Located at the newly opened Dubai EDITION Hotel, INTI is a fine-dining restaurant specialising in an authentic Nikkei experience, combining Peruvian and Japanese cuisine.

From the venue to the interiors, the ambience and the food, every aspect of INTI encompasses dining at its finest.

The restaurant’s Head of Operations, Jean Marc Petrus, tells Emirates Woman what sets this concept apart from the crowd.

Talk us through your career.

I have been part of the opening teams for two five-star hotels, both the Park Hyatt Johannesburg and the One and Only Royal Mirage as well as internationally renowned standalone brands including Zuma, Coya, Lima, Mamo-Michelangelo, Nammos and homegrown concepts – Play restaurant, Twiggy by La Cantine and recently INTI Dubai, a Nikkei restaurant at Dubai EDITION Hotel. Throughout the years, I’ve tried and tested a range of skills, a pastry chef, bar manager, nightclub manager, general manager and head of operations in standalone venues.

INTI decor

What initially inspired you to enter the hospitality realm?

Both my parents come from this industry, so I have grown up around hospitality. I took a gap year after school, working in hotel bars trying to find my place in life. I am a people person, with a genuine love to make those around me feel appreciated. What I found was an industry where my personality was valued and where entertaining people and being able to make them feel welcome was considered a strength. The job became a career, made me happy and I kept on going, never looking back.

What eventually brought you to Dubai?

Patrick John, the then Corporate Chef for Sun International, found me, a young Pastry Chef on the Comoros islands near Madagascar and brought me to open the One and Only Royal Mirage in 1999, and I never left. I was fortunate to be mentored by some of the industry greats, all of whom had been in Dubai over the last few years, guiding me and giving me an unparalleled professional benchmark to reach and maintain.

You’re now the Head of Operations for INTI which opened earlier this year.

Talk us through the concept. INTI is a rooftop Nikkei restaurant with a lounge and bar that combines elements of Peruvian and Japanese food with distinct techniques to create something wonderful. We also feature what some would define as “the best view in town”, overlooking the Downtown area from the roof of the EDITION Hotel. A private lounge that can be turned into a private late-night venue should the atmosphere of the night require it. We are elegant, sophisticated yet homely at the same time, a place that envelopes you with good energy and genuine hospitality. It really seems like every fine and intimate detail of this concept has been thought of – from the interiors to the menu, to the service, to the setting.

INTI food

Would you agree and how do you feel INTI differs from other concepts in Dubai and the wider MENA region?

We truly have a remarkable space with “postcard” views, sublime sunsets, and an outdoor terrace unrivalled in Downtown. Our guests from Dubai, the immediate region and abroad make the restaurant a destination to come and spend time absorbing the feeling, enjoying the dining and being part of the energy that defines INTI. In a city where a lot of money is spent on venue design and the perfect location, we wanted to set ourselves apart and add to the experience by focusing on the human touch, through every interaction so that the experience that each guest lives is memorable and makes our venue feel like your second home. We welcome back friends and make new friends all the time. We did not want to reinvent the wheel, we just focused on details and non-stop training to build confidence on the part of our team.

What sets the concept of INTI apart?

Our team of unique individuals who all believe in the product, and who live and breathe the INTI story is our differentiating factor. Our unwavering focus is and always will be our core value, we are all about the people. I believe success comes from surrounding oneself with a team that drives you to excel and at the same time is better than you in certain talents and aspects, to create a balanced team that feels comfortable sharing ideas. This type of team can make mistakes but also learns from those mistakes and supports each other to rebuild and drive forward each time. I have two of the most talented humans that have been integral in the development of INTI. Bringing such talent together can only create magic. Chef Marques Tones, the master behind our culinary journey, has spent a long time in the city with many international brands and has now taken his own direction in creating a menu that can show off his individuality and unique style. Rupesh Shetty, a longtime Dubai restauranteur, takes attention to detail to the next level and his genuine hospitality is an asset to our brand. The three of us have been long-time builders in our trade in the city and we bring to the table many years of experience and guests trust us.

Can you go into more depth behind the architecture and interiors of INTI?

Designed by the visionary talent of Lázaro Rosa Violán, the restaurant boasts stylish signature panels, and a multi-layered seating arrangement both indoor and outdoor, highlighting the theatricality at the heart of contemporary dining. With unrivalled views of Downtown Dubai’s impressive skyline, INTI takes Peruvian artistic influences to new heights. Lázaro is a self-proclaimed “creator of atmosphere” and he has outdone himself yet again in our space.

In your opinion, what are the hero dishes at INTI?

Some highlights that truly express our Nikkei menu: Prawn and black cod gyoza with chilly ponzu; Aubergine Tempura and ginger soy; Scallop Tiradito, wasabi and shiso leaf; Confit Duck, basil miso and chipotle; Josper roasted Lobster with red yuzu-koshu; Cauliflower steak, ocopa and aji panca.

What sets the F&B industry in Dubai apart from the rest of the world?

In the last 20 years that I have been part of this growth in F&B, we have progressed to being leaders. We used to import concepts, but now we export concepts. F&B in this city is a show, its live theatre, Hollywood, Bollywood, and Broadway all rolled into one. The people of Dubai make the biggest difference, going out to restaurants, the people of our city make an effort. For us dining out is an affair, it’s a time to get dressed, to feel the part. We live for the moment and take every minute of the experience as a memory to be cherished. We have the topmost influential F&B brands in the world in Dubai and the competition to succeed and excel had driven us all to up our game and constantly look to change and always try to be better. I have seen international brands arrive in Dubai only to be reinvented and tweaked to become better in their countries of origin.

What are the hurdles you’ve experienced throughout your career?

We should never forget that people work for people; this makes the biggest impact on me and my career as well as on who I decide to work with. Respect is mutual. F&B is a passion, it is a labour of love and dedication. Finding people who share your views and vision on the operation or the brand and allow you to be the best you can be is always hard to find.

Inti decor

What have been the milestones?

Leaving the comfort of my home country to explore wider horizons abroad set me up to meet the right people and join the right brands and helped propel me further. Joining One and Only Royal Mirage in 1999 was a springboard onto the international platform and set me on a path to success. The fortunate step into the world of stand-alone venues cannot have been better than opening Zuma and being part of the most continuous multi-award-winning venues in this city. The place I am today is largely due to my time in Zuma and the groundwork I learned while working there. I have been fortunate to be part of numerous award-winning venues in this city and over the years, attending award ceremonies and watching the same venues continue to win and excel with young talent keeping the passion alive feeds me. The years of effort and dedication to the F&B industry in Dubai culminated in my winning the “Restaurant General Manager of the Year” award in 2021 and was a feather in my cap that made the last few years of hard work worth it.

What are your hopes for INTI in 2022?

For INTI to be recognized as a leader in homegrown concepts and keep making splendid memories and experiences for our guests, building loyalty, and growing our ever-expanding network. Most importantly is nurturing the development of the INTI team and helping guide them to future successes.

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Images: Supplied