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MIDDLE EAST ISSUE 19 SEPTEMBER 2013

Plating up The impact of place settings

Dishing up The world of F&B social media

Reading up The new food magazine culture

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Contents

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30

32

54

UP FRONT

FEATURES

CHEFS

LEISURE

02

EDITORIAL Is sustainability now a given?

14

ROUND TABLE What are chefs looking for from tableware manufacturers?

32

52

04

OUT AND ABOUT News of the upcoming World of Perishables exhibition.

BOOK SHELF A revolution in independent food magazines offers something for everyone.

22

SOCIAL MEDIA How should you use it to your advantage? And how to respond to on-line criticism?

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TRAVEL A quick photo trip round Seville - home of tapas and the entry point into Spain of the bounty of the Americas.

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THE LAST WORD New professional sous vide machines from PolyScience offer greater control to chefs.

06

08

THE HOTEL SHOW Vital areas of concern to every F&B professional will be discussed at this year’s show. AWARD S Announcing the first Pro Chef Middle East Fine Dining Awards.

10

SCIENCE APPLIANCE Heston makes the tea.

12

THE EGGS FACTOR What’s in Chef Emily Ann Herbert’s fridge?

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MARKET FOCUS The growing importance of the MENA region as a destination for Australian red meat exports. PRODUCT FOCUS A new real dairy cream product that can be used as a natural stabiliser or flavour carrier.

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RECIPE Monterey jack is perhaps the classic American cheese. Chef Carlos Delos Mozos, Executive Chef of Crowne Plaza, uses it in his recipe for Roasted chicken croquettes. PIMP MY PLATE How will Chef Anil Kumar reinvent Sole Veronique for the menu at the new contemporary Mexican restaurant Fuego? FACE TO FACE Chef Andrea Mugavero from Roberto’s, Chef Izu Ani from La Serre and celebrity Chef Atul Kochhar take time from their busy schedules to talk to us about new ventures.

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

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UP FRONT / editors letter

Is it safe? A recent short trip to London that involved a number of great meals at slightly quirky and achingly busy places made me realise two things. Firstly, that great produce, authentic concepts, efficient service, no reservation policies and sensible pricing are the prescription for restaurant success; secondly, that in both the fine dining and serious casual sectors in a city like London, the argument for sustainable sourcing is so last year. In fact, sustainability is almost at the stage of not being a market differentiator any more, as diners make the simple assumption that produce will be of a high quality, be sustainable and, if required, fully traceable. After all, why wouldn’t it be? So it’s interesting to see the UK-based SRA (Sustainable Restaurant Association) launching a global sustainability rating system, available to any restaurant in the world. This global expansion of the SRA rating aims to create an international standard for sustainability in the food community. The first three awards were granted back in April to Narisawa (two Michelin stars in Tokyo), Noma and 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA (Hong Kong). Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa summed up the honour: “We operate sustainably because it is the right thing to do, as eating and gastronomy go hand-in-hand with sustainability and it comes naturally to me as a person as well as a chef to take care of nature.” The SRA rating system is an on-line questionnaire to gauge a restaurant’s commitment to three tenets of sustainability - Society, Environment and Sourcing - which has been used in the UK since 2009. It is the only fully independent and comprehensive assessment of a restaurants’ environmental and social responsibility. Restaurants that score 50-59% receive One Star, 60-69% Two Stars and 70% and above Three Stars. A number of NGOs and environmental organisations have also embraced the SRA’s mission, including Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), Marine Stewardship Council and Waste Action Resources Program. Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of CIWF, said: “Animal welfare worldwide will improve significantly if the SRA can replicate its success with its global rating.” More than 500 UK restaurants - including Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons - have completed the rating. That’s convenient as the SAA’s President is Raymond Blanc, Chef/Patron of Le Manoir. His view? The world’s best chefs have a duty to operate responsibly and I would urge all my chef colleagues around the world to take the test.” It will be interesting to see which restaurants in the region put their heads above water and go for the rating...

PUBLISHER: DOMINIC DE SOUSA GROUP COO: NADEEM HOOD ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER DAVE REEDER EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: DAVE REEDER dave.reeder@cpimediagroup.com M: +971 55 105 3773 CONTRIBUTORS: MELANIE MINGAS KAREN YOUNG ART EDITOR: CHRIS HOWLETT PHOTOGRAPHY: ANAS CHERUR ADVERTISING SALES SALES DIRECTOR: ANKIT SHUKLA ankit.shukla@cpimediagroup.com M: +971 55 257 2807 SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER: AJAY SHARMA ajay.sharma@cpimediagroup.com M: +971 50 419 5067 PRODUCTION MANAGER: DEVAPRAKASH devaprakash@cpimediagroup.com M: +971 50 464 9197 DISTRIBUTION ROCHELLE ALMEIDA rochelle.almeida@cpimediagroup.com SUBSCRIPTIONS www.cpievents.net/mag/magazine.php PRINTED BY Printwell Printing Press LLC, Dubai, UAE PUBLISHED BY

Head Office, PO Box 13700, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 4 447 2409 A publication licensed by IMPZ © Copyright 2013 CPI. All rights reserved. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.


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UP FRONT / out and about

Not just fresh, but eco-fresh There’s been a steady shift in perceptions about fresh produce parallel to the growing movement towards ecofriendly social and economic development - an important trend for the Middle East as it balances business goals with environmental responsibility. At the upcoming WOP Dubai, this is expected to be a key area of discussion. Over the past few decades, environmental sustainability has been pushed to the forefront of intense global discussions. The world has come to realise the huge impact of individuals, businesses and government on the environment. So while threats such as global warming, deforestation and air pollution loom large, the good news is that we are seeing more actions being taken and decisions being made from the grassroots to the regulatory levels with environmental protection at their core. Talk is shifting from using less energy and producing less waste to adopting processes and practices that ensure sustainability for the future. Businesses in particular have stepped up their accountability by reviewing and rethinking their operations with the goal of supporting environmental sustainability. There has been a positive response among corporates to an extensive UN Environment Program report issued a little over a decade ago lamenting “a growing gap between the efforts to reduce the impact of business and industry on nature and the worsening state of the planet … due to the fact that only a small number of companies in each industry are actively integrating social and environmental factors into business decisions.” The fresh produce industry, for one, has been hard at work addressing and diminishing this gap. More global players have been incorporating sustainability into their budget, strategic plan, daily operations and management. Such efforts are specially challenging in regions such as the Middle East where agricultural potential is limited, but the enthusiasm is there and continues to gain traction. If the region can spend millions of dollars to build iconic infrastructure, then it is definitely game to ensure the freshest and best food sources for its peoples. In the UAE, the region’s commercial hub, even longterm residents are surprised to find out that there are nearly 38,000 farms operating in the country. Government extends substantial financial assistance to provide farms here with free irrigation, annual assistance and access to modern agricultural methods as well as technical expertise and training. Although the UAE definitely has more than enough financial resources to fly in fresh produce

from anywhere in the world, the growing appeal of home-grown food reflects a more diversified demand for fresh foods, greater health awareness locally and regionally, and a strong loyalty to local products and brands. Whether sourced at home or from abroad, though, a growing concern among consumers is the environmental story behind the fresh fruits and vegetables they love, something that producers are taking very seriously.

In 2012, the Middle East imported $4.2b of fresh produce, with GCC countries such as the UAE accounting for the lion’s share at 54% or $2.2b. 4

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

“One good trend we are noticing among local producers is that they are willing to embrace sustainability strategies that ensure social, economic and environmental benefits. For example, there are certain types of grass used for animal feed that consume too much water. UAE farmers prefer to try better alternatives that do not compromise already limited water supplies,” said Tarek Sibai, Project Manager for planetfair, organisers of WOP Dubai 2013. The annual WOP Dubai International Perishables Expo Middle East, the only dedicated exhibition for fresh fruits and vegetables in the region, is an ideal platform for discussing the sustainability facet of the industry. The latest edition of the expo runs from November 17 to 19, 2013 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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Building for the future With Dubai’s usual vision and determination, industry watchers are already predicting the impact on the tourism and F&B scene of HH Sheikh Mohammed’s Vision 2020 plan. This will be a hot topic of conversation at the Vision Conference running alongside this year’s Hotel Show.

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e’re used to changing patterns of supply and demand in Dubai. The rapid growth of the city in the early years of the new century were matched by slowdown as global economies contracted. Now the focus is on growth again, with major projects such as Mohammad Bin Rashid City soon to be a major feature of the city, equipped for 35 million visitors and with 100 hotels planned. F&B professionals reeling from the expected impact of that will also have to devise plans to cope with the extra demands as Dubai heads for the next milestone: the anticipated doubling of last year’s visitor figures by 2020. If achieved - and failure is not an option as major initiative after major initiative is announced such as a doubling in size of Dubai Mall and Dubai Design City - that would mark as astonishing growth in number from 2004’s five million visitors up to 20 million, or more. "We are aware that such goals are ambitious, but more important than ambition is realising these goals in reality," insists HH Sheikh

Mohammed Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. As a contributor to Dubai’s economy, those numbers would generate Dhs 300 million in tourist revenues, trebling existing figures. In response, the hospitality sector will need to be both proactive in meeting expected visitor figures plus reactive to trends in dining and leisure requirements. There has already been a bit of a dry run practice with this year’s Eid Al Fitr holidays seeing considerable growth over last year. Dubai’s success in attracting such numbers during the traditional slowest tourist season is a strong indicator of the effectiveness of the approach the Emirate is adopting in maximising tourism yield and its impact. The existing wide range of tourist attractions in Dubai, including leisure and top of the line services, high-quality and diversity of tourist facilities will all be targets for growth in order to power the drive for year-on-year increasing numbers. The question for F&B and hospitality

management is this: how will the city accommodate increased worker numbers, massively increased visitor numbers and then longer sustained number of employees in the new businesses and outlets that will have opened. Opinions vary on the precise numbers involved, but new residents and extra visitors will clearly impact F&B provision, both in existing properties and in new properties both announced and expected. Dubai’s dynamic will be changed dramatically, not least as its centre of gravity continues its shift from Deira through Bur Dubai to New Dubai. Already guest numbers in hotels are booming, with a clear follow-on effect on F&B outlets. Last year, guest arrivals topped ten million, up 9% year on year. In fact, since 2002, CAGR of guest arrivals in the Emirate have risen by almost 8%, with 90% of the total figure coming from international travellers. At present, Dubai has over 80,000 hotel rooms and about 600 properties, although that figure seem to grow weekly! Again, room growth since 2002 has grown at a CAGR of almost 10%, with the years running up to 2010 running at an astonishing CAGR rate of about 18%. Even taking a more modest CAGR growth of 6%, we can still expect more than 16 million guests to Dubai in 2020. That represents about another 50,000 rooms and up to 200 new hotels, with over 15,000 rooms already announced in the short term - industry analysts are also raising 80% as the likely occupancy rates in 2020. In a city where tourism is already growing faster than the global average, the hospitality sector is going to be transformed, notably the accommodation scene. However, anyone staying in a hotel or hotel apartment is still going to eat three meals a day. Can the F&B sector man up to such a challenge, given existing problems of recuitment and training, let alone consistency supply of quality food produce? According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, regional food imports could rise to over $50b by 2020, a rise of over 100% across the decade. Note though that is a fairly conservative prediction based on a doubling of the population and a doubling of tourist numbers - critically, it does not factor in new infrastructure investments. With the Gulf as a whole importing 90% of its food needs, the imperative to secure reliable and costeffective food resources against a global pattern of shortages is likely to further complicate planning matters for F&B professionals. A lot to think and talk about at the 2013 Vision Conference, 28-30th September, DWTC

"Today's conference delegate is tomorrow's holidaymaker and there are steps we can take to encourage business travellers to extend their stay or return for leisure trips with friends and family." - Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, DTCM - Keynote speaker on 29th September 6

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

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Middle East Agent


UP FRONT / out and about

Celebrating the industry! Announcing our first annual awards for the industry: The Pro Chef Middle East Fine Dining Awards 2013. Nominate and vote for who you think are the best professionals out in the market! CATEGORIES AND AWARDS CHEF AWARDS Junior Chef 2013 Pastry Chef 2013 Seafood Chef 2013 Meat Chef 2013 Executive Chef 2013 Sustainability Champion 2013 innovation Chef 2013 Pro Chef of the Year 2013

SPECIAL CATEGORY AWARDS Restaurant Manager 2013 Best Restaurant 2013 Sommelier 2013 Service Champion 2013 Marketing Champion 2013 Hygiene Champion 2013

L

ike every other market sector, F&B is awash with awards and, like every other market sector, those awards come under various types of criticism, most notably that the award schemes rarely compare like to like (grouping fine dining with family outlets, for example) or that the voting mechanism is not transparent. Meeting those criticisms head on and to truly celebrate the achievements of the fine dining sector, we are launching The Pro Chef Middle East Fine Dining Awards. Nominations and winners will be drawn exclusively from 4- and 5-star F&B outlets - and equivalent independent restaurants - across the UAE in a number of categories that will celebrate the skills and expertise of the entire restaurant team. And, because only the industry knows the levels of skill and dedication required, voting will be limited to people who work in F&B, though of course they may not vote for their own restaurant!

