Abu Dhabi became home to a “super-kitchen” this month. What used to be the Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel and is now Erth has unveiled a 9,000-square-metre catering facility with 150 chefs from 25 countries and a capacity to produce up to 100,000 meals per day.
Emirati hospitality and heritage lies at the heart of this state-of-the-art “central processing unit”, says Alain Verhoeven, Erth Catering’s facility director.
“We are inspired by the UAE’s traditions surrounding food, which is reflected in our recipes. With our chefs' respect for culinary legacy, an understanding of the history and skills behind each dish, and access to the finest ingredients, we can produce high-quality food in various styles and flavours.”
The tasting menu of appetisers, desserts and other small bites The National sampled features fusion foods drawing inspiration from Emirati, Indian, Japanese and European cuisines.
From the local mushroom duxelle and black garlic cream, to the intriguing prawn luqaimat with a seaweed fried onion garnish, to desserts such as mini key lime pies, date and Arabic coffee panna cotta, and coconut sago with Arabic cotton candy, Erth’s recipes playfully assert a unique style, mixing tradition and creativity. Each dish is complemented by uniquely Emirati flavours, whether through a pairing of cardamom and chocolate in a trifle, or dates and cream in a tiramisu.
Foodies can sample these and more through Erth Catering’s services or at the resort’s restaurants. The brand will also have a presence at the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
A peek inside the CPU – the hourly output of which is 2,400 portions of chicken, 3,000 portions of rice, and 3,900 portions each of beef and fish – reveals a suitably expansive kitchen. Made up of separate sections for cutting, cooking and packaging meals, the facility is held together by software with a database of more than 17,000 recipes, and that streamlines the production process, from acquiring raw ingredients to delivery.
“The Enterprise Resource Planning software calculates the time each item spends in the commissary [cleaning, sanitising, cutting] area,” explains Verhoeven. “Next, the system provides all the necessary recipes to staff in the different kitchen areas, and outlines the actions needed throughout the cold and hot sections as per a schedule, with the cut ingredients used at the required time. All cut ingredients will become cooked dishes.
“Finally, the system brings all the different dishes together in the packaging area to be dispatched via our logistics platform and delivered on time.” It is, Erth says, “the pinnacle of professional modern cooking science”.
Sheikha Al Kaabi, chief executive, Erth Abu Dhabi, says: “Catering is about understanding emotions and requirements, and tailoring our offerings to provide bespoke experiences … the quality and reliability of our services and the spirit of innovation remain a constant endeavour of our development.”
Currently open to diners are the outlets Beetza and Al Rimal, a Neapolitan pizzeria and an Emirati restaurant. Completion of the resort’s facilities and additional dining options is slated for 2022, leaving plenty of time to work up an appetite.