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Wed 24 Oct 2007 06:09 PM

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Back to basics

The latest tableware collections demonstrate the market is witnessing the strong return of round, simplistic dishes and more requests for tradition and eclecticism combined.

The latest tableware collections demonstrate the market is witnessing the strong return of round, simplistic dishes and more requests for tradition and eclecticism combined.

Multifunctional and unusually shaped plating continues to find its followers, yet according to industry stalwarts simplistic dishes are more popular than ever before.

Ralph Engelmann, the director of international sales for Tafelstern said the market is seeing a revival of requests for colour, including platinum or gold, typically reflecting architectural elements of the restaurant or hotel.

"We are seeing a shift from geometric shapes towards more elegant and modern designs, while multipurpose items are also in high demand," he says.

"Our customers are looking for tableware settings which complete the restaurant design and emphasise it. They want to bring value, which is justified by the food itself and the quality of the products which the food is presented on."

We are seeing a shift from geometric shapes towards more elegant and modern designs, while multipurpose items are also in high demand - Ralph Engelmann, director of international sales, Tafelstern.

Jean-Paul Dantil, managing partner of Orsini Middle East says restaurants demand classy white porcelain as tabletop presentations have become more simple whereby the focus is on the food presentation itself. However, Dantil points out that many chefs bring their own ideas from Asia to the Middle East and want them replicated, yet they can have difficulty finding them.

"The latest trends are wood and glass combined, wood and steel combined, small dishes for tapas-inspired items and table top items made for sharing. New shapes in glass are always popular," he says.

"Restaurants always like to differentiate themselves. We get a lot of requests hence we have set up a division specialised in sourcing and customization mainly out of the Far East. Customised porcelain with designs that match interiors is also frequently requested."

Glenn Ewart, export business development manager for Churchill China says in order to deliver the best service in the industry there is no time to sit back and relax for manufacturers and food and beverage outlets alike.

"In dining, there has been a move towards smaller portions and it was with that we developed the Alchemy Buffet range, which allows versatility, not only for oversized items but paired down items for the smaller dishes. This allows Chef to be very creative pulling in many items that work in harmony and have a wow factor in presentation".

"The new ranges of Atlantic and Ambience, recognise that for an operator there is a large investment in their existing tableware so we have intoduced ranges that for a low outlay, can enhance what they currently have, and once again these have been developed with leading designers and consultation with chefs".

Loretta Tully from Dubai's Jufralo Trading says after seven years in the industry, she has garnered a clear idea of what is expected from chefs, general managers, food and beverage professionals and restaurateurs.

"Although the re-ordering factor concerning stocks and availability is important, almost all manufacturers and distributors are opening their production lines to new and trendier designs, adding colour where necessary and playing around with shapes and sizes."

She says it is necessary to go the extra mile to satisfy the needs of contemporary chefs who wish to present their skills with custom made products, yet adds that not all manufacturers can compromise on pricing. The company distributes Mayfair USA tableware, which is manufactured with bright white dishes for optimum food styling.

"Hoteliers at the top end of the scale have no problem paying for quality when hosting wealthy clientele who often visit the region, given the potential and rapid growth of the tourism industry, which opens the doors to new manufacturers and suppliers from other countries.

Tully adds aptly that everyone's opinion of what constitutes a beautiful design or elegance varies greatly, and that selection must be left to the imagination of the beholder and professional end users.

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