The career of Meelis Kuuskler spans design management and project development across the hospitality industry, with a focus on the optimization of capital investments throughout Africa and the Middle East. The founder and CEO of Hospitality Design Partnership established East Africa’s first Hospitality Roundtable in Tanzania. Swahili Coast Foodie sat down with Meelis to get his expert view on the hospitality sector and his passion for food.
What do you see as the main strengths of the hospitality sector in Tanzania?
There is the potential to develop a hugely competitive sector given the country’s ability to tap into almost every segment in the travel market. The sector, however, is in an emerging state.
What developments can we expect in the sector?
I see changing consumer habits and spending patterns in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Infrastructure developments will open up more destinations. We can also expect to see more Millennial travellers. They hop between countries looking for good food as part of their search for adventure, cultural tourism and great value. Remember also today’s backpacker is tomorrow’s millionaire.
What is your recipe for creating an outstanding restaurant?
First, how well run is the restaurant operations? The restaurant has to develop to operate efficiently from the front to the back of house. Second, it is essential to listen to patrons, adapt the menu and improve the guest experience based on their feedback. Remember, restaurants are social gathering spaces not just eating establishments.
What is your greatest food city?
Every place has something to offer! If you are brave enough you will find great food almost anywhere. For instance, I have eaten amazing Indian food off old banana leaves in Penang, Malaysia!
Have you discovered any Tanzanian street food?
I love my local joint that just serves pork. There is no fridge or hand-wash soap so many tourists may be put off. But sometimes you must be adventurous…
What are some of your favourite guilty pleasure foods?
Any dishes I eat in New York, they are normally huge portions! The sandwiches, breakfast bagels, Reuben sandwiches, pizzas…
Dream dinner party guest list?
People who enjoy life and new experiences. They would probably not be famous. My wife’s family would be a great choice!
Three ingredients you can’t live without?
Salt, Pepper and McCormick’s Smokehouse Maple seasoning from the United States.
What would be your last supper?
Grilled Pork! I cannot get enough of it. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Otherwise, I would have truffle risotto.