Kitchen and bar designs not given due importance.
Chefs and bar managers have called out designers for not being able to create a kitchen or bar to required specifications. During discussions at the Bar & Nightlife and Chef & Ingredients advisory panels, the experts separately raised the issue and the challenges faced.
Whissle Group ex-group beverage manager Thomas Gillgren said: "A lot of bars are over-designed by designers who don't know what they're doing. Here we have a few companies who deal with it, but they don't fully understand the beverage industry as such, and build a bar. They don't understand the operational workflow and that affects the service as well."
Echoing this, Utopia group beverage director Angus McGregor said: "When it comes to designing bars, we do it individually by talking to the company but there are no specialists here who can do that. Kitchen design is sorted, but where is the profit coming from? Profit comes 50% from beverage in most places, but nobody wants to talk about it because it's alcohol."
He added: "A lot of people think beverage is simple, put some shelves, couple of beer taps and you're done."
Fling Bar Services bar manager consultant Andrew Mullins added that it could also be a consequence of not having very many independent bars in the region. He said: "Because you don't have standalone bars, the kitchen design company will say 'we design bars everywhere'."
Gillgren continued: "You have to be on your knees, on the floor, measure everything- and they forget. They use standard measures."
The chefs, meanwhile, said it's important to get involved as soon as possible. Maxime Le Van, head chef, Boca revealed: "It depends on what stage you get involved. The company will come up with the plan, then the chefs will review the plan. It's all about double checking."
However, sometimes chefs don't come on- board as soon as they'd like. Executive chef of St Regis Saadiyat Island, Malcolm Webster said his previous kitchen felt like it was designed by someone who has "never worked in a hotel kitchen before". He explained: "If a chef is involved it's always much better. The kitchen is good, but did they waste a lot of the owner's money? Yes. Could I have saved the owner some money? Probably, yes."
He continued: "Hotels are designed without an operational team at that stage- an operational team then comes in with different ideas, and by then the plans are already outdated.
"When you're a kitchen consultant, it's probably easier to design a kitchen with a bratt pan rather than a pressure bratt pan because it'll get assigned straightaway. You don't have to educate an owner's representative on why a pressure bratt pan is better. Yes it's going to cost you X amount of thousand dirhams more, but it's multi-functional. It's efficient, it's energy-saving. A bratt pan is cheaper, it's easier to sign off, you don't have to redesign, do any more work, you don't have to explain the benefits. So owners need to be educated about this."
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