Abdullah, left, and Melianos hold up a basket of Bahraini produce
Five-star menu to feature 80pc Bahraini produce
Manama, February 24, 2014
A five-star hotel in Bahrain is planning to source up to 80 per cent of its fresh produce from a local farm by the end of next year.
The Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre currently relies on Sadiq Farms for 40 per cent of its fresh food ingredients, but hopes to double that and is even changing its menu to suit the season, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Executive chef Stefanos Melianos told the GDN it wasn't natural to serve fruits out of season.
"We've been working with Sadiq for a year now," said Melianos.
"He's been growing produce for us that he didn't have before. Forty per cent of vegetables at the hotel come from the farm.
"By the end of next year we aim to have 60 to 80 per cent of our produce from the farm.
"After we began working with Sadiq we changed the menu after I visited him.
"He gives me a time frame for when the produce will be ripe and then I adjust the menus."
He was speaking during a media breakfast organised at the farm, during which five-star omelettes were prepared on site using fresh Bahraini produce.
Melianos, who met Sadiq Farms owner Sadiq Mirza Abdulla at a weekly Farmer's Market, said it was important to support local farmers while at the same time serving fresh produce to guests.
"I know that a lot of these vegetables are seasonal, but I prefer that," he said.
"It's not natural to have all fruits and vegetables all year round. For instance, you can get strawberries year-round from America - but even if they look good they don't taste good, it's very watery.
"The vegetables we used to get and which people get at most supermarkets are picked off trees before they're ripe and shipped here.
"They're made to ripen by UV lights - I don't agree with that.
"I want people to look at what they're buying and know where it comes from."
Abdulla said his family farm had been operating for around 60 years, but had made changes to keep up with demand from one of the country's top hotels.
"We give them about 100 to 150 kg of produce a day," he said.
"It's normally different kinds of herbs and capsicums, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, broccoli and cauliflower.
"From halfway through May or June, our produce changes as the weather gets hotter. For instance, we don't grow tomatoes after that time.
"Other things come into season after that, such as our fig trees.
"We are also trying to grow things according to what they (the hotel) need.
"Our farm didn't produce capsicums, but we started because they wanted it. We have also just started growing cherry tomatoes on the vine."
There are now plans to expand the farm further with larger and air conditioned greenhouses that will allow it to grow certain produce for longer.
"Instead of not being able to have tomatoes past May, we'll be able to continue to produce them in June and perhaps July," he explained.
"Approximately 30 per cent of the farm's business is now with Kempinski."
Meanwhile, Kempinski general manager Puneet Singh revealed Bahraini duck eggs could soon be making it onto the hotel's menus.
"This is the only Kempinski in the Middle East to have fresh produce from local farmers," he said.
"We want to continue to work towards improving the quality and freshness.
"We've been looking at Sadiq's ducks and possibly having duck eggs on the menu in the future.
"These farms still need support from the community and other hotels and businesses." - TradeArabia News Service