The Launch of GRIF

The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) saw a successful inaugural event between March 10-12 and was an event of surprises, laughs, great content and most of all – great food. When hospitality heavyweights come together to progress the global industry, I guess you’d expect nothing less right?

The Jumeirah Emirates Towers turned on their hospitality for the opening networking reception with a comprehensive showcase of 6 restaurant concepts all offering live cooking demonstrations and sharing the best of their cuisine. Ice sculptures stood adorned with fresh seafood, and the magical world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory seemed to come to life with fields of chocolate pops, trees of candy, and towers of macaroons for dessert.


Breakfast on Tuesday coincided with the launch of Choix – Pierre Gagnaire’s new bakery concept in the InterContinental Festival City. A humble and charming interview made us fall in love with both food and the “Celebrity Chef” concept all over again, as insurmountable passion was displayed by Pierre Gagnaire through his joy of cooking and lack of ego -  “I am not a showman, I just want to be a chef”.

The sessions kicked off in style with the first afternoon taking us for a fleeting trip “Around the World in 60 Minutes”. We learned of the hottest new trends in the F&B industry, and it emphasized the importance of tailoring products and concepts to the needs of each market. I’m not too sure that insect tasting plates would fly in every market, but nonetheless, the want is out there, and the prevailing trend shining through is to say goodbye to traditional fine-dining and hello to fun new concepts.

Qbara provided another truly unique experience for the GRIF delegates on the Tuesday evening with a stunning venue complete with translucent moving projections on the walls of it’s restaurant, wood crafted inserts from Indonesia and hand-blown glass globes suspended from the ceiling each from an individual wire. My photographs really could never do this venue justice, as it was a complete sensory masterpiece that displayed an arabesque flavor while embracing globalization. It was a great prelude to Bob Puccini’s presentation on Restaurant Design, and he concluded that “we are selling feelings and experiences, F&B is just the cost of admission”.

GRIF truly felt like a boutique event. With a delegation smaller than her big brother events like AHIC and IHIF, she was cozy, fresh-faced, and kept you guessing without a single moment to spare. Conversation flowed (along with delicious wine) and we couldn’t be more proud with how she turned out.

Lets hope she blossoms into the future, and we do hope you will join us on this journey towards 2015. In the coming year we hope to tailor the event to be more focused towards restaurateurs and investors, and we look forward to working with you all towards the future.

A huge thanks to all of our sponsors and supporters who helped to make this possible, thanks to Izel and Marco Pierre White Grill for the incredible lunch receptions that threatened to outshine the event itself, and most of all thank you to all of our fantastic speakers – because without you there would be no GRIF.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can be involved with GRIF 2015, please contact Ocean Belcher or Jennifer Pettinger.



Ocean Belcher – Programming Assistant, Bench Events.