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Thu 6 Feb 2020 09:24 AM

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F&B future: Dubai needs to create home-grown culinary stars to thrive

Insignia Worldwide founder and author Gaurav Sinha said that there is an 'obligation' to raise local F&B stars to compete with the likes of Bangkok and Singapore

F&B future: Dubai needs to create home-grown culinary stars to thrive

Sinha added that “when that shift happened, that’s [when the idea came about] that if we bring celebrity chefs from overseas, it will bring prestige to where we are.”

Dubai will increasingly have to create local F&B “celebrities” to meet its goals of becoming a regional and global culinary capital, according to author and hospitality expert Gaurav Sinha.

The Dubai-based Sinha established luxury hospitality and tourism-focused branding and communications firm Insignia Worldwide in 2003, as well as Quillon Hospitality, a development advisory and hospitality management company. Additionally, Sinha is the founder of In.Travel network, an outsourced sales representation and revenue optimisation firm for hotels.

Speaking to Arabian Business, Sinha said that at the moment “there is fatigue in contrived F&B”.

“If today you look at the segment, there are a handful of outliers in the fine dining space, but besides that, everybody else is still struggling,” he said. “It’s a hyper-fragmented sector.”

In the past, Sinha noted, hotels in Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE largely designed and operated their own concepts in-house.

“Not all great hoteliers make great restauranteurs. But, in the old days, hotels would design and operate their own restaurants,” he said. “But in the last 6 to 8 years, hoteliers have been happy to give the keys to a specific space and lease it to an independent operator.”

Sinha added that “when that shift happened, that’s [when the idea came about] that if we bring celebrity chefs from overseas, it will bring prestige to where we are.”

'Local celebrities'

Now, however, Sinha said that he has noticed a shift towards the cultivation of “local celebrities”. As an example, he pointed to Nick Alvis and Scott Price, the pair behind Folly by Nick and Scott in Madinat Jumeirah.

“These are the things that people will seek more of as we move forward,” he added. “For the price that you pay for an endorsement that comes in from a global phenomenon, there’s an obligation to raise local stars in the F&B sector….that’s the only way to create and meet the aspirations of becoming the culinary capital of a particular region.”

Other cities, such as the Thai capital of Bangkok and Singapore, have already managed to achieve global status as culinary hubs using home-grown stars.

“That’s happening slowly [in Dubai] as we see the segment mature,” he added.

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