Disruptive innovation is a common theme across many, if not all, industry sectors nowadays. As in many other cases, the culinary world has also witnessed its rules being rewritten, with many chefs from around the world building their own enterprises to conquer the dining sector. So, how are they going about doing this? We asked some chefs who have embarked on such entrepreneurial endeavors in the MENA region to tell us their stories. Here's what Roberto Segura, chef and co-founder, 3 Hospitality, had to say.
Disruptive innovation is a common theme across many, if not all, industry sectors nowadays. As in many other cases, the culinary world has also witnessed its rules being rewritten, with many chefs from around the world building their own enterprises to conquer the dining sector. So, how are they going about doing this? We asked some chefs who have embarked on such entrepreneurial endeavors in the MENA region to tell us their stories.
Here's a chat with Roberto Segura, chef and co-founder, 3 Hospitality about turning a passion for food into a profitable business:
“Personally, I am a detail-oriented perfectionist, and it is very important for me to ensure the process and respect of the produce that we use since the quality of products is always the most important in the kitchen.”
How do you turn a passion for food into a profitable business?
“For me, passion drives a hospitality business, and without this key factor nothing will go well, from the kitchen, which is the heart of the restaurant, all the way to the front of house and bar. The second point is to set your prices properly, but in order to be profitable you don’t need to be expensive. People in the market are looking for great quality at an affordable price and that is exactly what we offer. Thirdly, you need to respect the local palate, you have to understand the city’s local tastes and what food makes Dubai a unique culinary destination.
As a chef you sometimes just want to cook what you like, but here you have to mix a bit with the iconic ingredients that people like in Dubai. Apart from being one of the partners, my position in our restaurants is always to be involved in every single aspect of the business. Although the kitchen is my comfort zone, I can often be seen outside serving tables, making cocktails in the bar or talking to the guests, because this is what I love to do.”
How have you gone about putting a good team together for your enterprise?
“When I interview someone for my team, I barely look at their CV since I look into the personality of each individual. In hospitality, you spend more time at work than in your house which means that you have to have a good relationship with your co-workers and try to create a “family” that moves together towards only one goal- making people happy with what we have to offer. My approach is very simple -in order to prevent any kind of problems inside the restaurant- and it is zero tolerance for gossip."
"All my team members know that the worst thing they can do is to talk behind someone’s back since that could be the end of our relationship at work. External sabotage or obstruction will always be there, and the only way to combat this is to remain firm on our values and to maintain the achieved standard and consistency in our service and food. There are many challenges in the kitchen and a lot of pressure too. In many cases when the restaurant is full, there is always a special request due to allergies, intolerance or just a guest’s preference, but we have a policy to please everyone and the kitchen knows it well.”
What are some of the trends you expect in this sector in the future?
“When it comes to rent-a-chef online platforms, I actually am a part of the team of ChefxChange, and I love it. I really enjoy going and cooking for a private group of foodies from time to time. Regarding technological advancement, I believe that technology helps a lot to create standards and maintain consistency in the food offering. Waka Kitchen is a laboratory and it is full of this kind of equipment. Lastly, I believe that casual restaurants and industrial concepts are top trends at the moment.”
Roberto Segura ’s dos and don’ts for running a business
- Stick to your roots and values, but do understand the local market you operate in.
- Always set standards and maintain consistency.
- Go out of the kitchen from time to time, there is actually a world outside!
- … believe everything people say.
- … think you are a super star.
- … try to please everyone. Understand that this market is so diverse and multicultural, so just be sure of what you are doing and do it right. People will appreciate that.