7 May 2023

Talk: Meet 21 Grams, Project Chaiwalla & Akiba Slice

Part of What the Food

2PM | Meet the minds behind the Avenue's very own F&B favourites: Project Chaiwala, Akiba Slice, and 21 Grams.

A millennial raised in a traditional Emirati neighborhood, Ahmed Kazim followed his ancestors’ footsteps through determined hard work and commitment. Ahmed was capable of working his way up into a career through audit and financial advisory at Deloitte & Touche. After finally realizing his entrepreneurial streak, he was capable of partnering up with his colleague to provide the real chai experience and ‘add life to life’ through the birth of Project Chaiwala: is a community-inspired homegrown tea concept that was founded in 2017. Bringing a nostalgic charm and traditional recipes to a modernly designed Dubai Café, Project Chaiwala celebrates the Chai culture every day. Growing up to street Chai vendors, cafeterias and local cafés in the region, people know the significance of that cup of tea – enjoying it with friends and family, having it midday, after a meal, or sipping on it late in the evening. This ritual is the essence of what Project Chaiwala came to be; a reflection on authentic taste and a celebration of Chai, street culture and community.

21 grams is a family-style, homegrown, neighbourhood bistro that brings you honest yet daring Balkan soul food, inspired by a wonderful melting pot of cultures that truly is the Balkan Peninsula. A labor of love, 21grams offers a sincerely authentic experience curated by operating and creative partner Stasha Toncev, who has pored over every detail of the 21grams experience, from the food, the space, the ambiance, to the intricate details etched on our serving platters, to bring you a cozy urban bistro experience where friends and travelers alike gather around to celebrate the simple things in life. Born from a genuine desire for an edible piece of her heritage, 21grams honors Stasha’s passion for wholesome soul food, and her desire to create a uniquely authentic experience inspired by the diverse ethnicities, cultures and cuisines of the Balkan Peninsula.

Samer S. Hamadeh is the Founder of Big Mouth Concepts, a concept development & management consultancy specialized in hospitality & nightlife. Samer is most known for producing major events & music festivals and for creating highly disruptive hospitality brands OneOnOne (2009,) Republique (2011) & Stereo Arcade (2015). All were incredibly popular in their own right & earned him a reputation as being a disruptive concept creator. Samer created & launched his latest concept, Akiba Dori in Dubai in 2018 and is set to open in Abu Dhabi in Q4 2021, with an additional 2 new outlets in Dubai by Q1 2022. Akiba Dori is one of a handful of brands that were made in the UAE to go global with branches set to open in Saudi Arabia in Q4 of 2021 before making the jump to Madrid, Spain for the first European outpost for the brand in 2022. Samer is on the 2021 advisory board of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) and is an advisor to Madrid-based hospitality tech startup The Burger Index. He is also on the steering committee of the Dubai outpost of London-born private member’s club The Arts Club. Known for his outspoken attitude towards the hospitality industry, Samer is regularly in the press discussing business candidly & has been featured on the Caterer Middle East Power 50 List & the Arabian Business DXB100 List of people helping shape the future of Dubai.