Taste of Dubai 2016: A guide
Three days, 20 fine-dining restaurants, a celebrity chef line-up with seven Michelin stars between them, and 1970s disco legends – Taste Of Dubai is back and it’s bringing more than food to the table.
Here’s some of what to expect…
The food festival always serves up a hot line-up of celebrity chefs and this year’s no different.
Throughout the weekend at the festival you’ll find live demonstrations and talks from some of the world’s best chefs.
This year you’ll find British chef Nathan Outlaw, UK-based Indian chefs Atul Kochhar and Alfred Prasad, US-born, London-based Jun Tanaka, TV chef Reza Mahammed, young Italian chef Paolo Pettenuzzo and Michelin man Alfredo Russo, among others.
We’ve grilled two of the star cooks that will be here, British chef Tom Aikens and South Africa’s Jenny Morris.
The no-nonsense chef joined the club of British chefs with Dubai restaurants when he opened his family-friendly sharing spot on JBR late last year. He’s best known for becoming the youngest chef in the UK to receive two Michelin stars when he was only 26.
What was the first dish you remember cooking? From about eight years old my twin brother and I would help my mother out in the kitchen. We’d help make cakes or just weigh things out and were always on hand to lick the bowl.
What inspires you to cook? I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings and my travels are a great source of inspiration. I’ve been on many foodie trips in France and Italy and always came back with plenty of new ideas. Each time I go to Hong Kong and Dubai I dedicate time to visit local chefs and try the local food.
What’s your ideal comfort food? Probably a charred steak medium-rare with béarnaise sauce and triple cooked chips.
What’s the one ingredient that’s always in your cupboard? High-protein flour for making sour dough bread. I love to make it on the weekends. It’s a long process but well worth the wait.
Sweet or savoury? I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth so definitely savoury.
What advice do you have for any aspiring chefs? You must be passionate, caring, hardworking, dedicated and, most importantly, must have the ability to look, watch, listen carefully and follow orders. You’d be surprised at how difficult listening is for some.
What is your signature dish? At Pots, Pans & Boards we have a short rib cooked with malt for 48 hours. It’s sensational.
Tom will be at the Electrolux Chef’s Theatre at 3.30pm and 6.30pm on Friday, and at 5.30pm on Saturday.
The cheery chef calls South Africa home, and her Food Network shows have taken her around France, Italy and Morocco. She also has a series of cook books, presents a radio show and runs her own cookery school.
What was the first dish you remember cooking? I was six and it was a curry that I cooked with my father. I remember standing on a chair stirring a pot of onions and spices. I can still smell it; the aroma has lodged itself in the flavour bank of my mind.
What inspires you to cook? My family, customers and friends; I always try new dishes out on them. Seasonal food gets my taste buds jumping too and I love trying to make different dishes out of a single seasonal ingredient.
What’s your ideal comfort food? Anything I can lash with butter, like fluffy mashed potatoes with lots of buttery spring onions, a little roasted garlic and heaps of parmesan or gruyere cheese – now that’s what I call comfort.
What are you looking forward to at Taste Of Dubai? I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my wonderful supporters, meeting new ones, and eating from the fabulous restaurants.
Sweet or savoury? Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t mind a few squares of good chocolate, but savoury wins hands down.
What advice do you have for any aspiring chefs? Keep it simple and fresh, embrace the seasons, have an adventurous palate, and try any ingredient once – you never know if your mouth will fall in love with it if you don’t try it.
Jenny Morris will be at the Electrolux Chef’s Theatre (along with Reza Mahammed) at 6.30pm on Thursday, 5.30pm on Friday and 3pm on Saturday. For more chef’s theatre timings, head here.
Heaps of great local restaurants will be dishing up food at the festival, including Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, Fairmont seafood favourite Catch, Japanese fine dining Nobu and excellent pizza spot Fratelli La Bufala.
The event will also see the debut of a new concept from the brains behind Tom & Serg. The team at Bull & Roo (aka Tom and Serg) have this to say about the new idea they’re debuting at the festival: “We like to describe her as a ‘Radical Paradise’, a vibrant meeting place with an injection of flirty femininity, where authentic flavours meet modern mixology, creative cocktails teamed with tasty fiesta food…”
Hmm. Your guess is as good as ours (we’re thinking Mexican with lots of pink flamingos as decor?).
Music acts at the festival
Because there’s more to Taste Of Dubai than food. Here are the musical delights to look out for: if music be the food of love, play on…
The Disco: Boney M (on Thursday at 9.15pm)
Who? This funk-fuelled singing quartet dominated the 1970s disco scene with their addictively catchy tunes, including Daddy Cool and Rasputin.
Why should you see them? Embrace the cheese factor and party like it’s 1979 with these legends of European disco. The band repeatedly hit the No 1 spot in the charts from the late ’70s and early ’80s and their Christmas hit Mary’s Boy Child is still one of the UK’s biggest selling singles of all time.
Many incarnations of Boney M have played over the years (sadly their frontman Bobby Farrell passed away while on tour in Russia in 2010). Now the group are back touring, fronted by original member Liz Mitchell, and celebrating their 40th anniversary in style.
The noise: The Maplejacks (Saturday at 7.15pm)
Who? A Dubai-based rock band, known for blasting out covers of pub favourites from The Killers to REM.
Why you should see them? The foursome, who hail from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, have been rocking Dubai for pushing eight years now. They’re regulars on stage at McGettigan’s, have rung in the new year at The Irish Village and rocked at the Rugby Sevens, so they clearly know how to bring the party.
The soul: Adam Baluch (Friday at 12.15pm)
Who? A home-grown talent who oozes cool and is a regular on stage during Dubai’s festival season.
Why should you see him? He might just be one man, but along with his loop pedal – and a stage full of instruments – the UAE-born musician has played to packed out audiences and supported some massive names, including Lionel Richie and The Stereophonics at last year’s Vans Party In The Park.
Grab your apron and become a whiz in the kitchen with these workshops and demos.
Get ingredient savvy
Learn about the latest exciting ingredients at the new Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets sessions. Leading some of the workshops are Tim Anderson, a previous MasterChef winner and and owner of Japanese restaurant Nanban in London, as well as competitive Italian chef Paolo Pettenuzzo. See timings for those here.
Ever fancied yourself an expert in the kitchen? Sign up to one of the competitions at the American Garden and Lurpak Cooking Challenge. You’ll cook alongside Tom Aikens and The Food Network’s Jenny Morris and Reza Mahammad. For more on the competition, head here.
The good life
If you can’t handle the heat then get out of the kitchen and head to the new cheese and grape area, where you can tuck into some top-notch cheeses and drinks.
March 10 to 12
Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City, Dubai, Thur 4pm to midnight, Dhs125, Fri noon to midnight, Sat noon to 11pm, Dhs90. Tel: (04) 3148222. Taxi: Internet City. tasteofdubaifestival.com