PLATINUM SPONSOR

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

Instead of consumers voting for the restaurant based on nothing more substantial than ‘this is a nice place’, The Pro Chef Middle East Fine Dining Awards will highlight and celebrate the achievements of those working in the fine dining sector judged by their peers. The Awards will be presented by a leading European Michelin-level chef at a special gala evening, October 28th 20134 at the H Hotel in Dubai. In addition, the staff of The Pro Chef Middle East will present two special awards. One for a Culinary Ambassador for the F&B figure who has done most to promote fine dining in the UAE and one for an Industry Champion to celebrate a career of dedication and excellence.

Training Champion 2013 Industry Champion 2013

BOH HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Best Kitchen Equipment 2013 Best Kitchen Tools 2013 Best Knives 2013 Best Kitchen Innovation 2013

FOH- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Best Tableware 2013 Best Glassware 2013

NOMINATE AND VOTE TODAY! www.theprochefme.com/awards/2013

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Best Bar Equipment 2013 Best Coffee Machine 2013

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UP FRONT / science appliance

Put the kettle on, Heston! After making us rethink the way we think of food, Heston Blumenthal is now on a new mission to help create appliances that make us rethink we way we cook food. First up is the kettle - a traditional design of such simplicity that only a madman or genius could reinvent. Heston Blumenthal works to a simple theory: perfection is possible. So when he teamed up with electrical appliance manufacturer Sage to rethink basic kitchen equipment, the bar was already set high. The result is a series of high spec, stainless steel appliances that, although easy to use, are incredibly impressive to see in action. Take the Sage Tea Maker as an example. Different teas need to be brewed at different temperatures and we all have a favourite strength. Heston’s breakthrough was to envisage a machine that would know just how hot and how long to brew. Fill the

stainless steel basket with leaves, tell it the type of tea, select the strength and it‚'ll heat the water, slowly lower the basket, then raise the basket from the water when it's done. Of course, you can also use it as a 'normal' kettle, set the temperature to brew coffee and even set a timer to make your morning brew. Whether you need all this sophistication and think it deserves a Dhs 1,000+ price tag is one question, of course. What can’t be denied is the sophistication of the Tea Maker which lets you set six different tea types for boiling, including green, black, white, herbal, Oolong and custom if you want to refine the experience. This goes to the heart of the concept: different tea varieties are better at different heats - green tea at

80C and black tea at 100C, for example. According to Heston, “At The Fat Duck, we're pedantic about water temperature as it's so easy to ruin a quality tea if you brew it too hot. Apart from the herbal varieties, there are four main types of tea, all from the same plant, just picked and processed in different ways. Green tea is picked, rolled and dried before the leaves go brown giving it a distinctive aroma and taste. White tea comes from the buds of the plant that are then steamed and left to dry naturally which makes it taste sweeter. Oolong tea is allowed to semi ferment and then processed immediately giving it a delicate, fruity taste. Black tea is made by fermenting the harvested leaves for a few hours before heating or drying them, giving it the strongest flavour and colour.”

“The right time and temperature are critical for a great cuppa.” - Heston Blumenthal

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

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UP FRONT / the eggs factor

Healthy or what? Downtown Dubai asppears to host a new eating experience on an almost daily basis, one of the latest being Ultra Brasserie, an organic brasserie specialising in locally-sourced organic produce. Headlined by Executive Chef Emily Ann Herbert, it focuses on creative but healthy meals. But whats lurking in her fridge at home?

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

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the eggs factor / UP FRONT

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orn in Melbourne, Chef Emily is a seasoned culinary professional with a fine dining background in Australia. She worked at Reserve, Number 8 and Breezers in Melbourne's food hub working with celebrity chefs like George Calombaris and Paul Wilson, cooking for celebrities such as John Travolta, Bill Clinton, Will Smith and Barry Sheene. She then moved to Dubai to focus more on the casual healthy side of dinning and, over the last

GOING SHOPPING I get most of my items from Lulu or Choitrhams. I try and make it to the farmers’ markets when I’m not working. Milk and Honey and Galleries Lafayette are both good for selected items. And I have a few favourite suppliers who will go out of their way to help me get items I’m craving.

eight years, worked in a number of restaurants, including Urban Bistro, Organic Foods and Café and the Lime Tree Café. Her specialisation is organic food which is highlighted at Ultra Brasserie. ‚ÄúOur team has one strong belief: a chef is only as good as the ingredients,” she insists. “That’s why we go out of our way to use organic, sustainable local produce in all of our dishes." So is she as healthy at home? We take a look inside her fridge.

g in I have the Followin my fridge:

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September August2013 2013//The ThePro ProChef ChefMiddle MiddleEast East

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FEATURES / round table

David Prantera Executive Chef, Desert Palm Norberto Palacios Executve Sous Chef, The Palace Hotel Old Town

Apeksha Jhala Marketing Manager, Jashanmal Hilary Langdon Executive Sous Chef, Jumeirah Creekside

ALL WHITE ON For this month’s round table, we gathered a table’s worth of chefs to talk about the importance of tableware, how choice

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Round table sponsored by: The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

In association with: www.cpimediagroup.com


round table / FEATURES

Stephen Wright Executive Chef, Al Qasr & Dar Al Masyaf, Madinat Jumeirah

Colin Clague Executive Chef, Qbara

Daniele Capobianco Speciality Outlet Chef, Media Rotana Carmine Pecoraro Executive Sous Chef, Souk, Madinat Jumeirah

THE NIGHT

of designs both reďŹ&#x201A;ects and inspires their creativity and, most importantly, what they expect from suppliers. Round table sponsored by: www.cpimediagroup.com

In association with: September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

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FEATURES / round table

L

et’s start with a general question. How much does the choice of tableware infuence what you’re doing in the kitchen and what does it add to the restaurant and dining experience? Stephen Wright: Ideally, the choice of plates should be based on the design and the concept of the restaurant and the style of food being served. Classic dishes tend to suit white plates. Spanish tapas are better on clay style tableware. Thai food needs earthenware. Japanese is very different again. I think there’s a balance to be struck between what the chef wants and the whole experience of the meal, from the choice of tablecloth onwards. What is the concept? Hilary Langdon: I think durability is important as well. If you’re doing all-day dining then the volume of potential chipping is crucial - we’re all watching budgets, aren’t we? Norberto Palacios: In the beginning we choose the plate from what we want but then problems can emerge. Will it chip? Is it too heavy for service and so on? And you can start wanting to be simple but then, later, decide to add more colour. David Prantera: Everything on the market seems quite similar now. Colin Clague: Yes, everyone’s going for plain white with the food just going on it. Before, when I was at Zuma, we had plates handmade in Japan and every one was different. For Qbara, which I’m opening soon, we’re building on the cencept we have for Eastern Mediterranean food and having special tableware hand made by a charity in Kabul, based on original 12th century designs. It’ll be totally unique and stunning - we think it will be a real talking point. Carmine Pecoraro: One issue, of course, is that chefs often inherit what their predecessor purchased and you rarely have the budget for a full replacement. Clague: Having the budget for a opening is good! Just going back to the point about Japanese tableware, is there any value in not having matching tableware? Prantera: We often try a different plate for a signature dish. Wright: I believe white plates show off the food best. Langdon: We have some black plates which really show off the food! Wright: I think that as dining trends change - like the current move towards brasseries - then our choices will change. Pecoraro: Back to basics! Of course, we’re used in Europe to many Michelin-starred restaurants using far more elaborate tableware. Apart from banqueting, weddings and VVIP catering, we don’t really see that here. Are we ready for the move to Michelin style? Palacios: Let’s have the right chefs here in Dubai and then we’ll talk. I don’t think Michelin starred restaurants are always better, but they do

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Round table sponsored by: The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

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FEATURES / round table

mark a line of quality. But starred and unstarred restaurants can be equally authentic and good, with for some places the level of excitement in the street can push them up there. Daniele Capobianco: Most good chefs can take food from the street and take it up to a new level. Clague: A 3-star is a temple that can get us really excited witht he great food and great service. But I don’t believe the money’s out there to support it. Truth is that you don’t have to pay that amount to get excitement.

THE SINGLE-USE APPROACH Thank you for making us part of such an informative and resourceful discussion. Al Bayader International has a full range of stylish, creative single-use tableware products with attractive designs to set a table that is thematic. For example, events being held outdoors, on a beach, at a BBQ, for festivities and special events. This serves as a great alternative for regular tableware that you have discussed. Though durable tableware is indispensable, especially in the hospitality business, single-use tableware like plates, designer napkins and cloth-like table covers and so on can bring the same ambience to a table setting. We also provide eco-friendly solutions that extend our care to the community. As Executive Chef Langdon said, the right dining experience is like theatre. The right setup can enhance the entire dining experience but then for people within the food service sector that we serve, stock, time, commitment, customer service and relationships are vital to keep and maintain. Supplier relationships are important and we value this highly which is why our customers love the commitment that we show them as one of the Middle East’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of comprehensive packaging solutions which deliver added value to the global F&B industry. - Nidal Haddad, CEO of Al Bayader International

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Back to tableware... Pantera: I think the choice of plates has a lot to do with what you want to get out of a dish. For instance, room service is going to be pretty standard. Palacios: A certain part of what we’re doing is about having freedom within our budgets. So sometimes we can use a bit more art with the plates in order to say, ‘This is where I want to be.’ And sometimes the food needs to here in a certain way - there’s that moment of creation. Clague: Surely it’s about enhancing the food? It’s good that many chefs now are helping manufacturers with their designs. Langdon: The right plate will enhance the experience of dining. It’s theatre, part of the set-up and part of the drama. Capobianco: I think that many people judge the quality of a restaurant by the quality of the plates. How do you distinguish between manufacturers and suppliers? Are things like anti-chip guarantees? Wright: Anti-chip policies are everywhere, so people tend to collect a lot of chipped plates and send them all back at once. China is the coming supplier area - there are a lot of plates coming from there and all the major suppliers are going to need to Apeksha Jhala: Absolutely, there’s a lot happening in China. Pecoraro: China will never go out of business. Wright: Neither will big companies. Pecoraro: We’re all playing with different concepts and new, different outlets will need different suppliers, I think. Palacios: We need a budget that covers more than breakages because there’s a need to refresh what we do and to allow us to focus attention on dishes that are doing well. What’s the key thing you look for from suppliers? Wright: Price is always the first thing. If I’m ordering three or four thousand plates, then what’s the budget I have? Then I’m looking for style and durability. Very rarely does a single supplier have everything. Langdon: I get frustrated by unrealistic delivery dates. We had a delivery recently that had been ordered so long ago for activity round the tennis. Now what? Wright: Good suppliers are the ones who

Round table sponsored by: The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

understand what’s new. Those are the people with sustainable businesses. Langdon: Yes, they do their research. You can have an idea and they’ll bring something you hadn’t even thought of. Wright: We need proactive suppliers. For example, here in MJ’s, a good supplier should know what’s happening with steakhouses in New York City. I don’t want to be told something I already know. Prantera: Chefs need good service and an ongoing relationship. Wright: Yes, we’re impatient people! Do you have problems with purchasing departments who may say they can source a cheaper white plate? Clague: As a chef, I want the dish I want. To me, it’s not a matter of saving 20 fils a plate. As chefs, we should always be trying to better ourselves. Pecoraro: We have to deal with where we are. Apart from ARK Porcelain, everything is going to be imported which means a delay in supplying stock.

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FEATURES / round table

Wright: If I’m spending millions of dirhams with a supplier, then I would expect 20% of their stock to be in the warehouse ready for immediate delivery. I want things within a week of ordering and a good supplier should see the relationship as being like a joint venture. Palacios: The balance is missing with many suppliers and some have no stock in hand at all but say they will bring it. Others carry a lot of stock of the lines they like. Langdon: Customer service is critical, I think. I shouldn’t need to make ten or 20 calls for samples. Palacios: We want things now! Chefs are like that - our customers won’t wait and neither will we. Pecoraro: Exactly, we want what we want when we want it. Prantera: I’m afraid there’s a lot of lying amongst some suppliers. Just tell me the truth!

“We need proactive suppliers. For example, here in MJ’s, a good supplier should know what’s happening with steakhouses in New York City. I don’t want to be told something I already know.” - Stephen Wright

Any other thoughts? Capobianco: At my last hotel, we wanted to change the plate but management thought it was something that customers had grown to expect. Palacios: You know, the right plate brings a sensuality to the dish. It’s fun. Wright: I do think you want a standardisation for the most popular dishes on your menu. Langdon: With tasting menus, you can experiment a lot more with the type of plates Palacios: For us, we do that with starters and desserts, but main course steaks and garnishes all need to look the same. Wright: We’re back to the concept. At the end, it’s all about understanding your guests and running a business. Not every guest wants a ‘wow’ experience - maybe they just want a simple steak. Apeksha, you’ve heard your potential customers. What have you learned from them? Jhala: At the moment our focus is retail and we’re just starting to get into the hotel business. This for me has been very interesting and I’ve certainly learned a lot. I think the critical message for me has been getting delivery right. I also feel that chefs don’t want to be offered tableware that they can see on retail shelves. Clague: Absolutely, I don’t want to see the same things on the shelves when I go into a supermarket. Wright: We’re always going to be looking for something different. Pecoraro: Sustainability is something we haven’t spoken about. UK manufacturer Dudson, for example, has really slashed emission rates. Wright: We can all certainly move to a more ecofriendly position. What about using those little bamboo boats for single or double bite dishes. Clague: Excellent for canape portions.

