FACT Chats: Sanjay Dwivedi, Culinary Director of Meraki Riyadh
Contemporary Greek restaurant Meraki Riyadh has recently appointed Sanjay Dwivedi as its new Culinary Director, marking the start of an exciting new chapter within Meraki’s unique legacy.
An internationally acclaimed chef, and Culinary Founder of beloved fine dining destination COYA, Sanjay Dwivedi has long been recognised for his innovative take on gastronomical experiences. Here, we catch up with him to discuss cuisine, culinary inspirations and his vision for Meraki Riyadh.
Having spent over a decade with COYA, what sparked the decision to take on the role of culinary director at Meraki?
I was seeking a new challenge after ten years with COYA, but above all, I had an existing relationship with the Waney family (Owners and founders of The Arts Club, COYA, Meraki, ROKA and Zuma), and they asked me to take over the Meraki reins. It was a no-brainer for me!
Tell us about your new role and how it came to be?
With Meraki, there was already strength in the existing product. We’re on the cusp of something monumental on a global scale. My role is to aid the fantastic team to refine and redefine not only the menu, but lifting the overall package.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different. I say hello to every member of the team, and see what the day is going to bring. There are always curveballs around every corner.
What can diners expect when dining at Meraki?
Fine dining without the formalities. People come to Meraki to have a fun dining experience!
How does the culinary offering at Meraki Riyadh differ from the London flagship?
The core elements of the menu remain the same. Our clientele in Riyadh enjoys plentiful whole fish and meat dishes, so these seem to be the popular choices at the moment!
How do you tailor the drinks programme to the culinary concept in Riyadh?
This is a great question. We have spent considerable time developing our range of mocktails and non-alcoholic spirits, meeting regularly with suppliers to discuss bespoke options to pair best with our cuisine.
Is it difficult to source ingredients in KSA, and how much do you rely on locally sourced produce?
I’ve personally been to the markets and picked up locally sourced fish. However, it can be challenging to source everything we need.
What is your favourite dish on the Meraki menu and why?
The ceviche… I guess I’m a bit biased because it was popular at COYA too. So let’s mix it up… I also love the salt-crusted seabass.
What do you think it is about Meraki that has resonated with diners?
The people. I’ve been tremendously impressed by the team here, and they have a significant impact on the guest experience.
Can you please describe your creative process when creating new dishes?
There are numerous factors here, but generally, I sit down with the team and suppliers to chat through what’s best seasonally and available on the market. I also like to dine in different restaurants for inspiration.
What can we expect from Meraki in the coming months?
Exciting new dishes, it’s been a hive of activity globally. We’ve been experimenting with different flavours and new ingredients in Mykonos and Porto Cervo as well.
What would you like guests to take away from the experience of dining at Meraki?
A desire to return!
What key trends are you seeing in the market at the moment?
In London, the vegan trend is here to stay. In general though, it seems palates are currently geared towards fresh and raw dishes.
When eating out in Riyadh, which restaurants are your favourites and why?
As much as I love to dine out, since joining the Meraki team, my focus and passion when visiting Riyadh have genuinely been dedicated to championing its growth.
Was there one person who impacted your decision to venture into the culinary world, and who are your culinary inspirations?
My dad, Gary Rhodes and Auguste Escoffier.