Middle East Caterer Conference

By Lindsay Trivers May, 18 2018

As the Middle East restaurant and food industry continues to expand and develop, the Caterer Middle East: Food & Business Conference grows each year alongside it. On the 6th March 2018, Caterer Middle East will once again host an all-encompassing food and business conference that attracts more than 150 industry leaders to this one-stop source for the latest trends, innovations and analysis needed to succeed in today’s ever growing F&B market.


The seventh annual Caterer Middle East: Food & Business Conference will combine all areas across the F&B arena – the business of food, the kitchen and also bar and nightlife – and will offer a high-level strategic debate on these areas and more in this one-day event. Reflecting the united nature of the F&B industry here in the Middle East to put the region on the culinary map, the conference will see more than 150 owners, F&B directors, chefs and general managers that will all come together to inspire and learn from each other. This will offer an efficient and productive day for all those who will be involved and will address the hottest topics in the culinary arena.


The Caterer Middle East: Food & Business Conference attracts the best of the region’s culinary community. Attendance is by invitation only and represents the decision makers across the hotel and independent restaurant and food outlet industry.

As such, it is an ideal place for sponsors to position their brand, meet potential customers and existing clients. To ensure sponsors receive the maximum return from their investment, sponsorship opportunities are limited.



Devina Divecha is the Group Editor of ITP Business’ Hospitality Group and editor of Hotelier Middle East. The Hospitality Group includes: Hotelier Middle East, a B2B magazine for the Middle East hotelier industry; and, Caterer Middle East, a trade publication for the F&B industry in the Middle East. Prior to her current role, Divecha was the editor of Caterer Middle East, and has written for a number of other magazines under ITP Media Group since April 2011, covering sectors such as interior design, architecture and facilities management. Previously a respected food blogger in Dubai, where she has lived since 1989, Divecha retains a significant online following and is also routinely ranked among the top 100 non-resident Indians on social media. She holds a BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and an MA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.


Stefan Breg is Group Strategy Director at Keane Brands providing the lead on strategic F&B consulting, masterplanning and concept development for Keane’s studios In London, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. He was previously Senior Director of F&B at Marriott for Middle East & Africa based in Dubai; with more than 1,200 F&B venues and $1 billion+ revenue and leading a team managing a pipeline of 200 openings and renovations. Breg has more than 250 F&B concepts to his name and brought brands such as Buddha Bar, Hakkasan, Pierre Gagnaire and Embassy to the Middle East. His previous positions include 10 years as founder/CEO of TRIBE: one of the most successful F&B strategy houses in the Middle East with extensive work on malls such as Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall. He has also worked with IHG in South East Asia, Hilton Europe and E&Y Consulting. He is a regular speaker on industry trends, and a Visiting Professor at Emirates Academy.


Sascha Triemer, Vice President, Food & Beverage, for Atlantis, The Palm has led an outstanding and diverse career working in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, where he has been responsible for restaurants in various hotels and resorts. Triemer joined Atlantis, The Palm in 2008 as Executive Chef and was promoted to Vice President of Culinary in 2013 where he oversaw a team of 480 chefs and 23 F&B outlets at Atlantis, including the celebrity chef outposts Nobu Dubai, Ronda Locatelli and Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay. In 2017, he was promoted to Vice President of Food & Beverage where he now oversees the entire F&B operations of Atlantis, The Palm, and drives the creation and development of new F&B projects for the resort. Triemer began his culinary journey working with several hotels in Europe including the Hilton Munich Park Hotel, The Palace Hotel in Meran, Italy and The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane in London. Between 2001 and 2006, Triemer worked at the Burj Al Arab Dubai, first as a Sous Chef before moving up to Executive Sous Chef, where he was in charge of overseeing five restaurants and the main kitchen operation. Between 2007 and 2008, Triemer served as the Executive Sous Chef for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur where he was responsible for running the day to day operations of 160 chefs, 6 restaurants and the main kitchen. He was also responsible for the banqueting operation which had a 2,000 person capacity as well as the training and development of staff in the culinary division. Triemer then came back to Dubai in 2008 as Executive Chef for Atlantis, The Palm’s preopening. Since the opening of Triemer has overseen the implementation and opening of new restaurants including TBJ (The Burger Joint), Asia Republic, Asateer (the Ramadan Tent), the Imperial Club Lounge, the Food Court at Aquaventure Waterpark (which features 6 dining concepts) and Yuan, the ultra-modern Chinese Restaurant and Shawafel, the Lebanese fast food concept in The Avenues. Triemer, a German national, has received several accolades and awards over the span of his career including several gold awards from the Emirates International Salon Culinary Dubai.


