Dubai is GRIF's hometown! Before our flagship three-day conference moved to Amsterdam in 2019, GRIF ran in Dubai for five consecutive years. The Middle East's well knit restaurant community keeps calling us back; hence we are back in Dubai on 15 October for a GRIF Society briefing providing our Middle East family a chance to get together and be up to speed with the market trends.
09:00-12:30 INDUSTRY INSIGHTS: The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management
13:00-15:00 LUNCH & NETWORKING RECEPTION HOSTED BY GATES HOSPITALITY: Folly by Nick & Scott
GRIF Society Dubai Briefing, 15 October
09:00 - 09:20
Introduction & Welcome Remarks
Jennifer Pettinger-Haines – Managing Director Middle East, Bench Events; Co-Founder, GRIF
Managing Director Middle East, Bench Events; Co-Founder, GRIF
Jennifer has been a member of the Bench Events team since November 2008. Originally from Australia, she has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney. Prior to joining Bench Events she spent two years as a project manager in London for a conference company. She is presently working from Dubai as project manager of the successful Arabian Hotel Investment Conference. Currently she is focusing on programme development and speaker acquisition in addition to overseeing AHIC’s operations.
Naim Maadad – Chief Executive, Gates Hospitality
Chief Executive, Gates Hospitality
With over 28 years in the hospitality world across Australia, Asia, & the Middle East in various senior management roles, Naim has launched & operated some of the world’s best Hotels, Resorts, Spas & Lifestyle Food & Beverage Concepts.
Naim's career has exposed him to some of the best properties around the world and he partook & orchestrated several amazing openings & operations.
Covering a wide spectrum of positions within senior leadership, including the role of Managing Director for both Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and The Anantara Group respectively. During his time with these exclusive properties, he was instrumental in nurturing sound relationships with owners, securing the best possible locations, negotiating and formalising contractual agreements, and appointing teams to infuse and reflect the ethos of the brands.
Being based in the ME over the past 18 years, he has witnessed tremendous industry growth, gained a deep cultural understanding & have been endorsed by principals & organizations alike.
In 2012, he established “Gates Hospitality” A homegrown Hospitality Company representing handpicked Concepts catering for the affluent life-stylers.
Gates Hospitality, the parent company of well-known homegrown brands such as; Ultra Brasserie, the internationally acclaimed concept; Reform Social & Grill Dubai, Folly by Nick & Scott, as well as Publique, Dubai's premier "Apres Ski chalet", The Black Lion, Bistro Des Arts and ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay.
Continuing the successful growth of Gates Hospitality’s portfolio 2017, Via Veneto Osteria e Cucina opened Q3 this year; as well as Red Farm at Covent Garden, London, U.K., the first global foray of the group vide an international venue outside the region would be launched early 2018.
In principal, GH expertise that are extended are indicative but not limited to; Hospitality Guidance | Asset Management | Pre-opening Foundation | Day-to-day Operational Success.
Naim's philosophy & approach are simple, connecting like-minded investors, operators & brands to define concepts, successful portfolios & continue on shaping the hospitality industry.
Affiliations - on the Advisory Boards of :-
- Caterer Middle East
- Hotelier Middle East
- BNC Publishing
- Middle East Food Forum
- New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
Contributing Columnist for magazines :-
- Hotelier Middle East
- Caterer Middle East
- Hospitality News Middle East
11:10 - 11:40
The evolving nature of F&B and real estate
Lines are well and truly blurred as F&B has worked its way into retail, office space, gyms and pretty much all areas of real estate. Who is doing it well? What does it mean for operators and real estate developers? Where to next?
Etienne van Unen – Partner, Director Food & Beverage, Co Head EMEA Retail, Colliers International
Etienne van Unen
Partner, Director Food & Beverage, Co Head EMEA Retail, Colliers International
Etienne is a specialist in translating the commercial point of departure into development projects with practical and feasible solutions. Leasing and relocation during complex (re)developments is one of his main specialties. Etienne is a true relationship manager: By listening to others he forms the base for good relationships as well as understanding about the clients and their demands. His ambition is to satisfy everyone and to make 1+1 equal 4.