We’d like to thank the staff at MJ’s Steakhouse in Al Qasr for their hospitality. If you would like to take part in a future round table, please e-mail: dave@cpidubai.com

20

Round table sponsored by: The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

In association with: www.cpimediagroup.com


FEATURES / social media

Add your comments A major trend impacting F&B as well as every other industry is the inexorable rise of social media. As well as traditional journaliusts and reviewers, chefs and other F&B professionals now have to deal with comments from bloggers, customers and rivals - often anonymous and potentially dangerous. How should they respond?

A

recent on-line spat between a respected Dubai-based food blogger and the’celebrity’ chef behind a local iteration of his famous Italian restaurant shocked many people in the industry, not least because of the speed at which an on-line exchange of views became a global viral sensation. And it started oh so mildly with our blogger commenting that wanted her prosecco served in a particular way and mentioning that her Italian chef companion had wondered what an un-Italian ingredient like rhubarb was doing on the menu. The response? Insults and vituperation. The feeling amongst chefs I discused the matter with agreed that the original posting had been fair and balanced. Further, even if it hadn’t been, then the chef should just have ‘sucked it up’. But how should F&B cope in the digital age? How can it use social media tools for its own advantage? And who’s got the right handle on all this? To help cut a path through the on-line jungle, we assembled a good handul of bloggers, social media experts, PR and F&B professionals. In no particular order, they are: ‡ Caroline Tapken - Managing Director of CTT Consulting. ‡ Darien Ellul - PR consultant with extensive experience of the hospitality industry internationally. ‡ Francois Galoisy - General Manager, Radisson Blu Dubai Media City and a proactive follower of social media sites that namecheck his property. ‡ Jade George - Editorial director and co-founder of The Carton and Chairperson of the Middle East region for The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. ‡ Mita Ray - Founder of Market Buzz PR agency with a passion for social media. ‡ Sally Prosser - Food and wine blogger (My Custard Pie) and social media advisor to the F&B sector. ‡ Samantha Wood - Award winning food blogger (FooDiva), food and travel writer and media training consultant. ‡ Sudeshna Ghosh - Editor of BBC Good Food Middle East (note: also published by CPI Media Group). ‡ Willi Elsener - Ex-Jumeirah Group worldwide F&B development and operations head and now induistry consultant as Managing Director of Bespoke Concepts. In general, do you see social media as beneficial to the restaurant scene? If not, what do you see as the disadvantages? Caroline Tapken: Like it or not, social media is here to stay and regardless of the industry in which we work, we have to consider its power and implications. If social media is not part of your marketing communications activity, enabling you to manage and direct your on-line messages, someone else will do it for you, in a way you cannot control - or even see.

22

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

Darien Ellul: Yes, definitely it’s beneficial to engage with your customers, gather feedback, promote and offer special deals, keep your customers updated and drive business during slower periods. It will also create a sense of community which will increase foot traffic. You can also use it to launch new dishes and test new offerings. Francois Galoisy: Yes, we do believe social media is beneficial for our restaurants and it is becoming more important as well. It is a very powerful tool that can either make or break a brand/ restaurant. Making customers and their experiences the face of their brand is something we should all focus on and social media is the channel which makes that possible. Consumers have a strong desire to connect with brands and other consumers via social media. Restaurant brands need to proactively engage their customers through mobile and social channels. Jade George: Social media is a facilitating tool at the very least, if not an effective platform for some entities. However, I believe that is only the case when it is used correctly. In other words when it is an approach suitable for the target market being addressed, and when it matches the positioning strategy of the brand or entity. Mita Ray: Absolutely. Social media allows restaurants to talk directly to customers and understand what they think of them, what the trends are, eating habits, etc. It's a useful tool for sharing special information as well as for crisis communication and damage limitation. I think the biggest disadvantage is not being on social media and not being able to manage what people say about you or react to your customers whether that is a bouquet or a brickbat. Another disadvantage is to use someone that doesn't understand how social media works or uses it badly by not communicating well, damaging the restaurant's reputation. Sally Prosser: Social media and online feedback for restaurants is here to stay whether considered beneficial or not. It forms part of a customer’s experience and they expect to have several many channels to give their feedback - from traditional methods at initial point of contact to increasingly sophisticated on-line methods of sharing their opinions and rankings. Yes, it can be very beneficial - but if ignored or underestimated can be very damaging. Word of mouth has always been one of the main drivers of customers into restaurants. Social media can help harness and maximise its effect. The more you know about your customers the better placed you are to help make their experience better, evolve your offering and attract repeat business. However, you cannot fake things and you will be found out. Some social media channels rank things in a way which skews the results - I looked for the most popular restaurant in a UK town on a famous site and number one was a coffee kiosk! Samantha Wood: Yes of course it's beneficial for three main reasons: Social media commentators - that is citizen journalists and the public in general - can become loyal customers if effectively engaged with. Constructive commentary helps the F&B industry create a better dining experience which in turn drives revenue for restaurants, helps develop the restaurant scene, creates employment opportunities and the list goes on. In a country where most

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social media / FEATURES

mainstream media lacks freedom of press, social media which covers blogs as well as the usual channels represents an honest voice amassing tremendous, engaging followings and hence can become rather influential. Sudeshna Ghosh: Yes, social media is a free form of advertising essentially and benefits any business both by being able to promote its services and also directly and instantaneously engage with consumers. In the case of restaurants in particular, it can be an effective medium for consumer feedback, as well as a platform for building awareness about special promotions, live events, etc. Willi Elsener: Social media can be a powerful business tool and my personal opinion be part of it. Case studies highlight how social media, when used effectively, can offer real benefits to your business. Think about Facebook with more than 800 million active users worldwide and growing, plus all the others. A social media page is a great platform where your guests and customers can come together and you can quickly build a community around your business or brand that is both engaging and cost effective. Social media channels have analytical tools available, where you can set parameters suitable for your business, in order to track the number of interactions and see exactly what your target audience looks like. By creating a social media page or account with your business' name in the title, along with publishing links to your Web site, you will also help make your company appear higher in search engine result lists. It's the most honest and pure form of targeted advertising. If you can see that someone is interested in what your business sells or provides, reach out to them via social media and make them aware of what your business is all about. When dining out, how much weight do you place on on-line reviews, social media comments and blog remarks? Tapken: Personally, I would look at a number of different reviews,and then try somewhere myself before making my decision on how good or bad it is. Certainly, if there are a couple of critical or negative reviews on social media channels or blogs, I would think twice about visiting. Ellul: Not too much, but on-line reviews and comments do carry weight and cannot be ignored. That said, personally I only view them as valuable if written by established, recognised, professional journalists, food critics, writers or bloggers. I don’t pay much attention to reviews from ordinary or anonymous customers unless they’re part of a series of negative reviews. Galoisy: We take on-line reviews very seriously and always reply to them within 48 hours, to connect with the customer and secure a professional communication of the brand. They provide us with genuine feedback of the customer, which we always value, positive or negative, as it improves our service and food quality. George: Not much unless the sources are trusted.

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Ray: I place a lot of weight to on-line reviews because they are being made by my peers on first-hand experience. I know there are reviewers on newspapers and magazines and some of them are quite good but you can never be too sure how biased that review is based on revenue stream. That's why social media and blogs are so useful. In the era of smartphones, on-line reviews and comments on social media are useful when you are about to make a decision about where to eat! Prosser: Considerable weight, especially comments via my extended social media circle. Wood: Even as a food blogger who writes her own reviews, I do canvas other key on-line influencers before dining out. I have to stress I only follow those with impartiality whose reviews are not as a result of a freebie. Ghosh: Being a reviewer, I tend not to refer to other on-line reviews when it comes to making personal restaurant choices. But, I'm atypical. I think a lot of people rely on magazines such as ours and on-line publications, blogs, etc for expert opinions. I do use the on-line world for listings quite often - when it's just a matter of looking for something in a specific area, for example. Elsener: A social media page is a great platform where your guests and customers can come together and you can quickly build a community around your business or brand that is both engaging and cost effective. Social media channels have analytical tools available, where you can set parameters suitable for your business, in order to track the number of interactions and see exactly what your target audience looks like. By creating a social media page or account with your business' name in the title, along with publishing links to your Web site, you will also help make your company appear higher in search engine result lists. It's the most honest and pure form of targeted advertising. If you can see that someone is interested in what your business sells or provides, reach out to them via social media and make them aware of what your business is all about. Elsener: Quite a bit as it keeps you up to date, especially if there is a Web link. I always check more than one social media site for reviews, as it forms part of my professional work, in particular when I do some market research, or reviews on new openings and equally established restaurants or bars. If your experience differs from what you may have read on-line, do you add your voice to the comment thread? Tapken: That depends on just how different my opinion is! If I have read a particularly negative review and disagree, I might add my opinion or write a separate post. We are all busy and really don't have time for complicated involvements, but to write a quick post on Twitter or Facebook is simple - that I would do. Adding to my blog or logging in to comment on someone else's requires a really strong case. Ellul: No, hardly ever. However, I will nearly always ask to speak to the manager or chef and talk through any negative experience. Galoisy: Yes I do, whenever I can, to keep updated, check the competition, inform myself about local happenings, offers or promotions and of course to keep in touch and share my experiences with my social community. I would always personally comment about my satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the outlet I have visited, to either share my positive feedback or to comment on the negative points I had to face. George: Never have. Ray: Yes, I would. Prosser: Depends how passionately I felt about it, but in the main I would set the record straight with my own experience (good or bad).

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

23


FEATURES / social media

Wood: Time-dependent and if the on-line review is impartial, yes I do. Ghosh: Not personally, no. Elsener: Occasionally I do, to discover a new place but I use mainly guides that include guests reviews. After a while you know which ones are the most reliable. IF I had a good experience, then why not? It might still include some pointers for improvement. In general, if I have a bad experience, I prefer to address this to the manager in person or General Manager. How much notice or concern should F&B professionals place on unsubstantiated comments on-line? Tapken: An F&B professional might know the comment is unsubstantiated, but the general public will not so every comment, particularly negative ones, should be addressed. Someone should certainly be monitoring the online chatter for each and every outlet promoting itself to the outside world. Ellul: Sadly, the reality is that you must address and respond to all negative reviews - more than the positive ones, in fact. If left unanswered, they will inevitably have a negative effect on your business and on-line readers will assume you don’t care about customers. Galoisy: No matter what type of comments we receive from on-line reviews or social media sites, we always handle the replies professionally. We are trying to connect with the customer and investigating issues, if there are any, or providing contact details of the Guests Relations Executives to further follow up on matters or to personally discuss these with the guests. George: Out of my personal experience, those who place too great a weight on this tend to lose focus of the greater picture. Consumers have become very marketing savvy and tactics to stir their judgment tend to backfire. I’ve often heard consumers refer to brands (or the voices behind them) as ‘annoying’ brands. Ray: This is a tricky one. It would depend on the comment and if it is something that could escalate into something else. I personally think that all comments on-line should be addressed. Even if it is to say thank you for saying something nice about their food or service. If it is unsubstantiated (negative) comment, then substantiate it - without prejudice. Prosser: If it is unsubstantiated I would acknowledge politely but not enter into a prolonged debate. However, most people don’t make things up. People express their own opinions. Wood: F&B establishments should monitor all comments related to their restaurant and make a judgement call on how influential the blog or channel is, by checking their Alexa ranking and Klout score, before deciding whether to respond. Even unsubstantiated comments from a key influencer can go viral if not managed effectively. Ghosh: That is the challenge with user-generated reviews - there is no basis for substantiation in many cases and fake reviews pop up with unfailing regularity. However, I would suggest to any business that wants to be taken seriously that feedback is always valuable. If you have no way of verifying the feedback, treat it as you would if it were legitimate, face criticism head on and appear to be on the ball with your responses- it will create a positive on-line image. Elsener: As mentioned earlier it can’t and shouldn't be ignored - it is part of our daily lives and is a instant exchange of information, news etc. In particular, the next generation connected 24x7 uses social media all the time. Do you accept that there’s a difference between comments from, say, the food editor of The National and ‘Hungry Harry’ about whom we know nothing? How should we be drawing distinctions? What base criteria should be in place before we and the F&B industry take comments seriously? Tapken: In my professional capacity, I know the difference. However, the man on the street undoubtedly does not differentiate. Hungry Harry is the dangerous one, as he is not a media professional. He is the one we should be taking care of, to ensure positive outcomes. Everyone has access to on-line material - therein lies the challenge and the advantage.

