Meet the Sommelier: Luca Gagliardi

Meet the Sommelier: Luca Gagliardi - The Restaurant Co. Stories - Food & Beverage

Director of F&B at Capital Club Dubai, Luca Gagliardi has held the role of Sommelier throughout most of his career. Specialising in beverage and working with wines on a daily basis, Luca shares with us his observations on the industry. Nestled in Dubai’s booking financial district, Capital Club Dubai is a business members only club that focuses on bringing professionals together under one roof. Home to varied F&B concepts, the venue is multi-story and prides itself on offering only the finest dining experiences throughout the day, as well as hosting business and social events for its members. At Capital Club, guests will find a large selection of wines, mostly Aperitif-style wines that are very well suited for after work drinks. The outlet’s finest collection is undoubtedly French, with many of its varieties being from the Bordeaux and Champagne regions. In a one-to-one with Luca, we sat down to learn more about the professional and listen to his views of the current wine industry and its trends. Here’s what he shared with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Capital Club…   I came to Dubai over 18 years ago with the Gordon Ramsay team at Verre by Gordon Ramsay as Assistant Manager & Head sommelier. All my life I’ve worked mostly in Michelin starred restaurants. I moved on to work for Santi Santamaria, a 3-star Michelin chef from Barcelona in 2009, who overlooked the team at the Atlantis for the Ossiano restaurant. During my last 10 years in Dubai, I’ve worked at and helped to create new concepts in the city including the lounge of Roberto’s, the speakeasy bar R Trader, Bistronomia Solo at Raffles, Roof Top Bar at Iris, and the sustainable concept at Pierchic. In December 2020, I joined the Capital Club team in DIFC to revitalise all F&B concepts across four floors of the club. Tell us about your guests: who are they, where they are predominantly from, and are they mostly lovers of wine? Our guests are mostly international business people, from young entrepreneurs to self-made gentleman. Their nationalities are mixed, mostly European but also large groups of Asians and Arabic. These are people who have spend their life surrounded by great food, so they tend to have a fine palate for food and beverage, so it is a pleasure to work for them as they are always in search of new discoveries when it comes to dining.  Most of them are wine lovers, who appreciate a glass together with cigars, fine cognac and whiskeys. What types of wine are most popular with your guests and why? Our guests prefer lots of fresh, crisp wines such as sauvignon blanc, rieslings and Champagne, as most of them visit us for aperitifs from 6pm till 8pm. Usually our members are businessman whose days begin early in the morning, so fresh wines post-work are the best options here. On average, how many bottles do you sell at Capital Club on a monthly basis? As business member club during the day we don’t sell many wines, but during the social events our consumption drastically goes up, mostly during activities like our wine society or spirits master classes. As a beverage professional, can you describe any current trends in wine consumption that you’re noticing at the restaurant? Surely the biggest trend with double digit increase is the natural wine movement, together with the organic wines and the biodynamic wines. Dubai unfortunately is miles away from this trend due to the price structure of our taxes, but there are bunch of Dubai-based sommeliers, like me, devoted to trying to change that and ready to list these types of wines. What do you predict as the next biggest trends in wine for this year and beyond? I think in Dubai – and much like the rest of the world, the beverage industry is down because of the pandemic. In light of this, demand for entry level to medium range wines and spirits has spiked and become more popular because they’re most cost-effective for customers. Prosecco, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio wines are still selling very well, and I don’t think there will be something new coming in the market this year. For more information about EuroCave in the GCC, visit, and for more information about Capital Club, visit

Meet the mixologist: Raven Rudolph

Meet the mixologist: Raven Rudolph - The Restaurant Co. Stories - Food & Beverage

Overseeing three venues at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, Raven Rudolph is the Bars Manager for Bull and Bear, St. Trop & Peacock Alley. Looking at current trends in beverage, Raven takes us behind the bar to share what’s most in demand this year. A love for hosting was born in Raven from an early age, from setting the table at his grandparents house every Sunday to later waiting tables and working in catering whilst he studied hospitality. Reflecting on his journey, Raven recalls being inspired by what chefs were doing with flavour combinations and how they impressed guests. “As all that was happening the new age of cocktails was emerging and the timing was meant to be. The perfect mix of experimenting with flavours, hosting and entertaining people was born and I was hooked,” Raven tells. Building a relationship with guests, becoming part of the theatre, ambiance and aura of a dining experience was something that drew Raven to a career in bartending, and he hasn’t looked back since. In a one-to-one with us, here’s what Raven shared: What are some of the signature cocktails available at Waldorf Astoria DIFC?  We have different themes in the different venues. Bull and Bear is based on the stock markets in New York, and therefore the menu is designed to be twists on classic cocktails that are familiar. We have gin and tonic twists with sloe gin and marjoram, a tequila and chocolate twist on an old fashioned and a fantastic twist on the negroni with earthy flavors of mezcal and cynar liquor and a flamed orange zest for garnish.  Peacock Alley is a different style of service of mixed drinks with an attached Cigar Lounge, The drinks are more experimental and are based on the personalities and celebrities that were seen to visit the Waldorf Astoria in New York in its prime, such as the Monroe which is a sassy pink cosmopolitan style drink with mixed berry, and berry tea. We have the Sinatra which is a New York sour style with cinnamon, Jack Daniels whisky and a touch of Port wine as well as the Hepburn which is a pineapple and chilli martini. St. Trop is all about the gram, this is a venue made for selfies and digital photography. Here we have south of France inspired drinks like the french flirt – a passionfruit and mint flavored martini, and we have had a prosecco and candy floss cocktail, which keeps it playful but tasty too.  What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with behind the bar, and why?  Herbs and tea, without a doubt – I love the variety of herbs and the environmentally-friendly ways it is used. They are used for the flavour, the smell, as well as the look (garnish) of the drink. Tea is my go to in my cocktail programs and Avantcha Tea has definitely exposed me to the wide variety of flavour possibilities, and the ability to easily infuse these into spirits like vodka and whisky etc. allows you to add flavour but also the ability to make non-alcoholic versions of this drink when necessary instead of relying on the same old virgin mojito.  Looking at current bar operations, what spirits and cocktails are most in demand at the moment?  Gin is still the crowd pleaser for the masses, and all the varieties popping up. In Dubai, I feel anything with aperol is a crowd pleaser. Although there is an interesting low ABV demand making use of vermouths. We try to use as many fresh and natural ingredients as possible, fresh is best and natural sugars from a fruit is always a better flavor than a synthesised syrup or purée.  What do you predict being the next cocktail trend?  The crystal ball question! I do not believe that gin cocktails and negroni love is going anywhere in Dubai any time soon. I do not have an opinion for the entire world as I firmly believe that Dubai is a place of its own trends. We are still observing a growth in low-alcoholic cocktails and actually testing the waters with non-alcoholic mixed drinks, but in a more experimental and creative fashion, I am by no means saying that it is taking over the cocktail trend and that alcohol consumption will drop, but it is definitely a phase that we see the consumer dabbling in much more.