An Emirati chef is looking to cut food waste and help the UAE capital’s stray animals.
Jamal Al Breiki, 27, feeds leftover meals from hotels to stray cats and dogs after seeing the amount thrown away after lavish brunches.
Abu Dhabi hotel Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is the first to support him and had a test run on Friday. Its kitchens donated the leftover food, which was minced and distributed to stray animals at Cloud 9, a ‘pet hotel’ and vet surgery that cares for street cats and dogs.
“They were on board straight away,” said Mr Al Breiki, a chef for Springbok Butchery and Catering UAE.
“It only started last Friday but there has already been interest from three other hotels,” said Mr Al Breiki, who hopes to expand the drive across the country.
There has been growing public consciousness of the amount of food left over from brunches, with some offering more a la carte menus in response. Campaign group Emirates Environmental Group estimates Dh13 billion worth of food is wasted by businesses and consumers each year.
“My business partner and I collected the food, minced it and delivered it directly to the strays at Cloud 9,” he said.
“We had to make sure the food didn’t contain any bones, sauces or other ingredients that would be harmful to the animals.”
Mr Al Breiki, an animal lover himself with four rescue dogs as pets, estimated that he collected 30 kilograms that was suitable for the animals to eat.
“If only 10 brunches joined together we could potentially gather one tonne of food that could be distributed to stray animals,” he said.
“Think about how much food that is. It is a shame to see that amount of food being wasted.”
He is now working with campaign group Animal Action UAE to expand the scheme and ensure they reach as many stray animals as possible.
“We are also hoping to attract volunteers to create the strongest possible network,” he said.
Natalie Stones, the co-founder of Animal Action UAE, said there was an urgent need to help feed stray animals across the UAE.
“It is especially useful for all the stray dogs in kennels here,” she said.
“It’s important to keep them healthy and in good shape, but sometimes the dogs get depressed and don’t want to eat the kibble food that is provided.
“They are more likely to enjoy eating meat. This will help keep their strength up so their health does not deteriorate while they are in kennels.”
She said the cost of housing the animals also needed to be taken under consideration.
“It can cost a lot to feed an animal, so this has to be welcomed,” she said.
“Previously, our volunteers would try and take some leftover food home and bring it to the vets or kennels, so this will be a huge help in that regard too.”
Elias Saad, food and beverage manager at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, said the hotel was committed to donating leftovers each week.
“At first we weren’t sure if the animals would like the food,” he said.
“We put it all in an industrial blender for them and mixed it all together and the animals loved it.”