Caterer Middle East - - Feature -

Away from the peak of Jebel Jais, Clague still has two Rüyas to run. Split­ting his time equally be­tween Dubai and Lon­don.

“I think I’m in the air more than an Emi­rates pi­lot,” he jokes. But all seems to be go­ing well, de­spite dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

“The mar­ket is very dif­fi­cult but we’re up 10% on where we were last year so we’re do­ing pretty good. Rüya Lon­don is smash­ing it. The feed­back is ex­cep­tional. Apart from the Guardian, the Guardian hated us,” he laughs. “But apart from that ev­ery­body else has been good. Tommy Hil­figer has been in, Arse­nal have been in, lots of chefs from Lon­don have been in sev­eral times. Ja­son [Ather­ton], Gor­don [Ram­say], they’ve all eaten there and they’re very happy. So if you can keep Ja­son and Gor­don happy then that’s good enough for me.”

Clague says the tim­ing worked out well for the open­ing of Rüya in May­fair, with a large Mid­dle East pop­u­la­tion in Lon­don over the sum­mer who knew the brand from Dubai.

“We were prob­a­bly the busiest restau­rant in Lon­don for the first three months of open­ing. We had ev­ery royal fam­ily from the Mid­dle East and it was packed lunch and din­ner. Now it’s get­ting the lo­cals back, but so far we’re go­ing to turn a profit this month so that’s pretty spec­tac­u­lar.”

The big­gest chal­lenge is try­ing to ed­u­cate a lo­cal pop­u­lace who don’t re­spect Turk­ish cui­sine as Clague feels it should be re­spected.

He says: “Ob­vi­ously it’s a very pop­u­lar cui­sine in Lon­don but most peo­ple just think of ke­babs with gar­lic may­on­naise af­ter a few jars. Tak­ing it to the next step is what the own­ers want. They see, and so do I, Turk­ish food up there with French, Ja­panese. It’s just tak­ing it to the next level.”

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