24

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

Ellul: Absolutely. Ultimately, it comes down to the restaurant manager, chef or owner to ensure the basics of food quality, ambience and service are immaculate. Do that and you don’t have to worry about negative reviews. Galoisy: Of course there is a difference between comments from editors and comments from our customers, as the F&B lingo wouldn‚'t be used in the same manner. We value both reviews a lot and cannot thank our friends from the media and our loyal customers enough for the feedback they are providing us with, negative or positive. It always tells us how our service and quality has been taken in by the general public. George: It all goes back to consistency. Anyone can make a plausible remark once. We need to ask ourselves as industry professionals what the opportunity cost of handling a one-off remark is (a personal opinion at the end of the day). Amateur as well as professional critics are what keep us working to maintain a certain level of quality, however, the source needs to have proven itself to be a reliable source in order to be tackled. Ray: Of course there is a difference. You should take the food editors seriously - they represent mass media and their opinions matter. They are influencers. Your 'Hungry Harry' could also be an influencer in his community. This would depend on who he/she is, how popular they are and how the blog is perceived. Prosser: There may be a difference in the amount of exposure that voice gets but I think they should both be taken seriously. I’m talking about the feedback of paying customers here (not those who chip in without ever having tasted the food) who are vital to the success or failure of a business. To comment, you don’t need to have any qualifications in food to know whether you liked it or not, or if the service and overall experience was a good one. People looking for advice when choosing a restaurant will often listen to ‘Hungry Harry’ over an esteemed food critic as they feel more empathy with their approach and perspective. Wood: Yes there is a difference. It goes back to what I said earlier - the former has influence but the latter does not, unless Hungry Harry is informed and impartial. Distinctions and base criteria should be drawn based on influence levels. It‚Äôs not about number of followers as these can be easily and cheaply bought, but about engagement. Ghosh: Yes, there is a difference between the two levels of comments ‚Äì but only for the consumer, in terms of what credibility that comment carries. It should not make a difference to the restaurateur, as no amount of glowing media reviews can change the fact that you have an unhappy customer. It is, after all, the customer that is paying the chef's salary, not the reviewer - who, quite likely, had a meal for free! Elsener: It goes without saying there will always be a difference. It is really for you to find out which ones are the ones you think are reliable and credible and provide you with the information you are looking for. Remember, comments are subjective and not tangible. Way back when I was Executive Chef at the Dorchester, the media was very critical and expressed themselves sometimes in devastating ways. One night I had a well regarded food critic in one of our restaurants for dinner. She ordered a Roasted Barbary duck with artichokes and homemade spaetzle with a sweet sour orange sauce. The duck breast was sitting on a confit of shallots. Two days later my PR lady showed me a glowing review stating that the duck breast was served on braised cabbage. I hope you get my point! Do you see social media as a valuable way for restaurants to involve diners and help develop their offerings or as a ‘must¬†have’ part of the marketing mix without any understanding? Ellul: Both. It’s imperative that your social media campaign

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FEATURES / social media

is designed and tailored to suit your restaurant, your offerings and your customer demographic. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Galoisy: I believe using social media should be implemented in all marketing plans as part of promoting the F&B outlets. However, we also need social media champions that take care of the various accounts and channels/ sites, as there is no point of having a social media presence without a proper management. Being active on social media definitely boost all F&B promotions, as the best restaurants don‚' just sell food, they sell experiences and for many customers, social media is part of the appeal of dining out because it allows them to share their food experiences with their on-line communities. George: The former. Ray: Yes, it is one of the advantages. I have seen that if people feel involved, they are more likely to help it be successful and forgive little mistakes and foibles. But you need to find the right people that will be constructive. Like any other business decision, there needs to be understanding of course, but then there needs to be direct and clear communication. Prosser: It is a must-have but a strategy and understanding is vital. It’s a fantastic way to involve diners and strengthen their brand loyalty, encourage repeat business and attract new diners. Wood: The former. It's simple - canvas potential diners using social media, rather than creating an old-fashioned focus group and not only will you get honest feedback to help develop a concept, menu etc but you've instantly gained a customer. Now all you have to do is get the operation right and you'll have repeat custom and tremendous loyalty. Ghosh: Social media is now an inescapable part of the marketing mix for any brand - it needs to be used smartly for it to be effective though. The operative words being 'without any understanding' understand what it can do for the business, then get into it with a proper plan and strategy. Even though it isn't as expensive as other forms of advertising, it can be one of the strongest. Elsener: You will get valuable insight information from your customer, in particular if you have a person that monitors social media qualitatively and quantitatively. You might find there is a trend of comments that you have not thought of but might consider. On the other hand you can ask your audience for their opinion and suggestion, but please do it in conjunction with a professional that knows the in and outs of social media. Who do you think on the industry side uses social media intelligently? Tapken: N_K_D Pizza successfully uses social media, as does Sophie's Café Dubai and most 'respected' hotels and restaurants make a very good effort, however there are some very surprising exceptions. Ellul: I’m not aware of any restaurant using it creatively or trying to engage customers in an interesting and innovative way. It’s not being used effectively in this region. Galoisy: International hotel chains, such as Marriott or Jumeirah, as they have a strong on-line presence and engage well with their customers consistently. George: Those who manage to personify their brand and capture their target market in everything from the language they use, to the frequency of communication to the design... Ray: Among the top hotels, I would say the InterContinental chain used to be quite good and Dusit team does quite well as does Le Meridien. All the others just use it to 'promote' with very little two-way communication. There needs to be communication - that means two-way. Some of the smaller restaurants and services like Zomato and Round Menu do a reasonable good job. Prosser: From two ends of the spectrum: Atlantis and Zaroob - they have very different budgets and approaches but have demonstrated an understanding of the key drivers of their business. Wood: I always use Jumeirah as an example when I run training sessions - the only hotel company here that I have seen that shares both good and

26

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

bad restaurant reviews of its own establishments, whilst also connecting its followers or potential customers with key influencers. Tomo also shares reviews of competing restaurants. Both are great examples of building engagement. Ghosh: No comment. Elsener: There are quite a number of business that are very savvy and know the potential of social media and benefits it can bring. Today most of the well known brands and entrepreneurs have a presence on Facebook at least. Your top tips for both diners and F&B on using social media? Tapken: Diners should apply the same common sense they would use for other information sources to social media, remembering that sometimes those writing have a different agenda - don't believe everything you read! F&B professionals should research and then use social media intelligently, wisely and from an informed perspective. They shouldn’t be too controlling - you have to be natural and responsive to be believable. They need to realise that this is a key communications tool and should be treated with respect. Ellul: Be creative. Engage your customers and generate site content. Closely and regularly moinitor comments. Video content is very effective. Don’t spam your customers and don’t reward comments as this is disingenuous, but do ask them to participate in short on-line surveys and thank them for their feedback. Galoisy: It’s annoying when a guest is dining at the restaurant and seems to be fine with everything and leaves without any negative comments but posts his true and actual review on-line as soon as he reaches home. My advice to everyone: be genuine and honest about what you have to say, if it is a review or the reply. Don't start to make things up or deny mistakes and try to cover things up. Be reasonable, provide true facts or arguments and explain everything in a professional way. George: Don’t abuse it but don’t ignore it either when it proves to be an opportunity. Ray: It’s two-way communication - so communicate and respond to some of the comments. Prioritise the direct messages (whatever the social media) and mentions from some key community influencers. On Twitter, you can create lists to identify these community influencers and communicate with them regularly without spamming. Enable Wi-Fi access in restaurants to encourage customers to tag and post from the restaurant (on-line check-ins, Instagram and foodspotting posts) - it will create third party references and create more eyeballs. Prosser: For F&B, set social media goals, cultivate an open and respectful dialogue with your customers and potential customers, communicate your brand story and passion for what your are doing but don’t always talk about yourself - promote other related topics, ask questions and listen. For diners, respect the amount of expertise and hard work that goes into a business, give praise where praise is due, share your feedback with the restaurant first, especially if you’ve had a negative experience - give them the opportunity to put it right first before you criticise in public. Wood: For diners, whether it's blogs, a Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest board or Instagram library, check the impartiality and influence levels first before following recommendations. For F&B, in addition to the above, monitor all social media mentions of your establishment plus the industry in general. When developing a social media strategy, prioritise the channels your customers are on and then build your presence one by one, so you get each channel right before moving onto the next one. Remember you need adequate resources and staff to manage these channels - it's a full time job! Engage with key influencers, build on-line relationships and ultimately enjoy the conversation - it's called social for a reason! Elsener: Social media is a tool in your hand, but it can't guarantee a successful business. Make sure that the product or service you're offering will generate leads on its own merit, and trust word-of-mouth to get people in the door. Engage with professionals that know the in and outs of social media how to manage your page and parameters effectively and update it regularly in order for you to get the most out of it. In fact, probably the most reliable source for dinners are your friends that have visited some of the places before.

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FEATURES / market focus

The growing importance of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as a destination for Australian red meat exports has been further illustrated with the close of the 2012-13 financial year and a record volume of exports.

I

n 2012-13, Australian red meat exports to MENA totalled 160,963 tonnes swt, an increase of 32% on the previous record set in 2011-12. Lamb exports hit record levels, totalling 60,700 tonnes swt, up 35% year-on-year, while beef shipments surpassed the record set in the previous financial year, totalling 49,147 tonnes swt, up 46%. Mutton exports rebounded to their highest level since 2008-09, to 51,116 tonnes swt, growth of 18% year-on-year. The phenomenal growth in beef exports largely came on the back of a surge in shipments to Saudi Arabia, as Australian beef gained market share after Brazil was banned from the market in late 2012. Exports to Saudi Arabia totalled 18,944 tonnes swt in 2012-13, up more than four-fold year-on-year. This propelled KSA to be Australia's largest beef market in the MENA region. The Brazilian ban in Saudi Arabia has, however, increased competition in other beef markets in the region, with increased quantities of Brazilian beef entering Jordan and the UAE. This has impacted, in the large part, on Australian frozen beef exports, with frozen shipments to the UAE and Jordan down 21% and 19% respectively.

28

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is a producerowned company whose mission is to deliver world-class services and solutions in partnership with industry and government. Promoting the quality, safety and nutritional value of Australian red meat both domestically and internationally, on behalf of the meat and livestock industry, MLA manages and operates a portfolio of marketing activities aimed at maintaining and increasing demand for Australian meat and livestock. MLA in the Middle East North African region works with retailers, foodservice operators, importers, manufacturers and Australian exporters to maintain and increase the demand for halal red meat and livestock to the region.

Lamb exports have benefited from growth to Bahrain, Iran and Kuwait. Australian lamb exports to Bahrain, previously a large live export destination for Australian sheep, totalled 9,713

tonnes swt in 2012-13, up from 229 tonnes swt in 2011-12. The cessation in Australian live exports to Bahrain has been the catalyst for the growth, with Bahrain importing large quantities of chilled Australian lamb carcase to make up for the loss of access to Australia live sheep. Exports to Iran, although sporadic, totalled 7,317 tonnes swt in 2012-13, up more than two-fold year-on-year, while shipments to Kuwait increased 77%, to 3,833 tonnes swt. The UAE remains Australia's largest lamb market, accounting for 25% of Australian exports, while Jordan (20%) also took large quantities of Australian lamb in 2012-13. The MENA region has, historically, been an important destination for Australian mutton exports, with this remaining the case in 2012-13, with 35% of all Australian mutton exports heading to MENA. The growth in Australian mutton exports to all global destinations in 2012-13, to 144,105 tonnes swt, up 62% year-on-year, was a major driver in the increase in shipments to MENA. Saudi Arabia remains Australia's largest export market, accountting for 30% of shipments to the region, followed by the UAE (25%) and Kuwait (13%).

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market focus / FEATURES

BEEF MEAT INDUSTRY

LAMB MEAT INDUSTRY

Australia is one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most efďŹ cient producers of cattle and amongst the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Australia is one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading producers of lamb and mutton, the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest

largest exporter of beef. The off-farm meat value of the Australian beef and cattle

exporter of mutton and the second largest exporter of lamb. The off-farm meat value of

industry is $11.6 billion (consumer expenditure plus export value).

the Australian sheepmeat industry is $3.8 billion (consumer expenditure plus export value).

Herd facts and ďŹ gures:

Flock facts and ďŹ gures:

t QSPQFSUJFTXJUIDBUUMF "#4"HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT 

t QSPQFSUJFTXJUITIFFQBOEMBNCT "#4"HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT 

tNJMMJPODBUUMFBOEDBMWFT "#4"HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT4FQUFNCFS 

t5IFSFXFSFNJMMJPOCSFFEJOHFXFTPOFZFBSBOEPMEFSBTBU+VOF "#4

tNJMMJPOCFFGDPXTBOEIFJGFST "#4+VOFmOBMFTUJNBUFT 

"HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT 

t5IFDBUUMFJOEVTUSZJTJOWPMWFEPOPGBMMGBSNTXJUIBHSJDVMUVSBMBDUJWJUZ

t1SJNFMBNCQSPEVDFSTBSFQSFEPNJOBUFMZMPDBUFEJOUIF3JWFSJOB UIFXIFBUTIFFQ[POF of NSW, the Victorian and NSW Murray region and the high rainfall areas in south-west

People in the industry:

Victoria and eastern South Australia. Sheep are primarily located in south-west WA, south

t"SPVOE QFPQMFBSFJOWPMWFEJOUIFSFENFBUJOEVTUSZ JODMVEJOHPOGBSN

western part of Victoria and the southern part of NSW.

production, processing and retail.

t5IFTIFFQNFBUJOEVTUSZBDDPVOUTGPSPGBMMGBSNTXJUIBHSJDVMUVSBMBDUJWJUZ "#4 "HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT 

How much is produced?

t5IFUPUBMBSFBPQFSBUFECZGBSNTXJUICFFGDBUUMFBOEMBNCTBOETIFFQJTBSPVOEPG

t*O "VTUSBMJBQSPEVDFEBQQSPYJNBUFMZNJMMJPOUPOOFTDXUPGCFFG



Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s land mass.



