Chef Henrik Yde-Andersen on Thai food, Abu Dhabi and cabbage
We chat to Danish chef Henrik Yde-Andersen ahead of his six-day stint at the Emirates Palace this month. The Michelin-star chef, who is best known for his deconstructed approach when it comes to Thai food, will be serving up a special menu at Sayad from January 14 to 19.
What will you be doing during your stay at Emirates Palace this month?
Well I’m bringing some of the classic dishes and some of the new dishes from my Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen. We’ve split it up into a couple of snacks, appetisers and you can either go for the tasting menu or go a la carte.
What dishes would you recommend diners try?
I brought my all-time favourite – the frozen red lobster curry – but we are also doing a laab, which is a very traditional salad from the Northeast of Thailand. The dish is very very easy to make, but it is also very easy to make wrong. It really showcases what Thai food is all about – the balance between salty, sour, spicy and sweet.
Why is Thai cuisine so suited to your creative way of cooking?
I’d say it is because I’m not Thai. I came to Thailand and I saw the dishes with more of an open mind. A lot of cooking is about tradition, you don’t really question why you do it that way but I came in and I could see things from a different way. Plus today we have all these different kinds of equipment in the kitchen, so I can deconstruct and twist dishes.
What’s your food philosophy?
I don’t have a philosophy but I do believe that passion needs perfection at any time. My chefs know that they are never better than their last plate. In a restaurant you can’t be good yesterday, it’s today that matters. It’s like a theatre, the curtain goes every night and we have a new set of guests and you have to be ready for that.
Do you feel extra pressure because of your Michelin-star?
Yes, 24/7. You need to be before everyone else, because everybody is looking at you and what you are doing. And that’s really tough. The funny thing is the ideas never come when you’re working in the kitchen. I do a run every morning for 5 kilometres, and when your brain relaxes that’s where things come in. But I did have a stretch of six terrible months when nothing came out. I really thought I was done but then it came back.
Do you have any food trends that you are simply over?
Right now it is cabbage in Copenhagen. You can’t go to a restaurant without eating a ton of cabbage. And to be honest, my stomach really needs to focus on something else!
You’ve been to Abu Dhabi before. Is there anything you’re looking forward to with this visit?
Last time they took me on a desert safari and the driver looked at me and said, “sir, would you like some speed?” and I was like “okay, go for it.” I still regret it! That’s not going to happen again.
What’s next for you?
I got so inspired by the cooking the last time I was here that I’m opening up a Middle Eastern restaurant in Copenhagen called Maroq Maroq in two months. I love the mezze concept and we’re going to build around it. But what I really loved about the Middle East was the hospitality. I want to bring that into the restaurant.
January 14 to 19
Emirates Palace, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, Dhs670 for ten-course menu, a la carte menu also available. Tel: (02) 6907999. Taxi: Emirates Palace. kempinski.com