Michael Ellis reveals Jumeirah’s new gastronomy strategy
New Chief Culinary Officer on new concepts to drive dining excellence
Michael Ellis, Jumeirah's new Chief Culinary Officer (CCO), is a leading figure in the food and drink industry. He joins us from the prestigious Michelin Guides where he was Global Head for Europe, Asia and the Americas. His career in hospitality dates back to when he started working as a busboy aged 13.
How do you go about developing a new dining concept?
It's important to think about the dining experience as a whole, not just a sum of the parts. We start by thinking about what our guests would like to eat, and what environment they would like in terms of the ambiance, the music and lighting. Our objective is to create a memorable experience for our guests, to inspire them to return, and to talk about our restaurant with their friends.
How do you settle on a particular cuisine for the new restaurant?
Several different criteria are looked at in the beginning: what is currently on offer in the immediate vicinity, and how will the new concept fit in with our existing restaurants? What is the profile of the guests we want to attract, and what is the price point they are looking for? There is always an element of risk when we, or any operator, decides to launch a new concept. We try to limit the downside risk by having the best possible execution in food, service and atmosphere.
Who are the diners you're looking to attract with any new restaurant?
Our in-house hotel guests are certainly a very important part of our clientele, and we need to make sure that we are providing the dining experience they are looking for. But we also have to consider other key guests, such as visitors staying in other hotels, the local Emirati population and expats. The proliferation of new dining establishments in Dubai over the last few years has meant more competition, but we're confident that our offer has something for everyone.
How important is the design of a new restaurant?
I've noticed that in Dubai, the look and feel of a restaurant can be just as important as the food, so we're taking a close look at what we can do to create venues that are attractive, fun and comfortable.
How do you try to stay ahead of the competition?
The key to being competitive is to understand what your guests want, and to stay fresh and fun, while delivering top-notch cuisine. Success in our profession is based on our ability to execute a vision, and I think Jumeirah has shown that we have what it takes to succeed.
Which is your favourite Jumeirah restaurant?
If you asked me what my favourite 10 restaurants at Jumeirah were that would be slightly easier. I've visited and eaten at virtually all of the Jumeirah restaurants in Dubai, and I found something in all of them that made me want to return. I especially like the tempura shrimp at Summersalt, the sea bass at Rockfish, the Kimchi-marinated flank steak at The Hide and the Tres Leches cake at Tortuga.
Jumeirah Group, the global luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding, operates and manages a world-class portfolio of 15 properties in the Middle East including the flagship Burj Al Arab, 5 properties in Europe and 4 in Asia with10 properties currently under construction around the globe. www.jumeirah.com.