The Big climb: Salvatore Barcellona
Salvatore Barcellona is the new head chef at Manzil Downtown
What drew you to this role?
Manzil Downtown has always been a landmark property within the dynamic hospitality environment, especially in Dubai. The concept of the boutique hotel is quite unique and when the position opened up, I wanted to take this opportunity to diversify my career and be part of a locally grown hotel brand which has become one of the leading names in the region.
What skills and knowledge do you bring to this role?
With over 10 years working in the hospitality industry, I was fortunate to have worked in some of the leading hotel groups around the world. However, my passion for cooking started at a young age, as I grew up in Italy and was always surrounded by food. I was able to grasp and develop various cooking techniques from a young age, which helped me progress in this field much quicker.
What do you think of the food scene in Dubai?
Dubai has become a hub for the dining scene and we can see a number of international restaurant brands opening in Dubai. The benefit of the dining scene growing as well as diversifying is that this creates opportunities for food and beverage professionals like myself to conceptualise and be part of this growth. Being in Dubai, it has forced me to become more creative and innovative in my cooking style to keep up with industry trends and keep ahead of the competition.
Describe your culinary style?
Creative and authentic. I love to discover new cooking methods, experiment with new ingredients and flavours. However, I am Italian, so creating food that is authentically local is very important and remains the centre of the cooking philosophy.
How do you intend to make F&B operations at the hotel more profitable?
It’s very important not to entirely change concepts that have been the source of people coming to your venue, but I am very excited to diversify the existing concepts and to enhance the overall experiences. Back-of-house is something my team and I are working towards which is to help reduce waste which will inevitably positively impact the profitability and of course give back to the environment. Additionally, since the hotel has a number of creative weekly food concepts, any promotions which are not working as effectively, would be a good chance to revive and adjust to make them more appealing for the discerning food connoisseurs in the city.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Essentially, I’m looking forward to ensuring that the food and beverage offerings at Manzil Downtown are consistently maintained and of course to be more creative with the existing menus and dining concepts, without losing their existing identities.
From a business perspective, I want to ensure that consistent quality is achieved by controlling food costs and reducing waste to ensure our kitchen is sustainable and profitable.