to a venue; as Méridien Village Terrace head chef Gregorio Reodique comments, the ambiance of a place is “a major factor in making the evening memorable for a diner”. But that does not mean this attractive-sounding dining set-up does not come with a whole host of challenges — primarily weather-related. Hilton Al Ain operations manager Mikael Petersson comments: “Naturally an outdoor venue has unique requirements, but as long as

Industry insight Al fresco dining

Top tip “Think from the guest’s perspective; if you were to spend an evening out, what would you want to see?” Gregorio Reodique, head chef, Méridien Village Terrace

Top tip “Like everything else, any kind of F&B operation is about location. If you have an outdoor venue and cram it between two high-rises, just for the sake of being able to say you offer an al fresco outlet, you won’t end up with a great offering.” Armin Weller, director of F&B, Cove Rotana Resort Ras Al Khaimah

Cove Rotana Resort director of F&B Armin Weller.

you have systems and processes in place, these are manageable. “Makani will operate as an F&B outlet throughout the year but we will adapt to the change in seasons with outdoor heaters and blankets for winter and cooling fans for the summer months,” he explains. Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts has precise operation procedures in place, depending on the location and seasonality, reveals Kailasam. “These include moving guests to alternative restaurants, removal of tableware, coordination of food to new tables and re-setting the restaurant in case the rain stops,” he elaborates. According to Cove Rotana’s Weller, the key is to be flexible. “Of course the guests have to be understanding of the issues too,” he notes. In addition to general ambient appeal, the great outdoors has the more concrete advantage of space. This means an al fresco outlet can host events and entertainment that might not be possible indoors, as Méridien Village’s Reodique notes. “We have various events hosted at


Caterer Middle East April 2010

Méridien Village Terrace at Le Méridien Dubai.

What is your must-have product for an outdoor area? “Besides the durable outdoor seating, our band is very much enjoyed by the guests! But overall it’s the whole setting and ambiance that brings them back time and time again.” Gregorio Reodique, head chef, Méridien Village Terrace “Less is definitely more in the case of outdoor outlets. The best and most memorable aspect of an outdoor outlet should be the view and natural ambience; and the decor should showcase it as much as possible. It should be an extension of the outside and should not be boxed in with too much ‘stuff’. Lighting, fans and heaters are requisites, but the space should be laid out primarily so that it relaxes the guests.” Mikael Petersson, operations manager, Hilton Al Ain “The lighting and soft furnishings, as these come together to create the right ambience and comfort for the guest’s overall comfort. And of course, the right location; along with ensuring everything comes together to complete the experience, such as matching cuisine.” Sriram Kailasam, assistant vice president F&B, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts

Méridien Village Terrace; for example on the occasion of the UAE’s 38th National Day we had live ice carving, with our artists creating statues of a falcon and Arabic coffee pot,” he says. Hilton Al Ain’s Petersson agrees adding value to the al fresco experience is a good way of “fostering customer loyalty”. “At Makani, we have enhanced the dining experience by adding quintessential Arabic elements like traditional shisha and an in-house oud player,” he says. Located on the coast of Ras Al Khaimah, Cove Rotana is also playing to its strengths. “We have made the most of the natural space in many ways,” explains Weller. “We offer barbeques and events on the beach — options that appeal to our clientele, who really enjoy being outdoors.” It seems that, despite the growing numbers of outdoor offerings, guests just can’t get enough of the Middle East’s al fresco dining options. The important thing for newcomers to remember is to play to the strengths of the space itself, and make the most of what is naturally available.

Outlet showcase Rococo

Design details

“The key to the interior is eye-catching contemporary style with sumptuous themes, incorporating colours ranging from earth tones to the most intense hues: deep violet walls, burgundy glass pendants, saffron leather chairs and a black marble floor.�


Caterer Middle East April 2010

Outlet showcase Rococo

Inside outlets

Seeking out the hottest new F&B outlets, Caterer Middle East reveals the innovative concepts and operation strategies securing the success of the region’s new launches

“Be patient; choose your designer carefully to make sure they can match with your vision, and insist on just the right small details so you reach the standard you are loking for.”

