The past week posed a real challenge to late eaters. With commercial activities coming to a halt at 8 pm, those who don’t know how to cook were in a bind. Noticeably, the whole Covid-19 saga has caused tremendous drawbacks not only in the food scene in Oman but the world.
As one Omani woman from Suhar gushed, it is only through gourmet delivery that they experienced some food luxury. Her family has totally avoided going out to eat in restaurants in the fear of getting the family infected with the virus.
Chef Thony Renard used to work for one of the Sultanate’s high-end hotels. Before Oman, he has worked with some of the best hotels in Dubai and other parts of the world but recently realised that gourmet food or high-end food do not need to be exclusive to hotels or restaurants and that it can be brought directly to people’s kitchens.
Working hand in hand with Al Marsa Gourmet managed by fellow French Nicolas Durin, they started an initiative of encouraging people to “Be Your Own Chef” which means providing high-end products to customers and educating them not only on how to acquire ingredients but sharing tips on how to achieve restaurant and hotel-quality food.
“Our company started 15 to 20 years ago as Al Marsa Fisheries exporting fish from Oman to Europe, USA and anywhere in the world. As Oman market grew, the company responded with that growth transitioning to Al Marsa Food diversifying the food we offer which now include numerous high-end products from cheese and dairy, to seafood, from duck and poultry to meat covering a variety of specialities including organic food, veggies, Italian, French, Asian favourites among others,” Nicolas said.
“When Covid happened in Oman, we realised that the quality of food drop drastically. It was when we decided that we have leftover stocks from supposed orders of hotels. We decided to make those products accessible to residents and citizens of Oman,” he explained.
“Basically, what we wanted to provide is any high-end food that you cannot find in the supermarket. It’s a niche market but some people are looking for it. If you are looking for high-end food and you cannot find it anywhere, we are the place to go,” he said.
Chef Thony said that because restrictions are being placed throughout different food outlets, people who are uncomfortable getting out can turn themselves into their own chefs working in the safety of their personal kitchens.
“We are empowering the people to not get intimated with preparing good food. One of our team members, Amina who is in charge of our social media and customer engagement, is creating different materials that allow people to have access to product information as well as recipes”, Nicolas explained.
He added, “When we decided in doing business-to-customer, we expected our market to be comprised of mostly expats. We were surprised to discover that more than 50 per cent of our customers are Omanis.”
Al Marsa’s best sellers include salmon fillets from Norway and their Fine De Claire oysters hold more promise — something of which they will divulge in even better news soon.
If there is something that the French know so well, it’s quality and best food. Al Marsa’s selection also includes caviars, a wide assortment of cheese and even slow-cooked foie gras.
“At the heart of our operations, our goal is to empower everyone to be their own chef. We provide an outlet for people who don’t know how to cook and get them an opportunity to prepare their meals by simplifying the process,” Chef Thony explained.
“We also have an in-house delivery system which means that our team personally delivers the items you order to your doorsteps. With this mechanism in place, we can gauge our customer’s needs and also listen to their feedback,” Nicolas said.
Al Marsa Gourmet looks forward to creating a different food experience for people in Oman eliminating the fear of being in the kitchen. To order, product details and pricing can be found on their website https://www.almarsa-gourmet.com/. You can also follow them on Insta: almarsa_gourmet.
BY YERU EBUEN