By Jamie Knights
Restaurant chiefs respond with caution to news that Dubai will not impose ban.
Chefs from Dubai’s top restaurants have responded cautiously to news that there will be no ban on cooking with alcohol. They were reacting to reports of a u-turn by Dubai Municipality over plans to ban alcohol in the preparation of food in restaurants. A senior official said there had been a "misunderstanding" over the rules.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek’s Palm Grill manager Alexandra Lempke said the restaurant was “following this news very closely”.
“We have just recently been informed that there will not be a total ban on serving dishes that contain alcohol, however, there will be certain rules and regulations which imply restrictions on the same,” she said in comments published by Hotelier Middle East.
“We are just waiting to have everything in writing, which should be soon, so that we know exactly what measures to take.”
Despite the restaurant already being equipped to cater to separating alcohol-based cooking with non-alcohol-based cooking, Lempke explained the restaurant would have to produce new separate menus for dishes containing alcohol.
Regarding the possibility of having to make the changes in a month, Lempke said the hotel had 16 food and beverage outlets and that they were “quite used to taking prompt actions”.
Rhodes Mezzanine head chef Paul Lupton said he was waiting to see “how the next week plays out”.
“If it does come out that we have to stop using alcohol completely there will be a few big changes we have to make,” Lupton said.
“We were just about to change the menu and there were quite a few dishes on there containing alcohol, like a champagne gateaux — that would have to be completely rethought.”
Lupton added that if a complete ban was to take place it may affect Dubai’s growing reputation as a culinary hub.
“It would be a shame and would be quite frustrating for chefs to have half of your repertoire unavailable,” he said.
“Restaurants in Dubai started to become known on an international level and we appear on all sorts of lists — that’s [a complete ban on using alcohol] going to hold things back a little bit.”
Lempke said she felt there wouldn’t be a complete ban and that “restricted operational procedures” would not affect Dubai’s culinary reputation.
“We have some of the best restaurants, chefs, quality of food, variety and so much more here — why would Dubai not have the same reputation if it has a separate and elaborate menu for dishes served with alcohol in a restaurant?” she said.
However, both chefs were quick to state that it was vital to respect the rules of the country you were operating in.
“After all, we do live, work and operate in a Muslim country, and certain things need to be respected, therefore we need to adapt to certain requirements, traditions and cultures,” Lempke said.
She assured that the government would always support overall business, but the situation had to adapt “with respect to everybody”.
“I think that a little effort separating our offers on paper or in the areas we cook, would not hurt our business,” Lempke added.
Lupton assured that the restaurant followed “the law to the letter” and that the staff “are responsible in the way we cook and prepare food”.
“Hopefully, if they see we do things responsibly, there’s room for carrying on cooking these things,” he concluded.