Homegrown outlets not the Dubai norm, says Izu Ani

The Emirate needs to evolve more before embracing homegrown F&B ideas

Izu Ani believes in creating original ideas.
Izu Ani believes in creating original ideas.

Dubai is still not at the stage where homegrown restaurants are the norm, rather they are an exception, said La Serre head chef Izu Ani in an interview with Caterer Middle East.

"Why can’t Dubai produce something instead of going outside to source? Let’s create our own brand, our own restaurant, as they do in Europe," said Ani.

He explained that concepts come about organically; when chefs have an idea they present it to those who could help bring that idea come together and create something new.

When asked if this outlook has slowly come about in the Emirate, Ani added: "It’s been thought about but not many have the courage and the determination to see it to the end."

He explained that he personally likes to partner with companies who believe in creating themselves rather than buying.

"There’s an element of joy when you create something yourself. I don’t think Dubai is there yet. They are still within the brand-conscious [mode] – bringing the names and all that. I believe it will get there, because it is a young place and it needs to evolve. It just needs time."

However, homegrown brands in the Middle East have seen a measure of success. Dubai's Okku, for example, has won the Caterer Middle East Awards' Restaurant of the Year category in 2011 and 2012, and Table9 - also in Dubai - scooped two wins at the 2013 awards for Restaurant Team of the Year - Hotel and Restaurant Manager of the Year. Its chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price are now moving on to new ventures to create F&B concepts from scratch. Richard Sandoval's Dubai-born Pan-Latin restaurant Toro Toro is another success story, with the brand launching in Miami.

Read the full interview with Izu Ani and La Serre's general manager Heather McKnight in the September issue of Caterer Middle East.

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