What’s On Abu Dhabi speaks to Chef Raphael Duntoye to find out more about La Petite Maison Abu Dhabi opening on Al Maryah Island, in 2016.

La Petite Maison, the award-wining restaurant, will open in Abu Dhabi next year. What’s On spoke to Chef Raphael Duntoye about the pressure of working in a top restaurant, his food philosophy and just how the upcoming outlet will be different from Dubai.

How is the Abu Dhabi outlet going to be different from the Dubai branch of LPM? I don’t want to give it away. Abu Dhabi will be another step forward. With every LPM we try to make it better than the last one. I think this is what we are trying to achieve. Also around 15 percent of the offerings will be different from Dubai.

How is the process of creating the restaurant going so far? What we’ve done so far is the layout of the restaurant and figuring out what the changes will be. Some of what we are trying to do in Miami (the next LPM outlet to open this year) will crossover to Abu Dhabi. I think doing Miami will give it a better opportunity to do something different in Abu Dhabi. Almost like a test-run.

Tell us more… Because of the space we have in Abu Dhabi, I want to create a bar that is not just for the restaurant but one you can come to in the morning and chill, hangout, have a meeting, have a croissant. It’ll be like a members bar, but without membership.

There’s a growing restaurant scene in Abu Dhabi, how will LPM add to that? The same reason LPM Dubai is different from most restaurants in Dubai, I think we have a unique way of approaching what we do and offering as much as possible.

LPM is a highly rated restaurant; do you feel pressure to keep up that standard? Absolutely! That is our motivation. And you know what? We like competition, because it makes us more alert and makes us get better at what we do. It is very important that we are also growing.

Why did you decide to open the restaurant in Abu Dhabi Global Market Square on Al Maryah Island? We have LPM in Dubai in the financial city, in DIFC, and Abu Dhabi Global Market Square will be the financial city of Abu Dhabi. So you can call me superstitious! (Laughs). Our strategy of where we place our restaurant is very important. Everything is there; one of the finest malls in Abu Dhabi is there. It is the place to be. I think this is the best spot you can find right now in Abu Dhabi.

You were an engineer before becoming a cook. What sparked the career change? Temporary insanity. I wish I could tell you that I came from a family where everything was about food but I didn’t come from an Italian or French family, I’m just an accidental chef. I’m blessed enough to be good at it. This is the beautiful thing about life – it takes you places.

What is your food philosophy? Simplicity. I’d like to think this is mine but it is from something I read and became my motto. Food should be like naked produce, it shouldn’t have any imperfections. What I mean by that is taking the best produce you can find and just enhancing without actually destroying or camouflaging what it really is.

Any last words? We love what we do; we are excited to be coming to Abu Dhabi. It feels very natural and hopefully we can repeat what we’ve done what we’ve done in Dubai and be more successful.