After building the Retail Agency department within Colliers International The Netherlands, Etienne is now moving forward to build a new service line of Food & Beverage. Nowadays, F&B is the fastest growing branch in the real estate sector. Etienne’s goal is to combine his knowledge in the hospitality sector with his expertise in real estate. Together with his role as Co Head of EMEA, the combination is ideal to roll out this project across Europe.
Number 1 award Maxis Muiden Dutch Council of Real Estate
Number 1 broker Retail 2012 PropertyNL 88.000 sqm2
Number 1 broker Retail 2013 PropertyNL 84.000 sqm2
2015 Colliers Innovator Referral Award
In conversation with:
Jack de Wet – Director of Development, Big Mamma Group
Jack de Wet
Director of Development, Big Mamma Group
Jack de Wet is the Global Director of Development for The Big Mamma Group, overseeing expansion in France, UK, Spain and in the coming 36 Months the US. He has held this role for 2 years. It is truly turn key – Starting with site identification, acquisition and also creating a unique concept and vision for every restaurant.
Prior to his role with BMG he headed up the International Development and Design for the Jamie Oliver Group, overseeing the delivery of 45 sites globally over a 6 year period. This saw him delve elbow deep into operations in Australia, Asia, Russia, the EU and North and South America.
Graduating with a Masters Degree in Architecture in 2007 he ran his own architectural practice before moving into F&B Design and ultimately to combining his infectious life long passion for food hospitality with pragmatic grounding.
Jan-Willem Hilbron – Director, Albron
Jan Willem Hilbron is Catering & Hospitality Director at Albron. He is a driven and passionate manager with more than 20 years of experience in catering, hospitality and food & beverage. Jan Willem (b. 2 September 1970, Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands) has participated in several education and training programmes and holds a Master of Business Administration from Erasmus University Amsterdam among others. He specialises in delivering financial and quality targets through growing and running businesses, analysing complex processes, using creative thinking and seamlessly converting strategy into operations, brand development and relationship management.
Jan Willem joined Albron in 2019 when he was appointed Catering & Hospitality Director. As such, he is responsible for the strategic outlook of Albron C&H and the development and operational management of F&B locations in the Netherlands and Belgium. Albron Catering & Hospitality operates and develops locations for high streets, shopping malls, larger leisure venues and parks. Albron is proud to be a partner of TT Circuit Assen, Keukenhof (the garden of Europe) The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, Center Parcs Netherlands and Belgium, and Westfield Mall of the Netherlands. Albron has a broad brand portfolio, to which it recently added the successful Dutch brand Anne&Max.
Currently Jan Willem’s responsibility as a director at Albron is to deliver growth in the Netherlands and an excellent operational result for the existing locations. As such, he is contributing to Albron’s ambition to become the leading catering partner at all suitable locations with local, international or contemporary brands.
From 2007 until 2019, Jan Willem held international positions at HMSHost International where he was responsible for the entire Amsterdam Airport Schiphol operation in addition to business and brand and concept development in Northern Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. He has a great amount of expertise in development, relationship and contract management.
Rob Wickenden – Expansion Manager, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Expansion Manager, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Rob has over 12 years experience in the F&B industry focusing on property and roll-out/expansion or concepts.
Having cut his teeth at a small boutique commercial property agency, Rob has worked as an in-house property expert for a number of UK and international F&B operators wagamama, Mitchells & Butlers, Vapiano all at various stages of growth and expansion.
He is currently the European Expansion Manager at ZX Ventures, which is part of the global brewer AB Inbev. The role involves testing and developing F&B concepts before ultimately expanding and growing the businesses for various craft beer brands (Beer Hawk in the UK, La Virgen in Spain and Birra del Borgo in Italy) and global brands (Corona and Budweiser).
