Head to Head: Francesco Cutilli and Brendan McGowan

The director of F&B and executive chef of Key West, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa go head to head
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Francesco Cutilli, director of F&B
Francesco Cutilli, director of F&B
Brendan McGowan, executive chef
Brendan McGowan, executive chef

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

Francesco Cutilli: Tasting and sipping handcrafted Latin and Caribbean flavours, made with fresh and vibrant ingredients, served by a whimsical team, all while overlooking a sand beachfront that delivers magical sunsets. Indeed, this is unique in Dubai!

Brendan McGowan: Caribbean and Latino cuisines offer an array of tastes and textures that are timeless and very popular once authentic ingredients and preparation techniques are respected. It does not compare; our location is unique.

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

Francesco Cutilli: One team, one dream! Front-and-back-of-house are equally accountable for one common dream: celebrate life and make it contagious. Daily briefing and monthly gatherings contribute to make the dream come true.

Brendan McGowan: Daily preferences are captured post each meal period and shared with the culinary team to anticipate the guests during the next visit. Teams that understand each other’s strengths will complement each other and that is the case in Key West.

How do you ensure the outlet is busy and profitable?

Francesco Cutilli: As a unique lifestyle brand, Nikki Beach Resort and Spa allows us to activate several promotions that intrigue residents and tourists. We believe that all departments are ambassadors of the outlets. It is everyone’s responsibilities to drive footfall in our eateries by promoting their concepts.

Brendan McGowan: Proudly, we are providing such an authentic concept in the Dubai market that deserves a visit from everyone. Our in-house guests and residents are the backbone of our business. They truly enjoy the variety of Key West flavours and vibes instead of having to find it elsewhere.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Francesco Cutilli: As our vision is pioneering a new benchmark of excellence for luxury lifestyle hotels worldwide, indeed the biggest challenge is to combine all the talented people from different backgrounds and to lead them towards the benchmark not yet existing in the market.

Brendan McGowan: The growing portfolio of dining options in Dubai encourage the team to stay current while respecting our DNA and providing memorable experiences at our resort. We are fortunate in our team selection, more an audition to be honest — if it is the right fit, it is clear.

What does the future hold for Key West and Nikki Beach in the region?

Francesco Cutilli: The combination of a serene resort and happening beach club proved to be the winning factor. As the new generation of travellers appreciates the freedom of choice and brands who create strong connections, our vice president Alexander Schneider, feels this fits in well with Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts plans for a great expansion.

Brendan McGowan: Nikki Beach is a globally recognised brand for both long-term projects and creative pop ups at locations — events where celebrating life is synonymous. Key West will become the preferred venue in a unique location offering authentic island vibes and tastes with a Latino element to cater for alternative preferences.

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