THE COMMUNITY-LED CULINARY CLUB
Husband and wife team Kenza and Patrick Jarjour are the brains behind Alserkal Avenue’s Inked, a pop-up dining club that hosts experimental food evenings. How did you get started in the food industry?
Kenza: Officially, when I was getting my MBA in hospitality management at ESSEC Business school in Paris. Unofficially, food has always been a part of my life and my childhood. Kids have crayons, paint and play-doh to express their creation and curiosity, I had food and ingredients. I always found a joy in the never-ending possibilities of food.
Patrick: Inked is my first venture in the food industry – my passion and experience belong in events and it’s the combination of both our strengths that made Inked happen.
How did the idea for Inked come about?
It started when we were 15 years old, at school. We dreamt we would one day have a restaurant together and, as the years went by, we both separately realised that what we wanted was to build something that would combine both our passions, events and food.
In a crowded market, what convinced you that there was space for Inked?
The market may be crowded but there was a big Inked shaped hole in the industry. There was no such space offering creative and free style collaboration and experimentation. We believe it’s a sector that wasn’t tapped into from a food perspective.
What are you aiming to achieve and what would you like to do next?
K: To develop food-led concepts or work on projects that have a meaning or a story to tell. This is how we want to express ourselves and is actually where the name Inked comes from – the marking of a moment in order to leave a meaningful memory, a permanent reminder of what actually is a temporary experience.
P: We have created Inked because we wanted to engage the community with alternative food experiences, but also to be a stopover for people from abroad to experience Dubai and the region. It is important for us to show that a lot can be developed here and we want to position Inked, as a space where creation, collaboration and sharing can occur.
How important is sustainability and locality to what you do?
It is fundamental for us as it should be for everyone else in the food industry. We live in a time where being sustainable is not a fashion anymore, it is a necessity. We’re working on a strict minimal waste policy. All of our dinners are counted and we cater for the exact number of guests that have booked in order to avoid leftovers. We are also part of the Drop It campaign, a Goumbook initiative designed to unite individuals and the local business community in saying no to plastic bottles. Instead, we use clean filter water served in glass bottles.
What has the reaction been to the concept?
K: Great! People come intrigued and leave curious to find out what we have planed next.
P: We love to see that guests who had an Inked experience want to come book for the next event, knowing that it will be different.
You also created Alserkal’s Good Vibes Market. How important has the area’s community, and your instinct for collaboration, been to what you do?
We chose Alserkal Avenue as the compass for both our concepts because we fundamentally share the same values, a strong sense of authenticity and the love for collaboration and interaction between different creative minds. Alserkal Avenue has a strong communal drive that is evident in its design as well as its chosen tenants. Essentially, it is a love of creation and of the arts that brought the Alserkal Avenue team together, and we believe that’s what makes us a great addition to their family, and theirs a great place for us to make a home.