Yuandi de Herdt – Co-Founder, Yummy Popcorn
Yuandi de Herdt
Co-Founder, Yummy Popcorn
A gourmet popcorn factory located in their hometown ‘Almere’ in The Netherlands.
It all started at home in their kitchen, where the ‘Deer Sisters’ used to pop all kinds of Riciculous Popcorn Flavours. They create authentic tastes such as Stroopwafel, Speculaas, Pizza, Hotwing and a lot more. With the use of only real ingredients, they capture a moment and make you say YUMMY!
They officially founded in January 2018, while studying and were awarded the title ‘Best Student Entrepreneur of Almere 2018’, organized by Rabobank. Yuandi holds a Bachelor of Administration and Charissa studies Medicine. Together they combine their qualities and make Yummy Popcorn.
Yummy Popcorn operates in The Netherlands and aspires to perform globally.
09:40 - 10:10
Looking at how the restaurant landscape, business and ownership models in Dubai are evolving
How should operators in the industry from independents to hotel outlets work together, learn from each other and position Dubai as one of the leading dinning destinations within the global restaurant scene?
Duncan Fraser-Smith – Vice President, TFG, Food & Beverage
Vice President, TFG, Food & Beverage
Having spent the past 6 years in the Middle East region in key food and beverage roles within the hotel industry, Duncan has a wealth of experience in this region.
Duncan spent 3 years in Doha, Qatar, developing the hospitality operations for Qatar Sports City and the Cultural Village. Most recently his role as Group Director of Design, Food and Beverage for Middle East, Africa and Asia, involved creating and developing over 150 different food and beverage concepts for InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the largest hotel companies in the world, so Duncan is well recognized and respected in the hotel and restaurant industry within the Middle East/GCC region and internationally.
Duncan’s 20 years in the hospitality industry, spanning Asia, Australia and the Middle East, have seen him developing both edgy brand defining concepts and establishing, both stand alone and hotel based outlets from deconstructed bars, cafes and lifestyle outlets through to contemporary steakhouses and high street fine dining .
Duncan has a unique approach to developing hotel food and beverage operations by identifying the mix of offerings falling under the three categories of , Core, Impulse and Destination and to make strategic, long
term decisions on the correct use of each individual space.
in conversation with:
Christian Abell – Vice President Food & Beverage MEA, Marriott International
Vice President Food & Beverage MEA, Marriott International
Chris is leading our F&B team that is responsible for strategy development and execution across the food and beverage space; including outlet concepting, beverage, culinary, and driving R&B revenue.
A graduate of the Curinne School of Culinary Arts in Perth Australia, Chris was accredited as a Master Chef in London and was recognized as a member of the World Master Chef Society due to his culinary talents and food styling techniques.
Chris has worked in the hospitality industry for 30 years, the majority of that being with Marriott. He joined the MEA team in July 2017 from our Marriott Corporate HQ team in Bethesda Maryland where he was the Vice President of Experience Design as a member of our Insight, Strategy & Innovation team, having been certified as an Experience Designer by Pine and Gilmore. The Marriott ISI team leads change within our industry by developing disruptive thinking across brands, disciplines and continents, & Chris’s role within that team focused on Food & Beverage and concept design. Chris’s previous roles with Marriott include: Senior Director of Project Development and Concept Design for Asia Pacific, Regional Director of Operations Asia Pacific, Director of Food & Beverage, JW Marriott Hong Kong and Executive Chef JW Marriott Hong Kong. In his early career as a chef, he trained under Michelin accredited restaurants across Europe. Christian has been recognized for his culinary talents as Marriott International’s Chef of the Year during his tenure at the JW Marriott Hong Kong.
During his time at Marriott HQ, Christian had the incredible opportunity to participate and play an active role across a number of significant brand development and positioning projects including:
• AC Hotels Design Strategy – Christian was a key member of the AC Hotels Design Strategy team that worked to evolve the design strategy for the brand; developing key design pillars and guest experience proof points and ensuring their pull through in order to support growth and owner interest in the AC Hotels brand.
