One year wiser?

People always talk about the Middle East as an up-and-coming culinary destination; a place where food takes centre stage and the service is the best in the world.

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By  Laura Barnes Published  October 26, 2006

One year wiser?|~||~||~|People always talk about the Middle East as an up-and-coming culinary destination; a place where food takes centre stage and the service is the best in the world. I have lived in Dubai for two years now and have worked on Caterer since its inception one year ago this month (Happy Birthday Caterer!). I believe the magazine has come a long way, however, can the catering industry say the same? Chefs are doing an amazing job at making the globe sit up and take note about what is happening here. Faced with Municipality bans on different food items, they are still able to turn out dishes that would shame some of the top chefs in London. Suppliers likewise are doing more to support the industry. Even two years ago the amount of produce on offer was limited. Now, there are an increasing number of specialty suppliers offering niche foods from across the globe, as this month’s cover interview with chef Max reveals (see page 10). Not only that, but governments worldwide are looking to the region to promote their products, none more so than the Welsh Assembly, which has worked alongside the UAE authorities to get the ban on Welsh lamb lifted. Sterling work on behalf of suppliers and chefs, but diners are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes. For them, the front of house gives them their lasting impression. And this is where the industry fails to live up to its standards. Having recently visited some five-star restaurants, I expected nothing but the best service. But how wrong could I be? Two particular incidences spring to mind. The maitre’d at one steakhouse was rude and abrasive, and the second experience was even more inexcusable. In a bid to treat my parents to a meal at arguably one of Dubai’s best restaurants, when it came to after dinner drinks the waiter poured my father’s whiskey into the wrong glass. When I suggested he change the glass, he simply poured the drink into the right glass in front of us. Under no circumstances is this acceptable, and what would have been a perfect evening ended on a bad note. But not all outlets are perpetrators of this crime. One restaurant we visited could not do enough for my parents and I, and at the end of the evening, we were shown around the wine cellar and the restaurant. This was genuine service that should not be left unmentioned. It is just a shame that other restaurants do not take a leaf out of their book. What are your comments on this? How are you trying to increase service levels, and who is to blame when something does goes wrong? E-mail me your comments.||**||

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