A rainbow of colours tempered by cool European design, Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach’s signature restaurant Rococo embodies elegant Italia. But this is a country whose cuisine has already been adopted by numerous outlets across the region; how will this one stand out? The property’s F&B director Laurent Boisdon explains: “Dubai is a multicultural destination where Italian concepts are well perceived; Rococo aims to be one of the top Italian restaurant destinations in town.” With the hotel currently in its soft-opening phase, it is a prime opportunity for “fine-tuning and adjusting the product”, says Boisdon. “Pre-opening is always exiting, but also challenging; there are different stages to go through before you can see the final product and discover whether your vision fits the décor and ambiance,” he notes. However Boisdon is confident the offering will stand out amongst the proliferation of other Italian eateries. “Rococo will be known as a free-standing restaurant, not a Sofitel restaurant,” he asserts. Conceding that the downturn has brought about a significant slowdown in consumer spending, Boisdon notes that prior to opening, the team did notice a change in the market. “We took it seriously and adjusted our menu pricing strategy accordingly,” he explains. Moving forward, Boisdon is confident that the outlet’s proactive promotional strategy will help generate significant footfall. “We plan to encourage our in-house guests through our concierges continuously promoting and our internal associates cross-selling, as well as attracting outside guests through an aggressive marketing radio campaign, doorknob promotions for local residents and extensive PR and web forums,” he reveals. “But ultimately, the key to succeeding is to constantly question how you can do better and improve the guest experience.”

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Ingredient focus Bakery and pastry

Addressing the bake-off Many chefs may traditionally prefer to create their baked goods from scratch, but with demand increasing and kitchens having to cut back on costs, suppliers are seizing the opportunity to demonstrate how their products can increase efficiency and still deliver a top-quality product From bread and other dough-based items to pastries and even desserts, baked goods have long played an integral role in the Middle East diet. But in today’s cosmopolitan climate the demand is growing still further, according to the region’s chefs and suppliers. At Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates — where a new bakery concept recently opened at the hotel’s Aspen lobby lounge — executive chef Winfried Helmetag explains: “The demand for fresh bread and other European baked goods is no longer restricted to just ex-pat patrons. The cosmopolitan culture and multinational food offering in hotels have introduced traditionally western baked goods to a much wider audience.” As Park Hyatt Dubai pastry chef Jocelyne Fallait notes: “Today, for every meal there is a baked supplement.” Both Kempinski and Park Hyatt make all their bread and baked goods from scratch, the chefs explain.


Caterer Middle East April 2010

“This way it ensures the product is free from preservatives and also is unique to this property,” says Fallait. “In addition, home-made bread is of much higher quality than commercially pre-prepared items, as well as being more cost effective than bought-in products.” But suppliers are fighting this preconception, as Advance Baking Concept (ABC) commercial manager Masood Syed explained at Gulfood 2010. “There are a lot of misconceptions about fresh-from-frozen, so we are fighting that sterotype and educating people about the reality of the product,” he said. “I always believed the concept we offer, fresh-from-frozen, is more cost-effective than what people do from scratch. “Formerly, when there was a lot of money to spend, people were setting up their own in-house bakeries — investing in the man power, the space, the machines and the raw ingredients. But we

Ingredient focus Bakery and pastry

Lilly, an elegant creation from La Marquise.