Russell Scott is the newly appointed Vice President of Food & Beverage for AccorHotels’ Luxury Brands in the Middle East. He brings more than three decades of hospitality experience spanning across Europe and the Middle East within leading global companies including Jumeirah Restaurant Group, Terra Firma, Scottish & Newcastle and M.H Alshaya Co. AccorHotels’ luxury & upper upscale portfolio includes the Raffles, Sofitel, Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel, Fairmont, MGallery, Pullman, Swissôtel and Grand Mercure brands. In his role, Scott will focus on creating synergies across the Luxury Brands in order to capitalise and leverage marketing, communications, loyalty, design and technical services. Having most recently spearheaded, as Managing Director, a pioneering approach to take a large portfolio of restaurants out of the direct hotel management to form an independent commercial restaurant company; Scott’s experience leaves him in an unrivalled position to navigate AccorHotels’ luxury portfolio of brands in their next food and beverage chapter. With his vast proficiency in the GCC market, Scott will blend global brand knowledge with local market intricacies to ensure an integrated approach which remains true to each unique luxury brand. Regionally, Scott’s ability to lead, mentor and build teams in order to drive performance is well known and something which he first recognised as a key skill early on in his career playing rugby at a competitive level in the UK. Subsequently, he has led teams over the years to win prestigious accolades across the globe including Restaurant of the Year, Best New Concept, Chef of the Year, Bar Team of the Year and Best Design. Scott holds a degree in Corporate Finance from London Business School, UK and is based in Dubai.


Lindsay Trivers is on a mission to improve wine culture in the Middle East. As Founder of The Tasting Class, she and her team facilitate interactive wine and beer education, training and events to consumers and hospitality professionals alike. She is also an approved WSET educator and facilitates internationally recognised wine and spirit qualifications on behalf of The Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Her background includes more than a decade working in various sectors of the wine and hospitality trade on five continents.


Hailing from Singapore, Akmal Anuar is a testament that with passion, attention to detail and a die-hard daringness to challenge the status quo – one can build a legacy. With 16 years of international culinary experience, Anuar is the Chef and Founder of 3 Fils restaurant, a modern Asian restaurant with Japanese influence on Jumeirah Road, Dubai. Having already clinched its second award in its first year of opening – Best New Comer at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2017 in the Casual Dining category, and Winner of New Indie Restaurant in the 2017 What’s On Awards – both 3 Fils and Anuar show no sign of slowing down. No stranger to both domestic and international recognition of his culinary craft, Anuar has held the reins at multiple award-winning establishments including Zengo in Dubai as well as Iggy’s in Singapore. Under his helm as Head Chef at Iggy’s, the restaurant consistently held its position amongst the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants from 2009 to 2012 (Asia’s No.1 Restaurant in 2012) as well as ranked ‘Asia’s No.1 Restaurant’ from 2009 to 2012 in the Miele Guide. Other accomplishments also include cooking for noteworthy individuals such as the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Tony Blair as well as chef collaborations with internationally renowned Chefs Andoni Luis Aduriz (No. 3 Chef in the World) and Massimo Bottura (Chef Patron of Osteria Francescana, the three-Michelin-star and No. 1 ranked restaurant in the World’s 50 Best in 2016). A culinary force to be reckoned with, Anuar has also been recognised as the No. 4 chef in the world by the San Pellegrino Rising Chef Cooking Cup in Venice (2009) and bronze medallist holder at the Hotelympia Salon Culinaire in London (2016). A chef, owner and continuous learner, Anuar is an advocate of inspiring and educating others about his passion. Whilst not cooking or competing, Anuar regularly conducts live demonstrations and talks around the world to an international audience. Events that he has spoken at include the San Sebastian Gastronomika Convention in Spain (2011) and Baba Bling Peranakan Exhibition in Paris (2009).


