I’m going to be straight up with you. With so many well-known chefs in the kitchen, I was expecting a little more drama. Something to write about, you know. Take Nick and Scott, for example – both from the Gordon Ramsay school of cooking – you would think they could have mustered up a minor meltdown. No. Not even a finger raised in anger. They were as chilled as a Cheshire cat on a Friday afternoon. With all the ICCA students helping out in a unfamiliar kitchen, you would expect at least one minor workplace incident, but there was nothing. No burnt fingers or grated knuckles.
For one sweet moment, I thought it was going to kick off. Word came from the kitchen that Greg Malouf, the oracle of Middle Eastern cuisine, had rejected the falafel, as it wasn’t up to standard. This was fantastic news – the menus had been printed, and it was too late to come up with something else. This was the drama I was looking for. Maybe Greg would throw falafel mix at Mohammed Orfali and mayhem would ensue. No, of course not. A simple phone call, new ingredients on the way and they would make it again. Problem solved without a blood vessel bursting. I sulked back upstairs, bitterly disappointed with their professionalism.
No one screamed, no one cried, and no one walked out after throwing their apron at Tom Arnel. I would love to say that Chef Reif sabotaged Chef Liz’s dessert by swapping the vanilla extract with soy sauce, but I would be making that up completely.
In fact, 20 minutes before their guests were due to arrive, they found time to drink coffee, hang out for selfies and chit chat about blast chillers and convection ovens. Where was the panic and mayhem that would have made this article dramatic and exciting?
Well, dear readers, you can blame the chefs, because they smashed out a four-course menu for 150 odd guests without really breaking a sweat.
If you were there, you know how good the food was. It wasn’t fancy, pretentious or pompous. It was classy, authentic and bloody delicious. The menu really was a collaboration between all the chefs, and we wanted to try put Dubai on a plate.
They took flavour inspiration from the region and garnished it with international influences. They chose the best ingredients possible, including as much locally grown produce as they could get their hands on, and applied a variety of cooking techniques and methods to them. From the finesse of the hen egg with sumac, Medjool dates and malt vinegar caramel to the DIY, spice rubbed backyard roast lamb, all facets of Dubai’s lifestyle were represented in the menu.
As Tom mentioned in one of his speeches, Dubai is a city that embodies the ‘anything is possible’ mentality and makes it a contagious mindset.
The whole event was the result of unparalleled support and a coming together of scores of industry professionals, who put aside personal agenda and stepped up to support this event in the name of Dubai Cares.
Vegetables and produce from Emirates Bio Farm, cucumber and basil gelato from Canvas Gelato, Mardar farms and Meat and Livestock Australia for the lamb, Flying Elephant for the audio visual and stage, Fink 22 for the amazing artwork, 3 fils for the drinks, Mirzam for the chocolates and specialty coffee and the list goes on and on.
Last night, the Tom and Serg team welcomed into their house, the whole of Dubai, figuratively and almost literally, and Matt, Alex and the team were the perfect hosts, efficient, hospitable and gracious.
Let’s not forget what EAT DXB’s mission is. EAT DXB works on three core values – Celebrate, Support, and Strengthen. We believe the food and beverage dynamic is the heartbeat of Dubai. It is a true reflection of the spirit of the time and place. Dubai is a collection of districts, a melting pot of cultures and a series of moments. It is a mass of moving parts with millions of heartbeats, stories, and memories, all colliding and crashing into one another.
Yet it is food that is our union, and restaurants are the great connectors between us all.
EAT DXB is a collection of like-minded individuals who want to make Dubai an even better place, through the creation of a thriving F&B industry. With a focus on everything local; restaurants and their customers, business owners, and their landlords, suppliers, and chefs, our community is concerned with the relationships that affect us all.
Last night was the start of EAT DXB. Tonight, we deliver EAT TALKS, an evening of storytelling and discussion, and tomorrow we continue developing our voice and community. We look forward to going on that journey with you all.
Sorry again for the lack of drama. Although the charcoal octopus looked pretty dramatic, so there’s that.