Cuisine focus: German

A panel of experts debate the popularity of the cuisine in the region
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The German Garden at the Doha Marriott Hotel is one of the ways the hotel is increasing awareness among diners about the cuisine.
The German Garden at the Doha Marriott Hotel is one of the ways the hotel is increasing awareness among diners about the cuisine.

Meet the Experts

- Surya Joshi, executive chef, Acacia by Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts, Ras Al Khaimah
- Kevin Pohl, speciality outlet chef — Brauhaus, Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi
- Denis Vecchiato, executive chef, Doha Marriott Hotel
- Steffen Assmann, head chef, Der Keller, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai
- Sunil Nautiyal, executive chef, Beach Hotel by Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts, RAK
- Bhavesh Rawal, director of culinary, JW Marriott Dubai

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How popular is German cuisine in this region?
Kevin Pohl, speciality outlet chef – Brauhaus, Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi: German cuisine is certainly popular and as more and more people travel, they are becoming further exposed to German cuisine and realise that it goes well beyond just the beverages that Germany is known for.

Denis Vecchiato, executive chef, Doha Marriott Hotel: German cuisine in this region is still up and coming. Currently, there is only one German restaurant in the city despite there being a considerable population of German expats in Doha these days.

Steffen Assmann, head chef, Der Keller, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai: In the last few years German cuisine has become more popular for tourists from all over the world. In Dubai, we have a lot of residents who come from or have visited Germany; they love to recreate the experience of typical German food, drinks and atmosphere they enjoyed when they dined in a German Wirtshaus.

Is German cuisine here as authentic as it gets?
Surya Joshi, executive chef, Acacia by Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts, Ras Al Khaimah: We cook the food with the best handpicked local ingredients without tweaking the cooking methods so the local audience can also get the taste of authentic German food.

Bhavesh Rawal, director of culinary, JW Marriott Dubai: There are not many German restaurants in Dubai or the region. But the ones who specialise in this cuisine have maintained the authentic style. Recipes are not tweaked and ingredients are not substituted. Pork is still the main meat used.

Sunil Nautiyal, executive chef, Beach Hotel by Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts, Ras Al Khaimah: We have a lot of German speciality restaurants in UAE offering the best, fresh and authentic food to the locals, expatriates and German clients. These include traditional favourites like sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, pretzels, and more.

DV: We currently have a German director of F&B who is very keen to preserve as much authenticity in the German cuisine as possible. Our aim is to seamlessly combine the flavour and style of German cuisine, yet make it in such a way that the local Arab community feels comfortable trying these new offerings.

KP: There is always the odd chance that any type of cuisine is tweaked to suit the tastes of the local audience but considering that majority of restaurant patrons are indeed people from all over the world, you find many restaurants retaining the authenticity of the cuisines they serve.

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What is the supply stream like?
KP: There are some good quality products here for basic ingredients. However, for special ingredients like certain types of meats, majority of the products we use come from Germany itself for their authenticity or because they are not available here.

SN: We have the best German food suppliers in UAE. The products are best quality, fresh and frozen and directly sourced from Germany. By growing direct point-to-point traffic between the two cities, UAE is looking forward to strengthening ties between the capital of the UAE and Germany, this will speed up the product supply chains.

SA: There is a detailed logistics procedure behind the scene making sure we are able to source the best quality products. We work closely together with our suppliers to ensure we receive seasonal products from the different regions in Germany.

BR: The supply chain is pretty good. There are many suppliers who directly import good quality produces from Germany. Even fresh sausages and German delicatessen products are available in the market. For pork products, suppliers need to have a special import license.

What challenges to do you face?
SA: Germany is quite a distance from Dubai and we receive all our products by air freight. To ensure all products are fresh we need to be well-organised and monitor the delivery process very carefully. Consequently, the biggest challenge is to avoid any delivery delays and price impacts when it comes to increasing travel costs.

BR: Prices are one of the challenges. The main one is with fresh products. Suppliers need a minimum quantity to import/air freight from Germany to become cost effective. As we do not have many German food outlets, this minimum quantity is not achieved and as a result the entire freight gets cancelled or delayed.

KP: Prices are a big challenge in this part of the world considering the popularity and demand of German cuisine, although a relatively new one in Doha, is still growing.

SN: The biggest challenge is to serve the product at reasonable prices, and to avoid any confrontation with the local culture as German cuisine’s famous products are made with pork. Most the products are imports so the purchase cost is high. The competition is high because of lot of German restaurants are coming every year and everyone is trying to do their best.

KP: With having to import products from overseas, we are certainly challenged with prices and the volatility at which prices change.

What does the future look like for German cuisine?
DV: The outlook for German cuisine is very promising; it will take some time for German cuisine to reach the same levels of popularity as other international cuisines, but it is becoming more and more sought after, especially with the rise in German expats moving to the region.

BR: The future is good as we do not have many German cuisine outlets here. But before opening too many, we need to create an awareness about it. One has to understand that these restaurants do serve pork. These are not fully halal-compliant.

SN: While the UAE relies on attracting tourists from across the globe, Germany, which is also our largest trading partner, has consistently generated an influx of inbound visitors. And numbers are rising. We have a tremendous increase of European guest staying with us and definitely in future the German cuisine will be very popular even with the local guests enjoying it.

KP: The future looks bright indeed as more and more expatriates are moving to this region and people travel more frequently thus exposing them to foreign cuisines.

SA: Hopefully we will see the opening of more German restaurants across the region; Germany has much more to show than Oktoberfest, sausages and Sauerkraut!

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