Sanjay Murthy has owned and operated branding and design agencies in several major cities across the globe since 1994 with clients including major international brands such as Adidas, Taylor Made Golf, Salomon and DELL. He has travelled extensively throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia to broaden his international knowledge and for the past 10 years has worked across various divisions in the MENA design and marketing industry. Specialising in food branding Murthy, with his company Figjam, create specialist F&B branding solutions for restaurants and other food business by unifying branding, interior design, culinary skills and operational design. Figjam is a Dubai based food branding agency specialising in integrating the fundamental disciplines required to create high quality food brands. We operate through collaboration of product development chefs, interior and branding creatives, research strategists and design managers, all in house and working with a common goal to create brands that form emotional connections with their customers. Figjam’s services include brand strategy and market research, brand identity creation, product planning and development, graphic design, architecture and interior design. As a specialist agency catering exclusively to the F&B market our talented teams are both knowledgeable of, and passionate about the food industry, giving Figjam an all round understanding of the inner workings, mechanics and dynamics of the hospitality trade. Figjam’s development process delivers imaginative, functional and profitable food brands with a clear purpose that is carried throughout, from the colours of the uniform to the recipes and plating style and the look and feel to the staff behaviour.


Phil Broad is Vice President of Food and Beverages at Alghanim Industries, where he is responsible for Wendy’s Middle East. Phil has overseen the refurbishment and opening of Wendy’s restaurants and is excited to be planning the roll out of the Wendy’s brand across the region. Prior to Broad’s role at Alghanim Industries, he joined the Intercontinental Hotels Group in AMEA as VP of Food and Beverage, and oversaw the opening of 236+ hotels in 40 countries and more than 200 restaurants and bars. Broad worked across six of the company’s hotel brands, these include InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Indigo. From April 2009 Broad was Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC where he was tasked to set up and license innovative and successful casual restaurant concepts both locally and internationally. In the years prior to his move to Asia and the Middle East, his role as Director in the UK and Ireland for a range of global brands includes working with Starbucks Coffee, T.G.I Friday’s, Tesco and Pizza Hut UK. On top of these, Broad has also owned and operated his own restaurant company in the UK between 2000 and 2006.


A highly experienced General Manager in the field of retail, hospitality and leisure, Emma Banks boasts an immense amount of experience in the running of high volume bars, clubs, casual dining concepts, QSR, food retail and fine dining. As the General Manager of Jumeirah Restaurant Group, Banks currently oversees more than 30 existing food & beverage venues and international franchises across the board, from operations to development, and is responsible for new concept development and execution. As the corporate lead for food & beverage operations within the Jumeirah Group, Banks is the driving force behind the continual innovation, success and development of the Group’s world class F&B concepts and brands. With a specialty in business turnaround developed over an extensive career with numerous high profile brands throughout the UK and GCC, Banks has a successful record across operations, marketing, finance, HR and training. Instrumental in the growth and success of companies such as Spirit Group, Scotland’s G1 Group PLC and MH Alshaya Co. in Kuwait, she moved to Dubai in 2013 to join the Jumeirah Restaurant Group as Operations Director. Responsible for overseeing leading Dubai venues including PierChic, The Agency and The Noodle House, Bank’s industry knowledge and flair for brand concept development also saw the great success of new concepts including Perry & Blackwelder’s and The Hide. Tasked with the key responsibilities of achieving streamlined Jumeirah service standards and raising the profile of these world class restaurants, her strong business acumen and quick comprehension of shifts in the local market has seen several of Jumeirah Restaurant Group’s venues gain recognition through industry awards and accolades. This record of successful venue launches and operations led to Banks’ promotion to General Manager of Jumeirah Restaurant Group in July 2016. Here she has continued to oversee all operations management, with a focus on improved productivity, business development and auditing. As GM Banks has delivered a significant turnaround in performance throughout the Group and greatly improved brand productivity in her first six months in the role. The implementation of a revised group-wide strategy and updated internal policies and procedures has seen the streamlining of service standards and increased efficiency, with structured supply lines also contributing to a 10% reduction of costs across the Group.