• Wanderlust Renaissance Design Strategy Initiative –an initiative where Christian worked with a small, cross-disciplinary team to author a design strategy focused on delivering more original, discovery-driven design and set of guest experience outcomes to further differentiate the Renaissance Hotels brand.
• Marriott Hotels Brand Reinvention (Red Domino) – developed concepts, platforms and live in-market prototypes to inspire new thinking for the Marriott brand and company. This project developed broader thinking around space design, customers’ experiences, F&B strategy and profitable business models.
Chris’s broad career experiences, exposure to varied cultures and culinary experiences, and his innovation training and thinking are of tremendous benefit to our continent and team. He has relocated to Dubai along with his wife Jini and son Harnule.
Tom Arnel – Co-Founder & Managing Director, Bull & Roo Hospitality & Investments
Co-Founder & Managing Director, Bull & Roo Hospitality & Investments
Samantha Wood – Publisher, editor & consultant, FooDiva
Publisher, editor & consultant, FooDiva
Samantha Wood is a British-Greek-Cypriot resident of Dubai and wears a number of hats - a restaurant reviewer, food writer, marketing/ F&B consultant and event organiser with 25 years of experience in the United Kingdom and the Middle East. Having left the hospitality PR world in Dubai, she set up her own business eight years ago – an impartial restaurant review website, FooDiva (www.foodiva.net) that has collected ten awards. Samantha also organises mystery #DineAroundDubai and #ThreeChefsDinner experiences. She has featured prolifically in local and international media including guest segments on CNN. Furthermore, she takes on freelance writing and broadcasting commissions, most recently as the UAE contributor for the global Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery restaurant guide. Samantha is a member of the Guild of Food Writers, holds a WSET Level 2 wine qualification, and is a speaker and industry awards judge on her favourite subjects – food, restaurants and social media.
10:10 - 10:30
Expo 2020 Update
What progress has been made and is there still scope to get involved?
Simon Ritchie – Editor, Caterer Middle East
Editor, Caterer Middle East
Simon Ritchie is the editor of Caterer Middle East. A seasoned business and lifestyle journalist, Ritchie has worked across a number of publications and industries both in the UK, his home country, and abroad, before settling into F&B in Dubai.
in conversation with:
Darren Tse – Director - Concessions - Commercial, Expo 2020
Director - Concessions - Commercial, Expo 2020
Darren Tse (pronounced ‘See’) has the pleasure of serving as Commercial Director of Expo 2020, specifically overseeing all Concessions related business. Darren’s career began in the Hospitality industry, launching several new properties. This experience grew into the privilege of holding leadership roles in delivering the Food and Beverage programs for both the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committees. Diversifying his experience, most recently before joining Expo 2020 Darren gained a CPG perspective on the foodservice industry leading Business Development at Coca-Cola in Canada.
Darren is presently working toward the completion of his MBA at the University of Michigan and holds degrees in Political Science and Hospitality Management. Darren relocated to Dubai to join the Expo 2020 team with his wife and 4 year old daughter in 2016.
10:30 - 10:45
What is the potential impact of vertical farming on the supply chain of the future?
Why is Emirates Flight Catering investing in a $40 million joint venture with US-based vertical farming technology company Crop One to build the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai? What is the knock-on impact for the industry?
