Adam Melonas, the chef de cuisine at the Burj al Arab’s Al Mahara seafood restaurant, talks fishes, dishes and culinary wishes.
Chef de cuisine, Al Mahara seafood restaurant, Burj Al Arab
What’s so special about seafood? The fact that there are a million ways to prepare seafood, plus the number of species that live in the sea far outnumber those that live on land, providing a great deal more options and varieties for me to work with.
Tell us about your signature dish? In all honesty, I do not believe in the signature dish concept. I am very attached to every dish I create, and like with children you cannot play favourites. My cooking style is avant-garde, which means that by its very meaning, boundaries which are considered the norm are pushed through experimenting to create something that is unique – something that will surprise. The new menu created for Al Mahara will lay testament to this – each dish served aims to amaze our guests, while all come together to create an overall extraordinary experience.
Lobster or crab? Neither, I would much prefer a sardine – it is more versatile and makes a greater impact as it is unexpected!
Ever been tempted to cook one of the fish in Al Mahara’s aquarium? No. We have gone as far as to name our fishes… I would certainly not think of cooking them.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve cooked for? It is very important to me to respect the privacy of the people I have cooked for and interacted with in the past, and can therefore not share any names with you.
Who’s the most famous person who's cooked for you? As above… I prefer to keep my interactions low key.
Who does the cooking at home? Nobody, I am a chef!
Apart from cooking, what are your other passions? Cooking is my passion. I love experimenting, trying new things and creating dishes that I can call my own.
What’s the cleverest thing you’ve done in a kitchen? It is not for me to say. Instead it is for the guest to judge.
What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done in a kitchen? Avant-garde deals 100 per cent in creation rather than interpretation. As I try to create a new dish, most often the first attempts are the ones that do not work. It takes a lot of work and creativity, with a few tries until a new dish is complete. If I can say that I have a new creation once or twice every two weeks, I am happy knowing that the dish is exclusive.
If you could be reincarnated as a fish, which one would you like to come back as? Bet you thought I would say something like a shark or a dolphin, then finish up with a stereotypical ending like ‘I would love to hunt for my food’ or ‘be free like a dolphin’. Actually I have never given it that much thought before.
Give us one great tip for cooking fish. Why cook at home when there are so many excellent restaurants in Dubai to choose from?