It’s no secret how competitive Dubai’s five-star hotels are when it comes to food. So when chefs from three of the city’s top hotels – the Fairmont, the Shangri-La and The Meydan – agree to go head to head in a culinary showdown, it’s time to take notice.
Battle of the Kitchens, on October 28, will pit the three teams against each other in a live cook-off to see who can create the tastiest dishes. Though the event will be held in the spirit of good fun (and good food), as well as doing its bit for charity (a percentage of the proceeds will go to good causes), it’s still been a tough job for Battle of the Kitchens organiser Sascha Winter to persuade high-profile hotels to let their chefs compete. There is, after all, a lot of pride at stake.
‘Having spoken to all the five-star hotels in Dubai, I received responses ranging from “we don’t see the value” to “not interested at all” and even “I’m not confident in my team”,’ says Sascha. ‘We assumed that hotels would jump on the idea, although it did prove very difficult to convince them to participate.’
Happily for Sascha, the three competing hotels were on board almost from the outset of the project, which has been in the making since November 2010. They, like him, see the opportunity for exposure and the start of an event that is likely to grow in future. ‘We’d like to further develop the concept – to have a competition with up to eight hotels cooking against each other at the same time in front of an audience, within a strict time frame,’ continues Sascha. He envisages eventually refining the competition to focus on specific cuisine types.
Until then, the format of the event is straightforward: teams of three (an executive chef supported by two of their trustiest kitchen assistants) will receive a ‘magic basket’ containing mystery ingredients, which they must use to create a dish within 50 minutes. Additional items from a common-use pantry are also at their disposal, as well as a full cooking station and all the necessary appliances. Once the first course is created, plated and judged, a second basket will reveal additional mystery ingredients for the second course of the competition.
As well as creating a fun spectacle in the spirit of TV shows such as Ready Steady Cook
, Sascha believes the event will be a stage on which to showcase raw talent here in Dubai. After all, Michelin-star names may hog the limelight, but it’s really the people on the ground and in the kitchen who matter. ‘The impetus is to demonstrate that, in the midst of all the global brands and celebrity chefs, top-tier talent from the local hospitality industry should take centre stage,’ says Sascha. ‘It’s their time to shine.’ Battle of the Kitchens is on Friday October 28 at 7pm at the Shangri-La Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 8888). Tickets are Dhs190, including a soft drink, buffet and entry to the after-party. www.timeouttickets.com