By Devina Divecha
"We can’t normally charge this to the clients, so how do we balance this?" asked one exec chef
The biggest challenges currently facing chefs in the UAE are a fast-changing sector, staff turnover and food costs, experts claimed at an event in Dubai this week.
Speaking as part of the Vision Conference at The Hotel Show, six chefs from hotel groups across the UAE participated in 'The Chef's Debate' panel discussion.
Jumeirah Restaurant Group Dubai executive chef Chris Lester said: "Dubai is very much a changing market, it has changed massively. It’s hotel-driven and hospitality-driven... but now you’ve got all the freestanding restaurants, they’re here to stay. You have to abreast of what’s going on around you, or else you will be overwhelmed."
Madinat Jumeirah resort executive chef Dirk Haltenhof pointed out that reinvention was the biggest problem. "We all say the word unique which is a hollow word. We want to create real experiences in the hotel which connects with everyone."
This sentiment was echoed by Eric Vasta from JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, who said keeping up with the trends is important in this market.
Samir Roonwal, executive chef, Al Ghurair Rayhaan & Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana, said staffing is still a huge problem. "What keeps me awake at night is making sure I have the same team tomorrow morning. It’s tough to keep up with that."
The Address Dubai Marina executive chef Avinash Mohan said the crucial aspect about staff is that it’s "difficult to find huge skill levels in Dubai and all the ones keep jumping hotel to hotel".
Media One Hotel executive chef Girish Babu agreed, adding the element of rising food costs was also a concern.
"The cost is rising and we can’t normally charge this to the clients, so how do we balance this?" he asked.