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Iconsulthotels' CEO in Caterer Middle East: Head Chef Survey 2014

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What percentage of restaurant bookings in the Middle East comes through e-bookings and social media channels? Iconsulthotels CEO, Martin Kubler, was quoted in Caterer Middle East's special report on the results of the 2014 head chef survey.

For expert industry commentary & insights, contact Iconsulthotels today: http://iconsulthotels.com/

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Iconsulthotels' CEO in Caterer Middle East: Head Chef Survey 2014

  1. 1. Special Report «a» l is 38,’ (': Ili*i‘rl’[lL| L|Tn‘| ‘.. I>l s. -iiii-iiiii. -r: iii4 1
  2. 2. Special Report Head Chef Sur'e_v 2(l|4 The Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey showed that chefs are very much concerned about the quality of ingredients, are interested in further empowerment, and are definitely keeping an eye on the competition. Find out exactly what’s going on in the minds of the chefs in the region he fifth annual Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey was answered by I34 professional chefs based in the Middle East, and dealt with some of the most pressing issues they face today. and the general state of the industry in the region. The survey was conducted online and was designed to allow chefs to weigh in with their thoughts ofthe industry. discuss trends, and reveal the opportunities and challenges they will face in the next year. We share the findings ofthe survey here, which has dished out some surprising results and exposed what chefs really think. MONEY MATTERS An interesting trend seen in the survey was that while there seemed to be a dip in the average spend per head through the recession years, it's now slowly moving up. Last year. 4.5% ofchefs surveyed said average spend per head was above US 551000. This year it's inched up to 5.22%. In addition. the most common average spend per head according to the surveyed chefs was $40- 60, moving up from $20-40 last year. Has the spending power of customers increased. or has it been the case of prices rising due to food costs or prices of raw ingredients? One chef said a challenge s/ he faced was the “hike in price of raw materials, and our guests don't know that“, while another agreed and said there has been an "increase in produce costs“. However, quite a few chefs think this change is driven by consumers. Susy Massetti, executive tniwizhnlclii-riiiitlillvi-xisimm fail: By Devina Divecha chefat The Palace Boutique Hotel restaurant Masso, for one, said it was down to increased spending power. She explained: “In Bahrain we saw a sensible increase in spending; people seem to go out more and spend more, particularly in restaurants. The customers financial mood is more relaxed and positive. hence the increase in revenues. To give an idea, we sold in the range of more than 20kg of Italian trufiles recently and it‘s not stopping. ” This reflects in the surveys results where 25.7% said reduced consumer spending was a factor affecting their outlet. Oberoi Dubai executive chef Dirk l-laltenhof added his own spin, and attributed it to the kind ofingredients available. He said: “Thanks to the increase of restaurants in the high end segment. especially in five—star hotels and independent outlets. the growing knowledge and support by consumers towards sustainability in organic- grown F&B products and a high level ofservice knowledge, consumers are spending more on quality. There is a shift of quality in the market which supports the higher average cheques, and [foresee that this trend will continue. ” One chef who contributed to the survey agreed and said that guests are now “recognising quality and consistent product on offering with customer service” which is a great opportunity for restaurants that are looking to increase their popularity in the region. QUALITY BUYS Quality was a recurrent theme for the chefs — 75.4% said it was the most important contrib- uting factor to the success of their operation. THE CHEFS WHO RESPONDED. .. The Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey 2014 was open to head chefs, executive chefs, pastry chefs, and chef de cuisines across the region and out of the 