Fruit flavours from Aramtec’s Wagner range.

are definitely seeing more people embracing this method since the downturn,” he said. Meanwhile at industry supplier Aramtec, food service manager Hossam Shabayk is also “a believer in convenience products”. “Human beings in general tend to resist any new ideas and we faced a lot of difficulties in making this product line a success. But I think the perception has changed as chefs realise that convenience products are more of a help than a threat,” he reasoned. “Also, since high technology got involved into the production of these items there has been a big shift in quality, and now that has really puts these products on the same level as items that are made from scratch.” La Marquise International production line in charge Fadi Achour agrees that part-made products have become “more acceptable” over the past few years. “Chefs are increasingly convinced to use ready mixes in order to save time, workers, and indirect expenses,” he notes. At Puratos, whose products are distributed in the region by Baqer Mohebi Est, commercial manager — Middle East and Africa Walid El-Dana comments: “Bread and pastries are complex items to produce. Their manufacturing requires not only skilled and experienced professionals but also time and talent. “In these top restaurants and hotels, chefs appreciate not only the level of quality we offer them but also the real partnership.” Heidi Chef Solutions general manager Manuel-Yves Eckert adds that pastry chefs and bakers are “increasingly willing to look at other alternatives to scratch-made products, providing the quality meets their high standards”. “The key drivers for this change are time and skill,” he adds. “Most hotel pastry departments’ teams are now leaner following staffing cut-backs, but are expected to produce the full pastry and bakery range. “With the help of pre-mixes, semi-finished products and fullyfinished products the chef has the option to schedule his time better and meet their deadlines.” The way to overcome any lingering old prejudices, according to these suppliers, is by educating the market.

Aramtec’s Shabayk says the company achieves this through a variety of approaches —“from arranging demonstrations, to planning market visits for technical staff to go and meet chefs, to taking part in trade shows and even arranging visits for local chefs to our principle’s facilities overseas”. As Puratos’ El-Dana puts it, the objective is “to be a reliable partner in innovation for our customers”. And innovation alongside baked goods suppliers is the route the industry is taking, according to Park Hyatt’s Fallait. “With demand increasing, I see more and more companies adopting a mix of fresh-from-frozen, bought-in mixes and totally home-made breads,” he admits. ABC’s Masood Syed.

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Ingredient focus Bakery and pastry

Baked goods from Puratos. Meanwhile Kempinski’s Helmetag believes more traditional regional items are going to be in demand. “There is a big consumer trend towards focusing on simple, quality food products that showcase high-quality ingredients obtained from a particular region or made using certain timehonoured techniques,” he says. And according to a multitude of baked goods suppliers, they are seeing increasing requests for healthy products. Puratos’ El-Dana notes: “At our headquarters, we have a department measuring trends around the world. One they identified a few years ago was a growing demand for healthier food items

Rich flavours from the Wagner by Aramtec. — therefore we developed the Puravita range offering different mixes for health breads. “More generally speaking, the group wants to further develop its health-conscious approach by paying particular attention to the nutritional benefits of the ingredients we use in order to offer balanced products.” Whatever the future holds in terms of consumer demands, chef preferences and market availability, there is no doubt that the baked-goods boom is continuing in the Middle East: and the region’s pastry chefs, bakers and market suppliers are in a strong position to support it.

Supplier news April 2010

Supplier news

Easy-peel king crab scuttles into UAE Royal Culimer launches new seafood product designed to offer chefs a convenient crab solution Seafood provider Culimer BV will this month launch its latest product line: easypeel king crab. King Crab 100% Merus Legs has been launched in response to growing demand for convenience products, according to the firm’s communication manager Maarten van Geest, who revealed the company had started working with chefs to test new products. “Chefs know what the market is looking for. Their knowledge brings in that essential information for our company,” he explained. “Making the product easy to peel allows end-users to enjoy the exotic feeling of peeling impressive king crab legs, while also making the meat more easily accessible,” Van Geest added.

King Crab 100% Merus Legs: shell on, easy to peel.

Gourmet cutlery creates a stir

[L-R] The new gourmet fork and spoon.

