January 17, 2021

It is all about quality ingredients

Any Chef worth his salt will tell you that it all starts with quality ingredients and he would be absolutely right. Get me two equally skillful Chefs and 9 out of 10 times the better dish will come from the Chef with the better ingredients. Quality ingredients make all the difference, they inspire, ignite the creative flame, and sometimes embolden Chefs to adopt the minimalist approach. Finding quality ingredients is a daily struggle in the life of Chefs, restaurant managers, and anyone who runs a food business. 

The UAE, and more specifically Dubai, as we have covered it in a previous story, is home to some of the most prestigious hotels and the most opulent restaurants. This is by itself an incredible achievement considering that all this growth and development happened over the span of 40 years. 

What is even more fascinating, is the logistical achievement that ensures the country‚Äôs food needs are met. One trip to Jebel Ali free-zone port is enough to witness the ingenuity of humankind when the right resources and manpower are put to good use. 

Food & the supply chain

The UAE imports 80 to 90% of its food needs, that is a fact, which means that everything that you consume either at home or at a restaurant has undergone international shipping, whether through expensive direct air freight for premium products like oysters flown from France, sea freight for other more affordable products, like avocados, onions and citrus fruits, or truck delivery through Oman for greenhouse produce. This is managed entirely by importers, distributors and vendors working tirelessly to ensure our supermarket shelves remain stacked. 

It is worth noting that we are seeing an increase in output from local production in different sectors: organic farming such as the Greenheart farm,  aquaculture like Fish farm in Jebel Ali, a variety of cheeses through Italian dairy products in Sharjah, as well as tech driven hydroponic setups like Badia farms, to name but a few. 

Two Challenges

This is a challenge for Chefs who want to work with the best ingredients available, generally the ones flown in, but constantly have to manage their food costs to remain profitable, and have to settle for less fresh products brought in through sea freight.

The other challenge lies in the consumer, and more precisely their food consumption habits: our palates are trained from a very young age to appreciate certain foods that we grow accustomed to. The transition to new more expensive products is something we are hardwired to resist.

So, what do we do then?

In the age of social media, Chefs have today a more direct access to their customer than they ever had before. They are considered a credible source of information for all kitchen related matters. This is a powerful position to be in that should be harnessed to connect with consumers and educate them on the merit of using quality ingredients.

On the other hand, we need suppliers to continue identifying new territories, sources of food, good quality ingredients and establish more efficient ways to get them to the UAE.

And last, but not least, we need a unified platform that connects Chefs & suppliers seamlessly and directly to customers, a system that generates value for everyone involved, and that helps create more avenues for collaboration. 

Stay tuned to find out how we are working to make this happen. 

Bassel