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Home    Q&A: Pompeii Dubai ops director Cheryl Jean Vaughn     Details
Q&A: Pompeii Dubai ops director Cheryl Jean Vaughn

Cheryl Jean Vaughn, operations director at Pompeii Italian Restaurant in Dubai reveals the secret behind making the perfect pizza

How did you arrive at Pompeii?
I started my professional career in San Diego as a menu planner for the Sheraton Hotel in San Diego Bay before re-locating to Dubai in 1992. I spent the next 13 years working with the Le Meridien Group.

The Dubai property explosion of 2005 led me to make an industry change and I left the hotel business to take on the role of marketing director for Essence of Arabia Real Estate for the next six years.

After this I was presented with a new challenge, namely overseeing the opening of a brand new Italian restaurant, Pompeii. As food was my first real passion I did not have to think too hard about accepting this new role and I am thrilled to be back working in the restaurant/food sector once more.

Being a part of the Pompeii start up has been an exhilarating experience for me personally and has allowed me to tap into my 30 years of experience in California and Dubai.

Where did the Pompeii story start?

The original city of Pompeii in Italy was destroyed by the volcano Vesuvius. In the ashes after the event, evidence was found of a flat flour cake that was baked and widely eaten at the time in Pompeii.

Evidence was also found in Pompeii of shops complete with marble slabs and other tools of the trade, which resemble the conventional pizzeria. The Museo Nazionale in Naples exhibits a statue from Pompeii which because of its stance is called I Pizzaiolo.

We wanted our brand of Italian pizza to reflect the earliest history of the product and to capture the heat of the volcano through our wood fired ovens.

Your favourite thing about the restaurant?
I love the interior and exterior our designers came up with, the food our chefs create and the splashes of original Roman artwork that populate our walls. For me, however, the thing I really love about the restaurant is the fact our staff have managed to create an atmosphere where people want to keep coming back time and time again. We are a family here at Pompeii and we want our customers to feel that they too are an integral part of this family.

What are the biggest challenges of running a pizza joint in the region?
There is a great deal of competition in the Dubai pizza sector, so our biggest challenge is to ensure our product quality and customer service levels remain consistently high.

We are constantly reviewing our supplier relationships, the raw materials we purchase and the service delivered by all our staff. It takes a long time to build up customer loyalty and equally this can be destroyed within minutes. Our internal control and quality measures ensure we stay on top of all situations to keep delivering the targets we have set ourselves.

What’s your favourite pizza topping?
From our new Vesuvius range of pizza I would have to say my favourite pizza topping is the Polla Spicy. This pizza consists of marinated spicy grilled chicken, roasted garlic, grilled chilli pepper medley and sundried tomatoes. If you like your pizza with a little more kick, this is the one.

What’s the secret of creating a good pizza?
To create a great pizza you need four things: Authentic Italian ingredients, a wood fired oven, amazing pizza chefs and love for what you are doing. We are blessed at Pompeii to have all four and this has been key to the success story of our pizza since we launched.

What has been the highlight of your career?
The highlight of my career is yet to come I believe, and that will be to see Pompeii as an established and instantly recognisable Dubai brand with franchise outlets covering the city and perhaps the UAE. Pompeii Pizza will continue to maintain the high standards we have set in the first year of operation and will be opening a second outlet in the Tecom area of Dubai in 2013. Beyond that we will continue to look for suitable locations to expand our concept and we may look to franchise the business at some point.

Source: HotelierMiddleEast

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