“I started very young at 15 years of age as I knew what I wanted to do. I spent so much time with my grandparents who loved food and the rest is history,” Mark Patten, Vice President for Food and Beverage at The First Collection, tells Dubai Vibes Magazine.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, among a family of avid foodies, Mark’s passion for food and beverage developed at an early age. An international award-winning chef, Mark commenced his professional career in 1998, working in Cyprus, Barbados, Hong Kong and Singapore in a series of senior management positions for five-star luxury properties.

“I had a firm belief when I was a young apprentice working in Melbourne that you had to work with great people and from a young age that is what I aimed to do. As I grew into a chef working abroad, I continued to push myself into roles that even surpassed my expectations  

“I believe in being accountable, consistent, engaging and creative. If we continue to do the same thing, like the law of diminishing returns, we will only get the same results time and time again, so we need to be in a way disruptive in F&B,” says Mark.

Mark was with the pre-opening team of Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai as Vice President of Culinary. He was instrumental in the overall success of the property, which led him to being promoted to Senior Vice President Food and Beverage in 2013, a role that saw him assume responsibility for the successful running of the hotel’s 23 restaurants and bars, entertainment and  events.”

“How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time. The opening of Atlantis was broken down into two main parts, the first being the successful opening of the overall property in September of 2008 with all the restaurants, bars, and banqueting facilities. The second major part was around the grand opening of the property in November of 2008. This opening was a four-day event with many moving parts which required 12 months of planning,” shares Mark.

“Both openings from my point of view went like clockwork and exceeded even my expectations. The critical element of success was having the right structure in place from the beginning and then hiring the right people (I personally hired 190 members of my team that I knew) with solid backgrounds that would understand the scale of the property. 

“Being consistent in delivering high quality products and services is key. Greatness never comes from a coincidence; it is a conscious choice. Evolving the F&B concepts over the period of the 10 years at Atlantis was a great experience and opportunity I will never forget. From fast casual to top-end premium restaurants, there was never a dull moment,” he said.  

Mark said he is excited to be part of a wonderful team at The First Collection and “have an opportunity to work with great people, build a very relevant, accessible lifestyle brand with food and beverage being the theater or heartbeat of each property.” 

Looking back, Mark says he has learned to take it easy. “Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail, learn to have rigor and resilience and if you do make a mistake, it’s life, we need to do so to learn,” he says. 

His advice to the young ones: “Work with great people or the best in the business in any part of hospitality and participate. Don’t wait to be asked just roll up your sleeves and get moving.”

The First Collection is a new lifestyle brand from integrated property developer The First Group, which recently revealed that it will open its first hotel under the brand – The First Collection Jumeirah Village Circle. 

The First Group is an integrated global property developer with an existing portfolio of 11 award-winning properties, which includes Wyndham Dubai Marina, Millennium Place Marina and TRYP by Wyndham Dubai.