Get to know Lloyd Roberts, Chef of Wakame at Sofitel Downtown
Name: Lloyd Roberts Job title: Head Chef Age: 40
How long have you lived in Dubai? I have been living in Dubai for four months and I am very excited to cook here. It is the first time for me and I hope it won’t be the last. Plus, cooking in such a great environment as Wakame Restaurant is a completely unique experience.
Where do you like to hang out in Dubai when you’re not at work? In my leisure time I love being close to the water and I truly love going to Jumeirah Beach Park or Wild Wadi Water Park. Seems silly I know but that’s who I am in a nutshell and that’s how I am in the kitchen with my team as well. I enjoy laughing, enjoying my time, having fun. I am not a strict chef at all as you can tell.
What’s your top tip for visitors to Dubai? Dubai’s so exciting and different from a European metropolis. There is so much to see and do while visiting, so my recommendation would depend on how much time you have to spend here? I can tell you that when I arrived the first thing I did was to go and visit The Gold Souk and The Bastakia Quarter and I was able to see some traditional parts of Dubai. In neighborhoods like these you can feel the soul of city, you can enjoy the abundance of colours and tasty the traditions food. That’s what I would recommend. The traditional quarters. Places where you can shop for Moroccan spices and browse dried fruit.
What one thing would you like to do in Dubai that you haven’t done before? I would really like to try sky diving. I’m by no means a daredevil but I have tried it before and I would like to compare it to that experience.
What career journey did you take before joining your restaurant? I entered the world of fine dining through Vong, a Thai French restaurant by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It was an owner working with a great Michelin Starred Chef of such calibre. I learned a lot from him. It’s hard to run one restaurant, let alone an empire. After that I had a successful world journey with renowned Chef Nobu Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa. My travels with him gave me a different perspective about cuisine and how personal cooking can be. It’s always good to have a mentor in this business, someone you admire and whose success can motivate you to do better.
Why should Time Out readers try your restaurant? Our menu is unique. We are bringing a bit of South Africa, Asia and New York City to Dubai, with various cooking styles. We are using different flavours and textures to elevate our dishes, and presentation plays a key role in our venue. It will be experimental and fun rather than just another family meal.
What’s the best thing about dining at your restaurant in 2016? I think, it has to be our creativity. The food is modern and innovative, with healthy ingredients, full of flavour and inspired by the Asiatic continent. Our dishes have simplicity; they are generous and designed for sharing. This will be a great place for friends and family.
What’s your dish recommendation at your restaurant? I would recommend Peppered Beef, Crispy Eggplant and Ginger Marinated Chilean Seabass because I’ve always like to eat a steaming pile of piping hot food and then crush something crunchy on top. I’m also drawn to food with different textures and generally something that is visually attractive.
Aside from where you work, where else do you like to dine in Dubai and why? I'd have to say Le Petite Maison. I love fresh French food — like veal stuffed Mediterranean vegetables. I also enjoy going to Coya and Nobu as I love the type of food that they do and I must say it is up to the standard that I try to achieve in my kitchen on a daily basis.
What is the best dish you’ve ever tasted in your life and who made it? That would be the famous oysters and pearls at Per Se restaurant in New York. The dish is a genius blend of butter, tapioca, and oysters, all of which warm up (and amp up) the metallic brine of good sturgeon roe. The dish still wows a decade after I first tried it.