Michael Kitts left the UK nearly 10 years ago to move to Dubai where he is the director of culinary arts at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. He talks to Kerstin Kühn about life in the UAE.
Q What does your role as director of culinary arts entail?
As well as teaching, I am involved in building links with the industry, organising guest chefs from the UK and other parts of the world to demonstrate and talk to our students, running team building events in our kitchen and keen amateur cooking classes, developing and running tailored culinary courses for hotel groups and restaurants within the United Arab Emirates and working as the culinary advisor to the Jumeirah Culinary Team. We have 320 students, representing over 40 nationalities.
Q How has working abroad enhanced your career?
The years of experience I bought from the UK, plus the reputation of the Emirates Academy has given me the opportunity to have input on advisory panels, industry-related judging panels and consultancy projects.
Q What do you like about working in Dubai?
Teaching young students who are the food and beverage and general mangers of the future is the most satisfying part of my job. To see a student who in week one can barely hold a knife and then 12 weeks later enters the Emirates Salon Culinaire is fantastic. Oh, and the sun always shines!
Q What do you dislike about working in Dubai?
There is a very transient nature about working abroad. You meet new friends and colleagues and then two or five years later they move on. And of course you miss family and friends back home.
Q How does hospitality in Dubai differ from in the UK?
There are several differences:
â- The sheer diversity of what's on offer and the professional way it's delivered.
â- New openings are well received and given good opportunities to succeed.
â- Hospitality staff in Dubai genuinely want you to have a memorable time.
QWhat could UK hospitality learn from Dubai, with regards to people management?
The industry here is great at gelling so many cultures together and making things work with relative ease.
Q What trends could we adopt in the UK?
The Friday Brunch (Friday is the main day off over here - in the UK that would translate to Sunday). This is definitely a Dubai success. All of the major hotel groups have their own slant on brunch. That said, I think the sunshine might have something to do with it!
Q What advice would you give to anyone in the industry wishing to work abroad?
Working abroad is like doing an opening of a hotel or restaurant, I would say, it's something you should experience at least once in your career.
Q Where else in the world would you like to work and why?
After coming to Dubai the most obvious place to head for would be Asia. I'm always hearing very positive things about Asia and it certainly wouldn't do the CV any harm.
Q Do you plan to return to work in the UK ?
Realistically no! I believe I still have a great future with the academy, we are presently looking at several new and exciting projects, so watch this space!
CV MICHAEL KITTS
â- 1974-77 Trained at Thanet Technical College
â- 1977 First job as commis Chef at Claridge's hotel
â- 1981 Appointed lecturer at Thanet Technical College
â- 1986 First executive sous chef position at the Ritz Casino, London
â- 1991 First executive chef role at the Swallow Royal hotel, Bristol
â- 1996 Excutive chef/culinary director, Butlers Wharf Chef School, London
â- 2000 Runner-up in Natinal Chef of the Year
â- 2001 Moved to Dubai