Leading By Example: How Dubai-Based Cassette Aims To Sustain Sustainable Dining In The UAE
"We want our practices to have a positive impact on our planet where possible. Every aspect has been planned bearing our core values at the forefront, including our efforts to save energy, reduce waste, and reuse."
During the coronavirus outbreak, the F&B industry in the UAE and around the world has faced huge challenges. Whilst people’s health and wellbeing are currently the number one priority, it is now more important than ever to question our world and the environment we have created.
At my Dubai-based café, Cassette, our focus has always gone beyond just food. We wanted to create a business with sustainability and environmental awareness at its core. Now, going green is not a new concept. However, our approach has been totally unique to our brand.
We have worked hard to create a world class sustainable restaurant menu, without compromises. We want our practices to have a positive impact on our planet where possible. Every aspect has been planned bearing our core values at the forefront, including our efforts to save energy, reduce waste, and reuse.
Cassette's Interiors. Source: Cassette
At the heart of the project is the restaurant itself. It was important for me during the design process that the materials and building reflected our values. We worked hard to create a space that was inviting and practical, but also made use of sustainable materials where possible. Reclaimed materials for flooring, fixtures and fittings help house our plastic-free straws, plant-based disposable cups and takeaway boxes.
Creating our sustainable and environmentally focused restaurant menu was one of the greatest challenges. We are most passionate about this, as we feel it is one of the aspects that has the greatest immediate impact on our planet. It has taken a team effort to help achieve this, with our chefs, management and even our customers needing to understand and be on board with the concept.
We strive to use organic ingredients sourced from local suppliers. This approach is multifaceted. It means we cut down on transportation pollutants, costs to the environment, and ensure our local farmers are well supported. It also lends itself to an adaptable and fresh seasonal menu that our customers love. We have a popular changing weekly special menu dictated by nature and creativity. Purchasing fresh produce at its peak supply also means our meals are as delicious and nurturing as they can possibly be.
We are also constantly working towards reducing food wastage. Some approaches have been easier to implement than others, but all are equally important. We are conscious of portion sizes, and achieving the delicate balance of leaving customers satisfied without being wasteful.
Other measures include using all the ingredients we purchase to make every meal from scratch. For example, we make our own bread rolls, pickles, dressings, and stock. We find this allows us to make use of every part of the food we purchase, and strictly control what we specifically require to minimise waste. It also makes for better tasting results.
Being located in the heart of Dubai, we are determined to help set the standards for sustainable and eco-friendly dining in the UAE. We understand that there is a demand for this approach that may not be as easily met as it is in other countries. By keeping true to our core beliefs and brand values, we are demonstrating how it is possible to uniquely offer uncompromising, environmentally focused dining.
The Cassette Team. Source: Cassette
We believe Cassette offers an unparalleled approach to dining. Our menus and practices are sustainable, our ethos is good for the planet, and our seasonable delicious food has empowered our customers to make better choices. We have no doubt that this is the future of the restaurant industry, and that many may follow suit. Until then, we are proud to be one of the first sustainable restaurants in the UAE.
Haider Madani is one of the co-owners and founder of Cassette, a Dubai-based café inspired by a passion for great food, music, art, design, and the culture that surrounds it. Cassette is a creative hub located in the industrial and yet contemporary and cool Al Quoz, serving diners great food, coffee, and vibes. With an extensive professional background, Haider is involved in every aspect of the business, from strategy to operations, seeing that the Cassette standard is never compromised. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Haider started his career in the automotive industry from the age of 13.
Born in Iraq, yet raised and educated in London, Haider’s background is firmly rooted in the engineering and automotive industry, which he grew a passion for during his time in the big city. During his university years, Haider took up mechatronic engineering at Middlesex University UK, focusing on the engineering of both electrical and mechanical systems including a combination of robotics, electronics and product engineering. This appetite for engineering followed him to Dubai where he and his brother Nizar Madani launched a company called JEEPERS, which is now an authorized Jeep dealer in UAE, specializing in modification, customization and fabrication.
As well as having his mind very much focused on his first business, it was back during his first few years in Dubai that Haider dreamt up the idea of Cassette, a dream that later came true with the help of H2R Design. Having always had a personal interest in the F&B industry (and spending more dinners in restaurants than his own home), Haider was looking to create a space where people could enjoy great food, electric ambiance, and personalized service.
Combining the brain power of his nephews, Husain and Hasan, the entrepreneurs saw that the market was in need of a casual French café, offering affordable yet great quality food. From here, the modern Parisian bistro concept Cassette was born, housed in The Courtyard, Al Quoz. H2R Design, co-founded by brothers Hasan and Husain, are the interior architect company behind Cassette, and the team have created a space that reflects their passion for all things music, design, and food.
Haider is a British national and studied at Middlesex University in London. Fluent in English and Arabic, Haider enjoys driving, dune bashing and competitive challenges in the desert. He is also a keen squash and racket sports player.