Roger Marti, Executive Chef at The Collective in Dubai, is thrilled to be serving up innovation and creativity not only within the kitchen, but outside of it as well. March saw the launch of The Collective, a haute new experiential eatery within the Grand Hyatt Dubai, that melds four micro concepts within. Marti views the venture as ground-breaking and has played a key part in the planning and details.
Marti’s illustrious career spans more than 24 years and began in his hometown in Switzerland at the vaunted Victoria‐Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. His undeniable talents rapidly led to his ascent within the culinary world as he accepted a position as Executive Sous Chef at the Hotel Conrad in London.
Chef Roger has acquired an impressive array of world-class experience in premier kitchens throughout Europe and Asia thanks to his mindset of exploring new cultures and experimenting with foods, scents, tastes and innovative ingredients.
An ardent fan of travel, Marti seized opportunities as guest chef throughout the continent, including impressive stints at Hotel Dorchester London, Hotel Conrad London and Conrad Centennial in Singapore. In 2009, Marti accepted a position as the Executive Sous Chef at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, which ultimately led to his position as Executive Chef at The Collective, where he also oversees all culinary operations.
The Collective puts into play Marti’s philosophy of continuously learning, as well as emphasis on the art of preparing food that is at its’ peak to offer some of the most savory flavors in Dubai. Marti noted, “When the food is ripe and ready we’ll prepare something amazing. The Collective is all about cooking and serving with flavors and with the menu set on what is fresh at the time, you’re always cooking from your heart.”
When outside of the kitchen and his executive duties at the Grand Hyatt, Marti favors spending time with his family and taking in new cultures and foods, as well as photography. Chef Roger Marti put aside some time to share with Dr. Nasrine Abushakra his philosophies and insights into all that is culinary in Dubai and the UAE.
Executive Chef Roger Marti Talks Dubai Experiences
Tell us about your personal experience of branching out here in the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE is a fast growing country with great targets and plans, especially towards the Expo2020. It’s fascinating to work in such a diverse climate and cosmopolitan city, and a big change from working for eight years in Asia Pacific, I’m enjoying every minute.
Why did you decide to open here in the Middle East?
I believe Dubai is the city you need to be based in for a foreseeable few years; it’s central a hub in the MENA region for entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and innovators. The plans for the Expo2020 are truly reflecting this; the city has come so far and continues to undergo further development to ensure this will be best Expo people have ever seen. I actually did Expo 2010 in Shanghai; it was a similar experience, lots of expansion within the region. The UAE is a fantastic place for business and we’re seeing more and more new concepts come to fruition.
For those not familiar with The Collective, what region is your culinary style modeled after?
The Collective is an eclectic community of food and drink experiences, a modern re-telling of a Boutique Bakery, a classic Levant Emporium, iconic Bombay Café and new wave Grill Bar that brings true food stories to life. Great food and service in a collection of relaxed settings. Most of our dishes have been developed from experience, travelling the world we shared and created many ideas to launch The Collective, each journey emulating our mantra –Eat.Life.Stories.
What has been your impression of the local food scene over the years here in the Middle East?
Over the last 20 months I feel there has been a plethora of new concepts introduced into the food and beverage scene; even the popular food truck movement has reached Dubai. The UAE as a whole needs to keep developing new and exciting food concepts, people are open minded and interested to learn.
When you manage to find a little time to step away from The Collective what are some of your favorite spots to dine or socialize?
I love local markets where I can explore local produce and products; also converted attractions such as Global Village, I could go there weekly.
What is your favorite restaurant, besides your own?
My favorite cuisine is Asian; I could eat dim sum and kimchi every day and prefer simple restaurants with great quality food. I recently discovered Taipei Dao, a Taiwanese restaurant in Downtown Dubai that serves excellent dimsum. Looking at more upscale restaurants; I like Nusr-et at four-season, a nice place for great Turkish food. Another one is Sofra Istanbul in Abu Dhabi; they do the best Turkish kebabs, very authentic, they remind me of my travels to Istanbul.
If you had not pursued a Chef career or the life of a rogue restaurateur, what do you think you would
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a Chef. During my childhood I spent most of the time with my mother cooking in the family kitchen and frankly speaking there was never another option in my mind.
What three ingredients you MUST have in your kitchen?
Salt, Liguria olive oil and Greek yoghurt. I love everything about yoghurt and it’s a staple item at home and at work. At The Collective we serve a variety of yoghurts for breakfast – Greek, Iranian and Syrian.
Are you launching any new projects that you’d like to share with us?
There’s definitely more to come, we will keep you posted!