Interview with Maximilian Rauch, Ascott’s head of F&B for Middle East, Africa and Turkey

Interview with Maximilian Rauch, Ascott’s head of F&B for Middle East, Africa and Turkey

Maximilian Rauch

Throughout his impressive career, Maximilian Rauch has held key positions across the hospitality and corporate sectors. In his new role, he will be responsible for Ascott’s portfolio of owners and restaurant operators across the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Turkey and Kenya, creating dedicated training programs, implementing customized service solutions and bolstering industry specific partnerships to strengthen the group’s F&B offerings. With his extensive background in culinary management, Rauch tells us how he is planning to elevate Ascott’s F&B offerings.


What have been the highlights of your professional career?

My very first summer job in Spain was in F&B, which marked the start of my now 20-plus year career. This would not have been possible without the immense support I received from my mentors along the way and the privilege of working with such talented teams. My professional accomplishments are all tied to the people I have worked with, including chef Rafa Soler, who, in the early 2000s, was reshaping the culinary landscape in the region of Valencia; Jaime Castaneda, who mentored me during Al Hambra’s re-launch in Madinat Jumeirah; and chef Michael Kitts, whose knowledge, passion and ambition for F&B are unparalleled.

During my undergraduate studies at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, chef Kitts educated and mentored me, and we ended up working together, sharing unforgettable moments that I will cherish forever. I have been fortunate to work with some of the most talented and passionate professionals in the field, each of whom has left an everlasting impression on me and inspired me to continue on my path. Above all, they have become truly wonderful friends.

What differentiates Ascott’s F&B offering from its competitors? 

Ascott’s food and beverage portfolio is in the early stages of becoming a truly unique and diverse roster of restaurants. We are currently crafting F&B concepts for both short- and long-stay guests to elevate their dining experiences with well-balanced offerings that pay homage to Singapore’s rich cultural heritage, as well as the heritage of the countries in which each restaurant operates. At the same time, sustainability remains at the top of our agenda, with ambitious sustainability initiatives that extend into 2030, starting with conducting due diligence with suppliers to ensure that they have implemented sustainable practices. We are also engineering robust supply chains and menus that culminate in the final dish served at our properties.

What can you tell us about the challenges of overseeing 13 operational properties in the region and 16 F&B outlets?

Operating across such a large cluster brings forth a variety of scenarios and poses many challenges. We view each challenge as a learning experience that pushes us to think outside the box and formulate successful ideas. Each property possesses unique traits like location and demographics. We aim to adapt and share findings, fostering team creativity for unique activations. The F&B industry is constantly evolving, and we must challenge ourselves daily to keep pace.

How would you describe the culinary preferences of customers in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey?

Culinary preferences are continually evolving, making it a challenging task to cater to such a wide variety of tastes. F&B operators must reconsider aspects like décor, plating, and food styling in their restaurants. While we strive to provide holistic and enhanced dining experiences, taking into account all aspects of our restaurants, the preference among customers will always be exceptional service coupled with outstanding food.

What plans do you have for Ascott’s F&B outlets?

Ascott has an array of initiatives planned within its F&B portfolio. We aim to elevate guests’ culinary experiences with delightful breakfasts, exquisite in-room dining and unforgettable moments shared with family and friends over delectable pastries and cakes in our lobby. Further details will be unveiled as our plans come to fruition.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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