MEET THE CHEF: Thomas Gerasch
Cove Rotana Resort executive chef Thomas Gerasch talks to Caterer Middle East about beach barbeques, golf cart room service and Ras Al Khaimah...
How long have you been here at Cove Rotana and where did you move from?
I have been at the resort since May last year, so around 10 months.
I worked for Rotana before, in Khartoum in Sudan, so this project is quite different.
It was a city hotel, but I have worked in resorts previously, so it was nice to come back to that environment.
What was it about this project that attracted you?
First of all it is in Ras Al Khaimah, so it’s not right in the centre of a major city like Dubai.
Plus you have the advantage here that everything is quite close, and there’s a nice relaxed feel about the area, which is great for a resort.
Tell us about your F&B portfolio here.
Well we naturally have room service, which is quite challenging in a property of this size!
Then we have banqueting, which is also pretty sizeable. We have three small meeting rooms, but then we also do functions on the beach, which is really taking off well; people like that. It’s a great setting for it.
Then we have Cinnamon, which is our all-day dining, and Basilico, our Mediterranean restaurant, as well as our terrace café, Breeze.
We also have Laguna Bay, which is down by one of our pools, where we are trying to implement a seafood concept — so in the day it serves snacks, I would call it ‘high-end fast food’, and then in the evening we want to have it as a seafood outlet.
Then we have the Sunset Bar up by the main pool, and Breakers Beach Bar down on the beach itself.
We’ve also started beach barbeques, which is a good concept for this place. We have two main outlets, and it’s a large property, so concepts like this work well.
So there’s a lot of opportunity for outdoor events and cooking. We recently launch our villa catering concept, so guests can enjoy dinner in the privacy of their villa.
What’s the biggest challenge across the whole operation?
With a property of this size, where there are many villas spread across quite a sizeable area, logistics can be a challenge; maintaining timings for room service and so on can be tricky.
Serving time and keeping food hot is obviously important, so we have to stay on top of that. All room service deliveries across the property — which comprises 204 rooms and 76 one-, two- and three-bedroom villas — are delivered by golf cart, to ensure as prompt service as possible.
Now, after a year of being operational, we’ve really had a chance to see how things are going, and to correct and little issues that may arise. So we’re getting there!
Who is your clientele predominantly made up of?
We do see a lot of local residents coming to Basilico; we place a lot of emphasis on quality and fresh ingredients, and I would say it is one of the best restaurants available in Ras Al Khaimah. The local clientele really appreciate that.
We have actually just changed the menu to appeal to our local market more — it’s quite large now. We started off small in the early stages, and have now really built it up.
The concept is not Italian alone, it is Mediterranean, so it covers a whole range of cuisine.
Our range of outlets may be smaller than some of our competitors, but I think we focus strongly on quality.
Rotana has a strong name and a good reputation, right across this country, which means the expectations are very high and we have to deliver on the brand promise — and as result we do have loyal customers.
What’s your view of Ras Al Khaimah as a destination, and how do you see it progressing?
Well we can’t compare Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai, or Abu Dhabi — it’s a very different proposition.
But I think it’s up-and-coming; there’s a lot of projects coming up here.
There’s the beach facing the Arabian Gulf, and the mountains; I’d say it’s got a great base to build a wonderful destination.