People in the industry:

and veal (ABS). t*O NJMMJPOHSBJOGFEDBUUMFXFSFNBSLFUFEoPGBMMBEVMUDBUUMF slaughtered.

t"SPVOE QFPQMFBSFJOWPMWFEJOUIFSFENFBUJOEVTUSZ JODMVEJOHPOGBSN production, processing and retail.

What is the value of production? t5IFHSPTTWBMVFPG"VTUSBMJBODBUUMFBOEDBMGQSPEVDUJPO JODMVEJOHMJWFDBUUMFFYQPSUT JT

How much is produced?

estimated at $7.9 billion (ABARES 2011-12).

t*O "VTUSBMJBQSPEVDFE UPOOFTDXUPGMBNCBOE UPOOFTDXUPG

t$BUUMFDPOUSJCVUFEPGUIFUPUBMGBSNWBMVFPGCJMMJPOJO "#"3&4

mutton (ABS).

"HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT  t5IFEJSFDUDPOUSJCVUJPOPGCFFGBOEMJWFDBUUMFUPHSPTTEPNFTUJDQSPEVDUXBT



approximately 1% in 2010-11.

What is the value of production? t5IFHSPTTWBMVFPG"VTUSBMJBOTIFFQ MBNC BOEMJWFTIFFQQSPEVDUJPOJTFTUJNBUFEBU CJMMJPO "#"3&4"HSJDVMUVSBM$PNNPEJUJFT4FQUFNCFS 

Domestic value and consumption:

t-BNCTBOETIFFQDPOUSJCVUFEPGUIFUPUBMGBSNWBMVFPGCJMMJPOJO

t%PNFTUJDFYQFOEJUVSFPOCFFGXBTBQQSPYJNBUFMZCJMMJPOJO .-"FTUJNBUF 

(ABS).

t"VTUSBMJBOTBUFBSPVOELHPGCFFGQFSQFSTPOJO .-"FTUJNBUF  t"SPVOEPG"VTUSBMJBOGSFTINFBUCVZFSTQVSDIBTFECFFGJO "$/JFMTFO

Domestic value and consumption:

Homescan).

t%PNFTUJDFYQFOEJUVSFPOMBNCXBTBQQSPYJNBUFMZCJMMJPOBOENVUUPONJMMJPOJO

t*OWPMVNFUFSNT CFFGJTUIFTFDPOENPTUQPQVMBSGSFTINFBUDPOTVNFEUISPVHIUIF

2011-12 (MLA estimate).

foodservice industry after chicken (BIS Shrapnel).

t"VTUSBMJBOTBUFBSPVOELHPGMBNCBOELHPGNVUUPOQFSQFSTPOJO

TOP TEN WORLD BEEF EXPORTS

TOP TEN WORLD SHEEP EXPORTS

Paraguay

USA

Argentina

Uruguay

Uruguay

India

Canada

Netherlands

EU-27

Belguim

New Zealand

Spain

USA

Ireland UK

India

Australia

Brazil

New Zealand

Australia 0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

'000 tonnes cwt

1400

1600

Source: USDA 2011

NATIONAL CATTLE NUMBERS - as of june 2011, 28.5 million head

WA 2.1 million

0

100

200 '000 tonnes cwt

NB: calculations include intra EU trade

300

400

Source: FAO latest available 2010 data

NATIONAL SHEEP AND LAMB NUMBERS - as of june 2011, 73.1 million head

NT 2.2 million

Queensland 3.7 million

Queensland 12.6 million SA 1.3 million NSW 5.7 million Victoria 4 million

WA 14 million SA 11 million NSW 26.8 million Victoria 15.2 million

Tasmania 0.7 million

Source: ABS (ďŹ nal 2011)

www.cpimediagroup.com

Source: ABS (ďŹ nal 2011)

Tasmania 2.3 million

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

29


FEATURES / product focus

A DAIRY TALE Developed by Rudolf Haindl and Johann Mandl in Austria, QimiQ is a real dairy cream product that can be used as a natural stabiliser or flavour carrier. With only 15-19% fat content, this is more than 50% less fat than heavy cream. Plus it contains no sugar or sodium.

Mediterranean vegetable terrine Serves 10 Ingredients 100g yellow peppers 300g courgettes, sliced and blanched 500g QimiQ Classic Original, unchilled 300g quark 20% fat [cream cheese] salt and pepper basil, finely chopped 8ml lemon juice 100g dried tomatoes 50g black olives 50g capers

3 4

5

an overlap of courgette to cover the filling. Whisk QimiQ Classic smooth. Add the quark, seasoning, basil and lemon juice and mix well. Alternately layer the quark mousse, dried tomato pieces, whole olives and capers and halved peppers in the terrine mould. Finish with a layer of mousse and cover with the courgette overlap. Chill for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Method 1 Halve the peppers and remove the seeds. Bake in a hot oven at 180C until brown. Allow to cool and peel. 2 Line a terrine mould (lined with cling film) with a layer of thin courgette slices. Leave

30

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

www.cpimediagroup.com


product focus / FEATURES

Poached chicken and mushroom terrine

Dark chocolate mousse

Makes 1kg

Serves 15

Ingredients 150g QimiQ Classic Original, chilled 400g chicken breast, minced, chilled 250ml cream 36% fat, chilled 60g chicken glaze, chilled 30ml dry vermouth, chilled salt and pepper nutmeg pimento spice 90g mushrooms, small, fried 60g pistachios, chopped

Method 1 Blend the chilled QimiQ Classic and minced chicken until smooth. 2 Slowly add the chilled cream, glace and Vermouth, mix well and season to taste with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and pimento. 3 Fold in the fried mushrooms and nuts and pour the mixture into a terrine mould lined with cling ďŹ lm. 4 Seal and poach at 75C for approximately 45 minutes.

Ingredients 250g QimiQ Whip Original, chilled 150ml milk 50g sugar 250g dark chocolate 40-60% cocoa, melted Method 1 Lightly whip the cold QimiQ Whip until completely smooth and ensure that the entire mixture is incorporated, especially from bottom and sides of the bowl. 2 Add the milk and sugar and continue to whisk at top speed until the required volume has been achieved. 3 Fold in the luke warm chocolate, then pour into dishes and chill.

Mango and pepper ice cream Ingredients for 1 Pacojet beaker 200g QimiQ Classic Original, unchilled 200ml cream 36% fat 300g mango, pureed 100g sugar 50ml lemon juice 10 red peppercorns, crushed

www.cpimediagroup.com

Method 1 Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a Pacojet beaker. 2 Freeze at -22C for approximately 24 hours. 3 Pacotise.

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

31


CHEFS / recipe

Jack of all trades

Monterey jack is a true ‘American’ cheese, since it originated in the Mexican Franciscan friars of Monterey, California. Around the 1700s, these monasteries were making a semi-firm, creamy, mild flavoured cheese from cow's milk which they aged for a short period. Now it’s a US classic, commonly used in Mexican and Spanish cuisine for its mild flavour and easy melting quality.

T

hanks to an American entrepreneur named David Jacks, the semi-soft cheese made in the California missions from the 1700s became a world favourite and, for many, the poster child of the US cheese industry. It was in 1882 that Jacks, a dairy owner and businessman from Monterey in California, began producing this cheese commercially and branded his shipping boxes with his last name and the city of origin, hence Monterey - Jacks became monterey jack. The flavour of the cheese is delicate and buttery with a slight tartness for universal appeal. It is creamy white in colour and creamy smooth in texture. It can be blended with spices, herbs, hot peppers, dried vegetables or smoked, for example, during the manufacturing process to create unique

Information kindly supplied by the US Dairy Export Council.

flavour profiles. Monterey dry jack is an aged version of monterey jack which is considered a specialty cheese. Monterey jack cheese melts well and lends to

a variety of applications by shredding, slicing and cubing. It has some stretch and can be broiled and browned. Stored at refrigerated temperatures between 1 to 3C, cut pieces should be wrapped tightly in barrier film and stored away from other pungent foods, as these cheeses will pick up flavours and aromas quickly. Proper sanitation when handling these cheeses will greatly increase their shelf life and quality. Properly handled product may be held refrigerated for up to three months, but freezing is not recommended. It’s similar in taste and texture to colby and cheddar. Variants of monterey jack known as dry jack (aged version) and pepper jack (pepper spiced) are also quite popular.

Feature sponsored by:

32

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

www.cpimediagroup.com


recipe / CHEFS

Roasted chicken and smoked monterey jack ‘croquettes’ For 40 pieces Roast chicken Ingredients 1 whole chicken, cleaned 1 lemon 1 thyme sprig 1 rosemary sprig salt olive oil Method 1 Preheat oven to 175C. Wash the chicken in cold water and dry with paper, then with hand spread salt inside and outside giving a short massage for better adherence. Cut lemon in four portions and stuff chicken with them and the herbs. Spread oil over all the skin. 2 Half fill an oven tray with water. Place a smaller one inside with the chicken breast side down then roast for 45-60 minutes adding extra water as and when required. When chicken is roasted, turn heat up to 210C and continue roasting for until the skin is golden (five to ten minutes). Then turn the chicken over and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes. Check chicken is fully cooked, then reserve until cold. Reserve the juices into a small pan and reduce to sauce texture.

3

When chicken is cold, remove the lemon pieces and herbs. Remove and seperate the skin, meat and bones, then chop meat and skin and reserve together.

Dough

4

Ingredients reduced chicken juice 1/6th tsp fresh grated nutmeg 180g butter roasted chicken 4 eggs, boiled 210g flour 2lt milk 200g smoked monterey jack in small cubes

5

Method 1 Bring the milk to a boil, then add chicken bones and all ugly skin or meat that we don't want to add to the final dough. Boil for five minutes, cut the fire, cover with aluminum foil and let it infuse for at least four hours, then strain the milk and heat over a very low fire so it doesn’t boil. Season with salt, add the nutmeg and keep it hot. 2 In a sauté pan, melt 180g butter with half a spoon of olive oil, add 210g flour and fry on very low fire for ten minutes, without burning, stirring continuously. 3 Add the hot milk in four amounts, stirring for at

least two minutes before the next addition. Cook the bechamel mix for 20-30 minutes, then add chicken juice, meat and skin, cooking for another ten minutes, before adding the minced boiled egg and smoked monterey jack. Stir until the cheese has melted, taste and correct the seasoning. Spread some butter on a tray/container and place hot dough inside, cover with plastic film and keep in fridge until completely cold.

Croquettes Ingredients dough flour mixed egg mango chutney bread crumbs Method 1 Take dough from the fridge, make balls or any form with it (never bigger than a golf ball), pass by flour, egg and bread crumbs and let rest for at least one hour in the fridge, before deep frying in sunflower oil. Croquettes can be frozen for up to one month. 2 To serve, make some lines of mango chutney on the plate, place croquettes, then decorate with chives and chili powder.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Carlos Delos Mozos, Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza Sheikh Zayed Rd

“Thanks to an American entrepreneur named David Jacks, the semi-soft cheese made in the California missions from the 1700s became a world favourite and, for many, the poster child of the US cheese industry.” Feature sponsored by: www.cpimediagroup.com

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

33


CHEFS / pimp my plate

!

Ola Veronique!

Simple but delicious, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sole Veronique, a mainstay of classical French cuisine but sadly slipping off menus. Time to spice it up as Chef Anil Kumar reinvents the dish to suit the newly opened contemporary Mexican restaurant, Fuego!

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

www.cpidubai.com


pimp my plate / CHEFS

K

erala born chef Anil Kumar is a bundle of energy. With over 1,000 TV shows behind him, he has travelled widely during his 20 year career and today balances creating sustainable F&B concepts for the retail sector with his company Food Wise as well as mentoring younger chefs through his senior involvement with the Emirates Culinary Guild, the Asian Chefs in UAE forum and multiple judging assignments. His past career is littered with celebrity names from a spell as Head Chef to the Indian Prime Minister’s VVIP charters and Sonia Ghandi to cooking for celebrities like Eddie Murphy ("Meatballs and BBQ”), the Bachchans (“Multi cuisine menus”, Kamal Hassan (“Breakfast fare with dosa, chutneys and sambar) and Rajinikanth (“Boneless Chettinad style kolivarutha curry with crispy appams"). All a long way from his childhood dream of joining the National Defence Academy! Authentic Mexican food is hard to find, isn’t it, with most ‘Mexican’ outlets actually serving Tex-Mex. How can an Indian chef get the concept right? You’re absolutely right about the Tex-Mex confusion. We like to call Fuego ‘contemporary’ Mexican food, rather than ‘authentic’, though with two great chefs here from Mexico City you get the real taste. Since we’ve opened, the Mexican Ambassador has been here many times and praises the authenticity of the food and will, in fact, host Mecian Independence Day at the restaurant. We wanted to avoid all those Tex-Mex cliches so, apart from as many ingredients as we can source from Mexico, really only the pinata hanging just inside says Mexico.

Isn’t Mexican cuisine very regional? How can you bring it all together? A good point but our two Mexican chefs both come from Mexico City and that city brings together all the influences of every region of the country. The main emphasis and what we focus

on is freshness so, for instance, one of the chefs will come to every table during service and make a salsa fresca and engage with the diners, helping to explain why the food is not exactly what they’ve come to get used to as ‘Mexican’.

