Comment: Think Global, Act Local
There are, as always, a number of new restaurants opening in the region. What’s interesting is that the tide of internationally acclaimed restaurateurs or chefs coming to the region hasn’t abated. I genuinely thought we might reach a point where that ‘invasion’, if you will, would slow down. But with the impending debuts of the likes of Massimo Bottura, Heston Blumenthal, Akira Back, and more... it looks like this trend is set to continue.
However, as this magazine has pointed out and championed at length, home-grown is making its mark. Yes, it’s difficult to start your own restaurant here (I have heard of a few promising local concepts shutting down in the last month, all of which are truly heartbreaking to learn about), but I am optimistic about this sub-sector of the industry. This optimism reaches its peak while looking back at Caterer Middle East Awards 2018 — quite a few of my winners and highly commended nominees are home-grown concepts backed by locally-based restaurateurs.
The movement of these concepts abroad is also heartening. The fact is, we aren’t a one-way street anymore, with international brands sprouting up in this region. Look at Rüya, located in the Grosvenor House Dubai, as proof. As I type this, I have just come away from seeing photos posted by Colin Clague and Elizabeth Stevenson-Hocks on social media from the pre-opening of the London restaurant, due to open any time now.
There is also home-grown restaurateurs working on concepts abroad, taking skills learned here to launch venues internationally. Look at Gates Hospitality’s RedFarm London project as another example.
We are also showcasing ourselves as a force to be reckoned with at international competitions. Jade Saducas, the Pastry Chef of the Year at the Caterer Middle East Awards, has been a staunch representative of the UAE at contests. In 2017, she took home the top prize at the World Cake Designer Championships in Milan, Italy. Commendable indeed!
I may talk about home-grown and local a lot, I know, but it is because I have full faith in the F&B industry here, and I truly believe it’s time for our local concepts to gain favour on global grounds. We have some amazing ideas and operations here that could have a place on a global scale. I look forward to seeing our local heroes show off what they can do on the world map.