Villeroy & Boch’s hotel and restaurant division has launched a new gourmet cutlery range promising “a whole new dimension in cutlery”. Created by trained gold and silversmith Katja Bremkamp, the collection features 11 different cutlery items in four design categories: Classic Tools, Gourmet Tools, Coffee Tools and Finger Tools. Georges Schaaf, product manager of the firm’s hotel and restaurant division, noted: “Our gourmet cutlery series transfers the hands’ sense of touch to the items of cutlery and, in so doing, makes it possible to experience a completely new, sensuous way of eating. The cutlery acts as a direct substitute for the hands. “The result is that guests are encouraged to eat slowly and consciously enjoy what they’re eating. And they do concentrate on their food in an exceptional way, because these unusual items of cutlery simply have to be used with consideration.”

Royal Culimer general manager Jeroen Tollenaar agreed that today’s chefs and consumers were both “looking for convenience”, asserting that today operations were “trying to economise on the labour front”. “Buying a whole fish from the fish counter might sound nice and cheap, but if you do that, you will lose at least 40% during the cleaning — which is a waste of time and money,” he pointed out. “Frozen seafood is simply a better option if you take HACCP into consideration,” Tollenaar pointed out. The product will be officially launched during this month’s Seafood Processing Europe xhibition, running from April 27-29 in Brussels, Belgium.

Hefty expansion for Herfy in KSA Saudi Arabian fast-food giant Herfy Food Services has announced plans for major expansion across the Kingdom. An official spokesperson for the group confirmed it would open an additional 17 stores across Saudi Arabia in 2010. Once opened, the new stores — which form part of the company’s ongoing regional expansion strategy — will bring its total number of branches in KSA to 173. The company recently opened three new restaurants, located in Ras Tanura, Riyadh and Dammam. Herfy, which was established in 1981, currently has a portfolio including restaurants in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait and the UAE — and its offering even expands into the production industry, with 16 bakery production units and a meat processing plant.

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


F&B essentials Outdoor furniture

Furniture market moves on from delays Although impacted by delayed projects, the furniture market is moving forwards Postponed Middle East hotel projects, put on hold due to financial issues, have had a sustained and ongoing impact on peripheral industry suppliers. Commenting on business, Parasol Garden Furniture managing director Mark Sault admitted: “The postponement of hotel building has definitely had a negative impact on sales during 2009 and 2010. “The planned number of built rooms will fall well short of original projected figures, and as such all ancillary products will suffer a fall in projected sales,” he said. However Sault noted that the furniture industry had seen a lift in business in the run up to the summer months. “During late 2009, some of the more established hotels in the region decided to upgrade

Parasol Garden Furniture’s Mark Sault. their outdoor seating to ensure that the status of the property was commensurate with its image,” he explained.


OK Furniture & Chairs

This collection features modern architectural shapes that highlight nature in outdoor settings, offering a range of configurable daybeds and pergolas along with personalised aluminium furniture. The line is available with a choice of colours, configurations and accessories.

Offering more than 22,000 designs of quality furniture, Middle East supplier OK

Kettal SA Tel: +34 93 487 90 90 Fax: +34 93 487 90 66 Email: Web:


Sault added that the most challenging aspect of providing quality, long-lasting outdoor furniture to Middle

East operators remained the regional climate. “The harsh sun requires products that can withstand the scorching summer temperatures,” he pointed out. “But the rise in sales of synthetic rattan has ensured that hoteliers can provide a prestige setting with durability and style. “Today’s customers want comfort, aesthetics, durability and value for money,” he continued. “The aesthetic values in each product have really become crucial as hotels compete for an increasingly astute and well informed travelling public. “This area has really made huge advances recently: new materials combined with design-led styles have encouraged operators to make the most of the outdoor settings.”

