Head to Head: Angel X Shi and Matthew Dahlkemper

The restaurant manager and head chef of Mina Brasserie talk about the renewed offering.
Angel X Shi, restaurant manager
Angel X Shi, restaurant manager
Matthew Dahlkemper, head chef
Matthew Dahlkemper, head chef

What is unique about Mina Brasserie and how does it compare to its competitors in the market?

It’s all about emotional connection, genuinely caring service, and creating a wonderful dining experience. Our outdoor terrace is alive with lounge seating and lush green trees, and the gleaming golden bar really stands out within the area.

We are not a typical brasserie serving the same 70’s-style food.  Our approach is slightly different. For example, instead of serving shellfish over ice (yawn!), we grill it over a wood fire, slather it in miso butter, then steam it tableside with a lemongrass tea.

How do the front-of-house and back-of-house teams support each other?

One team, one goal, good communication is the key. We meet daily to discuss overall operations from the night before, what could be improved, food-related comments and study the bookings for the day and pre-plan for upcoming days. When something goes wrong, rather than blaming, we find ways to support each other to solve it, ensuring guest experience is not affected.

It’s crucial for us to have open and honest communication at all times. We can examine our mistakes as an area of opportunity to improve. Especially with a new opening, we are sometimes going into the unknown and can expect to have some hiccups along the way. That communication is what allows us to progress.

How do you ensure the outlet is busy and profitable?

Dubai is such a competitive market, known for its endless innovation. There is always a new place to enjoy a meal. We aim to make Mina a ‘fun dining’ option, catering to clientele with what they expect and delivering consistency in everything we do.

We must evolve and play to our strengths. A great value and offer for business lunch, adding an amazing three-piece band, three nights a week, and just hoping to capitalise on the nice weather while it lasts, as we have the best patio in DIFC.

What are the biggest business challenges you face?

The restaurant business has low margins for error; not to mention managing people and personalitites. We overcome these challenges by having great employees, being transparent and tackling problems head on. My staff works so hard and I appreciate every one of them.

It’s product! Most Dubai suppliers don't keep inventories. Imported items, like cheeses, can take several days to procure and not much grows locally. It’s a challenge to manage inventories and pull products from different parts of the world based upon their seasonality.

What does the future hold for Mina Brasserie in the region?

A destination, a place to be, a restaurant that is extraordinary. This means that we offer the best experience, product, and performance to our guests, partners, peers, and ourselves. Our philosophy and approach is universal and timeless, yet sets the pace for the industry.

The future looks bright! As we grow and gain traction, we can become a destination restaurant for those not in DIFC. We can push the envelope and continue to expand our current food offering as the clients demand. I’m really looking forward to what’s in store for us.

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