Meet the Spinneys experts

Here, we shine the light on six of the faces behind the brilliant produce in Spinneys this month, each one passionate about ensuring your festive table is filled with only the best food

Paul Crawford

Spinneys’ cheese category manager

Paul and his team have put huge amounts of time and effort into curating the cheese heroes for this festive season: from full-flavoured, buttery 12-month aged manchego made by small family-run producers to aromatic, naturally ripened Almassora Tronchón. Whatever your cheeseboard plans, you’re sure to find something delightful.

Gorgeous, gooey Mont d’Or comes into its own when baked and has been a standout favourite among customers for the last few years. Also guaranteed to please is Paul’s wildcard: Torta del Casar. This natural semi-hard cheese from Spain has a soft-textured, creamy inside and distinctive flavour (slightly salty, vaguely bitter, very delicious) that makes it perfect for sharing: just remove the top and serve with bread and crudités.

Harold Van Rooyen

Spinneys’ factory manager and meat expert

Harold grew up in a small South African farming town and comes from a family who’ve long been involved in the food industry. It’s no surprise then that he went on to train both as a chef and butcher before joining the Spinneys team. He prides himself on ensuring the meat factory is a leader in the retail market and retains the grade A status awarded by the Dubai government.

If you’re not partial to a Christmas turkey, Harold’s pick of the meats (all free from added hormones, of course) is a luxurious, well-marbled bone-in ribeye. For a restaurant-quality result, he recommends bringing the meat to room temperature, seasoning it generously and grilling (for Harold it has to be on the braai) to medium-rare, then leaving to rest for five minutes before carving.

Amaury Tremblay

Spinneys’ bakery category manager

For French cuisine-trained pâtisserie chef Amaury, it’s never too early to start thinking about mince pies. This season’s handcrafted creations feature pastry made with his signature all-butter French shortcrust recipe – one that’s been honed over a number of years – to give a crisp, golden finish. The delicate cases are crammed with an altogether classic mincemeat rich with dried and candied fruits, spices and citrus.

During the month of December, Amaury estimates that some 200,000 mince pies, all baked fresh in store, will make their merry way into homes across the UAE. Which begs the question – how best to enjoy them? According to Amaury, and he knows his stuff, they should be served warm, dusted with icing sugar and eaten with a generous dollop of sour cream (to counter the sweetness) on the side. Sounds good to us.

Glen Thompson

Spinneys’ meat and fish commercial manager

Always with an unerring passion for sourcing great-quality, hormone-free meat and fish and bringing it to Spinneys stores, Glen takes the standard of his Christmas turkeys every bit as seriously. For the second December running, and thanks in part to an extremely positive customer response last year, he’s secured fresh, organic turkeys from Crowe’s Farm, a family business based in Ireland.

The birds are raised outdoors, where they’re free to roam over verdant County Tipperary grassland, and are fed on a certified organic mix that’s grown locally. As Glen says, the result really is in the tasting; a Crowe’s Farm turkey is exceptionally succulent and full-flavoured. Fresh turkeys will be available from the 22nd and you can place your orders in store via our order form.

Paul Morgan & Martin Aguirre

Spinneys’ fruit and vegetables category manager & commercial manager

There’s a strong argument for the idea that Christmas eating is made special by an array of fresh seasonal stars. From cranberries, grapefruit and clementines with leaves to rosemary and sage, parsnips, Brussels sprout trees (more on them later) and exclusive-to-Spinneys Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes, there’s some cracking fruit and veg in store this month. Much of this is down to Paul and Martin, who travel all over the world and work with suppliers to ensure that Spinneys stocks only the very finest fresh produce.

This year the pair are particularly excited about purple and green Brussels sprout trees, which they’ve ordered as a festive treat for December. While you can simply pluck the sprouts from the stalks and cook them as you usually would, Paul says that roasting the trees whole and placing on the Christmas table for people to help themselves makes for a fun, great-tasting talking point. To do so, drizzle your sprout tree with olive oil, season and arrange on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C, gas mark 6, turning every 15 minutes or so, until the sprouts are tender.

Our experts are your experts. So if you have a question about your festive food plans, head to our social media channels and #AskSpinneys.