Caterer Middle East April 2010

Furniture & Chairs boasts five showrooms across the UAE. The firm’s range of products includes not only outdoor furniture, but also a variety of indoor options to fit all industries, from F&B outlets to meeting rooms. OK Furniture & Chairs Tel: +971 6 533 3989 Toll-free: 800-OK (80065) Fax: +971 6 533 8435 Email: Web:

F&B essentials Outdoor furniture

Outdoor rugs Kettal presents a new collection of outdoor rugs, with fabrics designed by Patricia Urquiola. The mats are made from Chenilletex, protected by a layer of non-slip PVC and come in four colours. Each one measures 300x200cm. Kettal SA Tel: +34 93 487 9090 Fax: +34 93 487 9066 Email: Web:

Parasol Garden Furniture With temperatures perfect for al fresco entertaining, Parasol Garden Furniture is offering a full range of outdoor furniture. Particularly popular are the company’s synthetic rattan ranges, including chairs, tables, sun loungers and relaxed sofa seating. Parasol Garden Furniture Tel: +971 4 347 9003 Fax: +971 4 341 2886 Web:

Atmosphere Created by Marcel Wanders, the Atmosphere concept is reminiscent of early-century pavilions, and uses light, sound and shape to create a unique outdoor environment. The system consists of a totally configurable aluminium

pavilion and contemporary furniture set. Kettal SA Tel: +34 93 487 9090 Fax: +34 93 487 9066 Email: Web:

Product showcase Barbeque equipment

Getting all fired up As temperatures rise, Caterer unearths F&B essentials to ensure your barbeque sizzles

Ranch Kettle With a width of 96cm, the Weber Ranch Kettle is the ideal choice for an event with numerous guests. The US-manufactured Kettle features a black porcelain-enamelled bowl and lid, a triple-plated hinged cooking grate, a removable ash catcher and a 10-year warranty.

Polycarbonate range

This collection of polycarbonate barware looks like crystal, but is unbreakable — suitable for any outdoor occasion, from poolside outlets to elegent events. Slim stems, weighted bases and laser-thin rims distinguish the collection, while the four colours and 28 shapes ensure it can go anywhere.

Weber-Stephen Nordic Middle East Tel: +971 4 360 9256 Web:

The Great Outdoor Company This range of barbecues, available from Parasol Garden Furniture, promises quality and durability, with features such as an in-built temperature probe, which helps to achieve consistency in cooking.

Impulse! Enterprises LLC Tel: +971 4 359 6664 Email: Web:

Parasol Garden Furniture Tel: +971 4 347 9003 Email: Web:

Asia Tent International


Chopping board

Asia Tent International is a specialist manufacturer of clear-span structures, designing, developing and renting temporary and semi-permanent structures made of top-grade aluminium alloy and PVC fabric, which adhere to international building codes — and add a touch of style to any outdoor event.

These functional Weber chopping boards are made from oak and have been treated with oil to protect the surfaces. The bread board has practical grooves to catch crumbs, while the meat board has a deep, wide groove for collecting all the juices. These durable boards can be used indoors and outdoors, promising “a better grill experience all year round”.

Asia Tent International Tel: + 971 4 443 9486 Email: Web:

Weber-Stephen Nordic Middle East Tel: +971 4 360 9256 Fax: +971 4 421 5263 Web:

Caterer Middle East April 2010


Supplier Product showcase

New products Every month Caterer Middle East brings you the best and brightest new F&B products


Cappuccino Cola

These porcelain ‘pillows’ offer an ideal presentation area for quality culinary creations. Available in two sizes, the unusual shape is an exciting contrast to conventional forms.

A cappuccino-flavoured carbonated soft drink that tastes like cola with creamy coffee, this unique product from Star Drinks is targeting “people looking for a newer, better and different experience”.

Zieher Tel: +49 9 273 9273 0 Email: Web:

Wisconsin Cranberry Cooperative Wisconsin Cranberry Cooperative is an American cranberry producer that supplies a variety of products derived from the fruit — including dried cranberries, frozen cranberries, cranberry juice concentrate and cranberry powder. Wisconsin Cranberry Cooperative Tel: +1 920 494 7249 Email:

Cremosito cold crèmes Introduced to the Middle East market at Gulfood 2010, this product is a cold drink with a milk base, prepared in a granita machine to give the beverage a smooth, creamy texture without any ice lumps. The range is available in six flavours: cappuccino, hazelnut, yoghurt, chocolate, almond and ginseng.

