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La Voce dello Chef – Live on Facebook with Chef Davide Galbiati


On Thursday, May 20th at 2:30 pm (12:30pm Italian Time) was held the fourth appointment of the cycle of webinars called “La voce dello Chef” with Chef Davide Galbiati from the restaurant Fabbrica Italiana live on our Facebook page.

Davide Galbiati: “La fabbrica italiana” was born from the idea of the Italian bakery. You can see a counter of 7 meters with some focaccia displayed and then glasses that separate it from the kitchen, reminiscent of the glass of ancient Italian factories. There are also some products on display, an area we call the market, where we sell imported Italian products. We work with several niche producers that are not easily available on the market, so we have pasta, ready sauces, desserts, jams, Modica chocolate, oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh juices. The products are both for our Italian customers who know the products, but also for the local customers who are the most present in this area of the city and who can learn about new Italian products. One of the bestselling products is pasta with sauce. There is a friendly interaction with the people and we explain to them how to use the products and this is having excellent feedback.

Beatrice Calabrese: Where are we exactly?

Davide Galbiati: We are at Al Wasl road 51, where there is Jumeirah 1. “La fabbrica italiana” is our first store for now and we have been open for two months. In one of these two months, there was Ramadan, so it was a slightly different opening. There are many Italian customers, like our friends of the chamber of commerce, many people came to visit us Italians and not, many expats who appreciate the products. 95% of our customers are returning customers. It is a very high number and it is what we aim for: to have people who come back because they fell in love with the place, the products, and the environment. As for the local clientele it is a bit different because they are a bit difficult to approach. They are usually looking for pasta and the classic selection of the Italian restaurant, but there are also those who let themselves go and embrace this new concept in Dubai and give us great feedback.

Beatrice Calabrese: How did this idea of focaccia come about? Because in Dubai it never existed before.

Davide Galbiati: We are a family business, so it is me, my uncle and my aunt, Maurizio and Karam. They have been living in Dubai for a long time and, as they are lovers of good food, they realized that the focaccia was not very present on the menu. After considering the idea, the concept of making only three dishes was born: we make burrata, focaccia and tiramisu. The focaccia is a 72 hours fermented base so it is a product with high digestibility due to the fermentation. The toppings of flavors we put on the focaccia come from the experience I had luckily gain in my professional cooking course, so we always pay attention to the freshness of the product, we import 90% of our products from Italy, and we work with between 8 and 10 importers. Here in Dubai we have very strict processes to select our products, so we do market research, we look for everything that is available and then we proceed with what we prefer. Burrata is a cheese that goes a lot here in Dubai, the offer is a bit stagnant, so we wanted to offer more options to get customers closer to this cheese and also to show other products beyond the rocket and tomato. Tiramisu, on the other hand, is a funny story, it’s our best seller. Tiramisu is conceived in Veneto, by the chef Speranza Bon of the restaurant “Le beccherie”. It is created by the classic “sbatudin veneto”, which is eggs and sugar. When a princess came to the restaurant, the chef added mascarpone to create this cream and then she added biscuits and creates this imperial cup which is what we sell. Speranza Bon is an aunt of our family so we have her original recipe that we propose here in our shop and has great feedback. In the original recipe, we have Grand Marnier, which is an alcoholic beverage, which is not repeated here and instead, we use a little secret ingredient to replicate that flavor without the use of alcohol.

Beatrice Calabrese: concerning the selection of products, do companies present themselves in their products?

Davide Galbiati: yes, they do. Clearly, Dubai is not an easy market to introduce new, Italian products. There are difficulties, not extreme, but there are procedures to enter the Dubai market. We are mainly looking for niche products, we especially like to bring small producers and products that are not already available on the general market. If anyone is interested, it is the lafabbricaitaliana.com you let us know and we can organize.

Beatrice Calabrese: we, as a chamber of commerce, support all companies that want to approach and present their products and therefore it is also our task to contact companies with local distributors.

Davide Galbiati: we work with about 10 suppliers. Apart from some suppliers that always serve the same products, with other suppliers the offer changes constantly so there is a constant dialogue between us and the suppliers to discover new products. For example, there are cold cuts that we will buy from Calabria through one of our suppliers. They have a classic butcher shop in Italy, and they produce halal cold cuts that they sell only here. They produced them only when they are ordered so there is a wait of 40 days of aging. It is a product that is not made in bulk and it is a niche product, a quality product that we will aim to use in a few days.

Beatrice Calabrese: As for the establishment, so the creation of a business here in Dubai, what was your experience?

Davide Galbiati: first of all, it’s not easy, our experience was fast because this store happened in 5 months. The biggest difficulty is finding a location, because there are locations that are very expensive so you must have a good business plan to know what clientele you want to go with, the cost of the product that you will sell, the rents, the operating costs. You can’t cannibalize in Dubai because with these costs it’s very easy. For the design and completion part of the store there are a thousand options, Italian design created this concept. This concept wants to propose a high-quality product but in a casual style that is great for a potential expansion, so it is a concept that works well if replicated.

Beatrice Calabrese: Does this concept attract more certain types of target rather than local people?

Davide Galbiati: at the moment for the type of people we serve, 70-80% of the clientele are expats, so Italians who come to visit us in bulk and who fortunately return. The locals are a little less, but as I said before, there are only those who let themselves be taken by this new thing. There is no comparison in Dubai, generally when a new restaurant opens in Dubai there is always a comparison where you can measure yourself. We didn’t find it because there’s nothing like “La fabbrica italiana”. So, the locals are struggling to relate, but those who embraced this idea have had excellent results.

Beatrice Calabrese: in fact you always think that in Dubai what matters is the super elegant restaurant, but as the city is formed by 90% of expat, the expats are people like us accustomed to a certain type of catering that prefers quality over design.

Davide Galbiati: as you said, being 90% expat, many of these expats are accustomed to much smaller realities so they find more comfort and maybe a throwback to their countries when they go to these familiar and intimate places rather than the big chains.

Beatrice Calabrese: If any company wants to write to us as a chamber of commerce or directly to Davide, do not hesitate to contact us for any type of need.