What attracted you to be a guest Australian chef at the Dubai Food Festival?
It’s such a privilege to be invited to these events and Dubai’s always been very high on my list! Even though I’m pretty busy these days and travel often, I still had not visited so I was really keen to get there and excited to explore what Dubai has to offer. I wanted to check out the culinary scene, visit the food markets, go to some great restaurants and experience some authentic Emirati cuisine.
What dish, delicacy or foodie experience did you most look forward to in Dubai – and how was it?
We had a pretty busy schedule while we were there but we did manage to go to some of the local restaurants. I had some great seafood, shawarma, Pakistani food and the dates in particular (which I know are a local favourite), were honestly some of the best I’ve ever tasted! They had such a soft flesh and just melted in the mouth, the flavour was incredible.
What influence has Emirati spices and cuisine had in your own style of cooking?
I love Middle Eastern cuisine and one of the interesting things about the culinary scene in Dubai is that it’s so eclectic – because it’s so multicultural you have a pretty diverse array of options. And because of the melting pot of cultures to be found there, be it Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese or many others, it’s reflected back in the cuisine too – even a lot of Emirati cuisine has taken influence from elsewhere. And that’s not dissimilar to the Australian food scene – we take a lot of influence from other cultures. I’ve always loved Middle Eastern food – fresh herbs and aromatic spices, hummus, rosewater etc, I could go on and on….
What produce did you choose to highlight in your masterclass recipes and why?
At the masterclass, I demonstrated a lobster, radish, kombu butter dish (pictured). It’s been on the menu at ARIA Sydney and it’s a personal favourite of mine. The umami of the kombu butter really complements the lobster and the radish adds texture and balance. It’s a beautiful, clean, great tasting dish.
What was the best meal you ate in Dubai and where was it served?
I wish I’d had time to explore more places – we had a fun but busy schedule with the Dubai Food Festival while we were there. We did visit La Petite Maison at DIFC, which is also a favourite of mine in London; and Ravi’s in Satwa. If I was able to stay for longer I would definitely have checked out Em Sherif and some of the traditional tea and coffee houses too.
What is a must-do foodie experience for visitors to the city?
To just enjoy the diversity that’s on offer there – be sure to check out some fantastic restaurants, visit the traditional markets and make sure you try some of the authentic and unique Emirati cuisine too.
What will be on your must-do-list for your next visit to Dubai?
To visit the places we didn’t get around to this time! I’d love to experience more of the traditional food. I’m looking forward to heading back there soon.