Chef Anthony Rattigan is responsible for feeding a growing demographic of travellers in the UAE, the budget conscious short term travellers, and he told Catering News that offering them quality is an art form
At the recently launched Hyatt Place Dubai in Baniyas Square head chef Anthony Rattigan is addressing one of the latest hospitality trends seen in Dubai – offering ‘upscale services’ – which is driving an increased demand for such hotels in the lead up to Expo 2020.
As the 4-star hotel is a select service brand, there is a different expectation for food and beverage at the Gallery Kitchen Cafe. The menu is designed to meet its guest’s convenience, with 24/7 service, which is unique across the whole collection. As the only select service brand to offer a 24 hour menu, which is great for business travellers who may arrive late at night, the menu offers a wide variety of dishes from different cuisines.
Additionally, every guest has a free breakfast, and there is also a selection of grab and go meals and bakery items.
Chef Rattigan has worked with Hyatt since 1997, beginning in the Cayman Islands. Educated in Culinary Arts in Jamaica, he left the Cayman Islands in 2004 for San Diego in California, after a hurricane destroyed his hotel. He came to Dubai eight years ago, beginning with Grand Hyatt before moving to Hyatt Place Al Rigga for the launch of the new brand. Today he oversees the food and beverage operations in both Al Rigga and the new Baniyas Square hotels, switching between them depending on demand.
What he does now is “upscale services”. As he explains: “Despite working to a tight budget, we still cater to all types of travellers, which means we must be in constant contact with the market, not looking for the cheapest ingredients but value for money ingredients and being flexible in the foods and cuts available. With food you can play around with inexpensive ingredients and create incredible dishes. I study reviews and research the market and then work with the suppliers on what I can offer.
“It is crucial that I maintain great relationships with my suppliers, which are principally Barakat but also Modern General, MH and Trading Flavours. I also try to use the same supplier across our properties to ensure the same quality and to drive down price.
“For me food costs are very important, I always search around until I get the produce for the price I want. For me cooking is an art form. You always want to be creative, but it need not be about ribeye or sirloin, in the end it depends on how it’s prepared and not the ingredients. Quality is in the preparation not the cost.”
Both hotels offer guests a complimentary international buffet breakfast, with a la carte menus for lunch and dinner. As a select service brand hotel there is no room service, instead Chef Rattigan offers a Grab n’Go concept, where a wide range of food is offered pre-cooked and packaged – such as soups, salads, pastas, etc. Guests can purchase from these booths 24/7 and all the meals, which have a two-day shelf life, are prepared in house. “I have a good idea of what people want and then we put our own twist on it so we offer foods that are a little bit different.”
Located in the heart of the old city and set amidst the mesmerising gold, spice and textile souks, Hyatt Place Dubai,Baniyas Square is a gathering place for business travellers, vacationers, and shoppers alike. It is also walking distance from the Baniyas Square Metro Station, Abra and very close to the emirate’s top heritage attractions, including the Dubai Museum and Dubai Creek.
The majority of hotel guests are in the region for business, whether it be a meeting or a conference or exhibition, with strong numbers coming from the CIS countries, India, Pakistan, the greater GCC and a growing number from Nigeria. Chef Rattigan must also cater to large number of flight transfer passengers, often from European destinations. Chef Rattigan says: “With the a la carte menu we can offer something from each region.”
Always willing to address the needs of guests, Chef Rattigan says that his team can also provide tailored buffet servings for any group of hotel residents, or business dining groups, and he is also happy to accommodate requests off the menu, “provided I have the ingredients,” he says.
The Hyatt Place brand concept is rooted in extensive consumer research which indicated that guests blend their personal and professional lives while travelling and want a hotel that accommodates this lifestyle. Chef Rattigan believes that the budget conscious market segment is growing rapidly. He adds: “It is often hard to see in Dubai as there are just so many hotels. We always strive to serve this market segment by ensuring we offer our customers value for money.”
Chef Rattigan says the biggest challenge he faces is keeping the guests in house for dining, which the nature of their visit taking them to meetings outside and the vast amount of F&B offerings on the doorstep of the hotel. Concepts designed to retain the guests across the Hyatt Place brand include a poolside barbeque, beginning on 15 October from 7pm to 10.30pm, and a three course business lunch which will be launched imminently, running from Sunday to Thursday at a cost of AED65.
Since launching in 2006, Hyatt Place is the fastest growing brand in the group, with the Baniyas Street unit becoming the 231st worldwide, with units covering Amsterdam, Morocco, India, Romania and the USA. A third Hyatt Place is planned for Dubai of a similar size to the Al Rigga hotel, opening in the Maktoum area in Q4 2016.
When we met last month the Baniyas hotel was operating at 80% capacity, but Chef Rattigan claims it reaches full capacity every time there is a key conference or exhibition in the city, such as GITEX, Cityscape and the Dubai Airshow. “We have an events calendar which we study profusely to ensure we have the staff to cater to the crowd.”