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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dubai Competes & Thoughts For Aspiring Restauranteurs

Watch the Pasta competition video on this link


Eat to the end, pause and think otherwise don't judge
There is way too much to outstanding food and restaurants, it is hardly ever what you think!
To the vulgar diner it is about napkins, silverware, and branded furniture
To the ambitious personalities it is about a hefty cheque signed by all that's strategically flaunted, and such experiences are very easily replaced with choices

To the knowing it is 
a reflection of A Time in LIFE & building on the past!


One of the things Dubai is becoming synonymous with is the abundance in restaurants. In fact, lately I have been hearing a lot from many different people about how Dubai is overloaded with restaurants. To the restauranteurs this is not necessarily good for business, however to the diners this means a multitude of options. Restaurants therefore will have to ensure serving an experience worth coming back for otherwise that business is doomed! On the other hand, So many options can also get quite confusing for diners as one might find it difficult to choose. 

Side note I personally have many favorite restaurants, I am very good friends with many of the chefs here in Dubai and because I know them and the thought behind their work I can never be 100% objective in my personal choices. To me there is a lot behind food that I respect it too much to reduce it to a review based on a one off dining experience. I mentioned once a long time ago, why I never do restaurant reviews (you can find it on this link) and reaffirmed this notion in my more recent post and interview with one of Italy's top chefs; 3 Michelin Star Chef Niko Romito (you can find the post here). Therefore and while I still would never do a formal review, I do understand that with such abundance of choice one finds a recommendation useful and therefore would keep it as that, a recommendation based on a good experience (you can find all my recommendations on my @1dimasharif instagram account on this link).  


But over here let's talk about success factors for those aspiring restauranteurs. 

watch the Risotto competition video on this link

During the Italian Cuisine World Summit one of the discussion points among the chefs was the abundance of Italian Restaurants. Visiting and resident chefs were discussing ways to promote restaurants and to showcase each one's strengths that make it stand out. I found that very interesting, because as a matter of fact, while no one is perfect and can serve you a 100% perfect experience, each one has a strength that should always remain the focus. You see that is one of the things I learnt from this summit; cuisine is a huge topic and to take on a complete cuisine is a huge undertaking. While to specialise and ensure perfection in your chosen undertaking makes way to potential success and to becoming a destination for exactly that, ensuring you have a secured market share. We all know that one of the key success factors for restaurant business is being "the choice" that people make and repeat, then come back for more.

This was eye opening to great measures, because this also goes to show why Italian restaurants are in fact, ones that more often than not have higher success potential. The Italians understand the importance of emotions when it comes to eating. The importance of simulating early experiences, the importance of specialty (technical perfection) and creating that environment to which you want to return and return then return some more. Therefore, "The Neighborhood's Italian Restaurant" is a concept that is so known in this industry and appreciated. 

The Aha! moment for me, was listening to these highly acclaimed Michelin Chefs, who are huge experts at what they do express the very same concepts. 
You too can listen in the interviews am posting on my youtube channel on this link, and more chef interviews to come.
The fact that a restaurant is a fine dining restaurant, does not necessarily mean it should be cold, unwelcoming, revenue driven (only) and condescending to most of its potential clients (which we all know is the case in many restaurants). It's quite the opposite in fact. Most of these renowned chefs - as you can see in their videos - have created a cosy, welcoming and very family-dining-room ambience to their highly acclaimed restaurants that offer nothing less than the latest innovation in the world of food (created by them of course never copied), and at times pushing the boundaries of food so much that it just becomes a league of its own! These people are not just experts, they are innovators, pushing the boundaries of not just their food, but of our collective understanding of the eating experience and our collective measure of quality! No wonder they are so awarded and celebrated. However, and most importantly, they continue to be the most humble people you would ever meet. They are very helpful and share, share with all their passion because that is what it is to be passionate and excellent at what you do. When at that level, the mission is not just the betterment of your own status, but that of the collective and I think that is where the experience becomes so unique. Because then the restaurant concept, the chef, the food and the whole package becomes about quality of the experience, which straight away is very transparent to the diner.

With that said, such profound finesse is not every body's goal, depth is not every one's virtue, and that is why not every restaurant is a globally renowned and celebrated restaurant and not every chef is a highly acclaimed expert. As one of the Michelin Chefs told me while we chatted: "Just because people eat they are not necessarily food experts and just because some appear on TV cooking, that does not necessarily mean they are chefs nor even experts in fact!"

Yet, smaller concepts, smaller ambitions and therefore smaller restaurants are not a shame! However aiming small at every interval is! Because that is how you lose in this business. When underestimating your passion or abilities and reducing them to people's opinions, to copy cat concepts, to bad quality offering (for greater financial gain) and to furniture... then you are better off in another industry. If food is the only way, then try TV and save yourself the investment! However if you are willing to put your heart and soul, to improve, to genuinely care about your customers' experiences and to push the boundaries of every level you are at, to be creative, to offer something great, to set yourself apart, to make a statement in the dining scene.... To be DIFFERENT.... then go for it, you never know, you might be simmering Dubai's next best thing! 
And boy Do we need a bit of genuinity in the city!!!




Don't forget to get in touch once that happens as I would love to share your inspiring story (not review) with the rest of the world ;) 
Till then, keep looking inwards for what sets you apart



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