Time Out talks to Dubai's outstanding chef award-winner
The winner of Time Out’s inaugural Outstanding Contribution Restaurant Award started his career with jobs in kitchens near his home town in the Pyrenees, before opening his own restaurant in Sussex in the UK. In 1983, he was appointed executive chef at Dubai Country Club. From there, he moved to Emirates Golf Club, where for more than two decades he tended La Classique. Later this year he is due to retire, making this honour very appropriate. You’ve won our first Outstanding Contribution award. How did you do it? I arrived here 27 years ago. I’d never heard of Dubai before. I came here as the chef for the Dubai Country Club – it was only really known as the country club in those days. There was nothing else. My contribution has been to teach all the young people who have arrived in Dubai over the years. If this is why I won this award, then I’m very happy for that!
What do you hope for Dubai’s restaurant scene in the future? Oh, I have very high hopes, very high. In Dubai you have all different nationalities, and you can eat all different cuisines – it’s fantastic. When you look at the numbers turning up at the Restaurant Awards, and the fact that there are 8 or 10 newcomer restaurants on the shortlist – I have never seen so many new places open in one year before. Now there’s a fantastic choice of restaurants in Dubai. Definitely.
Do you feel there is more work for you to do? No – I’ve been in the kitchen for 51 years. I started in 1959 as a young man. I’m 68 now. I think I’m entitled to hang up my apron and spend a bit of time with my friends all over the world. I’ve met a lot of chefs. Young people come here and then go to new places and now it’s time for me to catch up with them and relax.
What’s your favourite Dubai restaurant? I like quite a few in Dubai. Le Petit Maison is a beautiful place to eat. Reflets is a lovely place with a great French chef. The French are taking over! Yes, definitely! I love them.
Congratulations again. Thank you. I didn’t realise I was going to win! I couldn’t get out of my chair!
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Maurice Boyd Jan 05, 2013 06:43 pm
I had the pleasure of knowing Francois in the early days in Seaford when he had his own restaurant "Le Provencal" where he was already known as a top class Chef. Since then he has gone on to bigger and better things. Always a real and genuineinely kind and compassionate person he was always encouraging youngsters to take an interest in cooking and service. I think if anybody deserved recognition like this he was the right choice. He was always a person to be valued as a supreme Chef and a loyal friend to all the people who knew him. I would wish him well in his retirement and hope that one day he will re-visit the U.K. where many friends have missed him.
Anthony Rocha Jan 06, 2012 09:30 pm
A well deserved award to an outstanding chef and a wonderful person. His attention to detail and the passion he puts into what he does, make him stand well above the crowd. Congrats!
Jeremy Samarasekera Apr 17, 2011 12:41 pm
i had 12 years of working pleasure with Chef and i personally agree that he is the Best Chef in Dubai
Willy Wonka Apr 14, 2011 12:38 pm
channa rodrigo Apr 12, 2011 04:07 pm
Had the pleasure of meeting the Chef on a few occassions and was truly a gentleman as well a find creator of the dishes. Le Classique is probably one of the few restuarants in Dubai that maintains very good standards of food and service. Bravo!!!