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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, January 29 2010. 14:20

Feature: Meet Faiek Saadani of JW Marriott

Faiek Saadani, the dynamic F & B Director at the JW Marriott since last February is a thorough-bred hospitality, food and wine sector expert with close to the ground international  experience in managing  restaurants and hotels, writes Subhash Arora who had an exclusive chat with him in Mumbai recently.   

‘I hear German being spoken across the table-with my wife.’
“That is Faiek Saadani talking to your wife, Waltraud. But I did not know your wife is German?”
‘Yes, she is. But I thought from his name that he is an Egyptian who speaks very good German.’
“He has a German mother and an Egyptian father and hence the name. But he was born in Germany though later spent his childhood in Egypt till he was 17.”

I was chatting with Mr. Miguel Torres, President and owner of Spain’s Torres Wines group at the special dinner organised by Terroir One- Mumbai Chapter of Delhi Wine Club and JW Marriott in his honour at Mezzo Mezzo. The gentleman chatting with his wife, across the wide banquet table was Faiek Saadani, the F & B Director of the JW Marriott Hotel.

If Faiek has already made his mark as the F & B Director at the hotel, if he is fast becoming the page 3 person in Mumbai, if the hotel is buzzing with several interesting  F & B activities, it is because of his visibility at the various hotel events he helps organise at a break-neck speed and the abundance of Bollywood crowd who love the food, the ambience and the general environ of the hotel and its facilities.

Beginnings in the Restaurant

Faiek Saadani, the younger and softer looking Yul Bryner, with a clean shaven head and face, started his hospitality industry career in 1990 when he joined a hotel management school in Stuttgart, Germany. After 3 years of studies, he did not join a hotel as a conventional choice for his fellow students, but a restaurant instead-in Wiesbaden, called Kafer’s Bistro as a waiter, where ‘I made tons of money-even more than I am making now.’

Three years later, he started a cigar and wine club called Havana Club for his new employer. Cigar and wine?’ I almost jumped from my chair. I was interviewing this relatively new F & B Director of JW Marriott 10 months. ‘The owner loved his cigar and wines and it was quite trendy in the mid nineties,’ he says matter-of-factly. ‘We had 60 varieties of cigars!’ he said. I did not dare ask him how many wine labels were there!

His next job in Frankfurt was at the biggest restaurant in Germany, where 1100-1200 covers were be handled in a day at 3 levels. The restaurant still exists, though renamed as as ‘Living’, he says. ‘Experience at Kafer’s which had a focus on outside catering gave me an enormous banqueting experience, with international stars like Sting and Pavarotti frequenting that place and expecting excellent service.’

On to the Hotel Industry

‘After about a year, I decided to enter the hotel industry and joined a Hyatt in Mainz as Assistant Restaurant Manager.’ A stint at their Azerbaijan property followed opening a hotel in Warsaw. ‘My desire to be in the Middle East took me to the Marriott Dubai as a banquet Manager eventually getting promoted as the F & B Manager.’

From there I was assigned to the soon-to-be opened JW Marriott in Gurgaon and I moved to India in 2008. Since the project there was getting slightly delayed I came to Mumbai as their F * B Director in February, 2009.

‘I love Mumbai,’ he says,’ my kids love school, I have made good friends and people are friendly here.’ His mission is to make sure that JW Marriott continues to be recognised as an F & B destination. The fact that it is loved by Bollywood helps it get higher footfalls with Mezzo Mezzo and Spice being very popular restaurants.

Wine Promotion

So how does he promote wine in the hotel? ‘We work with strong partners like Terroir One who will support us in our events. Many great wine events have been taking place and we plan to continue the same. We also plan to get a sommelier back in the hotel soon,’ he confides. ‘I think the property and the facilities make it necessary to have one.’

Unfortunately, JW Marriott has been saddled with huge wine inventories due to their earlier plan of opening a wine bar but later abandoning the project. ‘It is our objective to dilute these stocks at very good prices. We are pricing our wines at very low levels so as to get rid of slow moving stocks at best possible rates, which by the way, gives some fantastic deals for the wine connoisseurs. We are currently limiting our purchases, buying mainly banquet wines as and when required. We hope that in 6-7 months we will be able reduce the levels to 60%.At that point we shall start buying afresh.’

What about the wine prices on the wine list? Some of the wines are quite reasonably priced, one notices. ‘But how about the Indian wines?’ I ask. ‘The Indian wines are also priced at Rs. 600 a glass, the same as imported wines, I comment. ‘That is a good point,’ he says adding ‘We should look into that’.

F & B Promotions

The food promotions are very important, asserts Faiek. ‘Last year we did an Easter egg with a diameter of 16 feet, taking 24 hours to make it. We are also planning something interesting and novel for Valentine’s Day, which I would not like to disclose just now.’

We are starting with interesting events daily during week days.

Starting around 26th of this month we will have a pizza event every Monday from 4-7 pm when you would be able to come and enjoy acrobatic pizzas with Chef Orianna of Mezzo- she has been an acrobatic pizza champion of the world and will attract many of our clients who swear by her chocolate pizzas.

BBC will have a chocolate extravaganza on Tuesdays while the Saffron Restaurant will dish out a variety of delicious kebabs on Wednesdays. Thursdays will be the Sushi Rocks. Fridays, we may have a cheese counter with over 30 flavours of cheese -all at value for money prices. We haven’t yet decided what to call the events.’ Fabulous Five- perhaps?

And that sums up his enthusiasm and vision to keep the buzz alive.
No matter how the programmes are titled, if you love food and wine, JWM is the destination you want to keep in mind, and hope Faiek Saadani is around.

Subhash Arora



Ashok Shah Says:

good profile coverage.

Posted @ February 03, 2010 13:26


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