134 who responded, 62.7% worked with multiple outlets in a hotel, 17.2% were chefs in a standalone outlet, 11.2% were in a single outlet in a hotel, while the remaining 8.9% were in mail» based QSR concepts. The vast majority of the respondents (82.8%) work in the UAE; the remaining participants are currently employed in Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, lraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Around 30% of the respondents work in all-day dining outlets, 9% worked in Mediterranean and Modern European venues, while other cuisines included French, German, ltalian, Arablc, Latin American, Mexican, Turkish, Greek, Indian/ Pakistani, Japanese, Steakhouse, Diner, Seafood, Tapas, and Cafe. 13.5% said they worked in cuisine concepts not listed. None of the respondents worked in Chinese restaurants. Out of these, 66.2% said they were chefs in casual dining outlets, while 24.6% worked in fine dining venues — perhaps reflecting the growing trend in the region to step away from the formal aspect of eating out Showing that retention in the region is working, nearly half the respondents (479%) have been with their company for between two and five years, with 10.2% of them having been loyal for more than 10 years. (‘tilvri-r litl(ll<‘ l". ;I. s'l /39 St-iiluiiilwr 20]-l
  3. 3. Spccial Report Ilt-zltl ('lic| '.'LII' L'_ ; '< l| ~l One said his/ her main focus as a head chef was “quality of produce and delivering exceptional offerings”. However. some mentioned the dif- ficulty in the supply chain, with one saying s/ he faced the challenge of a “weak supply chain and unavailability of produce". A head chef said: “If suppliers would be more consistent with the food supply, I would be able to do more for our guests", while another re- vealed s/ he needed a “standard supplier of qual- ity product and access to better new products from the world”. Other comments when asked what support was needed included: “providing an easier supplier/ purveyor process enabling a more fluid way of getting products I desire" and “better products availability and relationship with suppliers". St Tropez Bistro MOE head chef David Cagle commented: “I have only been out here over the past year—and—a—half and I have to say that getting a consistent standard of products can WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT FORTHE SUCCESS OFYOUR OPERATION? (SEIECTTHREE) _ 26.1% Price 56% Value for money ‘ — 75.4% Quality ingredients — 70.1% Good customer service ‘T 129% Innovative promotions 11.2% Interior design 40.3% Ongoing menu development 32.8% Location I V 14.9% Link to known brand (e. g. hotel, mall, celeb chef) iv - 13.1 40/ (‘: il«*n-rIitltI| i-Iiasl . s.-pi. -ml». -r2oi+ WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BIGGEST ISSUES AFFECTING YOUR OUTlET’S PERFORMANCE? (SEIECTTHREE) 59.4% 425% 326% ' 38-6% ' 227% ' 8.9% gs as as gs sg gg g in mg, :2 3 0.5 5% T ée 52 £5 E3 8 § zg ‘ea 02 be challenging. Trends don't seem to move the same way that they do in European markets, for example with the seasons. Most of all. price points for fruit and vegetables are particularly challenging Prices fluctuate often and the cost of importation can really impact your margin. " However, not all chefs think finding ingre- dients are a problem. Ultra Brasserie head chef Emily Herbert said that the situation is a lot better than it used to be a decade ago. She revealed that suppliers are more willing to work with restaurants on importing ingredients when requested, especially when other restaurants have the same needs. The Ivy Dubai head chef Ben Tobitt, who was named Caterer Middle East Head Chef of the Year — Independent Outlet 2014, said he first came to the region in 2009 for a year, and then worked for a year in the UK. He said: “When I came back for the second time in 2011, there had already been a massive change in terms of not just the quality but the range of products available. But it's obviously down to the chefs to always look out for new products. I know some restaurants can’t use pork. but we’ve just started using this brand called Dingley Dell, which is based in Suffolk in the UK. We're the first restaurant in the Middle East to use this product. so even if it isn't some- thing that‘s coming into the area at the moment, you can do it; you've just got to really work with suppliers and find someone who is prepared to receive the product to supply to you. ” Massetti said: “I can't agree more that quality ingredients are paramount in our business. A'—101 33.7% 25.7% V 10-9% 3.9% 9.9% 3.9% 5%’ E3 8% E3 gs 2'3 55 3% 35 °5 69 5'3 was 0.