Richard Thompson – Editorial Director, MEED
Editorial Director, MEED
Richard Thompson is the Editorial Director of MEED. He is responsible for the content of MEED Magazine, MEED.com, MEED Projects & MEED Insights. A keen student of Middle East political and economic affairs, Richard regularly writes and contributes articles to the wider media, including Financial Times and the BBC. He is also a regular speaker on Middle East economy. Richard joined MEED as Managing Editor in February 2003. During his time at MEED, he has covered many areas of the Middle East economy including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. He was named MEED editor in April 2007 and become Editorial Director in February 2010. He has a Masters degree in International Relations, and a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with Management Law. Prior to becoming a journalist he worked in the UK construction industry for Atkins and for Laing O’Rourke
in conversation with:
Kieran Dowd – VP of Sourcing Solutions, EKFC & General Manager, Emirates Crop One
VP of Sourcing Solutions, EKFC & General Manager, Emirates Crop One
Ming Zhu – Regional Development Manager, Crop One
Regional Development Manager, Crop One
10:45 - 11:10
11:10 - 11:30
Re-connecting with a disrupted audience in a third-party world
Dan Clayton – Director, PPS Addison Hospitality
Director, PPS Addison Hospitality
Dan is the Director of PPS Hospitality and oversees concept and strategy work for the hospitality sector. Over the course of his career, Dan has had the opportunity to work across all aspects of the hospitality industry, including restaurant development, operations, marketing and strategy as well as branding, graphics, and interior design.
Dan is a highly experienced F&B expert with global exposure who brings a high level of creativity, passion and strategy to every project. He also has a deep understanding of concept sustainability, longevity and operational considerations.
11:30 - 12:00
Opportunities for Expansion: KSA
What are some key things about the market which you need to know as an investor and operator going in there? Are the challenges worth the reward?
Stefan Breg – Group Strategy Director, Keane
Group Strategy Director, Keane
Stefan is Group Strategy Director at Keane (www.keanebrands.com) providing the lead on strategic F&B consulting, masterplanning and concept development for Keane’s studios In London, Dubai, Bangkok and Florida.. He previously led the F&B team at Starwood/Marriott Middle East & Africa managing a pipeline of 200 openings and renovations.
Stefan has over 350 F&B concepts to his name and brought brands such as Buddha Bar, Hakkasan, Pierre Gagnaire and Embassy to the ME. His previous positions include 10 years as founder/CEO of TRIBE; one of the most successful F&B strategy houses in the Middle East with extensive work on malls such as Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall.
He also worked with IHG on F&B strategy and concepts across SE Asia, Hilton (Europe), E&Y Consulting and in the Kingdom, he is now leading the al Widyan project with al Akaria. He is a regular speaker on industry trends and a Visiting Professor at Emirates Academy
in conversation with:
Mert Askin – President of Food & Beverage, Azadea Group
President of Food & Beverage, Azadea Group
Mert Askin is the President of Food & Beverage at the Azadea Group, leading the F&B division, which has more than 100 outlets across eight countries in the Middle East and Africa.
The Azadea Group is a premier lifestyle retail company that owns and operates more than 50 leading international franchise concepts in fashion and accessories, food and beverage, home furnishings, sporting goods, multimedia and beauty and cosmetics across the Middle East and Africa spread across 13 countries overseeing more than 650 stores.
Prior to joining Azadea in 2014, Mert gained extensive operational experience leading the casual all-day dining chain of the d.ream group, one of the world’s fastest growing restaurant groups with more than 170 outlets, including Kitchenette, Gunaydin, Nusr-et and Zuma.
Earlier in his career, Mert was a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Germany, where he advised clients in various sectors on business strategies, and with Ernst & Young Luxembourg in advisory practice.
Mert Askin holds a bachelor’s degree in Operations Management from the Koc University, Istanbul, where he graduated with the highest of honors. He also holds an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School as a Richard H. Jenrette fellow.
Ryan Hattingh – Partner, Atelier EPJ
Partner, Atelier EPJ
Ryan Hattingh is the eatery entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. He has opened or operated restaurants in the UK, Netherlands, Italy, America, South Africa, Lebanon, Kuwait and UAE.
Ryan’s first venture onto the culinary scene was as a pasta chef in South Africa, in 1983. He subsequently left to complete a degree in Hospitality & Business Management, and determined to forge a career in the kitchens. After learning the know-how from top-notch chefs over the years, he went on to open his first restaurant.
