My days vary enormously since launching Delice 11 years ago. I travel a great deal sourcing the finest ingredients from all over the world, something that I am very passionate about and our flavours are international, so I can be in Afghanistan meeting with pistachio farmers on Monday and finish the week in Tunisia checking on the quality of our almonds. The Delice head office and production is based in Dubai so this is my centre of operation and where we create the magic from.
I spend an hour of quality time with my children followed by a jog around central Dubai—both get me fired up for the day ahead!
I like to meet with my creative team in the morning to discuss the week’s orders which can be for our own stores and for weddings, parties or special events for private clients, which are obviously date sensitive. We have a large number of private clients and a smooth service is very much part of the Delice DNA, so we need to ensure that everything is perfect, from the flavours to the designs, packaging and often monogramming of each box in gold leaf. When you are dealing with thousands of boxes it is essential that there are no mistakes so we sit and run through each order together. Mornings are also my favourite time to work with our visiting chocolatiers. We invite the most talented from around the world to come and develop new shapes and flavours with us. This is great fun—this week we were working with chef Michel Willaume and an exquisite peanut butter—working with hugely talented people on new flavours is one of the great joys of my life.
My mother inspired my business; when I was a child growing up in Tunisia she would make sweets with her sisters and our neighbours, today she regularly visits to teach our team her secret recipes in the cool of the morning. She has a lifetime of experience and enjoys learning new tricks from the team just as much as they value her input. She is wonderful with shapes and can create new flowers for our Mediterranean Sweet Collection purely on instinct.
I take time each morning to read through comments on social media. I believe that it is vital to stay connected to your customers and their comments inspire me; for example, we recently introduced a sugar free collection after I spotted a number of discussions on the topic.
I never break for lunch—I find that this is a good time to go over proposals from potential franchisees for Delice stores, which arrive constantly. I can take an hour to study each one; while the numbers need to add up I am also looking for passion!
A couple of days a week I have tastings, this is of ingredients from existing suppliers to ensure that out flavours are consistent. Then there are the new ingredients that my team find and think will work well for us. This could be a new fruit pulp from France or a superb walnut from the US or Chile. I am obsessed with flavours; when I find something outstanding I hop on a plane and go and meet the farmer and see the product growing for myself; I consider it very important to connect with the people that produce the ingredients and let them know how much I appreciate what they produce.
After the tastings I devote an hour or two to looking at our boxes. I am just as obsessed with packaging; with chocolates, the box is the first thing that the recipient sees so it is essential that they do not sell their contents short! We have developed a lacquering process for our luxury boxes; they are painted and rubbed down seven times to produce a high gloss finish. Our clients appreciate this kind of attention to detail and the focus on producing a product that looks as good on the outside as our chocolates taste.
I am asked to be a guest on television shows once or twice a month, which involves presenting the product, showing how it is made and explaining the difference between quality confectionery and the mass-produced variety. People are fascinated and I love to teach about the confectionery business.
At 3.30pm I oversee our products as they are prepared for shipping to our stores in Armenia, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Dubai and London. The boxes leave us and go straight to the airport and fly out that night for delivery in the morning. We can turn a private order around in less than 24 hours if we have to!
My evenings are most often spent at private events; I attend many of these personally, really for the pleasure of seeing the guests’ faces when they sample our collection! Because our sweets are so visually unique I am often asked if we will attend parties and corporate launches with my team and demonstrate how to make them. This is always a huge success and we really enjoy showing off our skills. I’m a very social person so this is one of my favourite areas of the business—talking to the guests about their favourite flavours can be very inspiring and I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and challenges.
10pm—Home Sweet Home!