Time Out talks food with Nineteen's head chef about healthy eating, rival restaurants and and why he has thyme for French food.
What was the last thing you ate? A light chicken salad.
What are you going to have for dinner tonight? I’ve decided to become a little more healthy, so probably fish with vegetables.
Matt Pickop at Verre reckons you’re one of the hottest new chefs in Dubai – what do you make of that? He’s only saying that because he wants to know where I get my veal sweetbreads! But seriously, it’s very flattering, although I have a great deal of work to do before I can catch up with Matt, Stephanie at Tang and Paul at Mezzanine.
Your white chocolate soup was featured in our ‘50 Best Things To Eat in Dubai’ special – what would be on your list? The pizzas at Après are fantastic; simple, crisp and tasty, maybe the full English breakfast at More café – it sends me home!
What’s your personal favourite dish on Nineteen’s new menu? Veal sweetbread. When I was training as a chef I was put off by veal, like most people, but I tasted it and fell in love with the texture and flavour. I serve mine with a fine tart of rosscoff onion and sauce soubise.
First job in food? My first job in a kitchen was really in Sainsbury’s, working in their staff canteen. I owe a great deal to Michel Roux at The Waterside Inn in the UK, as this is where I learnt to understand the beauty of cooking, be it simple or haute cuisine.
Favourite ingredient? Thyme. I’m trained in classical French food, in which it is used for a lot of things because it gives a delicate flavour when needed. Try cooking a risotto base without that in and it tastes totally flat.
If you could cook in any restaurant, where would it be and with which other chefs? The now closed Harvey’s restaurant with the great Marco Pierre White, as well as Gordon Ramsay and Paul Bucose. Somehow I think I would be the kitchen commis!
Which dish will you not eat? As a chef there is nothing I won’t eat. It’s always about learning – although I do find the thought of people eating monkey brains a bit strange.
Best cooking tip? If it doesn’t quite go to plan on one thing, relax start again and regroup.
It’s your last meal. What are you cooking and where will you eat it? It would have to be my mum’s Christmas dinner. It’s amazing (everyone says that but hers really is!). We would eat it in a little cottage in Norfolk, UK (I used to go there as a boy), with all my family and best friends.
Nineteen, Montgomerie Golf Club (04 390 5600). Open 7pm-10.30pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine Dhs500-600.