In Good Taste: Talking Shop With 10 Of The UAE's Most Promising Homegrown Food Brands

A look at the entrepreneurs behind just 10 of the most promising (and popular) brands that have emerged in the F&B landscape.

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There’s a Spanish proverb that says that “the belly rules the mind,” and I have often felt that I am a walking personification of that particular aphorism. And that is why I have often felt that I am particularly lucky to be able to live in the UAE, where a vibrant food scene is just waiting to be explored and enjoyed- but only if you know where to look.

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While the industry at large has had its own share of troubles to tackle amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the period has also seen a rise of entrepreneurs in the sector who have either launched new food brands, or doubled down on the ones that they were running already. Indeed, if there’s one thing that can be said about the UAE’s food scene, it’s that it’s never static- and it’s the homegrown heroes that are almost always shaking up the marketplace. 

This feature aims to showcase the entrepreneurs behind just 10 of the most promising (and popular) brands that have emerged in this landscape- many of these are businesses that I am personally a customer of, and I’ve also been lucky to receive a plethora of suggestions from Arva Ahmed, co-founder of Frying Pan Adventures, which offers food and culture tours in Dubai that have become one of the city’s must-do activities for both visitors and local residents since 2013.

Ahmed and her team of passionate storytellers and avid explorers enjoy seeking out hidden food gems and transporting you beyond the food with their stories, nostalgia, and insider secrets of the city- all of which made her a great ally as I went about figuring out brands to include in this feature. While this is definitely not an exhaustive list of all the amazing names out there, I’d like to think that it’s a good selection to be showcased all the same. But, of course, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting- and so, I certainly hope you give these homegrown brands a try for yourself. Bon appetit! 

1. Ramie Murray, Founder And CEO, Dibba Bay Oysters

2. Ambika Rajgopal, Founder, Haute Sauce

3. Nana-Serwa Mancell, Founder, Veghana

4. Mohammad Alhawari, Founder, Feel Good Tea Co.

5. Elaf Patel, Founder, Sugargram

6. Mhon Lee, Founder, The Kakao Guy

7. Annika D'Souza, Founder, Crumb & Co.

8. Hernan And Marivic Fuentes, Co-Founders, Pies Basket

9. The Viking And Mrs. Viking, Co-Founders, Viking Bageri

10. Melody Mok, Founder, Curious Elephant

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Aby Sam Thomas

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Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.