Star Drinks Tel: +971 6 532 4565 Fax : +971 6 532 4569 Email : Web:

Splash Organica Impulse! has launched Splash Organica, an innovative range of food service pieces for outdoor areas. Made of high-grade melamine, this range features organic shapes, modern designs, cheerful colours and even bamboo veneers baked into the product to give the look and feel of wood, while remaining durable and dishwasher-safe. Impulse! Enterprises LLC Tel: +971 4 359 6664 Fax: +1 954 957 9902 Email: Web:

Natfood Foodstuff Trading Tel: +971 4 391 5509 Fax: +971 4 391 8791 Email: Web:

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Distributors & supplies directory Distributors ABC Baking

Baqer Mohebi

Fresh Express LLC

La Marquise

Tel: 009714 885 3788 Email:

Tel: +971 4 396 9777 Email: (Marketing & distribution of food & non food FMCG, food ingredients & Cuban Cigars)

Tel: +971 4 3395354 Email:

Tel: +971 4 343 3478 Email:

Alokozay Distributors Tel: 971 4 8871155 Email:

Aramtec Tel: 971 (4) 3390444 Email:

Suppliers BEVERAGES Boncafe Tel: +971 4 2828742 Email:

Coffee Planet Tel: +971 4 341 5537 Email:

Franke Tel: +41 6 2787 3607

Lavazza Tel: +971 50 5959385 Fax: +971 4 3211274 Email:

Monin Tel: +971 50 940 0918 Email:

Schaerer Tel: +41 318 585111 Email:

Tel: +971 4 347 0200 Email:

Tel: +49 884 7670 Email:

MKN Tel: +49 5 3 318 9207 Email:


Tel: +971 4 2861166 Fax: +971 4 2863080 Email:

Tel: +971 4 3403330 Email:

Tel: +971 4 343 1100 Email: (Catering/kitchen equipment, chocolate/ coffee equipment, FMCG, refrigeration)

Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba

Tulsidas Lalchand

JSD Products

Tel: +971 4 3414900 Email:

Tel: +971 4 3533736 Email:

Tel: +44 1727 841111 Email:



Al Diyafa

Fujiyama Trading LLC

Tel: 009714 369 2888 Email:

Tel: +971 4 2228810 Email:

Emf Emirates

Bakemart Llc Tel: +971 4 2675406 Email:

Boiron Freres Tel: +33 (0)4 75 47 87 00 Email:

CSM Deutschland GmbH Tel: +49 421 3502 387 Email:

Giles & Posner Tel: +44 1923 234040 Fax: +44 1923 245151 Email:

Horeca Trade Llc

Johnson Diversey Gulf Fze Tel: +971 4 881 9470

MGK/Temptrak Tel: 009714 3309071

Newell Rubbermaid Tel: +971 4 292 3444 Email:

RESTAURANT/ HOTEL SUPPLIES Airstar Space Lighting Tel: +971 4 8854906 Email:

Baking Technologies Lambweston Tel: +971 50 6447837 Email:

Tel: +971 4 885 7557 Email:

Nestlé Professional

Dalebrook Supplies Ltd

Tel: +971 4 408 8100 Email:

Tel: 0044 1376 510101 Email:


Duni AB

Tel: 02082907020 Email:

Procurio Tel: 009714 334 1040 Email:

Royal Host Tel: +966 2 2522289 Email:

Villeroy and Boch Tel: +352 46821208 Email:

CATERING EQUIPMENT Electrolux Professional Tel: +39 0434380304 Email:

Koma Middle East Tel: 9714 887 3334 Email:

Robot Coupe Tel: 0033 143 988833 Email:


Churchill China Tel: +44 1782 524371 Email:

COOKING Convotherm

Tel: +971 2 6730 565 Email:

Country Hill International

Nestlé Professional Tel: +971 4 408 8100 Email:

Shura Trading

Tel: +46 40 10 62 00 Fax: +46 40 39 66 30 Email:

Dick Tel: +49 7 153 8170 Email:

Victorinox AG Tel: +41 41 818 12 64 Email:

Industry information April 2010

Recent appointments...

