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UAE's fine dining restaurants start stocking up on locally grown produce


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09 Oct 2020

UAE's fine dining restaurants start stocking up on locally grown produce

UAE's fine dining restaurants start stocking up on locally grown produce
Source: Gulf News

Dubai: It’s all turning local… even at the finest restaurants in the UAE. And they – and their clients - are just fine with the change.

Buying local not only saves costs for F&B businesses, it boosts the entire ecosystem and showcases the development of regional farming. But it all came together after the pandemic struck and forced restaurants to consider options other than importing.

“When we were in our pre-opening phase and researching the Dubai supplier market, I was surprised to find out how dependent the supply chain was on imports and how little choice of local product there was,” said Steven Nyugen, the Chef at Indochine. “So we sourced from Australia, France, and specialty seafood from Japan.”

But then the pandemic struck and Europe was hit quite hard, and Indochine’s supplies from France and Spain were halted. Much the same happened with supplies from the US and Australia, which affected their protein and meat supplies.

That’s when they took a chance on local suppliers. “There is incredible potential in the local market that is really untapped at the moment,” Nyugen said. “I think the major hurdles are marketing and distribution.

A lack of awareness

Indeed, specialty food producers and suppliers are out there, but it’s just that they will need to gain more visibility. Some restaurant operators are trying to mitigate that by striking special deals, including helping with the costs and logistics, with these farms and suppliers.

It wasn’t the pandemic that triggered Palazzo Versace Dubai to look seriously at the local market.

Mansour Mermarian, Director of Culinary, at the luxury hotel says he’s been championing their cause for some time. “Unless there are exceptional cases of a rare delicatessen, cheese or truffles being required, we buy only locally,” he said. “There are some fantastic entrepreneurs in Dubai with well put together farms and plantations.

“The pandemic actually pushed us to be more creative and focus on the basic ingredients to create dishes. I found the best oysters and seafood at Dibba Bay - and we stopped importing from France for our brunches.”

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