"Even with good training and the best culinary certification, you may end up peeling a lot of garlic before you earn your title ‚ and some rest. Creativity, energy and ambition will get you to the top. Practice and more practice is the sure-fire way of refining your skills.” Sole Veronique Serves 4

2

Ingredients 10g butter, plus extra for greasing 4 x 200g sole fillets, skinless 200ml fresh fish stock 100ml dry vermouth 1 bay leaf 150ml double cream 200g green grapes, halved and deseeded sea salt and white pepper

3

Method 1 Preheat the oven to 180C.

www.cpidubai.com

4

5

Lightly butter a shallow dish. Fold the fillets in half and place in a single layer in the dish, then dot with pieces of butter. Pour the fish stock and vermouth around the fish. Cover the fish with a sheet of buttered aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until just cooked. Remove the fish from the oven, cover with the foil and return to oven to keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a large frying pan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to 100ml, add the cream and return to a simmer. Then stir in the grapes and cook for a minute or so until hot, before seasoning. Pour sauce over fish and serve at once.

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

35


CHEFS / pimp my plate

So there’s misunderstanding about the food? Yes, absolutely. For example, ceviche is a Mexican dish but it’s also Peruvian and Chilean and ultimately traces its roots back to Spain. Mexican food is as authentic as any food anywhere but it’s the freshness and ingredients that make the difference. It can be a challenge at times to get authentic ingredients but we’re really trying hard to. We’re also training our serving staff so they have more food knowledge and feel more confident talking about how we’re different. Having a different take is going to be a challenge.

I was surprised at recent news that there now a higher proportion of obese Mexicans than Americans. Is the cuisine unhealthy? I don’t believe so. Clearly eating patterns change as people become more prosperous but we don’t see Fuego as a place you’d eat at every day. More importantly, we view fat as a cooking medium rather than an ingredient. Of course, the more fat, the tastier some food becomes but chefs need to stop taking shortcuts like deep frying in order to make their food less bland. Moving to the dish, did you know it?

Of course - it was one of the first things I learned at catering school! I started from our belief here in sustainability so I wanted to use a local, sustainable fish and picked sherri eshkeli. Then I started to match out key ingredients - Mexican coconut milk (different from Asian) instead of cream, chillies etc. It’s not a hot dish because the original is quite subtle and I think the different flavours of the chillies I’ve used work well in the dish. Are you pleased with it? Yes. I do see possibilities for it as a brunch dish, probably as a sharing plate. I had fun doing this.

‡ STEP BY STEP COOKING GUIDE:

Step 1: Mise en place

Step 2: Butter and season the fish

Step 3: slice the habanero

Step 4: Keep the poached eggs warm

Step 5: Reducing the sauce

Step 6: Adding the grapes

Step 7: Plate up

Step 8: The final dish

Pescado de Veronika Serves 4 Ingredients 4 x 200g sherri eshkeli (pink ear emperor) fillets, skinless 30g butter 1/2 tsp chipotle chili flakes 1/ 2 tsp arbol chili flakes 1 ripe habanero chili 3 bay leaves 200ml fresh fish stock 100ml cilantro and jalapeno infused tequila 150ml coconut cream juice of half a lime 100g green grapes, halved and deseeded flakes of sea salt 2 sprigs cilantro

36

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

Method 1 Apply the butter and sprinkle salt and chili flakes on the fillets. Roll them tightly and secure with toothpicks, then place on a poaching tray with the bay leaves, sliced habanero and chilli flakes. 2 Pour the stock over and poach for 15 minutes, covered in foil at 180C. Then remove the fish and strain the liquor into a pan on the stove top. 3 Cook and reduce further for five minutes with coconut cream and tequila, then add the grapes and cook for another five minutes. 4 Arrange the fish rolls on a serving plate, pour the sauce with all fruits and chilies, serve garnished with cilantro sprigs.

www.cpidubai.com


Did you knowâ&#x20AC;Ś The United States is the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest cheese producer, with an award-winning portfolio of over 400 premium cheese varieties, from European-style cheeses to American Originals

Enhance your culinary creationsâ&#x20AC;Ś with cheese from the United States

Pepper Jack: Crafted in the

ed Unit

S

, ca s e t a t

pt

che g n i t a iv

fs around the world

Roasted Mushroom and U.S. Pepper Jack Ravioli Makes approximately 140 raviolis

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The U.S. Pepper Jack cheese makes a nice creamy blend with the deep ďŹ&#x201A;avors of the roasted vegetables. The pepper heat from the cheese is a great combination with a rich red sauce, but also works well in a white sauce. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget to top the dish with some U.S. Parmesan or U.S. Asiago.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C;Chef John Esser, Consultant Chef for USDEC

Ingredients:

Procedure:

1k cremini mushrooms, quartered 300g yellow onions, chopped 150g garlic cloves, chopped 200ml olive oil 2 tbsp Italian herbs, dry 1 tbsp salt 1 tbsp black pepper 700g U.S. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded 15g ďŹ&#x201A;at leaf parsley, minced Pasta sheets, thawed (or your own fresh house-made sheets)

Pre-heat convection oven to 200 C. Place mushrooms and onion in a large bowl. In small bowl mix garlic, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper; pour mixture over mushrooms and toss well. Place mixture on sheet pans in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes; decrease oven temperature to 140 C and roast for another 30 minutes. Take mushroom mixture, chop ďŹ ne and chill. When chilled, mix in cheese and parsley. Place 10g of mixture into each ravioli and seal tightly. Filled ravioli can be steamed or boiled; they can be fresh frozen on parchment paper for later use.

U.S. cheese is already available in your market, check today with your local importer/distributor or contact USDEC for a list of local suppliers: # $!)*.!#(+*!&'&.%#$%-%!,!(#&!*$."'&! 



 The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) is a free resource to help you ďŹ nd additional information on U.S. cheese applications and distribution channels. We are a non-proďŹ t, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders.


CHEFS / face to face

Staying one step ahead

From disastrous cooking at school and catering college, Izu Ani carved a career that led via Spain’s most cutting edge restaurants to a key role in propelling La Petite Maison to one of Dubai’s perpetual favourites. And now he wants to do it again, at the newly opened La Serre.

A

lthough superficially resembling La Petite Maison, La Serre in Downtown Dubai’s Vida hotel marks a change of pace for Head Chef Izu Ani. Instead of La Petite Maison’s Provence style, La Serre has a more Parisian feel, complete with in-house boulangerie. Open kitchens, clean design, bowls of achingly fresh produce, fresh bread and a cuisine driven by quality produce. “You can’t be a seasonal chef in Dubai,” Ani believes. “Instead, you have to grasp the essence of what you’re doing.”

38

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

He recalls time spent working in the south of France and fish coming in from little day boats. “Keep it simple and let the quality of the produce shine through,” he insists. “Food should emerge from its environment and what I’m trying to do now is strip things away so that people are close to the produce and have a cultural understanding of where it’s from and how it’s best prepared.” What drives him? “It’s taste. So many chefs just go for the look on the plate but taste is always with you and it’s vital.” Born in Nigeria and moving to North London when

he was young, Ani has come a long way. What did food mean to you as a kid? To be honest, I have no vivid memories of it at all. You know, it’s easy to overplay this but my mum struggled to look after five kids, doing two jobs and food was never a priority. In many ways, we fended for ourselves as a young kid, I used to make my own breakfast and I can still recall the smell of the eggs I burned! Food was a necessity though she did make an effort sometimes and meals of Nigerian dishes were like our Sunday roast.

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face to face / CHEFS

How were you at school? Terrible! I was in the top set for art, but bottom in just about everything else. Physical things interested me, processes intrigued me especially when you could see the result and so I became the only biy taking home economics. I imagine you used to get a fair bit of stick at school for that? Of course, but luckily I had three older brothers at the same school so it could have been a lot worse. I used to take cakes home and I guess the family used to eat them to be polite! So, school wasn’t really my place and I enrolled at Southgate College but after just a couple of months they asked me to leave because I was so bad. I just didn’t concentrate. So I spotted a notice outside one of the branches of Greggs The Bakers, offering to take trainees and get them to assistant manager level after three months - I lasted three weeks and then I had to leave because my maths skills were just so bad! I’m seeing a pattern here! Anyway, back to college to improve my maths and then I managed to get on a YTS scheme at the David Lloyd Tennis Club, working and then going to college for a day a week. After a year I got my NVQ 1 and 2! The chef there also ran a small job agency and he saw some potential in me and managed to get me into the Sheraton Belgravia working on pastry. I loved and turned out to be quite good at pastry, gaining my NVQ 3 in pastry. That then led to jobs in Redhill and then Croydon working with pastry. I think it gave me the disciple and made me concentrate - I had to do it right. For someone so bad at the start, you came quite a long way. It get’s better. I managed to get a job at The Square, Phil Howard’s Michelin starred restaurant, initially making the amuse-bouches but then, at age 20, I got made Chef de Partie running the meat. I really admire Phil and it was an amazing opportunity - the pinnacle of cuisine. The problem was that I didn’t understand a word of French and the kitchen was run like a French kitchen - people would shout out ‘Chaud!’ and I had no idea why or what it meant but just joined in. Then more and more I got intrigued and had to understand both the terminology and the culture. And? I didn’t calculate. I got a boat to France and found a job in Alsace. Everything was alien to me and I had no French. Even worse, after The Square, the standards were quite dreadful and unhygienic we were cooking ten day old fish! I left after two months and sent my CV all round Alsace and in a lucky move got taken on at Le Chambard, a one star in Kaysersberg, for a six month period to cover for a chef who’d had an accident. Chef Olivier Nasti, a meilleur ouvrier de France taught me all the classics before I went back to London and

www.cpimedigroup.com

“You can’t be a seasonal chef in Dubai. Instead, you have to grasp the essence of what you’re doing.” worked for a while as a private chef. I was offered the job permanently and it was tempting - the budget was wide open and I’ve never used so much whote truffle! But I still had the chance to work in Alsace and I returned for a year to a place that made it to one star staus in that time. That was a real honour, not just for me but for the whole team

- however, by the time it was announced the chef had already left for New York City. What is that feeling like, to get that recognition? I think pride in the team. I’d never really focused on chasing stars but then I got the chance to move

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

39


CHEFS / face to face

special. From there I headed down to Figueres, near Roses - elBulli territory - to work in a very simple restaurant cooking classic Catalan food. That was good for me, I think. Phil had taught me that food should be clear but use luxury products and Jacques had shown me that the art of a cook is to be able to make something from nothing. To be good, that whole molecular scene was never really to my taste - I don’t like to faff around with food. Yes, it had to look good but taste is key and that’s what La Serre is all about. And then you came to Dubai? Yes, to help open La Petite Maison - a great opportunity but Dubai disappointed me in many ways. Before we opened, I ate just about everywhere for a year, but no place gave me a real buzz. So we began with a different mindset where it was all about the produce.

to the three star L’Auberge de L’Ill, which simply exclipsed anything I’d ever done - I was the first black Chef de Partie and, although in a sense it was a step back, it was an amazing learning experience. It was a privilege working there but after a year and a half I felt the need to move. I had an offer from Michel Bras. Amazing! What was he like to work for? In fact, I didn’t take the job. It’s funny, I was paying off a sports car and Michel wasn’t offering me enough to live on! So instead I went south to Grasse and the two-star La Bastide Saint Antoine, where I fell in love with Provencal food and flavours. The chef, Jaques Chibois, was notorious as one of the meanest in France - I survived a year! It was tough but I learned some very good lessons, notably to respect everything around you: people, ingredients and equipment. We’d like to think those days of bullying chefs are behind us. No, I don’t think so. I respect everybody and I always say that people work with me, but sometimes you can be so frustrated. I remember having lunch with some good friends and one of my chefs brought out a chicken that was overcooked and dry. I just exploded! He had so many opportunities to start again and explain that he couldn’t serve it and, at times like that, I do like to express myself. What appealed to you most about Chibois’ cooking style? The light food above all. From him, I got the best lesson ever that you have to understand and give respect to flavours to bring them together. I remember him tasting a veloute I had made which I though was fine. He added the tiniest knob of butter and slowly swirled the pan to me it. I taste it and - Wow! It was all about understanding the dish not just the recipe. In my version, yes, the

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

flavour was there but it didn’t last. The fat brought together all the elements - a real eye opener. So, a year in and you decide to move on. Where next? I had the opportunity to spend a day with Pierre Gagnaire to see if I’d make Chef de Partie at his Paris restaurant. Amazing food and a delightful man, but he just wandered in in his shorts and his hair all over the place and I just thought, ‘No man, I can’t work for someone who had two people inside his head!’ Instead, I went back to The Square and worked again for Phil as Sous Chef for three years. I think I’m losing track of the number of jobs! Don’t worry - not many more. Anyway, as usual, I got itchy feet and decided to go to Spain, again not speaking the language. I spent a month’s holiday at Arzak, ate at Mugaritz and went back to see them and said I loved the food so much I wanted to work for free. I was a great experience and one of the first thing I was able to show them was how to deal with a yam - they had no idea what it was but, of course, it’s an everyday item in Nigerian cuisine. It’s odd - I found that their approach was all about the wow factor rather than understanding the fundamentals of flavour profiles. And technically, there were problems. I remember they spent ages trying to create chocolate domes over the back of a ladle and they kept cracking. So when they left the kitchen, I tempered the chocolate properly and they couldn’t believe I could do what they couldn’t! That made me up to Chef de Partie but I felt it was unfair that I still wasn’t being paid and still had no money. What lessons did you take away from Mugaritz? The lightness of the food, above all. And I loved the foraging - there was an amazing garden and, as you know, the restaurant is on a farm so you’re cooking surrounded by that sense of reality. Very

And, of course, it became a roaring success! I’m trying to ask this delicately but when LPM made the World’s 100 Best Restaurants list this year, ahead of Bras and Troisgros, do you feel that made sense? I’m not sure it’s my place to comment on that. I will say, though, that gaining the award was a privilege and an honour. Yes, I was surprised but I never rest on my laurels. My view is that La Petite Maison offers a good product and to me the test of a good restaurant is simply whether you want to go back and eat there. What do you value most when eating out? So why move on? I gave the place everything I had to give and was proud to be a part of that team but I had my own ideas and got into discussions with Emaar and we looked at a number of sites before picking this one. Detailed planning really began last September and I was determined we’d do two things: deliver the best bread in Dubai - and I have a baker who’s at work from 3.30am with the first loaves on sale three hours later - plus we’d put the emphasis on freshness. You want scrambled eggs? We’ll cook them a la minute for you. It’s all about the honesty of the product, so our open kitchens and bakery show just what we’re doing. We don’t have a chef’s table - we have a chef’s room with space for a dozen diners with doors that open onto the kitchen for real interaction between chefs and diners. Everyone here shares a great passion in showing people what we can do. Food embodies the culture that it represents, the idea being that if you go back to the roots of the product you will understand the direction to take it. Early days, I know, but is La Serre a concept that you could roll out to other locations? How would you transmit what we do? Can you transfer the soul of the place? Can you find the same elements elsewhere? I don’t believe so. La Serre and LPM before it weren’t about me, but happened because of amazing people. I didn’t do it alone.