Commercial developer, serial gastropreneur and all-around tastemaker, Joey Ghazal has developed dozens of popular restaurant and bar concepts across two continents. In 2015, the gastropreneur founded The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill at the DoubleTree Hilton JBR, Dubai’s first homegrown New England seaside brasserie. He also recently launched BARBARY Deli & Cocktail Club at the TRYP by Wyndham in Barsha Heights, transforming an undesirable location into a landmark dining experience. Born in Montreal and raised in Dubai, Ghazal’s love for the restaurant business started at the young age of 18 and has endured for more than 20 years. He combines the most sought after talent to create some of the most compelling and sustainable brands in the industry. His multidisciplinary approach has helped him in creating timeless and immersive experiences that always resonate with a sense of event and celebration. In 2018, Ghazal looks forward to growing the licensed premium casual brasserie category in the UAE and tip the regional market towards mid-market and value-driven propositions. He aims to continue encouraging more young entrepreneurs to create home-grown concepts of their own in a market that is currently flooded with high-end international franchises and celebrity chef imports.


With more than 28 years in the hospitality world across Australia, Asia and the Middle East in various senior management roles, Naim Maadad launched and operated some of the world’s best hotels, resorts, spas and lifestyle food & beverage concepts. His career has exposed him to some of the best properties around the world and Maadad was fortunate to partake and orchestrate several amazing openings and operations. Covering a wide spectrum of positions within senior leadership, including the role of Managing Director for both Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and The Anantara Group respectively. During his time with these exclusive properties, Maadad was instrumental in nurturing sound relationships with owners, securing the best possible locations, negotiating and formalising contractual agreements, and appointing teams to infuse and reflect the ethos of the brands. Based in the Middle East for the past 18 years, he has witnessed tremendous industry growth, gained a deep cultural understanding and has been endorsed by principals and organisations alike. In 2012, Maadad established Gates Hospitality – a homegrown hospitality company representing handpicked concepts catering for the affluent life-stylers. Gates Hospitality is the parent company of well-known homegrown brands such as; Ultra Brasserie, the internationally acclaimed concept Reform Social & Grill Dubai; Folly by Nick & Scott, as well as Publique, Dubai’s premier ‘Après Ski Chalet’, The Black Lion, Bistro Des Arts, Via Veneto Osteria e Cucina and ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay. Continuing the successful growth of Gates Hospitality’s portfolio, Red Farm – the first global foray for the group outside of the Middle East is due to launch in early 2018 in Covent Garden, London, U.K.


Mirzo Hafizov is the Director of Operations for Bulldozer Group Middle East, overseeing the activities of successful hospitality and F&B destinations in the region. With more than 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Hafizov has gained a deep understanding of each aspect of the business, from day to day operations to the planning and development of new venues. Since moving to Dubai in 2008, Hafizov has worked across some of the most respected names in the Middle East hospitality industry, and gained valuable experience through management positions at Jumeirah Group and InterContinental Hotels Group. His passion for high quality F&B and customer service has motivated him to raise standards across each company he has worked for, motivating staff and implementing innovative strategies for success. Hafizov joined Bulldozer Group in 2016, as Director of Operations for renowned F&B and nightlife concepts including, Sass Café and Novikov Dubai, and the openings of Downtown Toko, Eshak and Cipriani DIFC. His current responsibilities include the opening of Crab Market, DIFC’s latest seafood dining destination.