Scott Price has taken over as executive head chef at Hilton Dubai Creek. Price began his culinary career working in the Lake District, then got his big break in 2003, when after reaching the national finals of the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship he was hand-picked by Ramsay’s recruiting team. Soon after, he joined the kitchen team at Claridge’s in London. Price will look after Gordon Ramsay’s signature Dubai outlet Verre, as well as Glasshouse Mediterranean Brasserie and Issimo Bar and Lounge — also overseen by Ramsay.

The Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain has recruited Francesco Agus as its new F&B manager, an Italian national with more than 11 years of experience in hospitality. Prior to his appointment, Agus held the position of regional sales manager for Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts in the United Kingdom. Having spent most of his career in the UK, working for reputable venues such as Jury’s Clifton Ford Hotel, Agus said he was excited to be taking on the new role in Bahrain.

Andrew Whelehan has been appointed outlet manager at Media Rotana Dubai gastro-pub Nelson’s. Whelehan brings with him 15 years of experience in the F&B industry, having worked for various reputable restaurant chains and pubs across Ireland and England. Whelehan said he was “delighted to be taking on the role at Media Rotana Dubai”, adding that he was looking forward to drawing on his experience “to make a real difference in Nelson’s Bar”.

Ali Al Haj Hasan has joined the team at Park Hyatt Dubai’s Café Arabesque as chef de cuisine. Hasam, a Syrian national, graduated from the Industrial Institute in Hama, Syria, as a qualified electrician, but while completing his studies realised he wanted to be a chef instead. After five years’ work experience in F&B during college vacations, Hasam started working in restaurants and hotels in Syria and Lebanon. In 1991, he gained his first culinary role as a commis chef, and has never looked back.

























01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 April 1-4 Salon du Chocolat Cairo, Egypt

April 7-10 Hotel and Gastroteh Zagreb, Croatia

conjunction with the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual exposition

Chocolate exhibition for manufacturers, chefs and retailers

A fair showcasing equipment for the HORECA industry

April 6-8 InterFood St Petersburg St Petersburg, Russia

April 11-25 World Gourmet Summit Singapore, Singapore

April 19-20 Taste of the West Exeter, UK

Annual international exhibition for the F&B industry

Featuring foodie events, activities and a host of culinary stars

The 2010 Taste of the West trade show will showcase goods from the UK’s west country F&B producers and service providers

April 7-10 Wine and Gourmet Japan Tokyo, Japan

April 15-18 US National Barista Championship California, USA

April 21-23 HOREX Almaty, Kazakhstan

A platform for gourmet foods, wines and foodservice equipment

The 2010 United States Barista Championship held in

goods and services for the HORECA industry April 27-29 Seafood Processing Europe Brussels, Belgium More than 200 companies from 22 countries showcasing products, equipment, processes, services and technology relating to seafood April 27-29 IFEX Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Hotel and Restaurant Expo Kazakhstan will feature exhibitors from around the world promoting

Northern Ireland’s food, drink, hospitality and retail exhibition celebrates its 22nd anniversary

April 2010 Caterer Middle East





FOR ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT: Diarmuid O’Malley Publishing Director Tel: +971 4 210 8568 E-mail:

Sarah Worth Commercial Director Tel: +971 4 210 8595 E-mail:

ITP BUSINESS PUBLISHING CO. LTD. Al Hilal Building PO Box 500024, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 210 8000, Fax: +971 4 210 8080, Email:,

Data March 2010

Spotlighting F&B suppliers Each month Caterer Middle East collects data from F&B professionals across the region to bring you all the must-know industry stats, trends and price fluctuations affecting the regional market

Competition Each month, every survey participant who submits their email address will be entered into a draw to win this stylish bartender kit from gourmet flavourings provider Monin. Last month’s winner was Peter Lau, executivee chef at The Noble House, Raffles Dubai. For more information, visit:

What is the main problem you encounter with suppliers?  









