First JLT Restaurant Awards reveals its expert jury, which lists more than 200 independent eateries, launched its restaurant awards scheme for the restaurants, bars, and cafes in the neighbourhood

Martin Kubler is the founder of, and a judge.
Martin Kubler is the founder of, and a judge.

Dubai’s first hyper-local F&B awards aimed solely at the 200+ independent restaurants, bars, and cafes in Jumeirah Lakes Towers has revealed its judging & advisory panel.

Online voting was open throughout the month of October for 16 awards categories, which range from 'Best North Indian' to 'Best Café', 'Best Middle Eastern', and 'Best Brunch'.

The awards feature a total of 19 categories – 16 are publicly voted. The remaining three categories, 'Best Overall', 'Best Newcomer', and 'Most Unique Concept' will be judged by an expert panel of industry insiders, joined by a JLT resident. The judges will also scrutinise the shortlist for the publicly voted categories and select the winners and runners-up, which will then be revealed at the awards ceremony in Jumeirah Lakes Towers in November 2017.

Meet the judges

Martin Kubler is the CEO of sps:affinity and the creator of and inventor of the JLT Restaurant Awards. He’s a seasoned hotelier, marketer, and hospitality, leisure, and tourism consultant, who has lived in Dubai since 2004 and worked in and around JLT since 2007.

Kubler is joined by Andreas Mensch, the executive chef of the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach. Over the years, Mensch has worked in kitchens in the UAE, Hungary, Russia, USA, Latvia, and Austria.

Samantha Wood, better known as 'Foodiva', is the publisher of the impartial, restaurant review website FooDiva and the curator of the popular mystery #DineAroundDubai experiences. Wood has lived in Dubai for over 18 years and is also a writer, F&B / digital consultant and speaker.

The three industry experts are joined by JLT community judge Richard Stratton, who’s known to many as the voice of 'Remix 92 with Rich'. Stratton is a long-time JLT resident and used to be a professional chef with a string of successful restaurant launches under his belt.

The organisers also revealed a number of technical partners and sponsors for the awards including law firm Bird & Bird as legal partner and JLT-based Blossom Tree Flower Shop as official flower supplier.

The awards are also supported by Ankur Trading & Aroma Indian Basmati Rice, Public Café, Pitfire Pizza, Localyser, Liquid of Life, Indo Indo, Betawi Café, Wolf & Friends Lounge, and Servicexcellence.

Anybody can follow the awards online on and via the #JLTdiningAwards2017 hashtag.

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