The Catering News ME team met last month with its Advisory Board to set the agenda for the region-wide Food
& Beverage Forum on 15 September 2015 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai. Before we set the schedule in stone, here is a taste of what we discussed
Together, the Catering News board covers every facet of the F&B industry and each member brought a breadth of knowledge, expertise, experience and, most importantly, ideas to the table when we met at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management last month.
Above the excitement for this prestigious event there were several key areas of common interest, including the ever increasing importance of communications, especially social media – the good and the bad. We also touched upon the continued and growing trend and need for sustainability in supply, and the sourcing of more local, seasonal and fresh ingredients, as well as the issue of food wastage. A hot topic was the surging importance of food intolerance and allergies, together with a general need to address the overall issue of healthy eating, nutritional labelling and counted menus.
Equally as heated was the need to attract, recruit and retain a growing work- force, further challenged by restrictive regulations and red tape. There was a call for suggestions to combat the transient attitude of the region, and to create concepts for those looking for a long term career.
The board toyed with the idea of attracting third culture children to the industry, through part time jobs and clear career development, organically building careers here. Proposals were raised to lobby for more relaxed visa requirements, the acceptance of part time staff, and clarity on labour cards, health cards, and events red tape. With hundreds of new F&B outlets opening every month in Dubai alone, everyone asked where the workforce was coming from.
There was an overwhelming desire to create a ‘Made in Dubai’ brand in terms of education, training, recruitment and retention. With the market becoming ever more saturated there were questions as to whether further growth was sustainable, especially in light of the ever increasing pressure for return on investment.
We also discussed the impact of market monopolies, where competition only exists at the consumer end of the scale while the competition in supply chains is near non-existent, as well as static ROI vs external cost increases and, overall, how to balance and make more money.
The overriding concern of the board, though, was the need to create a unique proposition, a Forum like no other, addressing the true issues of the industry and not paying lipservice to the widely reported misconceptions. So, we have a lot of work yet to do to put all of these points into action, but with suggestions like these you can be sure the conference will generate a lot of engaging thought. And who knows, together we may be able to achieve some real change for the good.
ADVISORY BOARD PROFILES:
Principal Food Studies and planning specialist, Food Control Department, Dubai Municipality
Bobby graduated with a degree in Agricultural Sciences from Agra Uni- versity in 1998 and started his career as a manager in the tea industry. He received his Master’s Degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of New South Wales in Sydney in 2004 and joined Dubai Municipality in 2005. His main job responsibilities include development of new food safe- ty policies and procedures, conducting food safety audits, and investigation of food-borne illnesses.
Chief executive officer of Gates Hospitality
With over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, across various senior management roles, Naim’s career has specifically focused on the Middle East region. Currently Naim is the Ceo of Gates Hospitality, the parent company of well-known home- grown brands such as Ultra Brasserie and international concept Reform Social & Grill. Gates Hospitality’s port- folio also encompasses ownership and operation of Bapas and ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay. Additionally, Q3 2015 will see the launch the high- ly anticipated, unique concept Bistro Des Arts, The Address Dubai Marina.
Whissle Group co-founder
Markus has more than 17 years of expertise in hospitality, F&B and marketing, starting his career within the family business, before pursu- ing his passion for creating lifestyle brands. Markus launched Pangaea internationally and in 2005, opened member’s lounge, AvivA and in 2007, Maya. Whissle, formed with Ramzy Abdul-Majeed, develops exciting and dynamic hospitality projects. In 2009 Whissle launched award-winning OKKU. In 2012 they opened RIVA, Palm Jumeirah and Sophie’s gastro- cafe. Expanding its portfolio, Whissle launched CLAW BBQ, Crabshack & Grill in 2013 in Souk Al Bahar. Cielo Sky Lounge opened at Dubai Creek Yacht Club in March 2014 followed by Casa de Tapas the same year. In 2014 Markus was awarded Restaurateur of the Year.
