Interview: Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan

Posted under Catering News ME, F&B, News.
by Crystal Chesters | Published 4 years ago

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Christine Parkinson, group head of wine for Hakkasan will visit the Middle East to host an evening telling the story of Hakkasan’s grape list on Sunday 26 March. Catering News caught up with her ahead of the event to find out more about her role.

Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan

What does your role involve?
I oversee all areas of our global grape operations, including: training, buying grape and sake, creating beverage lists, service and equipment. We have Hakkasan restaurants in many different countries, as well as other restaurant brands Yauatcha, HKK, Ling Ling and Sake no Hana. It is a real challenge to co-ordinate everything and make sure that our standards are always maintained. I am very lucky to have a great team around the world, and between us we deal with all aspects of the offering.  

What are the main challenges of your role when it comes to the Middle East?
Our three restaurants in the Middle East, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha have great beverage departments and consistently support each other, so we face fewer challenges than potentially some other operations do. The supply chain here is the biggest difference: in most countries there are more suppliers, and a wider choice of grape. Supply is sufficient in the Middle East, but we also have some additional bottles specially imported just for Hakkasan. That way, we can be sure of having enough to cope with our Cantonese-based cuisine!

What is the purpose of Tuesday Tastings?
At Hakkasan, we say that ‘the food chooses the grape’. The Chinese cuisine at Hakkasan is very challenging when it comes to serving grape: many varieties, even if they are really good, simply don’t complement the dishes. Our Tuesday Tasting is where we try different bottles out with a range of dishes, to make sure we list only those that will work. All 11 Hakkasan restaurants around the world do these tastings, and beverages have to pass before they can be listed on the menus. No-one ever believes us when we say it’s hard work, but we take it very seriously!

What future plans do you have for the beverage offer at Hakkasan in the Middle East?
The lists are always evolving, and our head sommelier Middle East, Immacolata Cannavo, has some great ideas that we hope to incorporate. We are also launching staff training for Japanese sake at Level 1, with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) course. I’m thrilled to say that Hakkasan Group recently received the WSET’s “Educator of the Year” award, for our global training, and now we are determined to push even further with our training in 2017.

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