In 1997, he moved to the UK, where he began working in outlet management. Following 12 years with Gaucho as International Operations Director, he began a year long tenure as Managing Director of the 28 unit Obika restaurants with successful openings in London and New York. In 2014, he accepted the position of International Managing Director for Dream Restaurants and its international expansion of 20 major Dream brands.
Expansion of high-end brands, development and launch projects include:
11 Gaucho Restaurants in UK and Dubai
CAU Brand in Amsterdam
Obika Restaurants in London, Tokyo and New York
Nusr-Et Dubai and Abu Dhabi
Tom’s Kitchen Deli, Dubai
Prince Waleed Al-Saud – Founder & President, Qoot
Prince Waleed Al-Saud
Founder & President, Qoot
12:00 - 12:30
What does Generation Z think?
Speaking to students from the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in conversation with
Helen El Mettouri – Regional Director, Keane
Helen El Mettouri
Regional Director, Keane
Helen is the Regional Director at Keane (www.keanebrands.com) for the Middle East Africa & Asia.
Helen has successfully run the region from Dubai for 11 years supported by studios in London, Bangkok & Florida. She has established Keane as one of the leading providers of restaurant & leisure experiences in the region ranging from design to strategy. This culminated in recent awards for both Gold on 27 at Burj al Arab and Besh Turkish Kitchen at the Sheraton Mall of Emirates.
Key clients include long relationships with Jumeirah Group, MAF, Emirates Leisure Retail, Vox Cinemas, Raffles, Costa and Pret and is now actively engaged on the al Widyan project with al Akaria.
about their views on what they want from a restaurant, experience as consumers and as future employers.
12:30 - 13:00
Beyond the Restaurant: Evolving Platforms, Expectations and Responsibility
With greater levels of corporate transparency comes the expectations from consumers for companies to act in the interests of the greater good. What are these individuals and companies doing?
Courtney Brandt – Founder, A to Za'atar
Founder, A to Za'atar
Courtney Brandt is an American author living in Dubai, where she has resided for over a decade. When she’s not reviewing fine dining venues around the world for her food and hospitality blog, A to Za'atar, she loves traveling to new countries and sabering champagne with kitchen knives. You might have seen her on the television show What's Cooking, UAE, or heard her on Dubai Eye 103.8, where she is an active contributor. In 2019, Ms. Brandt was delighted to move forward with new endeavor by launching her CSR of One podcast, part of a social initiative which hopes to inspire communities to think beyond their own platforms and share on behalf of others. She has spoken at a number of conferences, including Gulf Host, The Restaurant Show, Caterer Middle East, PechaKucha, Travel Tech Middle East, Middle East Food Forum, and SMS Summit Jordan, and was invited to attend the Google Local Guides Summit in October 2018 and November 2019.
To date, she's been published with Curiosity Magazine, JustLuxe, Elite Daily, MenuPages, Dining and Nightlife Middle East, The Forward Feed, Touring Bird, A Luxury Travel Blog, Wine&Style, Matador Network, Travelettes, Citizen Femme, Khaleej Times, Roads & Kingdoms, and Eat This Poem.
Ian Ohan – Founder & CEO, KRUSH Brands
Founder & CEO, KRUSH Brands
Serial entrepreneur Ian Ohan is the Founder and CEO of Dubai-headquartered KRUSH Brands - a full-service, multi-kitchen, brand development, operating and franchising company. Cool brands that you love, bound together by technology, convenient and reliable, better for you, from a company that cares. KRUSH Brands owns and operates Freedom Pizza,Wildflower Poke & More, Coco Yogo Vegan Kitchen and The Salad Jar with more brands coming soon. It also owns Big Dwarf Food Technology that develops KRUSH Brands’ proprietary digital, online ordering, operating and delivery platforms. All KRUSH Brands concepts are Powered by Freedom - KRUSH Brands’ proprietary technology and delivery platform and its fleet of over 200 professional delivery drivers delivering fast, fresh and safe, every time.
