Welcome to the Emirates Man series of ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesspeople both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
What started as a passion project by Emirati father-son duo, Amer Al Tamimi and Abdulla Al Tamimi, both hailing from a legacy of art and design concepts, DecoArt and D&D Home in the UAE is now making waves in the F&B space in Dubai.
Known for its clean interiors, this space provides a twist on Mediterranean classics through a new era of gastronomic creations available to tantalize your palate.
With a fully independent vegan menu catered to plant-based guests and a range of other seafood inspired dishes, diners can experience a new era of aesthetic dining in the emirate.
Emirates Woman sat down with the brand’s co-founder Abdulla Al Tamimi to learn about his approach to business and how he’s revamping the culinary landscape in the UAE.
What was your favorite subject at school?
Math was my favorite subject in school, which might be surprising given my love for art – design, and culinary, but I’ve always had an interest in numbers.
What was your first job?
My first job was working in my family’s interior design business, and it was no walk in the park! I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything because it taught me the ins and outs of the design industry and gave me a genuine appreciation for aesthetics. I worked really hard during my time there, and this early exposure to design played a significant role in shaping my approach to creating a visually appealing ambience at Quince.
Tell us more about your background.
I graduated from university with a degree in Business Management, and straight out of college, I dove into my family’s interior design business. It was there that my passion for creating beautiful spaces really took off, however my passion for food started way before when I was just a child. I still remember how I’d cook for my dad as his own personal chef, experiment in the kitchen, and dabbled in creating new dishes. Anyone who knows me, would naturally understand that Quince was born as a passion project which allowed me to realize my life-long dream of having my own restaurant. Transitioning from interior design to the F&B world felt like the right move, since with Quince I could combine my love for design with my interest in hospitality and food. The journey has been incredibly rewarding, and it’s a pleasure to share my passion with the foodies of Dubai.
What inspired you to enter the F&B space and launch Quince?
My journey into the F&B world has been quite a whirlwind. As I mentioned, I’ve always loved cooking, and it all began when I was just a kid. I guess you could say my gig as my dad’s personal chef played a crucial role too. We’d often cook together in the kitchen, experimenting with flavors and ingredients. I slowly progressed to whipping up my own meals and from there, things only got more interesting as my skills evolved. While my passion stems from those childhood memories, I think what really kicked things into high gear was my passion for travel. Exploring new cuisines and flavors from around the world was a game-changer as I witnessed how food could bring people together. So, with that inspiration, Quince was born.
Talk us through some of the hero dishes visitors can enjoy at the restaurant.
At Quince, we have quite a few hero dishes that our guests love. One of the standout options for meat lovers is our ‘cut of the day.’ We’re quite picky when it comes to selecting the finest steak as for us, it’s all about the quality. However, we don’t just stop there; the sides that accompany it are equally flavorful. Guests can expect a plate with celeriac puree and tagliatelle, potato gratin, and a luscious bone marrow gravy to complement the star of the show. Another personal favorite of mine is our ‘Seafood Risotto.’ We’re committed to freshness, so our seafood is hand-picked daily to ensure it’s top-notch. This dish in particular features tiger shrimps, mussels, a touch of seaweed, and a shrimp head oil that adds a complex depth of flavor. It’s a real treat and something one must definitely try if they love seafood.
What are the key elements of your role?
As part of my role, there are several elements that I oversee at Quince. The highlight would of course be supporting our staff and managers to ensure smooth operations at all times. Quality control is a top priority too, and I’m diligent in ensuring that the ingredients are consistently fresh. To achieve this, I regularly conduct tastings, typically on a weekly basis, to maintain the high standards of our cuisine. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role though is working alongside our chefs. We work quite closely to explore innovative creations together, which definitely adds an exciting dimension to my role. I also make sure I am constantly establishing relationships with collaborators and clients alike because nothing compares to engaging with our guests and witnessing their reaction to the food first-hand. It also allows me to take them through the journey behind Quince and share a bit more about our ethos and concept.
Talk us through your daily routine.
I kickstart my day with a cup of coffee and dive right into work on my laptop. By noon, it’s time for a workout at 700 Padel & Fitness, which is conveniently right next to Quince. It’s a great way to recharge and stay active. Plus, it’s a good thing I run 700 Padel too because it balances out all the on-the-move tastings I do at the restaurant. After my workout, I transition into managing both businesses, ensuring that they run like well-oiled machines. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but it’s essential to make sure everything runs smoothly in both ventures.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
My advice would be to not overthink it. Take the risk, trust your instincts, and work tirelessly towards your goal. Be fearless in your pursuits and have unwavering belief in the vision you have for yourself. It’s that passion and determination that will drive you forward and help you achieve your dreams.
Tell us more about the products.
As you know, Quince is a unique fusion of culinary art and interior design, and it has been a labor of love that stems from our family’s deep-rooted background in design concepts. Our approach to combining excellence in both domains, helped us develop a F&B brand that offers a personalized touch that resonates with our customers – who predominantly know us through our premium furniture & interior design solutions, DecoArt and D&D Home. Hence in addition to being a dining destination, Quince is also a one-stop solution for interior design where we make luxury accessible. Having our D&D Home showroom within our restaurant perfectly encapsulates this idea. Diving more into the F&B aspect – at Quince, we take great pride in the quality and sourcing of our products. One of the things that sets us apart is our commitment to crafting many of our spices, sauces, and condiments in-house. Even our broths are carefully prepared in our kitchen, ensuring that every element of our dishes is made with love and attention to detail. Sustainability is another key focus for Quince. We’re particular about using sustainable ingredients and strive to minimize waste by creatively repurposing various parts of our food in other dishes. When it comes to sourcing, our chocolate, for example, is sourced from only the finest cacao, ensuring that the end product is of the highest quality. When it comes to truffles, we again go for the best of the best. You see – offering premium quality is not what we aim for, we guarantee it, and hence handpicking the finest ingredients is a common thread for our dishes across the menu.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“With hardship, comes ease”
And what is the worst?
“Don’t do it , don’t take the risk”
What’s the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
I am new to the F&B industry so the most significant challenge I’ve faced is diving headfirst into unchartered waters. I did my research and heard a lot about the challenges of this industry, but you never truly understand the scene until you’re in the thick of it. I’ve learned to welcome this challenge though, and over time, even grown to love it. It’s definitely been a ride but I’ve embraced it and learned a lot along the way.
What’s planned for the future of the restaurant?
As with any passionate entrepreneur, there are big plans but nothing set in stone yet. The road ahead is definitely going to be exciting with all the plans we have to innovate, evolve and surprise our guests. The only constant in our plan is to keep Quince true to its essence, but expect a dash of excitement and creativity in the coming time.
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