Born in Montreal and raised in Jamaica, Simon Lazarus graduated from both the Culinary Arts & the Hospitality Management programmes at Vancouver Island University. After graduation, he worked with Coast Hotels, Wyndham hotels and independent restaurants in multiple junior management roles until joining Hilton where he became an Apprentice Chef with Hilton Toronto in 1993. Moving up through the ranks working in flagship Hilton properties in Zurich, London, the Bahamas and Amsterdam, he became Executive Chef in seven years. During his time as Executive Chef, he joined the Hilton European Area F&B team, and later became Area Director of F&B for the UK and Ireland. After a successful stint in the UK & Ireland, Lazarus was chosen to start a new F&B region for the Middle East and Africa based in Dubai. In 2012, he was promoted to Vice President of Middle East and Africa, and in 2014, tasked to take over the European F&B operations in addition to the Middle East and Africa. Simon formed strategy and lead F&B operations for more than 380 hotels in more than 70 countries across EMEA with a further 250+ hotels in the pipeline or under construction. At last count, Lazarus lead 23,000 team members, and operated more than 600 restaurants and 500 bars plus hundreds of thousands of square feet of banqueting and conference space. He was also responsible for opening more than 100 hotels during his Hilton career. After 11 years of long haul travel, Lazarus decided to hang up his traveling shoes, and to settle and focus his passion for improving F&B in the UAE and Gulf markets. He opened his own company – F&B Business Solutions FZ LLC (powered by Barmetrix) based in Dubai at the beginning of 2017. F&B Business Solutions was formed to fill a market need and help bars and restaurants achieve optimal profitability and service levels in a highly competitive and dynamic market such as the Middle East. Partnering with Barmetrix, F&B Business Solutions compliments its suite of tried and proven tools and methodology to help restaurants and bars to reduce costs and increase revenues to achieve maximum efficiency and service.


Sarah is the Co-Founder and CEO of serVme, a data focused CRM platform that improves restaurant operations and delivers superior guest experience. By accessing and using data, venues can better understand their customers, deliver superior service, and create unique experiences. The platform integrates with key systems and aggregates real-time analytics to provide restaurateurs with greater insights to optimise operations and identifies guests’ habits and preferences. serVme’s focus is to measurably drive increased average spend and footfall, meanwhile reducing operational inefficiencies. Prior to launching serVme in 2015, Hawilo spent five years working at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) servicing the Digital Business and Technology practice in the Middle East, where she worked on several digital and IT projects related to business intelligence, big data, and analytics. Hawilo was selected as one of 18 women globally for the Cartier Women Initiative Awards, an international business competition in partnership by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD Business School, acknowledging her for the business plan and a leading entrepreneur for the MENA region. Hawilo collaborates with many organisations in Dubai and Beirut that support and promote women entrepreneurs especially across the tech industry. Hawilo enjoys traveling and is an avid food lover.


Tahir Shah is the Founder of Moti Roti, Pakistani Soul Kitchen, and The Food Founder, mentoring and consulting for the UAE F&B start-up community. Born in Doncaster to Pakistani parents, he graduated from Hertfordshire University and spent 10 years working in I.T. at Nokia. After moving to Dubai, lamenting the lack of quality quick food options for office workers, he started up Moti Roti, a fast casual Pakistani concept inspired by Chipotle in the United States, starting as small pop-ups around Dubai. Moti Roti went on to become one of the first food trucks in the UAE, before opening as a deliveries outlet in 2017. Shah has written a well-known blog, Starting A Food Biz In Dubai, charting his entrepreneur journey, which has been widely read in the community and has been helpful to many existing small business and food truck owners. He is also a prolific speaker, invited frequently to speak on behalf of F&B entrepreneurs at forums in the UAE. He is also the founder of #fillingtheblues, a co-op of Dubai indie restaurants and bloggers to provide iftars to labourers during Ramadan. Shah has received recognition, receiving nominations for ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2016 at the Gulf Capital SME Awards; ‘Best Food Truck’ for Moti Roti at the BBC Good Food Awards 2016; was runner-up for the ‘Best Food Truck’ for Moti Roti at the What’s On Awards in 2016; and was part of the Caterer Middle East Power 50 List in 2015.