- : = Sun cm: I39- ga mg, <5 --.5 1: on as 2 352 8 O2 3 xi“ 8 as *- 5: EE = Lu: 1: .2 D Z Customers in the region in general are very well- educated and do understand quality; however I don‘t agree on the difiiculty on sourcing espe- cially in the past three to five years. Just go to the Gulfood Show and see [what's availablel. " She continued: “Bahrain for instance, is far more limited in that sense than the UAE, where the demand or market is larger hence is easier to find pretty much all you want, yet even here I get what I want. In fact the most common complaint ofsuppliers — when you know them well — is that there is not enough market for great products that carry a higher price tag. “What needs to be said here. and I lcnow it will be controversial, is that the limitations are dictated more from imposed unreasonable food costs and margins. hence chefs are confronted with the need of putting great products in the plate, to keep up with overgrowing competition, PAY RATES FOR STAFF MEMBERS AT OURYENUEARE GENEROUS: A -101 40.6% T 8.9% Disagree Strongly agree —— 15.8% 34.7% — Strongly Agree disagree V. . IlIIII‘Il| 'l'lIliIIIIl‘«‘1I<I. ('1rI lai-
  4. 4. Special Report Ilcad ClicfStin'cy 21 H4 DOESYOUR OUTLET SERVE HAMMOUR? As Caterer Middle East completely supports the cause of removing the endangered species of fish. hammour, from menus, we asked chefs whether their outlets served it or not. The results show that a majority do not offer the fish. One chef said: ‘'I have never used it, will never use it and refuse to eat it when out dining", while another added: “We banned this fish four years ago from our menus due to the over fishing situation. " We then asked the chefs. that if they had the fish on their menu. did they plan to remove it. or were they even aware of the issues surrounding using hammour? While some of the responses were heartening (“Yes we will discuss with top management" and “We will remove it from the menu from October 2014"), others shed light on the seriousness of the situation. Some simply replied: “No". while a couple said they were not aware of the concerns surrounding selling hammour. One chef said: “Yes I'm aware [ofthe problem]: I still continue to sell them because locally it's a very good fish and its sells. .. even if the price lS high. “ Another sounded resigned as s/ he said: "Easy to say yes but owners and locals simply do not accept it missing from the menu. " Quite a few agreed with the sentiment that the demand for hammour is high. and decided it was not worth it to take it off the restaurant offering. BEECH OVENS ' WON D l rx. T. + 61 7 3397 0277 i v 42 t'. .r. »i~. -i-iititiit-ic. ..i , 'i-plt-itiln-i"_lliH 27.7% YES 72.3% N0 N=101 but have to compromise in order to control costs. " PROCURING PROCESS But getting the actual products isn't a task chefs go at alone. Many said one oftheir biggest problems was interl'erence froin other depart- ments — especially finance, echoing what Massetti said on the issue of food costs and margins. From the data provided by I34 chefs. the av- erage food cost for 2013 was 27.9%. Last year, the average food cost was roughly the same. one chefrued the "bureaucratic pi. irchasiiig department". while another revealed s/ he thoroughly disliked “being managed by sales people with no interest in develop» ing a brand or providing a quality product but focus on cheap deals to score easy points”. A head chefbased in UAE said communication between staff members and departments within the operations is probably the “toughest" thing to do. but that it was “important to get everyone on the same page". Cagle agreed: “This is a relationship that you have to build over time and I have found the best way to tackle it is to bring the relevant departments together and show them your challenges so that they can better understand your situation and work as a team on all aspects ofthe business. Having an integrated relationship across departnienls with