In Conversation with… Sunuj Deen

Growing up on the island, working with The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention & Spa and a childhood hobby that’s still a passion – Sunuj Deen, Director Of Food And Beverage (F&B), talks about all this and more.

Gulf Hotel Bahrain has arguably the highest number of restaurant offerings on the island. What major developments can we expect this year?
Rightly said, The Gulf Hotel offers a little something for all food lovers especially with the range of cuisines on offer so literally, it’s a ‘lot on the plate’ being the Director of Food and Beverage. It is indeed exciting times for the hotel with a new leadership and management and there are a few updates that will be revealed soon. Having said that, one thing I can state for sure is that the F&B and Culinary team are working on developing our menus further to exceed diners’ expectations. We are also working towards enhancing our touch points and making the whole dining experience a more interactive one. The outdoor catering offerings are another area we are upgrading further by moving towards a bespoke menu to suit smaller gatherings.

Did you always know that you wanted to get into hospitality? What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?
Yes, I studied marketing in high school but I was very clear about entering the hospitality industry. It has always excited me and, being an extrovert by nature, I considered it would be a fitting career for me. However, I never realised the sacrifices one has to make in terms of personal and family life once you are engaged with the sector. I am highly grateful to my family and friends for understanding my passion for this industry and supporting me to succeed. The fact is also that, once you dive deep into the world of hospitality or the service industry in general, you will start enjoying it no matter what. I learned very early from one of my mentors to “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day” and that is the trick.

The island has a thriving F&B industry with a wide range of offerings. What, in your opinion, sets The Gulf Hotel apart?
I grew up in Bahrain from the age of seven. Since my childhood, The Gulf Hotel was regarded as a focal point of Bahrain’s food scene and it continues to be so, both, in terms of the inventory of outlets and as a venue for events. I would consider the variety the hotel offers in terms of cuisines, all helmed by chefs originating from those particular regions, along with our lounges and bars are what truly set us apart. It is also great to note that Bahrain as a whole is evolving in the F&B scene, and healthy competition with newer concepts entering the market is always something that pushes everyone to do better.

As a third culture kid, raised in the Kingdom, how has the local culture shaped your personality – as an individual and a professional?
Bahrain has always been welcoming to everyone and the Kingdom’s leadership has ensured it stays that way. I believe what has influenced me the most is the local food and simplicity of the people as well as their hospitality. I love travelling and have covered more than 32 countries but I always love coming back home to Bahrain. Bahraini cuisine is simply fantastic and I still fancy a meal in a local tikka shop or a good Bahraini breakfast because it is served with a lot of pride and passion. Personally, the country gave me a great childhood and helped me develop culturally as an individual. Professionally, working in Bahrain and particularly with The Gulf Hotel has given me access to a rewarding career in hospitality, an opportunity to meet the who’s who of the island and, most importantly, lead a great team who I also learn from each day.

Not many know that you have had a talent for dance since your school days. Do you still follow this passion and how?
Hahaha, I remember reading somewhere ‘Dance is a little insanity that does us all good’! Dancing has always been a passion and I still try to dance whenever I get an opportunity because it makes me happy. I usually don’t have a chance to perform as much as I used to during my school days but I never shy away when an opportunity comes by. I am usually the first one on the list for the hotel’s staff parties and family gatherings. I also try to keep upto-date with the latest trends in the dance and music world. As a hobby, I find time to pursue my photography as well. ✤