A chat with 24-year-old Senior Sous Chef Anthony Reilly from Wheeler’s of St James’s in Dubai
How long have you lived in Dubai? I have lived here for just over one year.
Where do you like to hang out in Dubai when you’re not at work? I spend most of my time relaxing at home or in a boxing gym, but I go to Madinat Jumeirah as its got such a variety of things to do in terms of eating out and shopping.
What’s your top tip for visitors to Dubai? Try and see the real Dubai, it’s full of different cultures and has many cuisines. As good as they are, the usual tourist attractions don’t show off what makes Dubai great.
What one thing would you like to do in Dubai that you haven’t done before? I’d really like to skydive but the idea of jumping out of a plane just freaks me out.
What career journey did you take before joining your restaurant? I started cooking at 16 when I joined culinary college, after two years of learning the trade I joined fine dining restaurant, The London Carriage Works, as a pastry apprentice in 2007. In 2008 I got the opportunity to follow my chefs to a new opening, Panoramic34, a modern fine dining European restaurant set on the 34th floor with panoramic views of my home city of Liverpool. At 21 I was given the opportunity to become their Head Chef. After 18 months in the position, I felt I needed to challenge myself in a different way. I decided to move to Dubai to experience other cultures and techniques that would be valuable to my career.
Why should Time Out readers try your restaurant? Wheeler’s is predominantly a British seafood restaurant, so like in the UK we do take some inspiration from other cuisines and our fresh fish is our main selling point. We also like to give an experience where we really connect with our guests and make things personal, a thing, which is missing in Dubai in my opinion.
What’s the best thing about dining at your restaurant in 2015? As we progress we really try to up our levels of quality by taking on feedback from our loyal guests and trends that are happening around us. This year we are really going to engage with our customers, we are creating special menus like food and wine societies and even whisky tastings to try and educate our passion for this industry through to our guests. Our goal is to offer things that show off our brand and are not available anywhere else.
What’s your dish recommendation at your restaurant? Personally I would recommend our Salt Marsh Lamb with potato gratin, aubergine pesto and spring vegetables. Our most popular dish is our whole grilled Dover Sole, which is flown in fresh from the UK simply served with brown butter sauce and potatoes. It really sums up our philosophy of using the best ingredients prepared simply so our guests can really appreciate them.