Comment: Award Season
As I write this, I know who the winners of the 2018 edition of the Caterer Middle East Awards are (no, I will never tell!). So do my judges — and they won’t tell you either. You will just have to wait until May 9 to find out!
This year marks the tenth annual edition of the awards ceremony, which means it's been a decade since Caterer Middle East has been recognising and celebrating the F&B industry in this market.
A lot has changed in the 10 years since. For one, the first edition of the awards were in-paper only, as I'm told. And now it’s developed into a gala dinner that is a must-attend event for the industry.
The other thing that’s changed with the event is the categories, which have evolved to reflect the changing nature of the sector. A few years ago, we didn’t even have the Restaurateur of the Year category, for example. And today it’s a popular category, and showcases some brilliant work by restaurateurs in this region. I look forward to reading these every year, and this year was no exception.
What has also changed is the nature of entries. There is, as some of my judges also said, a sense of longevity. We are noting people sending through nominations who have stayed in the Middle East for a long time, showcasing the retention power of this region. A heartening fact. Do check out the video of the Caterer Awards judges on our YouTube channel to see what else they said. The industry, as I mentioned, has also evolved. Ten years ago, we didn’t really see as many independent restaurants succeeding as we do today.
Rules around licensing are also changing, affecting concept creation, location choice, and entrepreneurship attitudes. The focus on local and homegrown now is very high in comparison to ten years ago, which gives me great hope for the future.
And as our columnist Duncan Fraser-Smith says in his comment piece this month, I also want to see food halls next.
I’m excited to meet all the finalists and their supporters on May 9 at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah. I am fully aware of the challenges the sector is facing right now, but a reason to celebrate your successes despite any obstacles in your path is one I shall take full advantage of.
As an industry, remember that you have weathered highs and lows and still come out on top. Let’s continue to champion each other and the industry — and keep our eye on the prize.
Best of luck to everyone, you are all stars and I look forward to seeing where you take the F&B industry next.