Dubai's home-grown heroes - saluting our favourite foodies
What’s On teams up with Good to salute Dubai’s home-grown heroes – the foodies – success stories in Dubai who know what starting a business in Dubai takes.
We’ve teamed up with Good to salute Dubai’s home-grown heroes. Whatever walk of life they are from, they all have in common the courage and conviction to grow an idea here, adding an authentic, home-grown flavour to the region. These are the people we champion – those who work hard, should be applauded and are creating a scene the Emirates can be proud of, forging ahead in heath, food, retail, charity, tech, community, culture and more.
This wonderful food-obsessed bunch will keep you well-fed, from independent cafés and fine dining fastfood to a food truck and cookery classes…
1) Prime Gourmet
Vegetarians beware: Prime Gourmet’s glass counters are full of the finest meats in town, with pro butchers on hand to educate and entice. A favourite with the UAE’s chefs, this store also welcomes home cooks (and barbecue fanatics), who stop in for steaks and sausages – home delivery is also available. You’ll find a deli onsite for spices to complement that aged-to-perfection meat.
2) Tom & Serg
This time last year Tom and Serg’s café space was nothing more than an empty unit in Al Quoz. Now you’ll be lucky to find a table for a weekend breakfast without a worthwhile wait. Passionate about every aspect, from painstakingly sourcing paper straws to getting the coffee combos just so, the enthusiasm of these guys has captured the imagination and appetite of Dubai’s cool crowd. With another venue on the cards by the end of 2014 (shhh), it seems there’s no stopping their wave of great food, chalkboard chatter and quality caffeine.
3) Bookmunch Café
If you ask us, bliss is a bookshop that serves food, which is why literary café Bookmunch ticks the boxes of many a Dubai resident. The menu is full of super-fresh ingredients, while the shelves are arranged with tomes to tempt, and children love their own brightly coloured hideaway. Owner Dareen Charafeddine has created a truly special place, with a lot more to come over the next year, including book signings, cookery classes and reading sessions. Write on.
4) Ripe Market
Becky Balderstone has successfully turned a small social enterprise into the highlight of many peoples’ weeks; the Ripe Market brings together foodies, farmers, creatives and the community each weekend. The little shop in Al Manara means organic lovers can get their mitts on the good stuff all week long, while the Raising With Ripe initiative encourages healthy eating among children by selling seasonal produce at schools and nurseries, making for a company that cares as much as it creates.
5) Top Chef
A quirky cookery school on Beach Road, Top Chef has saved our (beef) bacon numerous times on the dinner party front. Chefs Hadrien and Alex take aspiring home cooks under their wing with regular classes covering the likes of pasta and homemade bread, plus special sessions for teenagers (hurrah) and getting your grill on with Weber barbecues.
6) Desert Chill
Ah, the nostalgia of the ice-cream van! Launched by brothers Dan and Nathen Furlong, Desert Chill can be spotted around the UAE’s neighbourhoods, plus at birthday bashes, weddings and dinner parties, attracting children and big kids alike. They even have the plinkyplonky music (to use the technical term). Make ours a Magnum Classic, please lads.
7) Picnic Basket
Our saviours for busy days dining aldesko, new small business Picnic Basket turns up at offices across Dubai with, you guessed it, a picnic basket. Delicious salads and sandwiches (try the Coronation chicken), cookies, muffins and more – all well-priced – are wheeled in by Guy Potter and his merry band, delivering quality food to loyal fans.
8) Ghaf Kitchen
Finally! A food truck in the UAE! This new company is set to become a familiar sight on the culinary scene, with a lovingly restored 1962 Citroen H van popping up at food festivals, private parties, concerts, sporting events and weddings. There’s an on-board chef whizzing up full feasts and canapés (the fish finger sandwich is a triumph), and director David O’Brien boasting fine dining experience from both the UAE and international food scene. Want your party to go with a bang? You better invite the truck.
They might be in the food courts, but Taqado is pure fine dining – it just happens to be ready quickly. The brainchild of Brit Timothy Hocks, the Mexican eateries – and the Mexican staff, such as DIFC manager Isaac – serve up authentic fare and a custom-blend coffee, with quirky touches such as bikes by Corcel dotted around and hand-illustrated menus. And just wait until you hear about their plans for UAE domination over the next year…
10) Frying Pan Tours
Showing you a whole new side of Dubai, sisters Arva and Farida Ahmed of Frying Pan Tours have done endless research (and sampling!) at the city’s secret street food spots. The result is a series of food-themed tours around Old Dubai (choose from Arabic, Indian and African) where you can try dishes while you travel around. A brilliant way to get to know historic parts of town and hidden gems, with fantastic company, this is a great one for out-of-towners, too.
11) Paul Frangie
This chef and TV personality (and model) was raised in Dubai, and has built up his empire to include his own TV show, This Dude Knows Food (tdkf.tv). After working in the Michellin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Paul brought his expertise back to the region, and now has a dedicated following, with classes and consultations. If any home-grown hero is going to go global, it’s this one.
Meet our other home-grown heroes…
– THE FOODIES: This wonderful food-obsessed bunch will keep you well-fed, from independent cafés and fine dining fastfood to a food truck and cookery classes.
– THE GLOW-GETTERS: Spas, products, fitness, experts and more, all with a UAE twist to get you healthy, happy, looking good and feeling great.
– THE RETAIL THERAPISTS: Step away from the mega malls and you’ll discover small shops and brands are doing it for themselves (and you, of course).
– THE TECHIES: As Madonna didn’t say, we are living in a digital world, and these digital girls and boys are making life better on the www.
– THE IDEALISTS: These charitable guys do very good things, from one person trying to make a difference to initiatives that inspire the whole community.
– THE CREATIVES: This lot laughs in the face of anyone calling the UAE a cultural desert. Ha. Theatre, cinema, design, fashion, art and more are waiting to be discovered.