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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A medley of partners to create a unique experience!

Yesterday, I was sitting with my friend Yael Mejia, the brand consultant for Baker and Spice at their beautiful and newly launched Baker & Spice in Town Centre, Jumeirah and as we usually do: eat and chat, we were talking about what makes restaurant food honestly fantastic in some restaurants while it fails to deliver the same experience in other places. You see all proper restaurants, including the ones that seem to the diners as most casual, have all put in a lot of effort in terms of concept, decor, menu and even PR and Marketing. Every business does! These are all essential components to put your foot in any market. So while everyone who starts a restaurant must at least know a thing or two about good food, good eating experiences and creating the ambience and atmosphere to highlight all this into a unique dining experience; then the question is, how come some actually deliver and are received with great admiration while others don't? To Yael, it is simple: She believes it is all about good honest food.  (like her food, a very simple statement that holds so much meaning in its folds. "Good" and "honest" have so many definitions, but not all those who defined them, truly know them.)

Here is the thing, everyone who knows Baker & Spice knows that their food, while on the surface seems very simple in concept delivers some serious flavour. I have not yet met anyone who's ever dined there and complained about the quality of the food, the flavour nor even the overall experience. In fact, Baker & Spice is one of the very few, if not the only, restaurant in Dubai that has a community. Yes the customers of Baker and Spice are a real community. If you go there often you will see that everyone, knows everyone there and that there is always an ongoing conversation between customers and the restaurant team and friends. The team at Baker & Spice take feedback into consideration and working in a seasonal fashion, mostly organic, and always in a soulful manner, they incorporate diners' requests into their seasonal menus and as such they encourage the conversation to go on, the offering to evolve and get better and eventually change the potential of food conversation in the whole of Dubai. 

I truly think this is an example worth following and I hugely respect what they do and stand for.

As you will read in my upcoming cookbook, you will find that I too am a firm believer in the significance of family, the community, of values worth preserving and of food as a medium to connect people as small groups as well as a larger collective. (no wonder Yael and I have become very good friends) As such I had always only continued to regularly work and collaborate with like-minded people. The ones I believe in, respect and admire. I had always looked for the person/s behind the names/brands. And once you know the people and what they stand for, your choices are always clear and then the outcome is always outstanding.

Be it through my new line of Organic Mooneh Essentials, my tie-ups and collaborations to my events, I always look for the people behind the brand, and what the brand stands for. I do not really care much about the PR stories, the external glamour and what marketing positions a brand as, in the end I believe that in business, as in life, we deal with people and it's only when we forget that that we become mediocre. The day-to-day workings of business/projects/events... are 'work', like any other (nothing is perfect) but the resulting relationships are what enriches what we do and ourselves as people. 

Therefore today, I find myself again thanking my small and growing community of friends, and business partners. Each and everyone of whom had become a valuable relationship, mentor, and friend. And today I want to give a shout out to the group of great people who are helping me continue to organise a great annual event here in Dubai, The Food Styling & Photography Workshop which I hold with my friend and food photographer of choice Meeta K. Wolff.

Thanks to this small group, Meeta and I are able to hold a great workshop that over the years had helped so many aspiring food photographers, stylists, writers, bloggers and even journalists and chefs take their photography and communications skills to the next level, a level that grants them professional potential and allows them to create an opportunity out of their interest/hobby. So thank you guys so much for being part of this, for adding your touches, your conversations, your products and friendship to our event and my ongoing conversation.

Watch this collection of small videos below and get a taster from our previous workshops, hear why our sponsors love us and get in the mood for ‪#‎FotoDubai15‬ taking place next week when we will be showering social media with delicious ‪‬food pictures and gorgeous ‪food sets.‬ Get in on the action and see why this workshop gets fully booked every year.

Our #FotoDubai15 Sponsors are (click on the photos to enlarge):

SCAFA, Dubai’s School of Culinary and Finishing Arts (2012), is an innovative vocational institute focusing on guiding professionals and enthusiasts in learning culinary techniques and kitchen skills. Accredited by KHDA, SCAFA runs professional culinary programs that certify graduates as qualified chefs. The school also runs many enthusiast programs such as team building with cooking, children’s cooking classes, pastry and baking sessions, cake decorating, fundamentals of cuisine, etc. In addition to offering a range of culinary programs, SCAFA has a student training restaurant Scafé attached to the school. At SCAFA, we don’t just practice recipes, we teach techniques!
Students that enroll in SCAFA’s programs have varied reasons for joining the program. Many want a professional hospitality career, to become a restaurateur, a patissiere.