Reif Othman – Chef & Founder, REIF Kushiyaki
Chef & Founder, REIF Kushiyaki
The talented Reif Othman has been incredibly instrumental in transforming the culinary landscape of Dubai and the U.A.E. An outstanding culinary career and is currently one of the most sought after chefs, and has gained global recognition and a celebrity status through his culinary genius and expertise.
Reif Othman and PLAY Restaurant and Lounge has already caused quite a stir in Dubai winning the What’s On Chef Of The Year, The Pro Chef Most Innovative Chef, Time Out - Best Asian Restaurant, Time Out Restaurant Of The Year and has been inducted into the Bord Bia Chef’s Irish Beef Club.
Reif adds “You know how the feeling is when you are young and learn to ride a bike, you have your mum or dad cheering you and the pride you have in learning to ride the bike after falling off the bike numerous times. That’s exactly how I feel. When I set out to do something, I pursue it diligently and after the end of the day when my hard work pays off that in itself is most rewarding. Most of all, winning all these awards is greatly accredited to my team. It is such a morale booster for all those long hours in the kitchen, not seeing daylight and the lack of a social life. They feel proud of where they work and who they work for. Their time and commitment, and I am very blessed to have a team that has lots of energy.
As an ambassador and being the first Asian to be inducted into the Bord Bia Chef’s Irish Beef Club was a wonderful surprise for Reif. On the other hand winning the Restaurant Of The Year was the icing on the cake. “PLAY has only been operational for 12 months and we bagged the most coveted award on the night. It is a great achievement and it goes to show that when you are focused at what you do and have got the best team (both front and back of house) any chef can work with you who shares the same vision as you, well you are already a winner. We have guests that come back again and again and every time they come back they expect the same level of consistency – taste, presentations and right up to the service” adds Reif.
Reif recounts his early experiences in the kitchen, “I first started cooking at the age of 14, helping my mom in the kitchen. I would cut and wash the vegetables, for lunch or dinner, I would make the pastry and do the baking. My first kitchen experience was with my mom, in her food stall, preparing our traditional Javanese cuisine (a mix of Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine).” Later he went on to learn with Violet Oon, a Singaporean chef doing Peranakan cuisine. Reif recalls Violet Oon mentoring him and saw the potential he had which gave him the drive to be where he is right now. WHAT’S ON CHEF OF THE YEAR / PRO CHEF MOST INNOVATIVE CHEF TIME OUT BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT / TIME OUT RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR Reif Othman is the first Asian to be inducted into the Bord Bia Chef’s Irish Beef Club!
Reif began gaining international recognition for his culinary talents in 2007 when working with One Rochester Group in Singapore as Group Executive Chef for some of the city’s top
restaurants and hotels. In 2009, Reif joined the Zuma Dubai team as Executive Chef and quickly moved up the ladder as he displayed extensive talent being both creative and disciplined in the kitchen, finding inspiration in all types of cuisines. His culinary excellence helped establish Zuma as one of the most renowned restaurants in Dubai. Winning awards is not new for Reif, a disciplined kitchen and his creative inspirations, Reif stirred Zuma Dubai for four consecutive years on the San Pellegrino World’s Best
Ron Simpson – Founder, The Avocado Show
Founder, The Avocado Show
The Avocado Show is one of the most exciting food start-ups in the world right now. Two friends accidentally founded the first avocado franchise on the planet and then turned a tiny 45-seat restaurant in Amsterdam into a global lifestyle brand within a year. Their concept went viral like a celebrity sextape and with 100k fans online and a multi million dollar investment by the Bill Gates of avocados herself, this story is one for the books and for the stages. Was it the fans camping outside the door before the opening? The international franchise requests that came in before they even served a single plate? The 212 million interactions online in over 60 countries, in just a few weeks with no budget? The way they married sustainability with their supplier? Or simply the amazing content of their Pretty Healthy Food® dishes? Who knows. But watch, laugh and learn as Ron Simpson tells you how they are steering your favorite fruit into the future.