Time Hotels launches sustainable dining initiative

Published: 27 March 2015 - 3:30 a.m.
By: Shaheen Nouman

Time Hotels has launched a sustainability-focused drive with the introduction of the Slow Food Initiative at its flagship Time Oak Hotel & Suites property.

Time Hotels Group corporate director of food & beverage Bernard Fantoli said: “We are the first hotel in the region to introduce the concept into our mainstream food and beverage offering, and are extremely excited about taking the message to our guests.

“We are strongly committed to introducing sustainable practices across all elements of our operation, and with around 85% of food items imported from around the world, this is a key area where we believe positive changes can be made, to reduce our impact on the environment even further.”

An international movement founded by professional gourmet Carlo Petrini in 1986, slow food supporters are committed to sourcing and using food that is produced and prepared as per local culinary tradition, and using high quality locally sourced ingredients.

Time’s team is working in partnership with the Slow Food Dubai Chefs Alliance to promote the benefits of this culinary direction across the hotel's restaurants and banqueting facilities.

The operator has laid out a number of guidelines for the rollout of the initiative, which include using 100% homemade products with no GMO, MSG or other artificial flavour enhancers; local sourcing of all ingredients/products up to a radius of 3,000 kilometres; and a focus on sourcing organic wherever possible.

Fantoli added: “We would love to say that we could source everything we need within a radius of 3000 kilometres, but that simply isn’t possible for climactic and economic reasons; however, this isn’t a case of simply paying lip service or a nod to the global trend for natural and healthy cuisine, we are going all out to ensure that where we can go local or regional, we will.”

“We will also make sure that all our recipes are pre-approved by Slow Food Dubai, who have trained our chefs as part of the initiative, and that we demonstrate our commitment to our diners by featuring the Slow Food seal of approval on specific menu dishes.”

The programme will initially be launched at the group’s Time Oak Hotel & Suites property, located in the Tecom area of Dubai, where the team has already undergone training in both the rationale and delivery of slow food.

“This isn’t just hands-on practical training, we have dedicated a significant amount of time to sharing the slow food message with our purchasing team, F&B managers, chefs and waiting staff so that they have the buy-in from day one, and can communicate this message to our guests and spread the movement organically,” Fantoli said.

The Slow Food menu will include dishes such as labneh cheese with extra-virgin olive oil served with heirloom tomatoes and organic arugula; baked local shari fish with cucumber, carrots and beetroot in a zaatar-black olive sauce; free range chicken machbous with Emirati rice and a secret herb mix; and a delicious cream soufflé made with khidri dates, nuts and mountain honey.

“As part of our environmentally-friendly meeting packages we have also incorporated this concept into our daily delegate offering, so that our banqueting menus now include a balanced mix of healthy catering options?using produce from local suppliers; so that the chain of continuity will cascade down into the local community and hopefully engender more support for the movement in the mid-term,” said Fantoli.

Time Hotels’ pro-sustainabilty meetings packages also include re-usable centerpieces, are scheduled during daytime hours to maximise on natural sunlight, and feature filtered water dispensers and eco-friendly fair trade coffee. In addition, the hotel has recently offset 326 tonnes of carbon emissions by contributing AED37,000 (US $1007) towards African environmental initiatives.

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