John Buenaventura is the CEO and Culinary Director of Cuisinero Uno. A passionate and talented Chef/Restaurateur, he started his career when he was 17 years old going to culinary school in the Philippines, before completing a Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship in the Food Industry. Soon after, he opened his first restaurant, which unfortunately failed. Buenaventura understands now that he was too young and naïve for such an undertaking at the time and went on to hold a number of positions in Manila before moving to the UAE in 2007 as a Commis at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City, after which he moved to the Four Seasons Explorer in the Maldives. One year later, the young chef moved to Raffles Dubai and then the Monte Carlo Group. After a brief stint at Fairmont the Palm, he moved to Seafire Steakhouse and Bar at Atlantis, The Palm as Chef de Cuisine. In July 2016, he decided he was ready to go out on his own and resigned from his position at Seafire with encouragement from his mentors and peers. After a tough year trying to get Cuisinero Uno off the ground, the distinctive concept serving “Dubai food” as Buenaventura has dubbed it, finally launched in September 2017. Buenaventura has future plans to build further on his brand with Cuisinero Uno the first installment in a three-restaurant project and Cuisinero Dos and Tres soon to follow.


Necip Camcigil grew up in Dubai until the age of 14 when he went to boarding school and later University in the UK, ending up with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business Management. Upon his return to Dubai in 2005, he worked for nine years in brand management for multinational FMCG and Pharmaceutical companies such as Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Boehringer Ingelheim. In late 2014, Camcigil left the corporate world to pursue his dream of “doing his own thing”, and it wasn’t until March 2016 that this became a reality with the launch of One Life Kitchen & Café in Dubai Design District (d3), a concept he had conceived and has been managing ever since. One Life is a self and family financed concept known for its very casual ambiance. Camcigil takes pride in aspiring to minimise the use of processed ingredients in order to serve up what he describes simply as “good food”.


Sophia Sleiman, a certified Food Scientist & Personal Trainer is the mind behind Mantoushe. She started her career in venture capital after graduating from the American University of Beirut. In her time spent in VC she used her scientific background to delve into the details of the concept and properly assess the potential of the investment. She noticed a gap in the market for a Lebanese fast-casual concept that incorporated the benefits of quality and fresh cooking with the speed that our fast-paced world demands. From that arose Mantoushe; a Lebanese fusion restaurant which prides itself on serving only real food. Food that is freshly baked, chopped and grilled to order in an open kitchen every day making sure that every bite is delicious. The secret to its success has been in its flavours; a unique fusion of different cuisines and a new take on the classics that keep your palette excited! Mantoushe is the home of the steakmous, the falafaguac, the mezza wrap and the sriracha hommos, to name a few, each of which make you come back for more.


Jassim Farukhi is Founder and Head Chef of Cookies & More in Dubai, UAE. He started baking at the young age of five and this passion has culminated into a full time “hobby” and business. His love for food and interest in entertainment led him to New York City where he acted on Off Broadway and also supplied local cafes with his gourmet signature cookies. His core focus has always been on developing unique cookies that have not been introduced in the market such as Apple Pie, Blueberry, and Lemon cookies. These specialty cookies incorporate fresh fruits as the primary ingredient to enhance the taste. Farukhi always uses high quality ingredients to ensure that all his clients can enjoy the best tasting food possible. Cookies & More’s main focus is to not only give their clients the freshest food possible with no preservatives or additives, but to also to give them the best tasting cookie experience!



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