everyone working towards the same goals is really important. " Another chef revealed through the survey that what s/ he really needed was “finance stat? " which had a better understanding of what goes on in a kitchcnl". while another simply said that what was important was “owner em power- ment". One chefexplained s/ he wanted to have “freedom in chops» ing suppliers and products". T obitt told Caterer: “l‘m prob» ably, ifnot the lui: kiest one, one of them, in Jumeirah. because I have massive frecdoiii with the menu. In the very beginning. there was a lot ofinput from London and Jumeirah, and when I took over that went away. I do a lot of my own financial stuflanyway. I've been menu eiiglneeriiig, and I cast all my own menus; generally the tast— ings will be done between myself. Nicola Robinson and Chris Lester. I get a lot of freedom but I do understand from knowinga lot of chefs in Jumeirah what they used to go through. But it's a bigjumeirah thing now that they're handing the CHEFS WHO DISAGREE &STRONGlY DISAGREE WITH THE STATEMENT, “THE F&B INDUSTRY IS IN GREAT SHAPE”: - — 42-9% — T 36.5% 2 T 18.2% 2 e 24% - T I5.8% iii llllll'All fIlll(l'lt‘r . i~l lrilll '-li
  5. 5. Spccial Report Ilt-ad ('Iie| '.‘uI«; _ ; '< llvl outlets over to the GM and the head chef a lot more so they're going to have that freedom now. But I can certainly see how chefs in other big companies would prefer to be left to it; obviously I can't comment on how other companies run things. " The Ivy Dubai general manager Nicola Robinson said: “It's very much case-by-case dependent on the success of the business that you're dealing with. But ultimately there has to be a balance between creativity and remuneration. The one thing that managers understand. especially upper-level management, is budget. And what we understand as operators is creativity. There has to be a happy marriage of the two to create a successful business. And not just a great restaurant product. It's about balance. You have to give a chef the creative freedom to make the most alluring dishes. But if there is no stringent structure in which to work. you might as well not bother opening the door. " THE HUNGER GAMES In addition to financial consider- ations, chefs have to concern them- selves with what’s going on outside of their outlets. This year saw a new entrant in response to the question ‘What are the biggest issues affect- ing outlet performance — and that was ‘increased competition’. WHAT DO YOU THINK ISTHE IMPACT OFTECHNOIOGICAL INNOVATION IN THE KITCHEN? (SEIECTAlLTHATAPPLY) fl — 101 60.4% It improves kitchen efficiency 5% It lowers the quality of cuisine 6.9% It allows chefs to be lazier 34.7% It raises the quality of cuisine 34.7% It means young chefs now lack basic skills I ‘H-- II 44/ <‘; ii. »i~. -rlultiI. -lens: s. ~pi. -mu-r2ni+ mm. h.»| vlwnimlxllwiiel. mn lai-
  6. 6. Special Report Head Chef Sur'e_' 2()l4 AVERAGE SPEND PER HEAD (IN US DOLLARS) IN 2013? 4.5% 8.2% 18% : 20.9% — 11.2% T 13.4% 9% 2.2% 4.4% 1.5% 1.5% 5.2% 2 n 8 3. WHAT PERCENTAGE OFYOUR RESERVATIONS COMETHROUGH E—BOOK| NG CHANNELS? with the rise of social media usage, and the internet being the go-to place for information about restuarants, we asked the chefs how much of a role does the World Wide Web play in placing ‘bums on seats’. Nearly 26% said 1—10% of reservations come through their own website, and 25% said the same amount comes through third—party websites. Third party websites are now showing an increase in usage by restaurants from last year. when 26% said they didn't use third-party websites. and only 20% got some reservations from them. This year we asked about reservations through social media, and 27% said they got at least 1-10% reservations through social media like Twitter and Facebook. Our resident social media and digital expert Martin Kubler, director of iconsulthotels, said it 46/ (‘alt-rt-rliL| d|i-Iiasi . ‘cpli-nibcrfllll-T “ PRICE POINTS FOR FR UITAND VEGETABLES AREPARTICULARLY CHALLENGING. PRICES FL UCTUATE OFTEN AND THE COST OF IMPOR TATION CAN REALLYIMPACT YOUR MARGIN ” - Duvizl Cugle Nearly half the chefs (47.8%) picked this op- tion. Additionally, when the chefs were asked what they thought were the biggest challenges they would face over the next 12 months most simply said "competition”. while others added “lots ofcompetition in the market". Cagle agreed and said: “New entrants are definitely a constant threat and Dubai customers have a very explorative nature. New restaurants often find themselves the ‘flavour of the month’ and we've seen some very creative marketing campaigns generating hype across the city but ultimately it’s the restaurants that can perform consistently — on product and service long-term that stand the test of time. " Tobitt said: “I was one of those who thought that the amount of F&B coming into the region was definitely affecting performance. A big thing in Dubai is that people are looking for the next new thing. Whereas not necessarily has definitely been interesting to see the increase in ‘social’ restaurant bookings, but perhaps not surprising. He said: “With every year, social media usage is becoming more main stream and more and more people use social media as their preferred communication channel to accomplish everyday tasks. “Add to that the steady growth in mobile Internet access and the increasing trend to do things ‘right here, right now’. and the increase in social restaurant bookings and inquiries is even less surprising. Mobile users in the UAE are very keen to download and use the latest mobile apps, which make finding out about restaurants and making bookings very easy. " He continued: “Lastly. and especially in a multi-cultural environment like Dubai, I find that many people prefer to use social media or online booking apps to make restaurant reservations, because it avoids communication and language problems when calling a restaurant, and you get an instant confirmation. " just in the UK but in other parts of the world, people will have their favourite restaurants and frequent them. In Dubai people tend to lean more tovmrds wanting to move on to the next new exciting funky thing or whatever. I don't think this is something that will change, this is something that will keep happening just because of the mind—set of people in Dubai. “You need to forever keep on top of it, you need to be coming up with new ideas all the time which is something that. to be honest, we try to do here anyway. You look at the announcements of the new Dubai World Mall and all this sort of thing, this is going to increase it even more, so you need to get on top of your game. “ Chefs who responded to the survey are aware of this. with many saying “attracting footfall" and “getting diners into patronise the outlets we have” are challenges that have to be met. STAYING ON TOP With the increased number of outlets entering the region, whether home-grown restaurants or international franchises/ brands, it's only fair to assume the F&B industry here is doing well. To corroborate that assumption, we showed chefs the statement “The F&B industry in the region is in great shape” and asked them to ‘strongly disagree‘. ‘disagree’. ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree‘ with it. This year, the percentage of chefs who strongly disagree or disagree with that statement is at its lowest (15.8%). Kubler added that this trend will increase further, especially with developments in social media websites matching this state of affairs. He reveals his reasoning: "Facebook recently added the ability to upload menus to local restaurant, café, and hotel business pages — a move that was mirrored by review sites like YaDig. com. Foursquare has transformed itself from a ‘check in’ app into a social recommendation engine, and existing online booking stalwarts such as Foodonclick or Roundmenu have streamlined and expanded their websites. ” StTropez Bistro MOE head chef David Cagle said: “We have found that various social media platforms have driven a significant footfall to our newly opened restaurant, through visual enticements (food and interior photos) and awareness of varied promotions. In a region that remains highly engaged with social media platforms, we have also found that our guests are also great in spreading our word through their own postings that are read by their cohort. " 1Wl'. T‘l0li‘IT(‘l'llIIlllTI(‘(‘i|5I Toni, ‘I8.-Ii
