Chefs call for creative F&B concepts
Middle East operators are too ready to import established western F&B brands, according to industry professionals — a move which could hamper its aim to be recognised as an international culinary hub.
Christian Jean, executive chef for the pre-opening of the Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Doha City Center and Marriott Executive Apartments Doha City Center in Qatar, said he would be “cautious about importing a branded F&B outlet”.
“Some branded restaurants could definitely be an asset, with a well-known name and chefs which would guarantee instant success,” he noted.
“But it’s vital for operators to analyse the market needs, the location and the entire operation to ensure the imported concept matches the theme and vision of the property as well as the F&B department.”
Media One Hotel operations manager Sebastien Noat agreed that imported brands could be highly successful: “Just look at Buddha Bar at Grosvenor House,” he pointed out. “And I think by bringing in Hakkasan, Emirates Palace is making a great strategic move.
“I just regret that people in this region don’t take a little more risk and focus on more up-to-date concepts,” he continued.
“In terms of the food offering, we’re still not on the same level as a lot of other capitals — the reason being that there is no risk-taking here.
“People only invest in things with a proven track record and I think that’s the main difference between here and New York, which in my opinion is still the leading capital for food.
“If you look at the restaurant owners there, people who are restaurateurs do that for their living, they do it for passion. They are dedicated to their concept, they live by it and believe in it.
“And maybe they’ll make a fortune out of it, maybe they won’t — but the idea is they change, they experiment, they try things out, they rework the concept,” he emphasised.
“And in my view, that’s the thing that’s lacking in Dubai.”