Restaurants, food fans and top chefs gather for the seventh Taste of Dubai Festival on March 13-15, with the likes of Thiptara, The Rivington Grill, Bice, Café Habana, Gaucho and The Act all featuring, among others.

Premier French chef Jean Christophe Novelli will be in town to meet his followers and demonstrate his cookery skills. We spoke to the Frenchman to get his advice for would-be chefs. 

You have your own very successful cooking academy. What advice would you give to would-be chefs starting out in the industry today? Firstly, if you want to become a chef just to be popular, forget about it. I would suggest going to college and learning the basics. From there you learn how to make soups, sauces and salads, all of which are little things that are slowly becoming very meaningful. You can then go to butchers and learn about meats, cuts and farms. Build your knowledge in all areas and get as much experience as you can. Travel is also very important in order to learn different cultures and cuisines.

Is there anything in your fridge that people would be shocked to find? Probably the amount of vanilla I have in my cupboards, I just love vanilla.

What’s the one food that you hate and would never eat? Anything with hair in it! I really hate cooked onions. Obviously, I use them in my dishes. But if someone gave me a plate of cooked onions, I’d never be able to eat it.

If you hadn’t become a chef, what do you think you would be doing?
I would probably be a gardener or an archeologist. Or a hairdresser. I admire them a lot. I enjoy working with people and I like to be able to please them.

March 13 to 15
Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai, Thur 4pm to midnight, Fri noon to midnight, Sat noon to 11pm, Dhs90. Metro: Nakheel.