Facebook: @SCAFA  
Twitter: @SCAFAltd
Instagram: @scafa.cookingschool
Web: www.scafa.ae 

“Many of our enrolled students have wonderful creativity and are interested in food styling and photography. We want our students to understand and appreciate the wider opportunities that lie in wait for them and SCAFA is the perfect setting for running a photography workshop. Working with renowned food photographer Meeta Wolff and celebrity chef Dima Sharif is a wonderful opportunity and experience for the our students and we are thrilled to host the 2015 Food Photography Workshop again.” 
- Francisco Araya - Director SCAFA

Lafayette Gourmet, temple to gastronomy and gourmandize, offers a whole range of flavors from all over the world. Guaranteed to find all what it takes to fulfill your taste buds. Experience the diversity from 8 kitchens in one location: Indulge in Italian specialties and wood fired pizzas, great salads from The Mediterranean, Asian favorites, Indian tandoor and curries, primes steaks from the Grill, Foie gras and Caviar from the Luxury section, authentic Tapas and Paella from Tapeo to Just Falafel.

Lafayette Gourmet have partnered with the food styling and photography workshop by Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif again in 2015 supplying fresh and luxury ingredients for the multiple styling and photography sessions as well as the second day 'Lunch by Dima Sharif'. Furthermore, Russell Impiazzi, Director of Lafayette Gourmet, will personally create an extravagant and special menu as a special finale dinner on Thursday and provide several props for the many styling and shooting session.

Facebook: @Gourmet Lafayette At Dubai Mall 

 “Coming into the 4th year of working with and supporting the fabulous Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif for their annual Food Styling & Photography Workshop in Dubai. Each year I have seen it grow from strength to strength. The detail and care that both Meeta and Dima put into this 2-day workshop really does deliver a ‘must do’ experience.”
- Chef Russell Impiazzi, Culinary Director at Lafayette Gourmet

Baker & Spice is an award-winning food shop and restaurant with several locations in Dubai. The concept originated in London in 1995, quickly becoming an inspiration for food artisans and copied all over the world.

Baker & Spice Dubai is a centre for artisan food excellence.

Guided by the seasons and ethical principles, our food philosophy is simple: local | organic | fresh | homemade

Facebook: @Baker & Spice Dubai 
Twitter: @bakerandspiceme
Instagram: @bakerandspiceme

“Working with Dima Sharif brought to life the visuals of what I do like no other. Her cinematographic ability shines a light and I like the perspective that she represents through her work, both in terms of food styling and her brilliant editing abilities. One of the greatest talents is not what you include, but what you leave out. As a result, her visual work whether video or stills is so focused and you walk away understanding the message. People should attend the Food Styling & Photography Workshop by Meeta K Wolff & Dima Sharif because teaching people to look and to edit what they are seeing is a skill that elevates your work from the ordinary to the extraordinary.” 
- Yael Mejia, Brand Consultant at Baker & Spice

Balqees specialise in sourcing the purest, rarest raw honey from Yemen and other countries around the world. Our first priority is quality and we work closely with beekeepers and farms in Yemen who supply us exclusively; we also visit remote areas in other countries to seek out the best honey. All our raw honey is unique in taste, untreated and unfiltered to preserve maximum goodness and from territories that are not tainted by intensive farming and chemicals. 

You can find our pure, raw honey in a range of Balqees kiosks and honey boutiques in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman or order from us direct. We will send our raw honey to anywhere in the world where it is possible to ship to.

Facebook: @Balqees Raw Honey 
Twitter: @balqeesrawhoney 
Instagram: @balqeesrawhoney #rawhoney

“The reason why I love working with Dima Sharif & Meeta K Wolff is because they are passionate about their art and I love being around passionate people who take their craft seriously as it helps me grow and evolve in my business.” 
- Riath Hamed, Owner of Balqees Honey

Lootah Premium Foods (LPF) is a division of the much-respected Nasser Abdullah Lootah Group, which was established in 1975.

