Taste of Dubai 2012: what a resounding success! People flocked in their droves to eat and drink their way around the 26 restaurant stands, see suppliers’ fine goods and to get their hands dirty in culinary classes.
Exhibitors agreed it worked as an ingenious marketing tool, was excellent for boosting staff morale and fantastic for Dubai’s international culinary reputation. The only sore point was the cost to exhibit. “We’ll be happy if we break even,” said Atlantis.
“Please persuade them to make it cheaper next year for the smaller restaurants like us,” pleaded Zafran. Even our cover star Nobu Matsuhisa, who’s surely not short of a bob or two, remarked “at least they could run it in association with a charity”.
No one was keen to share the price they’d paid to participate but most agreed the logistical effort was huge, and the financial cost high.
It was a similar situation for guests, who after paying an entrance fee, had to further pay on average AED 30 for a small taster dish (could restaurants, having spent out on exhibitor fees, not afford the produce to create substantial-sized dishes?) And it’s not an isolated case: last month at Gourmet Abu Dhabi, guests paid AED 750 (US $204) to be cooked for by a ‘celebrity’ (not Michelin) chef.
And then there’s this month’s bank-breaking Stars, Food & Art, which will set you back AED 2500 (US $680) per person for an eight-course menu. It’s inspiring that chefs are eager to support the industry by committing to these events, even if it means extra pressure on them. Could organisers not make the foodie fun more affordable, so we all can take part?
Charlie Lyon, Editor