'This trip has focussed my mind' - Emirates Academy Student on Churchill Experience of a Lifetime

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A unique Churchill event in Dubai, involving the Emirates Academy of Hospitality, the Craft Guild of Chefs and Michael Deane, provided the perfect occasion to reward the talent of a young chef from the academy.


Celebrating the Best of British and hosted by Churchill and the Craft Guild of Chefs, students from the Academy of Hospitality were invited to demonstrate their skills producing a menu devised and overseen by Michelin star chef Michael Deane for hospitality leaders in the Emirates. Adding an element of competition to the proceedings and as a thank you for the exceptional effort put in by the students Churchill organised a unique prize.


Kholoud Ali Abbas was the winning student and her effort was rewarded with a study trip taking in the some of the best hospitality in the UK and Ireland. Speaking ahead of her trip Michael Kitts, director of culinary arts at the Emirates Academy and winner of the Craft Guild of Chef's 'Peoples Choice' award said:


"Kholoud really did excel on the gastronomy elective at the Academy. It is reassuring to know that students like Kholoud will benefit from the support and vision of Churchill, the sponsor of the trip, for many years to come. Her visit to the UK and Ireland will broaden her horizons in the hospitality world and will help her get a feel of how diverse an industry we all work in"


The trip was organised to provide Kholoud with a unique insight into hospitality in the UK and Ireland. Instrumental in arranging the London leg and first part of the trip was Paul Bates, executive chef at the Intercontinental Hyde Park and having checked into St Ermins hotel in Westminster was Kholoud's first port of call. Following a meeting with Paul, Kholoud headed to the Ritz for a specially arranged tour and meeting with Guilluame Marly, hotel manager.


Having taken in the London sights and experience it was time for Kholoud to visit the Stoke factory of Churchill, escorted by Glenn Ewart business development and champion of the Dubai event and competition. The factory which produces around 14 million pieces a year and has benefitted from an unrivalled £20million investment over the last 12 years was a real eye opener for the student.


'Going around the Churchill factory amazed me at the level of production and what goes into making chinaware. When I open my restaurant, I know which tableware I will choose.'


The visit to Stoke also gave Kholoud the opportunity to catch up with John Retallick VP Craft Guild of Chefs, John said.


'It was wonderful to see Kholoud who we worked with at the Churchill event at the Emirates Academy in May. This trip will give her a great flavour of the UK Hospitality Industry and a real contrast to her life in Dubai. We all at the Craft Guild of Chefs wish her well in what will be a bright future'


After a quick rest it was off to Belfast to meet Michael Deane who shared his experiences to aid Kholoud in her ambition of opening her own restaurant in Dubai.


Michael Deane of Deanes Restaurants Belfast added:


'Working with Kholoud was a pleasure in Dubai, and you could see her shine in the kitchen at the Academy. We discussed opening a restaurant when we had dinner in Belfast and as I enter my 20th year of owning and running restaurants, I just hope my insights will help her along the way'


The experience was complete with a visit to the award winning Titanic Experience in Belfast, a unique visitor experience opened to international acclaim early this year which Churchill supplies.


Kholoud sums up the experience, highlighting a key difference, as,


'What a wonderful trip, I have seen three different places in one trip and I have to pinch myself- one minute I am in the Ritz and before I blinked I was sitting having dinner with one of the leading lights in the Irish Restaurant scene. But it is the contrast between Dubai and here - here you are spoiled as you have so many ingredients to hand - in Dubai we have to import everything. I just love the culture here. This trip has really focussed my mind in forging my ambition to open my own restaurant. My idea is unique and never been done in Dubai but I'm not telling anyone as I don't want my idea stolen but I promise it will have the wow factor and be a great addition to the scene in Dubai. The lasting memory was standing in the Titanic Visitor attraction with Michael Fox, operations director, and looking out at where the famous Titanic was launched as he told me about the conference business he runs - 1200 for dinner, 52,000 at MTV Awards and he is so relaxed - again a professional who is passionate about the industry.'


Glenn Ewart of Churchill added:


'I think it was evident to all the passion and craft of winner Khaloud Ali Abbas and it has been a real pleasure for all involved to meet her and offer their experience and invaluable insights. I would like to thank everyone who gave their time - Paul Bates at the Intercontinental Hyde Park, Guilluame Marly at the Ritz, John Retallick from the Craft Guild of Chefs, everyone at Churchill's Stoke factory, Michael Deane of Deanes Restaurant, Michael Fox of the Titanic Experience and of course Mick Kitts who works so closely with Churchill to make events like the one in Dubai happen and mentors students to the exceptional standard demonstrated by Kholoud. All round from the event itself in Dubai to the final meetings in Belfast the experience has shown hospitality at its best and it will be exciting to see what Kholoud does next.'


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