We shine a light on some of the region’s finest culinary talents…
There’s no shortage of celebrity chefs with restaurants in Dubai. In fact, the city has firmly established itself as a hotspot for culinary A-listers to bring their signature menus to the region, and it’s a market every high profile chef seems to want to conquer.
But at What’s On, we’re all about championing local talent too – and we sure have plenty of it. With restaurants all over the city, and experience that’s taken them across the globe, here are nine Dubai-based chefs you should know about.
1 & 2. Nick and Scott of Folly by Nick and Scott
They were crowned Chef[s] of the Year at the 2017 What’s On awards, and for good reason. Nick Alvis and Scott Price have been integral to propelling the UAE’s status as a foodie destination as the brains behind Table 9 and Taste Kitchen. Their latest venture, Folly at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, is probably their best yet. It has quickly become one of the best restaurants in the city, with outstanding views to match a spectacular modern European menu.
Folly by Nick and Scott, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, Fri to Sat noon to 3.30pm, 5pm to 11pm, Sun to Thur noon to 2.30pm, 5pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 430 8535. folly.ae
3. Luigi Vespero of Galvin
While the famed Galvin brothers man their highly successful restaurants abroad, it’s left to executive chef Luigi Vespero to helm the kitchen at their newly opened City Walk space. Vespero has worked alongside the brothers in London for many years and is as dedicated to producing quality food as they are. The modern British brasserie produces a menu of consistently great offerings, and its executive chef is certainly one to watch.
Galvin, The Square, City Walk, Dubai, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 590 5444. galvindubai.com
4. Reif Othman of Play
Few local chefs garner the attention of the masses the way Reif Othman has. In fact, referring to Reif Othaman as just a ‘chef’ almost seems offensive (though he wouldn’t have it any other way). To us, Reif is a scientist, an artist and one of the most passionate people we’ve ever met. After leaving Zuma in 2015, he ventured on his own, churning out ‘Mediterrasian’ dishes at Play Restaurant & Lounge. The restaurant and lounge quickly became, and remains, one of the sleekest and most sought-after reservations in the city, and Reif is almost always there in the thick of it.
Play, The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily 6pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 336 4444. playrestaurants.com
5. Colin Clague of Ruya
Chef Colin Clague is famous in Dubai for running some of the best restaurants in the city, including Jean Georges, Zuma and Qbara. Ruya, located in the Grosvenor House Dubai, serves up truly delicious Turkish food. His dedication to his craft is clear: he can always be seen in the kitchen conducting his team. He even travelled the length and breadth of Turkey to find the best Anatolian dishes to bring modern versions of them to Ruya in Dubai.
Ruya, Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 399 9123. facebook.com/ruyadubai
6. Rob Rathbone of Barbary
You’d do well to remember the name of Rob Rathbone. Having learned his craft at the Michelin-starred Sat Bains restaurant in Nottingham, UK, he’s spent the last three years rising through the ranks at several Dubai restaurants including the three-time What’s On award-winning The Scene by Simon Rimmer. Taking stage at the Barsha Heights hotspot everyone is talking about, Barbary, his menu is all about simple deli dishes, mixed up with inventive twists. The pickled root vegetable salad is one of the prettiest dishes we’ve ever seen.
Barbary, TRYP by Wyndham, Barsha Heights, daily 12pm to 12am. Tel: (04) 247 6688. barbary.ae
7. Timothy Newton of Bagatelle
You may not have heard of Timothy Newton, the executive chef behind famed French fine-dining/party spot Bagatelle. And that’s probably because that’s exactly how Newton likes it. Preferring the lights of the pass to the bright lights of Dubai’s social dining scene, this executive chef lets his food do the talking. His 15 years of industry experience have taken him around the world, and his culinary talents now lead him to producing some of Dubai’s finest French fare, from escargot to whole roast chicken with foie gras.
Bagatelle, The Fairmont, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily 8pm till late. Tel: 04 354 5035. bagatelledubai.com
8. John Buenaventura of Cuisinero Uno
32-year-old John is the young owner of hip new restaurant Cuisinero (pronounced ‘cuisine’ and ‘nero’) Uno located in Steigenberger Hotel – and judging by his passion and flair for cooking the unexpected, John’s career might just be taking off Reif Othman-style. After working in the city’s top restaurants – Seafire Steakhouse at Atlantis The Palm was his last posting – John has taken the leap to open his own spot. Exposed brick, a shouty ‘Socialize’ neon graffiti and an open kitchen-style bar make it feel like you’re at an after-school hangout for the cool kids.
Steigenberger Hotel, Business Bay, Dubai, Sun to Wed, 11am to midnight, Thur and Fri, 11am to 2am, Tel: (04) 431 7816. facebook.com/Cuisinerouno
9. Alexandre Szkaradkiewicz of Bleu Blanc
Chef Alexandre Szkaradkiewicz, or “chef Alex” as he’s commonly known, has a culinary style we love. At the helm of the kitchen of the recently opened Bleu Blanc, one of two David Myers restaurants in the Renaissance Downtown Hotel, chef Alex takes care of things while Myers is traveling. Although he’s a whizz in the kitchen, (never, every leave Bleu Blanc without trying the basil pesto ravioli), he’s also incredibly personable, and you’ll find him bringing dishes to guests and engaging with each and every one of his diners at the restaurant.
Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, daily 8am-11.30am, 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6pm-midnight. Tel: (04) 512 5533. bleublanc-dubai.com
Bookmark this list, as we will definitely be adding to it…
Images: Supplied/ Facebook