It takes a brave man to relaunch a globally renowned meat restaurant during a month that is universally acknowledged as a celebration of all things vegan.
But food entrepreneur or should we say, meat-preneur Riccardo Giraudi, hopes to ‘counterbalance’ the surge of interest in plant-based cuisine by bringing a bit of beef to the table. Part of a family that is hailed as worldwide pioneers in modernizing the beef industry, Giraudi has relaunched his Beefbar restaurant — an upscale more luxurious version of the traditional steakhouse — in a city that exults in its cosmopolitan identity.
From Monaco to Paris, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Malta, São Paulo, Mykonos, St Tropez and other glamorous locations across the world, Dubai’s unique brand of Beefbar — with a signature gold bar and camel emoji embossed plates — is open at the stylish Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel.
We catch up with the man behind the iconic brand to talk all things meat and a bit of vegan stuff as well.
You are famously described as a serial meat-preneur. Tell us what makes meat so appealing at a time when a vegan lifestyle is being upheld as the way to move forward!
Well, first of all I would like to say that I very much respect and embrace the vegan culture.
However, I am not somebody who is an extremist and as much as they have their place in society, I believe that carnivores also have their place and we can all live in harmony.
My family comes from the meat importation and distribution industry and I have developed a second company which specialises in bringing the best beef produced around the world into Europe. I personally hand-picked and travelled all over the world to choose the best farmers and producers who understand meat is not just a commodity anymore.
You are in Dubai for the reopening of the city’s Beefbar outpost during Veganuary - did you ever consider the irony of that!
How funny! Obviously, I did not know and I am thrilled we can counterbalance this a little bit by bringing some beef to the table.
The Giraudi family is considered the European leader for luxury meats export. What’s the secret behind your success?
We are a niche player focusing only on quality. As I mentioned before, I travelled all over the world to Japan, Australia, the United States and I brought in only the best produce. I believe quality has a price and I would rather eat less, but better meat. This has been the ethos behind my family business, my restaurants and my personal consumption.
Monaco, Athens, Paris, Hong Kong, Rome and now Dubai — what makes this such a compelling city to open Beefbar?
Beefbars have evolved a lot since we were last here and we have now extensively reviewed the menu, the architecture and the experience overall. Dubai is definitely one of the most cosmopolitan and glamorous cities for such a brand to thrive. I’m so happy to be back in what is probably one of the best locations the city has to offer and I hope people will enjoy their time at this venue as much as they do around the world.
How would you talk up a plate of beef to someone who believes that the meat is unhealthy?
Well, that’s a very good question. Again, nobody is forcing anyone to eat meat and people are free to believe what they want. I certainly can tell you it is not unhealthy. I also think that the meat industry has the worst PRs in the world. We should honestly learn how to communicate better.
What’s the one thing about meat that people are surprised to learn from you?
If I had to pick one, I would say that most people don’t understand that inside the marbling (fatty veins) is where the tenderness and taste lies. People always tend to go for lean meats. However if they’re looking for flavour they should go for well marbled meats.
What’s the secret formula to Beefbar’s success around the world?
This is such a difficult question. I don’t believe that there is only one answer. But surely one of the reasons is that it keeps reinventing itself. Yes, we sell meat but I do not consider Beefbar a steakhouse, this is what I keep saying over and over again. I believe it’s all about Small Bites, Street Food and simplicity, coupled and contrasted with elegance and refinement which makes the moment so special. I love contrasts. And of course nothing would be possible without our staff, the pillar behind it all.
What’s the signature dish from your restaurant you always try, whichever city you travel to?
Without a doubt the signature gelato. You have to try it!
Dubai has its own emoji too — a camel and a stack of gold bars. Tell us about the significance of this imagery?
I came to Dubai for the first time 30 years ago and all I saw were camels and gold. It’s more of a personal joke. But they look good and they’re cute, I hope you like them. The Emoji plates are there to break the ice, so don’t take them too seriously!
Being in the food industry what was the roughest lesson you learnt during the pandemic when restaurants were shut and social dos were minimal?
I am a very positive person in general. I learned that people miss the restaurants, that restaurants are part of everyday life and that they are needed in the society we live in.
I also realised that I work in a beautiful industry and that I want to continue — no matter what happens!
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