  7. 7. Spccial Report llcatl Cht~fStin'c_‘ 2( H4 21.4% Respondents who speakArabic 64.9% RESPONDENT CHEFS WHO HAVE A DIPLOMA 40 Number of years one of the participants has been working in the F&B industry 26 Ae ofthe ounes 3.1% Female chefs in the survey 58.4% Chefs who do not belong to a professional trade body 48, (‘; ilr'i'i-i' [ii| i|li~ | i.i>l . 'i'pti-iiilwr 2111+ mm hirli']lI'l'Illl| i”i‘. |<| .‘irill lt‘h
  8. 8. CELEB CULTURE Last year 2675 of the respondents said the link to a known hotel brand or mail or celeb chef was iinponant for an l&B outlet This year. only 15% said the same Why vtlien the region is seeing a lot more “colcbs“ or "brands" enter the region, do chefs tlecrcasingly think that this isn‘t what i, ‘Ulllf’llJlllL’S to the success of an l&B operation’? Gates Hospitality CEO Naiin Maadad said: ‘‘I lot of chefs perceive brands as a threat. As most chefs are not commercially trained on running a business. they do not see the benefit of all other components a brand can potentially bnngto the table. However. brands can impose a lot of restrictions and may limit flair. and may liinit the tlcvclopinrziit of a talitntcti chat by focusing on brand ethos rather than the chefs ncctls" The Oberoi Dubai executive chef Dirk Haltenhofsaitr ‘‘I believe that Dubai residents are increasingly more concerned with innovative culinary trends, rather than the celebrity behind it In my opinion. better‘ concepts, combined with great quality food and excellent service will receive El better response than celebrities. " in addition, we also asked them if the Middle East has attained the status of an international culinary hub. 64.3% said it had, vi'hile 35.7% indicated no. Those who agreed it was a foodie hotspot said “its accessibility to the world made it a food hub". and many said tourism was an important factor in elevating the status of the region in the F&B stakes. In addition, the range of cuisines available across the region was cited often. People in the region were heralded as assets in putting the Middle East on the culinary map, with one chef saying: “More and more hotels/ res- taurants are sourcing the proper skilled people, therefore the competition is high and chefs are producing better quality items. ” Another said: “I have been working in Australia, USA, France and I believe that we have more skilled people in the Middle East than other countries and their loyalty is much higher. “ However. not all were impressed. Some said there are “too many imported brands, nothing really new and innovative". while others said change will come over the next few years (90.1% said the region will attain the status of a culinary hub in the next five years as compared to 78.8% last year). Special Report I | i:; iil ( ‘lii; l'. iiiti Zfill l ’ ’ IN BA HRA IN WE SAW A SENSIBLE INCREASE IN SPENDING; PEOPLE SEEM TO GO OUTMORE A ND SPENI) MORE, PARTICULARLYIN RESTAURANTS. THE CUSTOMER ’S FINA NCIA L M001) IS MORE RELAXED AND POSITIVE. " ‘ Susy Masselli One chef said the region is still not in the Mi- chelin-star category. and another said innovation was absent. “New outlets are just copies of the same concepts existing whether here or in other countries. “ Another agreed: “Key cities from Eu- rope, Asia and the US are far better off. We most of the time make a copy of the trend setters. " it does seem to be the case, overall. that there is an upbeat mood in the industry at present. Challenges have been clearly identified, and Caterer Middle East is looking forward to seeing solutions to these concerns charted out, ifnot implemented, by the time the next Head Chef Survey comes around. 0 now AVNLAELE AT shopme. ae E . Omar-ire one Step Clilirie Shop rm Caltee Sriluudn MASSIMO ZANETTI BEVERAGE GROUP . I33 lllllll lllll Wllll[SS llS Elllllllllli I NEW lllll “-i/ . ..a li'4lVll‘AlI hotel xiii > Pp. Box 74044 Dubai. United Arab eminius nl: [9S71] 4 2323742. FIx: [4>El71] 4 2a2e74a- inio. i:maeitaoncaiama. uowww. boncaieme. ae Cuitrumiied Bavzrlgas 5. Machine Plcklgesu aristia Training Ifieverigz Menu Development Iseririce Contracts .24 Hnurs Service Support thermoplqn l2l'll| llESSll 1: ill in H(IillI Vitcimix [Q GRINDMASYER 70”, .(, ,zI .41 Pp. ROBAND -3.. ..” . . .5» HALL 6 - STAND CI40 18th - 30th Se tember ZOI4 DUBAI WORLD DE CENTRE l hiilvlii-riiiiililliit-. i~I tum t| i . 'i1ili'liI| ir‘l"_‘l| l-l (': ili'I‘i‘rlILltllt‘l. :I>l /49

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