Award-winning food industry expert Duncan Fraser-Smith on new book, burgeoning Saudi food scene

DUBAI: Having created more than 200 hospitality and food concepts in the Middle East region over the last couple of decades, award-winning Australian hospitality industry expert Duncan Fraser-Smith is now ready to turn author as he shares the wisdom accumulated over the years in his debut book, “Create to Plate.”

From bringing acclaimed Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton to open Marina Social in Dubai and launching CLE Restaurant and Bar with another Michelin chef Greg Malouf, to launching Pierre Gagnaire’s Choix Patisserie and creating the “MasterChef, the TV Experience” screen-to-plate restaurant concept, Fraser-Smith’s mark on the UAE food scene is indelible.

He told Arab News: “I am passionate about food. But, on top of that, I’m passionate about creating what we call the entertainment experience, which is people enjoying themselves when they go out. “Whether it’s for a simple coffee and a bagel at breakfast or for a luxurious five-course dinner, I’m about making sure that people enjoy themselves, because that’s what we’re in the business of doing.

His book is called “Create to Plate.” (Supplied)

“We’re about creating joy for people and touching them on an emotional level.”

On the exploding food scene in the Middle East and the burgeoning restaurant industry in Saudi Arabia, the restaurateur and founder of the Cutting Edge Hospitality Agency said: “I can only say it is hugely exciting. I think it’s a great evolution that’s happening, as opposed to, in other parts of the world where you go to a city like Los Angeles, and it’s just brand, brand, brand, and brand.

“The Saudi market is now really focusing on its homegrown content. And it’s being done in a way that I would have to say is best in class, from a market perspective.

“I think what we’re going to see potentially is more vertical farming and with more projects being available, regionally located produce is going to provide a huge point of difference to other major destinations in the world,” he added.

On his first book, Fraser-Smith said: “Over the last three years, when everything was a bit up in the air across the world, and I hit a milestone birthday, which I won’t quite put in writing, but you know what it is if you put two and two together, there was an opportunity to sit back and review on 30 years of creating hospitality venues across the globe in many different regions.

“And then going, is there actually a roadmap to setting up a hospitality venue for the greatest opportunity for success?”

Duncan Fraser-Smith is the founder of the Cutting Edge Hospitality Agency. (Supplied)

The result is a 12-step roadmap from vision to creation, sprinkled with Fraser-Smith’s analogies, stories, and experiences.

“So, if you’ve got an established restaurant and it’s struggling, it’s a great book in order to get you back on track. If you’re just starting out and you haven’t invested $1 in anything, it’s a great book to get you started to go, ‘where do I start? What are the natural steps that I need to take? And are there any things that might be challenges that I haven’t thought about that come up?’

“So, the book is for anyone from an individual restaurant or cafe operator on a high-street location all the way up to the big food and beverage groups that want to kind of give their managers a tool that helps them stay focused and stay on track to deliver the best they possibly can,” Fraser-Smith added.