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Reif Othman

Reif Othman: UAE chefs should broaden their horizons

Othman was speaking before a trip to Denmark for a collaborative dinner

Over the past 13 years, chef and restaurateur Reif Othman has focused on raising the profile of Asian cuisine in the UAE. The chef who started his career in Dubai in 2009 with Zuma, is now one of the most recognisable faces in the local F&B landscape.

Othman spoke to Caterer Middle East bout the importance of chef collaborations and why UAE-based chefs should consider travelling to cook with other chefs abroad. He said: “Although my focus right now is the Middle East, I believe that collaborations are an ‘in’ for many Dubai chefs who want to break into another region.”

In 2021, in addition to adding a bakery and breakfast spot to the original Reif Japanese Kushiyaki in Dar Wasl Mall, he launched an outlet at Time Out Market Dubai and expanded internationally to Cairo, as well as signing a venue in Saudi Arabia.

By the end of Q3 2022, Othman will also have a licensed 80-cover Reif Japanese Kushiyaki restaurant in Dubai Hills and a TERO Chef’s Table outpost next door.

However, the chef continues to look for opportunities to grow his business.

“I am going to Copenhagen next week to host a collaboration dinner with Kristian Baumann at his new restaurant JUJU. He is an ex-Noma chef with amazing knowledge and experience,” Othman said.

Chef and co-owner Reif Othman with business partner Ahsan Kahlon outside Reif Japanese Kushiyaki and TERO Chef’s Table in Dubai Hills.

Both chefs will be creating a Korean menu featuring Danish ingredients. Othman added: “This is a great chance for him to do some marketing, while it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to get the Reif name out there and see if I could potentially expand to Copenhagen.”

According to Othman, Danes love Asian food and a concept like his could be a success in Denmark. He said: “I have a strong desire to connect with the people and culture of Copenhagen. Apparently, Asian cuisine is huge there, so I wanted to explore the opportunity of potentially launching Reif Japanese Kushiyaki but with Danish ingredients.

“The Danish F&B industry is different from the UAE. They are very strict about using local produce. They take sustainability very seriously. It’s all about supporting the farmers. So it will be very interesting to see how we can create my kind of food with Danish ingredients.”

The collaboration dinner, taking place on September 11 will see a host of media, chefs and industry people attending.

Done well, collaborations can offer intellectual endeavours for both chefs. “It’s about adapting to and working with another chef’s style while staying true to your own. I think chefs in Dubai love to host collaboration dinners. However, I would love to see more of them connecting with chefs abroad.

“Eventually, I will bring him to Dubai. By that time our Dubai Hills locations will be open, so I will bring him there to collaborate on a chef’s table dinner with me.”

Source: Caterer Middle East

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