Markus Thesleff, Co-Founder, Whissle Hospitality Markus Thesleff, Co-Founder, Whissle Hospitality

08. Markus Thesleff, Co-Founder, Whissle Hospitality

With international expertise in the fields of hospitality, F&B, marketing and brand consultancy, Thesleff brought a new dimension to the UAE when he created the Okku brand, together with Ramzy Abdul-Majeed. Whissle Hospitality is committed to developing home-grown concepts; the company also launched gastro-café Sophie’s and Riva Ristorante, Bar and Beach, on the Palm Jumeirah. Expanding its portfolio, Whissle launched Claw BBQ, Crabshack & Grill in Souk Al Bahar in 2013, and the Cielo Sky Lounge and Casa de Tapas at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club in 2014.

Innovation is at the heart of Thesleff’s brand portfolio, and he won the Restaurateur of the Year award at the 2014 Caterer Awards, and Okku and Claw also received Caterer Awards in 2015. He is also a champion of local talent, and his teams are encouraged to attend courses to hone their crafts. The Okku sommeliers, sake sommeliers and bar team, for example, are taking Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualifications, with some going on to win Caterer Awards themselves as recognition of their talents. And watch this space as Caterer is aware of a few concepts in development — we’re hoping they come to fruition in 2016!

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 5
Number of years with this company: 6
Number of years in this role: 6
Number of years working in the Middle East: 7
Number of people you are responsible for: 400+
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: 8
Nationality: Finnish

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