Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Where Passion and Excellence Converge: A Culinary Conversation with Faisal Shaker, CEO of Modern Food Company.

Where Passion and Excellence Converge: A Culinary Conversation with Faisal Shaker, CEO of Modern Food Company.

We had the privilege to sit down with Faisal Shaker, the founder and CEO of Modern Food Company (MFC), a prominent name in the Saudi culinary scene. With a portfolio that includes renowned dining franchises like Nozomi, Cicchetti, Urth Caffe, Billionaire, and Signor Sassi, Faisal Shaker has transformed his passion for food and travel into a thriving business.


In this exclusive interview, Faisal shares his remarkable journey, insights into the restaurant industry, and his vision for the future.


Where Passion and Excellence Converge: A Culinary Conversation with Faisal Shaker, CEO of Modern Food Company.

The Journey Begins

Faisal’s journey in the food and beverage industry is an unconventional one. When asked about how it all began, he revealed, “This journey started a long time ago. My partners and I embarked on this path driven by passion. Initially, we had no intention of becoming a major player in the lifestyle and fine dining arena. It all began as a hobby that turned into a passionate pursuit.”

Faisal explained that their love for dining and experiencing different restaurants during their travels played a pivotal role. “Whenever we traveled, our first thought was always about where we would dine and which restaurants to book. It was a priority for us, often influencing our travel choices,” he said.



The Birth of Modern Food Company

Faisal and his partners took their first formal step in 2012, but the idea had been brewing since 2008-2009. He shared, “That’s when we decided to establish our own company and open our first restaurant. Initially, we explored partnerships with various global companies for franchising opportunities, but we lacked the right profile to secure a franchise.”

Their first breakthrough came when they secured the Nozomi franchise in London, UK. Faisal stated, “We signed a franchise agreement and began the journey of building our restaurant, hiring designers, and all the necessary preparations. Our first restaurant opened its doors in September 2014, marking the start of our MFC journey.”



Creating a Distinctive Dining Experience

Faisal’s passion for providing exceptional dining experiences is evident in all MFC restaurants. He drew inspiration from global leaders in the industry, particularly Zuma. “Our inspiration primarily came from Zuma,” he noted, emphasizing the desire to lead and create demand rather than follow trends.

Faisal’s unique approach extended to the cohesive design aesthetic across their restaurants. He credited Nori-san, a Japanese designer with Studio Glut, as the mastermind behind the consistent look and feel of their establishments. “Nori-san also designed Zuma restaurants worldwide, and we collaborated with him. This shared design style gives our restaurants a distinctive and unified feel,” Faisal explained.



Overcoming Challenges

Faisal admitted that there were operational challenges in the early days, particularly in convincing people to visit Saudi. “At that time, Saudi Arabia was quite different from Europe, and it wasn’t easy to attract Europeans,” he said.

Faisal recounted a conversation with Nori-san about the unique design of their first restaurant, which featured single and family sections. “He found it difficult to grasp the concept as it was unlike anything he’d encountered before,” Faisal shared.

Faisal emphasized the importance of adapting to emerging trends and seizing opportunities while maintaining high standards and consistency. “The F&B industry is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to stay attuned to emerging trends and seize opportunities to cater to changing consumer preferences while maintaining high standards and consistency,” he stated.



Culinary Passions Beyond MFC

In a more casual part of the interview, Faisal shared his personal culinary favorites and passions. He revealed his love for dining at restaurants like LPM and Cipriani and expressed his appreciation for Chestnut Bakery.

Faisal also mentioned his enthusiasm for motorsport, especially Formula One events, and how they complement the restaurant business. He highlighted the importance of creating unique dining experiences after major events and activities, bringing together people to celebrate.

In a lively exchange, Faisal encouraged us to explore camel milk, especially a brand called Noug, and its potential to blend with culinary offerings. He emphasized that camel milk, known for its health benefits, could surprise even those unfamiliar with it.




The Future of MFC

When asked about the future of MFC, Faisal shared exciting plans. “In two months’ time, we are opening our new Italian restaurant, Agio,” he revealed. But he also hinted at the company’s openness to new opportunities driven by their passion. “Even if we don’t have five years’ plans, we say that this is what we can offer. We enjoy what we are doing, honestly speaking. It’s not about growing our portfolio just for the sake of having more restaurants,” Faisal expressed.

He also emphasized the importance of creating unique experiences for their customers and hinted at exploring cultural elements in their offerings. “We are very famous in our region, Saudi Arabia, especially with camels. So we are exploring how we can infuse camel products into our food,” he shared.

As the interview concluded, Faisal Shaker provided insight into the power of passion in both the restaurant business and life, highlighting that passionate individuals give their best and create experiences that stay with customers long after the meal is over.


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