 Lack of honesty about what can and will be delivered

High prices

16% of participants said they had solid, long-standing relations with their suppliers and had not switched firms over the past year

Won’t put the effort into sourcing unusual or hard-to-find products

Not enough focus on building relationships with their customers

Too little follow-up support


Source: Caterer Middle East F&B Survey

This month Caterer’s F&B survey asked F&B professionals to come clean about their suppliers — with mixed results. A sizeable 48% of respondents had changed suppliers in the past year, either because they found the same ingredients for a lower price elsewhere, or because they were dissatisfied with the service they received from the supplier company. However when questioned about their views on ingredient prices in the region, a majority 44% or participants said although costs in the Middle East were higher than other regions, they were justifiably so. To take part in next month’s survey, receive a full anonymous break-down of the findings and go into the draw to win our monthly competition, visit www. and click on our F&B Survey link.

None of the above


noted that meat and poultry prices had increased since last year

said consistently dealing with multiple suppliers rather than a limited group was the best way to find what they wanted

TOP 5 RESPONSES: Are any products particularly overpriced at the moment?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Seafood High-quality beef Dairy products Fresh vegetables No, none

April 2010 Caterer Middle East


Last bite Interview

Coffee break

As director of kitchens for Singapore’s famed Tung Lok Restaurants, chef Sam Leong is the creative force behind big-name restaurants Jade, My Humble House and Paddy Fields Thai Restaurant. On a recent trip to Dubai to help develop The Noodle House’s new menu, Chef Leong took a break from devising dishes to chat to Caterer Middle East Tell us about what you’re doing here at Noodle House. Jumeirah invited me over to guest chef at one of their restaurants a few years ago, which I very much enjoyed. Then recently they told me they were looking to refresh the Noodle House menu with some real Asian dishes, so I have come here to look at all the branches, the quality of the food, and bring in a few new Asian ideas and recipes. And what specific dishes are you contributing to the menu? I’m putting my own take on the signature dish, Wasabi Prawns, bringing a chilli crab dish, and also wok-fried me gong; then we’ll start letting the guests tell us what they think of them. There are a lot of regular customers to this brand, so we really want to get their feedback and their assistance in bringing Noodle House up to a whole new level. What do you most enjoy cooking? I don’t really cook at home too much! Nowadays I design dishes more than cooking, but if I had to pick one, I suppose it would be a pepper crab dish. You don’t see this on menus much, because it’s very messy and inconvenient for the diner, but it’s still very delicious! Do you have a favourite outlet from those you’ve visited in Dubai? There are some fantastic restaurants here. I went to Rivington Grill the other day, which is not just a meal it’s a proper dining experience — the atmosphere, the location, the service; I loved that place,


Caterer Middle East April 2010

Tung Lok Restaurants director of kitchens Sam Leong. What’s your view on Dubai’s current culinary status? Dubai has grown such a lot over the past four years, since I first came here. I was amazed by the progress. Obviously there’s still a way to go — you can still find it hard sometimes to get exactly the right ingredients here, particularly with spices. But now they are starting to come in, which is good to see. You have to give the culinary scene some time to develop; Dubai is comparatively new still, so it’s impressive how much it has achieved already. Singapore is also a place where so much is imported, and the ingredient market took a while to get going, but now you can

get anything there. That seems to be where Dubai is heading. Speaking of Singapore, how is the firm’s expansion going? The company is growing, both in Singapore and overseas so I’m travelling a lot right now. We are staying flexible and looking at various options — we just always make sure we fit the concept we are taking abroad to that local market, as different nationalities do have different tastes. It’s a challenge to cater for everyone; you just have to be prepared to alter your concept slightly without losing its identity, and give people what they want.

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Caterer Middle East - April 2010  

Caterer Middle East - April 2010 - ITP Business