McGettigan’s Group’s group executive chef, Derek Flynn, reveals more about his F&B journey, and why the Irish brand remains popular nearly a decade after its inception
Share with our readers your journey in the F&B industry; how did you arrive at your current role?
Wow, that would be a very long answer as I have been in the industry since I was 15 and been a chef for almost 27 years. My career started in Ireland, and from there, it took me to America, China, and finally the Middle East. I arrived in Dubai 19 years ago, and I have seen the hospitality industry change dramatically over the years.
I was headhunted from Dublin to head up the then recently opened Irish Village in Garhoud, developing the menu and creating a strong team which I left six years later. From there, my journey continued with the Montgomerie Hotel, Caramel DIFC, and Rivington Grill. After that, I was asked to head up a new and exciting Irish concept founded by Dennis McGettigan. The brand has since grown from one bar in Jumeirah Lakes Towers to 22 globally. McGettigan’s – and Bonnington Hotel, Dubai’s only Irish-owned and run hotel – is now arguably one of Dubai’s favorite home-grown brands. I have continued to grow with the group and currently hold the position of group executive chef.
What interested you in entering the F&B industry?
My first love for this industry was actually bar tending – which I still love! It was working in this environment that introduced me to the culinary side of the business and I have never looked back. This is why I love my current position because I can still be involved and have input in the bar side of things.
Let’s talk about the food and beverage ethos at McGettigan’s.
Our ethos is to give customers what we believe they enjoy while still being true to our roots. Our menus are developed with Ireland in mind; traditional cooking techniques are important to us. Although we love to diversify into different cultures (after all, we have venues across the globe), we take inspiration from the countries and cities we are open in: Jakarta, Singapore, America, Ireland, and the UK. The ethos is that of home cooked, quality ingredients treated respectfully to create an interesting and fun menu featuring tasty food that everyone can enjoy.
What are the trends you’re seeing in the F&B industry at present, and how are you incorporating any of these in your work?
I have noticed the sharing concept has developed over recent years, from small plates (tapas sharing style) to large meals served family-style. This suits McGettigan’s laid back culture, so you’ll find plenty of dishes inspired by this throughout our menus.
Sustainability is on everyone’s mind these days; can you share any such initiatives at McGettigan’s from an F&B point of view?
From a food point of view, it’s in its infancy in the Middle East but it’s great to see initiatives being introduced – and in fairness, it is growing fast. Where possible, we use local vegetable, meats, fish and dairy producers. We also aim to use suppliers who focus on their traceability and sustainability across the world.
Locally, McGettigan’s is no longer purchasing plastic straws and offering all guests paper straws instead. Bonnington Hotel and McGettigan’s are also participating in the DMCC can recycling initiative as another example.
What are the best sellers on the McGettigan’s menu right now?
We are known for a hearty dish so our pub grub classics always sell well – fish & chips, roasts, buffalo chicken wings, Wagyu chilli and signature burgers to name a few.
It’s interesting to see that over recent years lighter and sharing options have also spiked in popularity as people are becoming more health conscious. And as said above, we have brought in new, sharing dishes which offer a lighter and fresher experience – we offer so much more than just pub food!
Finally, what’s keeping you busy right now?
McGettigan’s has been open for nine years now, as we have always been a market leader. One key focus of ours to always give value and the best experience. This means that we are always striving to improve and stay ahead of the game – we don’t rest on our laurels!