Say hello to the fabulous Papa-preneur, husband to the wonderful Kate, and father of two cuties…
Our ‘That Papa’ this month is Aussie entrepreneur Henry Dyer – founder of uber successful catering and events company ‘Dish’ (if you’ve been to a fab cocktail party or event then chances are you’ve eaten some of their delicious canapés). We spoke to Henry about everything from his gorgeous family to his fave Dubai hotspots, parenting to keeping the romance alive – and his latest venture into healthy and yummy school catering (his new baby).
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What brought you to Dubai?
Like a lot of Australians, my plan was to go to London to find a job in a bar and see where the world would take me. I decided to stop in Dubai just to have a look and never left. That was in 2005. I met my wife here, had children and started our business Dish Catering and Events. So Dubai has been very good to us.
How many kids do you have – what are their names and how did you choose them?
I have 2 daughters, Lily Elizabeth Dyer (3) and Olive Harriet Dyer (1.5). I suggested the name Lily, and Kate chose Olive. They are just great solid names that are also beautiful.
How did you find out your wife was pregnant?
We were in Melbourne on holidays, it was great to have all our family around to celebrate.
How did you handle the news?
We had only been trying for a very short time so a little surprised. I wanted a spreadsheet and plan pretty quickly, but in the end it was all really natural and and relaxed thanks to Kate.
Where were your children born and how hands-on were you during the birth process?
Both times I wouldn’t say I was very hands on, more of rugby coach – and let the experts do their thing. Lily was born in Melbourne and Olive was in Dubai. For Olive, Kate had done a lot more research and went to hypnobirthing classes so it seemed far “easier.”
What do you hope your kids get/don’t get from you?
I hope they get my love of food, positivity and passion for what ever they do best. I hope they don’t get my fashion sense and running style!
What’s your favourite part of your parenting routine?
Teaching them things outside. I often take Lily to work to set up events. She (kind of) appreciates what I do, she helps set the tables and put out all the cushions.
Do you plan to have more kids?
Hopefully one more (and hopefully a boy!).
How do you keep the romance alive after having kids?
Weekends away and as many romantic dinners as we can!
What’s the best thing about being a dad in Dubai?
Great weather and lots of young families to hang out with.
What’s the hardest part of being a dad in Dubai?
Being away from our parents.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before becoming a dad?
Biggest lesson learned? Give yourself as much time as you can to spend with your kids. The commitment and patience you need with kids is about ten times what you expect.
What’s the funniest parenting story you can share?
There isn’t one particular moment, they make me laugh all the time. When they chase each other around the house and I hear laughter that makes me happy!!! Oli is a classic, she is like steamroller, anything and everything is fair game. She wants to have it, eat it and experience it first. She wants to jump off things and kick footballs. She follows me around the house when I’m doing jobs and I love it.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
I have become more ambitious at my work, Dish. As you know there is now a lot more responsibility, however at the same time you rush to get home and see them.
Do you have any tips for soon-to-be dads in Dubai?
You don’t go out as much but you feel twice as tired. Have a good group of other dads who have kids the same age as you. Get the kids out of the house. Let kids learn for themselves, don’t “over parent.”
Favourite family-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
Jamie Oliver’s Italian at Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Favourite activities with the family?
Beach, road trips, desert picnics, trying new restaurants.
Favourite date night spots with just your wife?
Recently we went out to Marina Social, it was brilliant! We like to go out to that aren’t too stuffy, no table cloths, good service and simple, delicious food. Sometime just sitting on the beach with some fish and chips or going to the movies is just as good as a fine dining restaurant.
Favourite place for a little grooming (we know all men do it!)?
I don’t really do it that much but the Barber at Waitrose in Al Thanya Rd does a really good, quick and inexpensive hair cut. If Kate gets a massage on holidays sometimes I’ll join her, but nothing regular (yeah right, not sure if we believe you Henry…)
What are your favourite foods to eat?
Roast pork, slow cooked lamb shoulder, rib eye cooked over coals, Kate’s salads, sides and desserts.
If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
Know when the last day of our time in Dubai actually is, have a baby boy, and live in the Mornigton Peninsula, Victoria one day.
Tell us a bit about your work background and how you got into catering?
Catering was something I did on the side whilst managing the Al Areesh club in Dubai Festival City. I had always had a passion for food and service it was just a matter of finding the right concept. In 2008 when we launched Dish Catering and Events, even though there was a downturn we still experienced unbelievable growth because there was nothing like it in Dubai at the time. We pitch ourselves as the leaders and innovators. Two years ago we also launched our sister company Innovative Hiring which specializes in event furniture rental. This was in partnership with an expert from Australia.
We recently branched out to do school catering and that’s where I spend a lot of my time – the project is my new ‘baby’. We started in September 2015 with Kings’ Dubai, Kings’ Al Barsha and Kings’ Nad Al Sheba and by September 2016, we’ll work with the “Swiss International Scientific School” and “Arcadia Preparatory School”. Catering to schools is obviously really different than private events and to be able to have so much diversity in my work is thrilling. The team and I are present to listen to the parents concerns or questions and we make sure that these are our top priority. Our menus are based on the food pyramid (dairy, fruit, protein, vegetable, grain) so the children get the correct nutritious quantity and variety everyday.
Being an entrepreneur has been incredibly challenging at times but also very rewarding and I would have it no other way.
Hooray for (mama and papa) parent-preneurs!
A huge thank you to Lidiya Kalichuk of www.lidiyakalichuk.com for the gorgeous photos