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CHEFS / face to face

e embracing the essenc d an ld or w e th nd ou m ar . culinary experience fro every dish to perfection e at cre to With over 25 years of is on ssi pa o’s look isine, Andrea Mugaver DIFC, he managed to in ’s rto be of traditional Italian cu Ro at u en m plates for a new lounge Fresh from tasting 27 through his career. relaxed as he talked us

F

rom poor beginnings in Sicily, Andrea Mugavero’s first Head Chef position was in Monte Carlo, starting a trajectory that saw him shine in Rome and Parma, befroe being headhunted by the BiCE Group as the Executive Chef working on new opening outside Italy. One of these was Dubai where he made the Italian restaurant in the Hilton a real destination for Dubai food lovers, in the years before New Dubai was a bustling reality. Now he’s repeated the trick at Roberto’s in DIFC, which can reach 700 or 800 covers in a day when busy. Yet he’s happest on his rare days off, spending time with his wife, shopping for food and preparing for the evening’s barbeque in his garden, complete with homegrown vegetables and herbs. You grew up in Sicily, but now cook ‘Italian’ food. How does that make sense given the very regional nature of food across the country? You’re right, but there are so many things in common. In Italy, food is not manipulated too much because the basic produce is already so good.

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

The best olive oil. Oranges and lemons. Everything is still very traditional though you do see a major split between north and south - butter versus oil, polenta versus pasta and so on. For myself, I like to think I have a Mediterranean touch. What did food mean to you as a child? We were a poor family - my parents, five brothers and one sister. Like the others, I started work at the age of six making bread and pizza. That was my life till I joined the army when I was 17. It was hard, yes, but my mother was fair - she took half my wages to help support the family and I could keep the other half, so gradually I could afford a bicycle, decent shoes, pizza and the cinema and so on. What sort of food were you all eating? The food of the poor. Fish or meat weren’t daily foods for us, but one day a week my mother would make this big tray of pasta and meat that she would bake in the oven, bring it to table and we’d all dive into it at the same time. It was amazing! Anyway, in the army I got the chance to cook, took classes and discovered my real passion.

I really believe that to be a chef you have to have the passion. It’s not about money - it’s about giving 100% of yourself. So food back then was ‘grandmother style’? Of course, but the problem with saying that’s what chefs do is that, all too often, they never saw their grandmothers cook. I saw my mother cook and, yes, I miss her food. But we have to be honest when we talk about food. Do you go back often? Once a year. The house is right on the water’s edge, so you can fish out of oner window and then, from the bedroom, see the volcano all with the scents of jasmine and lemons and oranges. Would you go back to live? I don’t know. I’m an Italian and I love my country, but at present I have no intention of living there again. Everything is so expensive and the problems with the government. After the army, you went into a career as a

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face to face / CHEFS

I like to eat at home . Of course, I try the other Italian restaurants to see what they are doing but, honestly, I do not really see competiti on. They use the same quality ingredients but their techniques are different .

www.cpimedigroup.com

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

43


CHEFS / face to face

professional chef? Yes, I worked in a traditional little trattoria in Sicily and later, still quite young, I became Head Chef at La Saliere Restaurant in Monte Carlo and really learned a lot. After that, I spent a few years in Rome alongside some great chefs and experimenting with traditional cuisine before I became Head Chef at the five-star Grand Hotel in Parma. Two years later, I was headhunted by the BiCE Group became the Executive Chef across several international locations. What year was this? I opened my first for them on Marbella in 1996, then I four years in Istanbul before coming to here. We know the reputation of BiCE internationally, but how is it regarded in Italy? As you know it started in Milan, guided by Beatrice the grandmother of the family - her food, her influence. The name BiCE is as contraction of her name. They are classic Tuscan trattorias. Was that hard to adapt to with your Sicilian heritage? No, Beatrice’s influence is so great that the dishes are hers - well, maybe 80-90% of them. Each chef in the different BiCEs is then able to suggest new dishes. That’s how chefs work - here in Roberto’s they are my dishes, but I leave my Chef de Cuisine Luca free to think. I need ideas from him. In BiCE, though, we worked to her standards When you arrived here in Dubai in 2000, what did you think? Ha, it was like a desert - it seemed as if nothing existed! But I adapted the BiCE style to suit what people here wanted and we built a solid clientele of society people and so on. I can tell you it was not easy to organise a menu that satisfied the mix of people here but, of course, Arabs had travelled to and influenced the food of Sicily so that helped. Even today, I think the menu is virtually the same as the one I created back then. What other challenges did you face? Getting the menu consistent was a real problem, because of the supply of produce. It took time but I gradually found suppliers who would work with people I knew back in Italy and France. So, in time, I was able to understand the local taste. But I use very little produce from the area - locally grown vegetables just don’t have the taste of vegetables grown in soil and warm water fish are different again. Now there are fewer problems but people are demanding in Dubai - sometimes suppliers can’t get us some products, but people expect them. What do we day to them? How does an Italian restaurant stand out from the crowd, given that there are so many in town? I think a lot of them are not really Italian. The good ones are the ones where chefs are asking for more

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

e a menu s i n a g r o o t y s a It w as not e ix of people m e h t d e i f s i t that sa abs had r A , e s r u o c f o here but, ed the c n e u l f n i d n a o travelled t hat helped. t o s y l i c i S f food o produce from suppliers and, because they can get anything from anywhere, it’s easy to create new dishes. Our tastes develop as well over time - I’m a chef from Siciliy who learned the cuisine of Puglia and Napoli before moving on to Tuscan flavours. Now, at Roberto’s, I’m happy but with the numbers we have coming through the door - 100 or 120 for business lunches and then up to 700 or 800 a day - consistency is critical. I’m looking at changing the menu every two or three months - after all that time having just a small input on BiCE’s menu, that makes me happy. As well as consistency, you need quality - if something’s no good, just don’t serve it! And never lie to the guest. When you’re not here, where do you eat? Well, I’m here six days a week so, to be honest, I like to eat at home. Of course, I try the other Italian restaurants to see what they are doing but,

honestly, I do not really see competition. They use the same quality ingredients but their techniques are different. I do what I can to create the seasons in the restaurant - for example, in Spring there’s an asparagus promotion. How do you relax then? Chefs live under a lot of stress - you open the door to the restaurant and already there’s tension, although you like to make people happy. So my favourite day is spent with my wife in our villa. In the morning, I go shopping for food and prepare for the evening’s barbeque in the garden, using ourt own vegetables and herbs. I am passionate about cooking and also about my garden. Your neighbours must be lucky... Well, they smell the food but I never give them any!

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CHEFS / face to face

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

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face to face / CHEFS

Spicin it up Born in india but based in Britain for most of his career, Atul Kochhar is one of a small number of chefs responsible for changing the general perception of Indian fine dining. The first Indian head chef to receive a Michelin star, he gained another with his first solo venture, the critically acclaimed Benares restaurant in London. A TV regular, he is now catching his breath after opening within the same time period, a new restaurant in the Mauritius and Rang Mahal in the Marriot Marquis in Dubai.

A

tul Kochhar was born in Jamshedpur in India and began cooking with the Oberoi group of hotels, gaining a diploma in Hotel Management before being appointed Sous Chef at the 5-star Oberoi in New Delhi. Next, he worked with renowned chef Bernard Kunig before, in 2001at the age of 31, gaining a Michelin star in London. Two years later, he opened his first restaurant, the acclaimed Benares Restaurant and Bar - widely seen as one of the world's best Indian restaurants, also with its own star. Based on extensive research, his cooking brings traditional tastes and styles to a new contemporary level bursting with bold flavours. He began the expansion of his empire with the opening of Ananda in Dublin in 2008, followed closely by Vatika near Southampton. The latter closed in 2011 but plans are to reopen the restaurant, which served cutting edge cuisine using locally sourced and freshly prepared ingredients, in London when a suitable site is located. In addition he has two restaurants on P&O cruise ships - “A dream come true,” he says. “My cuisine is an amalgamation of British and Indian. I'm a great believer that good food is often simple food, so that will be the best thing to give.” We caught up with him on one of his frequent trips to Dubai. What drove you into being a chef? Well, I think you have a choice of doing lots of stupid things in life, but working as a chef was right for me. My five years with the Oberoi group really changed me - they insisted that you learned all sorts of cuisines and French chefs and cuisine inspired me to travel. How did you learn about French chefs? From books, of course. We would all read about Marco Puerre White and Jean-Christophe Novelli and Gordon Ramsay, of course. I really wanted to

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“I wake up every morning happy to be a chef. That’s very different from being in a job where you have to do it.”

Your first time in London, you must have found ‘Indian’ food for the British a bit odd. Yes, it was very different. What struck me though was that it wasn’t pretentious. People would just pop out for ‘a curry’.

Going back to your childhood, what did food mean? My family background is Punjabi, but my grandfather took a job with Tata and we moved to the east. He used to run quite a successful bakery - in fact, I have a bit of a dream of going back and doing that! My father ran a catering business so I was surrounded by food. Like most Indian families, there were ambitions for me and I wanted to go into medicine like a good friend of mine. In fact, I had a place at medical college and I remember my father telling me that if I didn’t like it then I could always return and peel onions. After all, I’d been folding samosas from a young age! But I changed my mind and went instead to the Oberoi School of Hotel Management and, when I finished I wanted to travel. I guess I was inspired by chefs like Charlie Trotter and started by moving around India. Firstly to Chennai, which was a very different India from the one I was used to - I didn’t speak the language, the architecture was different, the temples were different and so was the food. It felt as if I was starting again in a foreign country! So I learned Tamil and started to enjoy wider horizons. It’s a fantastic city.

Tamarind won a Michelin star when you were head chef. Were you expecting that at all? I honestly didn’t expect it. When I heard, I just didn’t believe it and it wasn’t till after we finished service that day that we realised that we had actually achivieved it. We were scared at the start of the impact it would have but we just carried on with the same passion. What matters to me is that I enjoy what I’m doing and that guests enjoy my food. I certainly wasn’t going to kill myself for a second star. Anyway, the restaurant became more popular and revenues went up. I think the owners were very smart and insisted on consistency in the food rather than raising prices to take advantage of the publicity. They didn’t cash in.

What had you enjoyed most at the Oberoi? As a company, it’s very pure, very focused. It’s very specific about regional food so it was great to learn authenticity and complexity, which really gave me a chance to grow. They didn’t have any French restaurants but Thai, Chinese and Mediterranean cuisines were all ones i learned. I was fascinated by French food. When I came to London, it was a suprise to find French food there was so different from what I expected with old fashioned styles replaced by modern. Cuisines move on, of course. Also with the Oberoi, I got a better understanding of Indian food - going cross-country you realise that there’s no national cuisine and that markets are different in Gujerat or Kerala or wherever.

train with people like that which is why I moved to London, but there were no opportunities and so I took the job at Tamarind, which was a bit of a contradiction, The name suggest south India but the food was Punjabi. The place was owned by members of one of India’s many royal families and they had total control.

