Get to know Dubai food truck, Ghaf Kitchen's chef, bottle washer and boss David O’Brien
Name: David O’Brien Job title: Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, otherwise known as The Boss (or Managing Partner) Age: Need to know basis
How long have you lived in Dubai? 10 years.
Where do you like to hang out in Dubai when you’re not at work? I work very long and unsociable hours, so I like to stay near to home. A prime example is both the Etihad Abu Dhabi F1 and Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens both of which we catered with the Ghaf Food Truck, and had us there as a team the entire weekend from dawn until the wee hours every night. We also catered the new Star Wars film set, and all these sorts of events and activities keep us away from home for days on end. It’s exciting and fun-filled, but it takes its toll. Because of this I do a lot of cooking at home so I don’t feel the need to ‘hang out’ too often elsewhere. If we do go anywhere then it’s for a quick bite or to the movies as a family.
What’s your top tip for visitors to Dubai? Get under the skin of Dubai. Go to the old part of town and enjoy the Creek and Bastakiya. The real Dubai isn’t the five star hotels and glitzy side of things, there is so much more to this city.
What one thing would you like to do in Dubai that you haven’t done before? Get some quality sleep!
What career journey did you take before joining your food truck? I was working with chefs Gary Rhodes and Richard Corrigan in London opening and running restaurants for them, and I then joined Caprice Holdings where I held the position of Operations Director for seven years, first at Scott’s in London and then in Dubai. I launched both The Rivington and The Ivy while with Caprice Holdings in Dubai, both truly amazing experiences with great teams.
Why should Time Out readers try your food truck concept restaurant? Everything we do at the ‘hatch,’ is about the quality of the ingredients we serve and the flavour of the ingredients. We don’t mess about with flavours and always look to keep things beautifully fresh and simple. Suppliers are absolutely key for me, whether that’s local produce from amazing farms in Al Ain or English-bred Butterball turkeys from Norfolk. We only source the very best and also always source sustainable…it’s a big part of what we do.
What’s the best thing about dining at your food truck in 2016? The simple quality of the food and service: everyone in the team is totally committed to ensuring our guests get a memorable experience. What’s your dish recommendation at your restaurant? The ‘posh fish finger sandwich’ with fresh mushy peas and home made tartar sauce is a signature dish of Ghaf Kitchen, and cannot be beaten in terms of quality of ingredients and taste, made with the freshest sustainably sourced haddock. Because every event we do is done from scratch everything on our menu is a recommendation to our customers, or it shouldn’t be there. I’ve had emails and messages asking me for the recipe to the fish finger sandwich, that’s how much our fans love it! Aside from where you work, where else do you like to dine in Dubai and why? Zuma because it’s always consistent. And La Petite Maison, because the dishes are always first class. I don’t eat out that often but when I’m with my family we will usually go to Wagamamas. The premium mid-market sector is really under-serviced in Dubai so we are a little underwhelmed when it comes to eating out as a family. I’m flattered that the kids prefer dad’s cooking!
What is the best dish you’ve ever tasted in your life and who made it? It was a dish made by chef Anthony Demetre when he was running Putney Bridge restaurant in London. It is a dish of sweetbreads, Parma Ham and Langoustines, real two-star Michelin stuff, but so simple and delicious.