Comment: Signing off

Claudia de Brito says goodbye to the Caterer Middle East community
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Dubai in the early 90’s was a world (and three Palms) away from the place it is now.

There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment but there were restaurants. Whether it was shawarmas and fruit cocktails at Al Mallah on Al Diyafa Street with my friends or Foccacia at the Hyatt Regency with my family, occasions big or small were always centred on food.

As the city has grown, the dining scene has followed suit and become an example of what can be done in the region. Yet, as with any maturing scene, there are still adjustments to be made. When I sat down with Joey Ghazal (p.18), founder and managing partner of The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill, he underlined the importance of establishing a Dubai identity saying: “I try to create honest experiences and I think that honesty comes from using materials that can be found here. Red brick is not a typical UAE material. So when you open up a restaurant with red brick, it feels like Disney World but if you use concrete and you use exposed piping, maybe that’s what we’re about.”

Ghazal will be this month’s Caterer Food & Business Conference to discuss developing Dubai as a culinary destination. Turn to page 26 for an overview of the agenda and the full list of speakers.

As the industry continues to grow and the infrastructure needed to support it develops, we have the opportunity to start looking inwards for ideas. This month’s Global Restaurant Investment Forum (p.5) will bring together more than 300 F&B professionals, some of whom are putting their full support being nurturing a local food scene. Slow food is also fast becoming a movement.

When I joined Caterer a year and a month ago as the team was getting ready for Gulfood, I thought ‘What on earth have I let myself in for?’ That feeling never went away and that was a good thing.

Every day at this magazine has been a whirlwind with a story to break, someone to interview, an event to host, but the best part of it has been talking to, getting to know, and befriending people in the industry who I respect and admire.

Though I am sad to be leaving Caterer, my overwhelming sentiment is that of gratitude. Thank you for making this industry, for better or worse, so fascinating to write about. You have kept me on my toes, informed, entertained, star-struck and very well-fed.

I’ll be here watching and supporting from the side-lines and I’ll look forward to seeing Caterer grow and develop as I pass it on to a new editor. For now, I leave you in the capable hands of the Hospitality Group, group editor Devina Divecha (devina.divecha@itp.com).

All the very best!

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