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

47


CHEFS / face to face

So like to travel? Yes. You know, I always felt a bit of a stranger. I was a Punjabi who grew up in the east, then I moved south and so on. A bit of an outsider. I remember when I got my first passport, it was like ‘Yes, I am an Indian!’ Then, of course, I moved to London and was an outsider again, though I feel part of the country. I remember when one of my Oberoi colleagues went to America I used to tease her afterwards about her new accent. Now I’m anglicised! What sort of places did you eat when you first arrived in London? I always prefer a restaurant where you get real flavours. I’m always a fan of that. When I moved, there was a new style of Indian restaurant opening as well as old classics like Veraswamy’s or your high street Star of Inia - places like The Red Fort in Soho were changing perceptions. Tamarind won its star but you moved on. Why? I felt what I had achieved was incredible and asked the owners if I could have a share in the restaurants. They turned me down, because they wanted to keep it in the family. That drove me to be an entrepreneur and, after a couple of years, I’d found a couple of investors and opened Benares. Initially I found it very frustrating - I was a chef but I was being pulled in every direction to deal with every kind of issue. I just wanted to be in the kitchen! But I learned and we did well - Benares was profitable from day one. I remember a review by AA Gill that said I cooked like an accountant! That hurt at the time, but we succeed. The first couple of years the focus was to survive, then we got the star and, after about seven years, the restaurant was solid enough for me to consider growing either in the city, though London properties are dreadfully overpriced, or further afield. One of my business partners was from Dublin so that seemed like a good place to start and it carried on from there. Before Rang Mahal, you opened Zafran here in Dubai. A restaurant in a shopping mall seems like a bit of a change of pace for you? Well, the plan had been to open Range Mahal but for various reasons it was delayed for 18 months and so I had a gap in my schedule. The Landmark Group asked for my help with Zafran and I got permission from the Marriott Group to work with them for a year. It was never permanent. You were talking earlier about the importance of regional cuisine in India. Without a history of dining out - except for canteens for lunch, perhaps - does a panIndian fine dining restaurant make sense? In the old days, it was only the rulers who could afford any kind of special food. Gradually, a wider learning was grasped from life and from the variety of regional food. Indian food also has very strong roots in the caste system and our own ethos

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

about how to eat. Most castes had food restrictions in place and it was really only the warrior class that could eat and drink anything. Add to that complexity, the different combinations of spices used state by state. Do you think chefs at your level maybe have an obligation to teach people about this richness of the cuisine? I’ve never really thought of myself as an educator although a dream of mine is to open a culinary school one day in India. I’d call on friends to help me take chefs in six to nine month to a new, high skill level. I also enjoy being a mentor in the kitchen - helping chefs develop.

talent to work in Indian restaurants. Your views on that? I’ve also spoken to Cyrus on this many times and we don’t fully agree. He sees it as a problem in terms of visas or wages but I think it’s more to do with the mindset of the Asian community - parents work so hard for their children’s future that they want them to better themselves. Part of the issue is how we motivate poeople and I’ve had good discussions with Phil Howard about what we can do to combat these problems. His view is that boundaries are being blurred and that spices are common in modern British cuisine so that in time we won’t have this issue so much of ‘Indian’ restaurants.

I remember talking to Cyrus Todiwala about the problems in the UK of attratcing young

How do you relax? I love finding new spices.

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LEISURE / book shelf

STOP COOKING, START READING! At a time when we’re deluged with high-profile cookbooks, it’s encouraging to know that there’s an resurgence also of small print run, dedicated food and drink magazine produced by passionate creative people aimed at a serious market of real enthusiasts. Dave Reeder surveys a pile found on a recent trip to London.

T

he perceived wisdom about magazines today is this: they’re dead and replaced by on-line. No more print. Everything is digital. That sounds exciting, until you actually look at the evidence! Consider three mature magazine markets: the US, France and the UK. In the US, the key demographic of 18-30 year-olds are increasingly reading magazines, although it’s true that the big general interest and news-driven titles have suffered badly. In France, continued Government support for the industry means that every corner kiosk is dangerously overstuffed with magazines, which the population buy with undiluted enthusiasm. And the UK, where we’re told that the rapid growth of digital editions of magazines means the end of print? This is where the story gets interesting, when you look at the latest magazine circulation figures from the Professional Publishers Association. It’s all too easy to look at the near 700% rise in digital circulation year on year of BBC History magazine or the 463% rise in Vogue, but that’s the wrong way to look at the figures. Impressive as these percentage increases are, look instead at the top magazine brand across digital and print: IPC’s What’s on TV. Its combined circulation is 1,084,302, but only 0.1% of that is the e-edition - yes, just 0.1%... And Vogue? 400% increase in digital circulation, but that’s still just under 4% of the total circulation! So what does all this have to do with our favourite subjects, food and drink? Here, as in many other ‘creative’ areas such as photography, travel, fashion, travel and even sport, magazines are bucking the trend in another way entirely. Away from the consumer, recipefocused titles such as BBC Good Food (note; regional edition also published by CPI Media Group), there is a growing trend for magazines that combine scholarly essays with quirky design and photography as well as a great deal of personal musings about food. Typically with limited distribution, though some quickly reach specialist outlets across numerous countries, they’re not easy to find and often eye-wateringly expensive - Dhs 100 for a magazine? You’re kidding me! However, for people who love food, these are worth the effort to track down, as I did on a recent trip to London. This is what I found in just two places. All worth tracking down.


book shelf / LEISURE

ALLA CARTA

CEREAL

FOOL

A biannual Italian treat whose declared purpose is that it “approaches food as an incentive to take a bite of diverse cultural phenomena”. The title is a neat play on words, combining ‘a la carte’ with the Italian word for ‘paper’, ‘carta’. The first issue seems a little unsure of its direction and at times feels more like a fashion/style magazine rather than a food one. Exactly the type of magazine that you’d expect to find on coffee tables, rather than being read and treasured, this brave attempt from Italy is at least trying something different. Future issues are worth watching but I wouldn’t advise taking out a subscription just yet.

A drop dead gorgeous quarterly on food and travel, that feels more like the catalogue for a photography exhibition - emphasis here is firmly on the visual and the quality of images is uniformly high. That’s not to say that the words aren’t important, but subjects such as edible flowers, farmers’ markets, isects as edible food and travel tours of the West Coast beaches all lend themselves vewry firmly to the visual.

Up to issue three for this slightly out of kilter but fascinating newstand magazine from a husband and wife team in Sweden. As always, it celebrates a world where chefs forage, where being a locavore is a way of life rather than an inspiration and where chefs, worldwide, are celebrated for their passion and desire to get down and dirty with produce. This issue’s piece on the world’s most underrated chefs is worth the price of admission alone, but alsdo thrown into the mix is the history of Swedish food, Thai uberchef David Thompson, Myamasou, Sean Brock and some of the most affecting black and white photography of food and ingredients that you’ll see in a long time.

The price? Take a deep breath! Ordered on-line and including postage prepare for a wallet suffering £20.

The price? Issues are £10 each. www.readcereal.com

The price? 99 Swedish kroner. www.fool.se

www.allacarta.com

www.cpimediagroup.com

September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

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LEISURE / book shelf

FRICOTE

GIN & IT

LUCKY PEACH

Ther most mainstream of all the titles discussed here, this French newstand title take the normal consumer approach of combining product news, chef interviews and recipes, then mixes it up with great photo features on subjects such as food sculpture and so on. With a very strong young hip Parisian vibe, this is worth glancing through - though you’ll probably settle for large doses of its style and content on Twitter and Instagram. Food for the social media generation.

A step up from other A5 zines, this sister pubication to the food-centric Fire & Knives, this digest sized more academic guide to the world of spirits slips easily onto your bookcase for later refreshment. A quarterly journal of new writing for drinkers and thinkers, barflies and winos, boozehounds, tipplers and geeks, it’s an eclectic mix of industry experts, storytellers and young painfully hip cocktail explorers. ‘Louche’ is not a word often associated with magazines, but it fits here. The only danger you face is that the drinking scene so lovingly detailed and recalled is a long way from the UAE and it may make you pine too much for the over-indulgent days of your youth. Fascinating stuff, though

Still the poster child for a new kind of offthe-wall food magazine, this wildly successful no-holds-barred celebration of the world of chefs continues to amaze and delight. Up to issue seven already, this quarterly brainchild of Momofuku’s David Chang has all the energy, the sense of imminant danger and the bizarreness of a late night trip with Antony Bourdain through a Vietnamese border crossing overrun by golden triangle thugs and dealers. Which is hard;y surprising, given that Bourdain is a regular contributor. To me this feels like nothing more than a group of NYC line chefs and madcap creatives working their way through a tabletop of shots after service, exchanging stories and celebrating food. A magazine put together by people crazy about food.

The price? Issues at E 5.00. www.fricote.fr

The price? Yours for £10 a copy. www.ginandit.co.uk

The price? Available locally via Spinneys . www.facebook.com/thisisluckypeach

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

www.cpimediagroup.com


book shelf / LEISURE

NOBLE ROT

PUT A EGG ON IT SWALLOW

Claimed to ‘join the dots between wine, music and food from a fresh perspective’, Noble Rot breaks most of the rules of new food and drink publishing by being as active on every social media you can think of, as in print. Quarterly two follows what we’ve come to expect from the new wave - A5 size, card covers, cassy design work in black and white on decent paper and an eclectic mix. Features range from pairing red wine with fish to the search for the perfewct bottle with Coldplay’s Will Champion, wine terrorism in the South of France to a reminiscence of a revelatory bottle of Madeira and more.

We’ve looked at this quirky, low rent community zine before and now, at issue seven, it’s still as lively and fun. A5 size and printed on different shades of green paper, this has all the ap[peal of an evening spent with friends who love talking about food - any food from greasy pizza to tea cakes. Fascinating this time round is a photo essay of meals around the world served family style at roadside shacks and carts. The price? You may find this a bit parochial since it’s quite New York City centric but it’s a great read for just $7.

Oversized and - how can we put this delicately - completely mental, with dayglo colours and and a take-no-prisoners in-your-face attitude to publishing and the celebration of food. The ‘anti-foodie food magazine’ is just as comfortable talking about street cart tacos as it is about the subculture of Mexcican wrestling movies. There’s even a scratch and sniff card that that captures the aromas/smells of the city. It’s great to see such an individual approach. I suspect you’ll either love it or hate it, but we love it for its sense of street style, its team’s passion and for its sheer originality.

www.putaeggonit.com The price? £5 price tag.

The price? £20 an issue.

twitter.com/noblerotmag

www.swallowmagazine.com

HOME OF INDEPENDENT MAGAZINES The Magazine Shop in Dubai Media City (themagazineshop.me) either stocks or is hoping to stock many ofg these titles. Niceo foilk worth supporting

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September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

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LEISURE / travel

Seville is the capital of Spanish Andalusia, serving as a major centre first for the Romans, then the Moor from North Africa and finally the Spanish, who saw its strategic importance as the only river port in the country when the wealth of the new world returned across the Atlantic. Now it’s a food lover’s paradise, the city driven by more than 1,000 tapas bars and a mountain of great produce in its many markets. Here are some snapshots.

The city

The food

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The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

www.cpimediagroup.com


travel / LEISURE

The tapas

The market

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September 2013 / The Pro Chef Middle East

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LEISURE / the last word

Everyone in the bath! Temperature control is the key to culinary success, so it’s no wonder that many of the world's top chefs approach PolyScience seeking solutions based the company’s ability to develop an unsurpassed line of temperature control equipment that meets a chef’s exact needs. Objects of desire indeed!

N

ew from manufacturer PolyScience is a broad full line of fully integrated sous vide circulating bath systems designed specifically for slow, lowtemperature cooking. Available with a choice of four temperature controllers and 29 quart (28 litre) polycarbonate or 29 or 47 quart (28 or 45 litre) insulated stainless steel tanks, these easy-to-use Sous Vide Professional Circulating Bath Systems help chefs achieve perfect, repeatable results every time. And, for optimum kitchen convenience, all these systems feature a generous opening for easy access to food and an easy-to-clean bridge mounted controller. PolyScience Chef Series systems control temperature with ¬±0.07C stability and have a single-speed pump with adjustable flow. They are available with either a polycarbonate or stainless steel tank. Chefs requiring more operating convenience may prefer the Classic Series Circulating Bath System, which features three user-settable temperature presets for the quick recall of frequently used sous vide cooking temperatures. Classic Series systems deliver ±0.05C temperature stability, have a twospeed pump and stainless steel tank.

Delivering the ultimate in temperature control and cooking flexibility are PolyScience Artist Series and Classic Plus Series Circulating Baths. Both feature a programmable controller that can be used to create and store multi-step, multi-temperature cooking profiles and control temperature with ±0.01C precision. Artist Series models feature a large touch screen display, variable speed pump, built-in timer and can be remotely monitored or controlled using an iPhone or iPad. Classic Plus models have a four-line digital readout, variable speed pump and timer. Artist Series systems are available with either a polycarbonate or stainless steel tank; Classic Plus Series system comes with stainless steel tanks only.

Bains-marie and other non-circulated baths heat unevenly, resulting in hot and cold spots. So cooking results cannot be guaranteed through those methods. PolyScience has eliminated those problems by equipping all of its products with pumps to circulate the water, ensuring uniform temperatures.

"There are no new fish coming out of the ocean and all the food groups remain the same. So to provide innovative tastes and culinary experiences, chefs search for new techniques and technologies ‚like the PolyScience Immersion Circulator, which enables us to cook with accuracy and precision never before possible." - Jean-Georges Vongerichten 56

The Pro Chef Middle East / September 2013

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Celebrating the industry THE PRO CHEF MIDDLE EAST FINE DINING AWARDS 2013 THE H HOTEL, DUBAI - OCTOBER, 28TH 2013

CHEF AWARDS

SPECIAL CATEGORY AWARDS

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FOH HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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The Pro Chef Middle East - September Issue, 2013