Lootah Premium Foods was set up to provide the best quality produce and service to our customers, serving them with the finest produce either imported from Paris or Grown regionally. Lootah are pleased to be working with our European Partners Oakleaf who has been supplying the very highest quality restaurants and hotels throughout Europe and the Caribbean for the last 17 Years.

We have chosen to bypass intensive farming methods that ignore nature, the sun, soil and insist on overwatering, consequently substituting flavor for Yield. Instead we offer regional produce enjoyed by the people who live where the farms are utilizing what Europeans have known for years ‘Just to keep everything very natural and simple’. We have our own experienced and dedicated buyers working exclusively for us in Rungis Market in Paris, each buyer is responsible for ensuring the best quality produce from each area of the market; seafood, meat & poultry, fresh produce, gourmet items and dairy, they have a fantastic relationship with the farmers and producers to guarantee that we offer the best possible range of products at the best possible price, always searching for new and interesting products and following the current trends of this ever changing market

Instagram: @lootahpremiumfoods

“This is our second year supporting this annual event and we at Lootah Premium Foods wholeheartedly support the Food Styling & Photography Workshop by Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif because food styling and photography is becoming more and more important for everyone in this industry.

Through their workshop Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif encourage and train participants to take their hobby to the next level.”

- Tony Colley, General Manager at Lootah Premium Foods

Ronai LLC - Established in the UK in 1947 with expansion in the UAE from 2006 A. Ronai LLC is the Middle East distributor of some of the world’s most prestigious brands in Hospitality: Steelite International, Oneida, F. Dick Chef’s Knives, Genware, Glass & Co, Burco and other well-known trademarks.

More recent developments include the expansion of our own uniform brand. Created by our in-house designer and manufactured in the UAE our new “Uniforms by Ronai” catalogue features a host of bespoke garments. The collections are suitable for use in various job functions as well as the hospitality and aviation industries and they are proving extremely popular throughout the region.

It is our objective to offer an alternative supply scenario to the Middle Eastern Hospitality industry. We aim to offer fixed pricing together with a very high level of service including stock holding and a strong sales force with extensive industry knowledge. We are constantly learning and it is our hope that we become the choice supplier to the hospitality industry in the Middle East.

Facebook: @A. Ronai LLC 
Twitter: @RonaiLLC
Instagram: @Ronaillc
Web: www.ronai.ae 

“Ronai are delighted to support the food photography & styling workshop by Meeta K Wolff & Dima Sharif taking place this October, as a supplier to the hospitality industry it’s exciting for us to see how our products can be utilized to create fabulous imagery and show a variety of textures and colours not only in the food but in its presentation.” 
- Rachel Matthews, Ronai LLC 

Dima Sharif Organic Mooneh Essentials
It is impossible not to taste the pluck and resourcefulness of the traditional Middle Eastern kitchen in Dima Sharif’s newly launched Organic Mooneh (pantry) Essentials; a range of pickles, made by hand, using UAE locally grown, seasonal, organic vegetables and small-batch certified organic olive oil from Jordan.

Taste summons memory and emotion, and for Dima, whose soon-to-be published cookery book is a recollection of food memories and recipes that contrast and connect people and generations, her pickles reconnect the smell and taste of her grandmother’s kitchen to the artisanal continuity of times past.

Our Partners are:

Elekta Gulf
A team of five hardworking, dedicated employees comprised the humble beginning of this now world renowned brand. Today, Elekta has a team of over 500 with export distribution in over 35 countries, all supported by the head office in Dubai, U.A.E. 

Elekta specializes in the distribution of quality T.V., audio, and large and small home appliances that are affordable and enhance one’s comfort at home.

Answering the call for energy reduction, Elekta created a sub-brand, Otto, Powered by Elekta, supplying LED lights internationally. The LED lights, along with Elekta’s energy efficient products, support Elekta’s organizational value of energy conservation.

The story of Elekta is one of commitment, perseverance, vision and focus - all in service to improving the quality of life of people around the world. Elekta envisions a person’s home to be a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation, and our products support you in Making you Feel at Home!

Twitter : @elekta_gulf
Facebook: ElektaGulf
Pinterest: @elektagulf
YouTube: @elektagulf
Instagram: @elektagulf