Slow Food in Dubai

time oak hotel & suitesDubai headquartered hospitality group TIME Hotels has unveiled its latest sustainability-focused drive with the launch of a slow food initiative at its flagship TIME Oak Hotel & Suites property in the UAE emirate.

An international movement founded by professional gourmet Carlo Petrini in 1986, slow food supporters are committed to sourcing and using food that is produced and prepared as per local culinary tradition, and using high-quality locally sourced ingredients.

As a Green Globe-certified hotel, the team is working in partnership with the Slow Food Dubai Chefs Alliance to promote the benefits of this unique culinary direction across the hotel's restaurants and banqueting facilities.

"We are the first hotel in the region to introduce the concept into our mainstream food and beverage offering, and are extremely excited about taking the message to our guests. We are strongly committed to introducing sustainable practices across all elements of our operation, and with around 85 percent of food items imported from around the world, this is a key area where we believe positive changes can be made, to reduce our impact on the environment even further," said Bernard Fantoli, corporate director of food and beverage at TIME Hotels Group.

Led by Fantoli, TIME Hotels has laid out a number of guidelines for the rollout of the initiative, which include using 100 percent homemade products with no GMO, MSG or other artificial flavour enhancers; local sourcing of all ingredients/products up to a radius of 3,000 km; and a focus on sourcing organic wherever possible.

"We would love to say that we could source everything we need within a radius of 3,000 km, but that simply isn't possible for climatic and economic reasons; however, this isn't a case of simply paying lip service or a nod to the global trend for natural and healthy cuisine, we are going all out to ensure that where we can go local or regional, we will," Fantoli said.

"We will also make sure that all our recipes are pre-approved by Slow Food Dubai, who have trained our chefs as part of the initiative, and that we demonstrate our commitment to our diners by featuring the Slow Food seal of approval on specific menu dishes," he added.

The programme will initially be launched at the group's TIME Oak Hotel & Suites property, located in the Tecom area of Dubai, where the team has already undergone intensive training in both the rationale and delivery of slow food.

The Slow Food menu will include dishes such as labneh cheese with extra-virgin olive oil served with heirloom tomatoes and organic arugula; baked local shari fish with cucumber, carrots and beetroot in a zaatar-black olive sauce; free range chicken machbous with Emirati rice and a secret herb mix; and a delicious cream soufflé made with khidri dates, nuts and mountain honey.

"As part of our environmentally-friendly meeting packages we have also incorporated this concept into our daily delegate offering, so that our banqueting menus now include a balanced mix of healthy catering options using produce from local suppliers; so that the chain of continuity will cascade down into the local community and hopefully engender more support for the movement in the mid-term," Fantoli said.