Be a Time Out food critic at the city's biggest culinary event
Always wanted to be a Time Out food critic? Now’s your chance. The cream of Dubai’s young culinary talent will battle it out in the kitchens of The H Hotel on Wednesday December 5 in the final round of Time Out Dubai’s Young Chef of the Year competition – and you can help choose the winner.
Join us for a night of festive foodie fun and be a critic with Time Out. You will be served a Christmas-themed four-course festive meal cooked in front of a live audience – all you have to do is eat, drink and judge. Buy your ticket now – and be quick as spaces are limited.
Highlighting the talent nurtured by the city’s diverse dining scene, it’s a prestigious title that can catapult junior chefs into the limelight. Last year’s winner, Wesley Berghoff, was promoted from sous chef to head chef at seafood venue Ossiano, while this year the restaurant’s current sous chef, Luke Wonnacott, has also made it to the final five. The calibre of entries this year has been exceptionally high. ‘It was very hard for the jury to select the top five,’ says judge Uwe Micheel. ‘I believe we can look forward to a very exciting final.’
Anup Rajaram Pawar, sous chef at The Address Downtown Dubai "I’m young and energetic, and I want to demonstrate my skills and passion for food.” Age: 28. Nationality: Indian. In Dubai: Two years. Signature dish: ‘Fresh shrimps in raw mango and onion curry. The mango decides the taste and texture, so it’s different every time.’ What inspired you to start cooking? ‘I grew up with cooking, and I’ve always fancied having a respectful suffix in front of my name, so I choose the most glamorous one – chef.’ Favourite chef? ‘Vineet Bhatia; I met him once and as the first Michelin-starred chef of Indian cuisine, he has inspired me a lot.’ Your dream restaurant? ‘It wouldn’t be in the city, and it wouldn’t have a menu; it would be a peaceful place surrounded by nature, where guests would experience a unique gastronomic journey.’
Lee Adams, chef de cuisine at Rhodes Twenty10, Le Royal Méridien "The competition is about inspiring young chefs to aim higher.” Age: 25. Nationality: British. In Dubai: Two years. Signature dish: Mint chocolate chip soufflé. Your cooking style: ‘I’m a perfectionist, so I like everything to be refined, with a delicate finish.’ What inspired you to start cooking? ‘My dad’s best friend was a chef and he encouraged me to start cooking family meals at the age of 11 – I even tackled the great British Sunday roast.’ Favourite chef? ‘As a young aspiring chef in England, I was influenced by Gary Rhodes’ TV programmes. Now I’m also growing to appreciate the work of great chefs such as Albert and Michel Roux.’ Best part of the competition? ’Meeting my fellow chefs in Dubai, and inspiring others to have a go.’
Get tickets for Young Chef of the Year Luke Wonnacott, sous chef at Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm "I relish the chance to compete against Dubai’s most talented young chefs.” Age: 30. Nationality: South African. In Dubai: One year. Signature dish: Braised sea bass with preserved lemon risotto and roasted asparagus. What inspired you to start cooking? ’I used to watch the chef at a small restaurant in London, where I worked as a bartender. One day he didn’t show up for work, so I jumped in and loved every second of it.’ Favourite chefs? ‘Anthony Bourdain and Rick Stein, for the passion and curiosity they show for the ingredients they use.’ Your dream restaurant: ‘It would be a humble beachside restaurant, with simple food.’ Best part of the competition? ‘I’m looking forward to seeing the diners’ reaction to my menu, especially the dessert.’
Matthew James Hagen, chef de cuisine at Latitude, Jumeirah Beach Hotel "I want to prove that I have what it takes to compete with the best young talent in Dubai.” Age: 28. Nationality: English. In Dubai: One year. Signature dish: ‘As a proud Brit, I’d have to say beef Wellington.’ Your cooking style: ‘Traditional; my favourite dishes are the good old classics that don’t need playing around with, rather than using trendy scientific techniques.’ What inspired you to start cooking? ‘When I was five, I was given a mini plastic kitchen for Christmas. I took it everywhere. Now I can’t imagine a kitchen not being part of my everyday life.’ Your dream restaurant: ‘An English pub, on a peaceful river with a thatched roof and big fires, producing hearty English food.’ Best part of the competition? ‘The rush of adrenaline, knowing I have to be on my A game to produce the best food possible.’ View Matthew James Hagan’s Young Chef of the Year menu
Rajiv Tikania, chef de tournant at The Westin Dubai "I have an eagerness to learn, explore and develop as a chef, and this is the right platform to challenge myself.” Age: 28. Nationality: Indian. In Dubai: Four years. Signature dish: Macaroon and berry yule log. Your cooking style: ‘Contemporary-classic; I love to use fresh, local ingredients in my cooking.’ What inspired you to start cooking? ‘My passion to fulfil the palate.’ Favourite chefs? ‘American chef Mario Batali and my father are my cooking heroes.’ Your dream restaurant: ‘I’d offer natural and healthy food that would appeal to and satisfy all age groups.’ Best part of the competition? ‘Proving my talent and being able to compete with chefs of a high international standard.’
What’s it all about? The judging panel for the competition includes Time Out Dubai editor Becky Lucas. She’s joined by Uwe Micheel, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild and director of kitchens at Radisson Hotel Dubai Deira Creek; Scott Price, executive chef at Table 9 by Nick & Scott; and Russell Impiazzi, gourmet culinary director at Galeries Lafayette. As part of the three-stage competition, chefs were asked to submit their culinary CV; the judges chose their favourite competitors to progress to round two, where they created a four-course menu from a list of ingredients provided by Galeries Lafayette and Badoit water. The final cook-off is open to the public: the five finalists will showcase their (potentially) winning menus of Christmas-themed dishes after a drinks reception. As well as being served a full four-course meal from one of the finalists, each guest will have the opportunity to try tasters of all dishes from the other four finalists. Dhs395 (canapé reception, four courses and unlimited house beverages). Wednesday December 5, 7.30pm-11.30pm. The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.timeouttickets.com. Get tickets for Young Chef of the Year