Nick Alvis and Scott Price, the Dubai chefs behind Table 9 are leaving at the end of the year to work with Spinneys.
Dubai's Table 9's founders moving on to new challenges with Spinneys
When Gordon Ramsay pulled out of his Dubai restaurant, two young British chefs took a huge leap of faith, with the backing of Hilton and its owning company.
Table 9, a new home-grown restaurant concept, was born, and despite limitations with its location and interior, the food and service shone through. However, less than two years later, the chefs Scott Price, 32 and Nick Alvis, 33, are on the move again. Come January 1, Price and Alvis will be joining the Dubai-based Albwardy Investment Group, which owns Spinneys and the local rights to the Waitrose supermarkets, as well as the Desert Palm resort.
“Albwardy gave us the opportunity to develop a small chain of casual dining restaurants, completely from scratch. We are designing the concept. One site for now, opening next year in Dubai, with the possibility to expand,” says Price. “It’s casual dining, relaxed deli-style. Really nice ingredients, done simply. Top quality stuff in an interesting way. And it won’t be in the supermarket!”
The chefs are not disclosing the restaurant’s location or name yet, but if their new website and Twitter handle is anything to go by, expect “Nick and Scott” to be integral to the branding. Table 9’s restaurant manager, Viktorija Paplauskiene, will also be joining Albwardy to manage the new outlet’s front-of-house operation.
It’s not just about new restaurants, though, for the chefs. “Albwardy is building a large production facility on the outskirts of Dubai to house its own produce, instead of importing through various companies, which is what happens at the moment. A bakery, butcher, delicatessen and charcuterie are planned to supply the trade. We are developing equipment to support the retail side of the operation,” says Alvis.
There’s much demand for ready meals here – can we expect such a line from Nick and Scott? “Not at the moment, but it will possibly happen as we get more involved with the retail side of the operation. We have a complete blank canvas, within reason,” says Alvis. Price explains: “Spinneys want to be more like Waitrose with their own brand of products developed here.”
Price and Alvis are actively involved in the hiring process for Table 9’s new chef. The style of food and menu will be driven entirely by the new chef, but will still reflect modern European cuisine.
Simon Lazarus, the vice president of food and beverage for Hilton Worldwide in the Middle East & Africa, says: “The Table 9 concept – both name and location – will remain exactly the same. The key difference was Table 9 ‘by Nick and Scott’ and now that will change to Table 9 by a new chef, which we will announce within the next month or so.
“We have a shortlist of candidates, the number ones in Michelin-star restaurants globally. We’re in the process of selecting the right candidate with cook-offs. It’s a perfect platform for new talent and a young aspiring chef to have his name above the door.
“We’re looking at one chef, but if there’s a partnership similar to the unique friendship that Nick and Scott have, we will entertain that.”
Lazarus says there is even a chance that more Table 9 concepts will open elsewhere. “We have plans to take Table 9 to other Hilton hotels. We don’t have anything signed, but we are looking at key cities for this type of model.”
Samantha Wood is the founder of impartial restaurant review blog www.foodiva.net