Dubai not ready for Michelin, say F&B experts

An open panel discussion saw F&B industry experts discuss various trends and hot topics

The Caterer Middle East Middle Food & Business Conference was held at Grosvenor House on March 8, hosted by Caterer Middle East magazine.
The Caterer Middle East Middle Food & Business Conference was held at Grosvenor House on March 8, hosted by Caterer Middle East magazine.

Dubai has a long way to go in its culinary development before it is ready for a Michelin Guide, according to a host of industry experts at the Caterer Middle East Food & Business Conference this week in the emirate.

In an open panel discussion, F&B managers, chefs and restaurant owners fielded questions from an audience of their peers about topics affecting various aspects of hospitality at the event on Tuesday March 8.

On the topic of Michelin Guides, Atlantis The Palm senior vice president F&B Mark Patten commented: “The first and foremost part of rolling out a guide like Michelin in any part of the world is there must be a three-star Michelin restaurant in that location. Second, there needs to be authentic cuisine from that location that fits within Michelin criteria of one, two or three stars.

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"If you take Dubai, as an example, I believe it can come but it will be a time before we can say we have home-grown products that can fit within that standard. It’s taken Singapore, which is about to get the guide, a long time to get there, and with Hong Kong, they worked tirelessly on their products for such a long period of time to get the guide."

He added: “We need more sophisticated guides. Dubai will have one at one stage but it will take a little bit of time before it evolves to that stage."

Jean-Georges Dubai executive chef Colin Clague agreed and spoke about the possibility that diners in Dubai are not necessarily looking for Michelin-star quality restaurant experiences.

He stated: "Are we talking guides or are we talking Michelin? There is a difference. Dubai is not ready for Michelin. I’ve just opened Jean-Georges Dubai and there’s two sides to it – the food in the fine dining side is superb. Is it what a lot of people in Dubai want? Not really, being brutally honest."

After discussing the changing demographics of Dubai in terms of meeting the dining needs of the emirate's transient residents, Clague said of fine dining: “It’s not dead but it’s dying, and it’s got to change. If the average age of the city is about 35 years old, who wants to go and spend about US $272 (AED1,000) in a really, really good restaurant? Yes, I think Dubai does need guides but I don’t think it's Michelin.”

The Michelin Guide evaluates restaurants against quality of ingredients, technique and flavour, originality, cost performance and consistency.


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