Dubai: Going green, the future of dining

Updated: Sep 22

Dubai’s diverse culinary landscape is making strides in becoming environmentally responsible — making a difference to staff, customers, and the wider world around them


Dubai is aiming to send zero waste to landfill by 2030, according to Dubai Municipality’s strategy announced in August last year, and is encouraging innovation in waste management and recycling, which is already being reflected in the work of the food industry. “The measures in place about environmental awareness in Dubai are clear, and as a sector, Dubai’s food industry is ahead of the curve. Across the city, we are seeing innovative initiatives, which are delivering tangible results. Through improvements to food waste management, the use of plastics, water conservation, and how ingredients are sourced, Dubai’s restaurants are making impressive strides to ensure they are at the forefront of change," said Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE). Yes, restaurants across Dubai have introduced a wide range of sustainability initiatives; bringing in new employees to eradicate food waste, cutting their carbon emissions, and sourcing ingredients more sustainably.


Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, Dar Wasl Mall takes pride in staff uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles

A collective responsibility

Going green is something that Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk looks at as a collective responsibility, for they believe — it is easy to say: no it’s my problem; the future of food has changed, and the hospitality industry needs to work harder and more collaboratively in order to create a tangible and long-lasting effective change. “It cannot be a corporate box-ticking exercise, it needs to be intentional and meaningful to ensure we get the full buy-in of the team. We’ve made great progress over the past year by simply talking about it and making green goals part of our daily work life. It takes time and a collective will. One of our key focus points is making sure we consider how we address our food waste — if you can eat it, technically it should not be wasted,” said Russell, executive chef, Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk.

We use better portion control, better buying – (buying only what we need) —measuring our waste and sharing the data with the team. When creating menus, we are mindful of buying more local, moving vegetables into the centre of the plate and being less reliant on meat as the main protein; these are all things that we look at and talk about every day.

Russell, executive chef, Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk

Saying no to food wastage

Waste is a huge focus for restaurants across the city with numerous initiatives aiming at reducing what would previously be thrown away. At Torno Subito, the team believes in reducing food waste. “It is important for us to consider ways in which we can contribute towards the environment with an ongoing, continuous effort. We take actions and commit ourselves to reduce wastage by adopting sustainable solutions and we are constantly finding ways to become ‘greener’,” said Alessio Pirozzi, chef de cuisine, Torno Subito, W Dubai, The Palm. “We make sure to use 100% of our ingredients without any waste. We have put in an extra effort to become a plastic-free restaurant that uses local ingredients, omitting wastage whenever possible to limit the CO2 emissions,” added he added.


As an Italian restaurant, we have a lot of bread leftover by the end of the day. We use this bread the next day and combine it with fresh datterino tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, basil, and a hint of lemon – resulting in Pappa al Pomodoro. We top it with a Parmiggiano foam, which we get from the crust of the big parmesan wheel, which most people tend to discard.

Alessio Pirozzi, chef de cuisine, Torno Subito

A thumbs-up from one and all

Sanjay Vazirani, CEO, Foodlink Global Restaurants & Catering LLC said, “Sustainability is woven into the fabric of our mission and practised across our catering, banquets, restaurants, and cloud kitchen verticals. Our brand Art of Dum was conceptualised with the thought of sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind. The initiatives have been appreciated by our patrons and helped us to become the front runners when it comes to sustainable practices. At Foodlink, our long-term goal is to operate all of our kitchens on a zero-plastic policy.” At Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, they have implemented a ‘plant-powered Wednesday’ in the employee restaurant, a dedicated day with a focus on locally produced vegetables and salads. “Despite some push back when this initiative kicked off, it is now the most popular day of the week. We encourage employees to implement the practices at home too, to ensure the impact goes beyond the property. Imagine if everyone woke up tomorrow and decided ‘today is the day I’m going do one thing better to make a difference … that creates change, and that’s pretty cool!” added Russell.

Art Of Dum, a cloud kitchen, uses reusable dinnerware
  • BOCA, DIFC: With its seasonal menus and farm-to-table concept, the restaurant is dedicated to championing local ingredients and sustainable sourcing. Also, they now have a Waste Officer, working alongside current staff to inspect internal wastage, along with suppliers and produce – promising diners that their visit will result in no more than 15kg of CO2 emissions being produced.

  • Cassette, Al Quoz: They make sensational dishes out of their offcuts. And also, have created a bi-weekly menu with the offcuts used in soups, sauces, and syrups. Even their decor fits in with their sustainability goals where possible.

  • Lowe KOA Canvas, Wadi Al Safa 3: They not only use the offcuts in dishes but also make packaging out of them. Their sustainability and giving-back credentials are vast with a focus on reducing waste, sourcing ingredients locally and helping the wider society.

  • Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, Dar Wasl Mall: Their staff uniforms are made from recycled plastic bottles. They also have a minimal wastage policy, and fill customers’ glass bottles with tap-filtered still or sparkling water, which will, of course, be drunk through a metal straw.

BOCA, DIFC has a Waste Officer, who inspects internal wastage

Art Of Dum, our gourmet cloud kitchen brand, was established on a 100% sustainable delivery concept where we use reusable glass jars, clay pots, and steel cutlery for reuse and recycling.

Sanjay Vazirani, CEO, Foodlink Global Restaurants & Catering LLC


This piece was first published in Khaleej Times







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