Head Chef at La Serre
Nigerian-born chef Izu grew up in London and began his career at The Square in London. After four years, he travelled to France for six years, gaining valuable experience at some of the country’s best restaurants in- cluding the world-renowned, Au- berge de L’Ill and La Bastide Saint Antoine in the South of France. Chef Izu also gained experience in Spain at multi Michelin starred establish- ments before returning to London as head chef at Vanilla, then mak- ing his way to Dubai to launch La Petite Maison. In 2013, chef Izu launched a new home grown concept to Downtown Dubai, La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie which has received critical acclaim since opening.
Director of Food & Beverage and executive chef at Le Royal Méridien, Abu Dhabi
Following his four year course at the William Angliss Institute of TAFE, Melbourne’s leading school for food, tourism and hospitality training, Ga- lea started his career working for an influential Melbourne family, where he hosted the launch dinner for the Jaguar Formula 1 Team. He went to work as a sous chef at the Lynch Winter Garden restaurant, the only restaurant to be rewarded a Michelin star in Australia at this time. Galea was encouraged to further his career in the kitchen having worked along- side the famous Rolan Lehors, the re- tired head chef of the world-renowned Le Gavroche. He then spent almost two years at Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi as executive head chef, creat- ing innovative twists to fine dining, before his recent promotion. Justin’s culinary memberships include Master Chefs of Great Britain, the Federation of Scottish Chefs and the Academy of Culinary Arts, and today he is heavily involved in the launch of the “Adopt a School” charity.
Senior vice president, Food & Beverage, At- lantis, The Palm
Mark has led an outstanding and di- verse career working in Asia, the Caribbean and Europe, where he has been responsible for restaurants in various hotels and resorts. Currently overseeing the entire food and bever- age operations of Atlantis, The Palm, Patten drives the creation and de- velopment of new F&B projects for the resort, including the successful launch of YUAN, Atlantis’ new Chi- nese dining concept and the upcoming Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ram- say. Responsible for sourcing world-class projects, Patten’s eye for the latest international trends and innovations keeps Atlantis on the culinary forefront, driving the hugely successful Food & Beverage operation. Prior to Atlantis, Patten served three years at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore as the area executive chef for South East Asia. He was named Executive Chef of the Year at the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence in 2007, and in 2009 he was awarded the Global Chef of the Year of the Year at the Sunrice Culinary Academy in Singapore.
Director of Culinary Arts, The Emirates Acad- emy of Hospitality Management
British born Michael Kitts joined The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in 2001 as lecturer and executive chef. Michael was previ- ously at the renowned Butler’s Wharf Chef School in London, where he held the position of culinary director and executive chef since 1999. After com- pleting his formal training at Thanet Technical College in Kent, UK, he started his career at Claridge’s Hotel in London where he gained his first practical experience. During his far-reaching culinary career, Michael has worked in some of the UK’s leading establishments including Les Ambassadeurs Club, The Swallow Royal Hotel Bristol, Hotel InterContinental London, and The Ritz Casino. During his career, he has won many prestigious awards and ac- colades, including the ‘Prince Philip Special Award’ in 1996 presented at Buckingham Palace and runner up for ‘National Chef of the Year’ in 2000.
Managing director, Tonique Consultancy
Known as “The Gillespie”, John has in excess of twelve years FMCG ex- perience in sales, marketing, PR and specialising in the luxury drinks industry. He first stepped foot in Dubai 10 years ago leaving his motherland of Ireland behind. Having lived in Manchester, UK for six years he managed the renowned Revolution Bars, as well as overseeing the global beer brand, Carlsberg. During his tenure at MMI working as a senior category manager, he saw there was a gap in the market for a one-stop shop solution providing a unique portfolio of brand focused services for the beverage industry; ranging from private tastings and con- sumer experience classes to corporate trainings and educational platforms. John capitalised on this opportunity and created Tonique Consultancy. As the managing director, he has over- seen high-profile events such as For- mula 1 Abu Dhabi, Art Dubai & De- sign Days, Dubai International Boat Show and Royal Salute Polo to name a few. The companies’ ethos is simple, give back to the community by educating, training and nurturing bud- ding talent throughout the city, and it is with this mind-set that he launched his new venture, Cocktail Kitchen.
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